Congratulations! You got your first DSLR.
It is such an exciting feeling and also can be very overwhelming. So many buttons, it’s so big, and there is SO much to learn.
I know I was overwhelmed when I got my camera because I wanted to take awesome pictures but I didn’t even know what to Google.
Let’s make this transition a little easier for you as you start your journey in photography.
No.01You don't have to read your manual from cover to cover.
I grew up being told I couldn’t even turn something on until I read the manual. I needed to know how to use it inside and out. If that is your personality then please don’t let me stop you. However, I have noticed with camera manual they are not giving your tips to improve your photos but instead letting you know how to do certain things on your camera. I keep my camera handy as I often reference it to figure out how to change a setting or see if it is capable of doing something. But if your goal is to improve your photos the answer is not in your manual.
No.02Take it off Auto.
Yes, there are so many buttons and so much to learn but why have this nice camera if you are just going to use it on Auto. Personally, I think everyone should challenge themselves to two weeks of shooting on manual mode. Don’t do it when there is a major event like a birthday that can’t be recreated if you mess up the photos. Instead, take two weeks of your everyday and only shoot on manual mode.
No.03Learn how to change your focal points.
This is where your camera manual comes into action. You want to be able to change your focal points so you can focus on what you want instead of having the camera tell you what will be in focus. Say you want a photo of just a baby’s feet. Then you need to set your focal point on their feet to get that nice blurred background. You can read more about changing your focal point here. I have even included a few videos but I can’t get my hands on all cameras so you may need to reference your manual.
No.04Subscribe to my weekly emails.
Like I said, there is a ton of information out there. For me, I found the hardest things was not knowing what I don’t know. How can you look something up if you didn’t even know that option or technique existed. Simply sign up for our weekly emails and get a free ebook – 8 ways to improve your photography. Plus each Wednesday you get a short email with a photography tip or two delivered to your inbox.
No.05Invest in a good lens.
Before you say, but I just spent all this money on a camera, and now you want me to buy a new lens, hear me out. Nine times out of ten most people start with the kit lens that came with their camera. This lens is fine to start with but you may soon realize you aren’t able to get the same look that you are seeing other people have. That is because most photographers don’t shoot with their kit lens. In fact, I highly suggest not even buying it and buying the body of the camera only. If and when you are ready, check out what I suggest you buy for your first lens. You really only need one good lens to start. I had my 50mm 1.8 for a year before I got another lens.
No.06Take the camera with you.
If you are serious about capturing these moments of your life then you need to take the camera with you. That may mean taking it to the grocery store or beach. Either way, you can’t photograph the moment and learn to use your camera if you aren’t using it. However, before you take it out with you, I suggest you get it insured.
No.07Set up a system for uploading your images.
If you are like me, you will be taking a lot of photos. Starting off with an organized system to upload and store your photos will help you down the road when you are looking for your images. Plus, it is extremely overwhelming when you realize you all your photos are all over the place. Start off with organized photos.
No.08Learn to see the light.
One of the biggest factors that will make your photos look amazing is learning how to use light correctly. Turn off the overhead lights and open up the curtains. Using natural light will help with the coloring of your photo and give it the shadows you need to create dimension in your image. Check out all our past lighting tutorials.
No.09Pick a photography project.
No matter how big or small, pick a photography project that will help you to learn more about photography. You can do it for 5 days or 365 days. Either way you will improve your images simply by using your camera more often. Read more about some of our photography project ideas. If you want a project that will help you learn a new photography tip each day while taking an everyday moment check out the 30 day challenge – The Unexpected Everyday.