I got my first dSLR almost 5 years ago. It was on a whim {ok, maybe I was begging my husband and pleading that I needed this camera}. I purchased my d60 on one condition: that I would learn how to use it. I wasn’t going to carry around a glorified point and shoot. I was going to master this camera.

Almost 5 years later, I am still learning the ins and outs of my camera {I have since upgraded to the d7000}. There are a few things I wish I would have known when I picked up my camera for the first time. In hopes of helping someone else out, I am sharing those things with you today.

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10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Photography

1. Read Your Manual. This was the biggest mistake I made when I got my first dSLR. I was so excited that I just ripped it out of the box, charged the batteries, and started shooting. When I wasn’t getting the images I thought I should be getting, I got frustrated. Lesson learned. If you don’t know what the buttons do or how to use a dial, read your manual. And read it again. And again. Even if you have one model down pat, doesn’t mean when you upgrade with the same brand, things will be the same. I just upgraded my camera last year, I am still referencing the new manual. While you are reading, read “Understanding Exposure.” Again, read that a few times. Most photographers I know have well worn copies on their night stand, myself included.

2. Jump into Manual Mode. Manual mode can be so daunting when you are just starting out. But? The best way that I learned how to use my camera was turning it to Manual Mode and playing around. I would take a picture, look at it on my screen, and try and figure out how to fix the mistake. It was hands down the best learning experience for me. Like they say, practice makes perfect!

3. Ditch the kit lens. Kit lenses {the ones that come with your camera} are great for when you are just starting out. Once you get comfortable with your camera, it may be time for you to treat yourself with better glass. Trust me when I say that good glass can make the difference, especially when the good glass is faster and sharper. I felt limited by the kit lens that came with my D60. Then, I treated myself to the 35 mm f / 1.8 and I haven’t looked back. That lens hasn’t really left my camera since the day I bought it! Yes, it’s just that good.

4. Don’t blame the camera. 9 times out of 10 it’s not the camera’s fault that your picture didn’t come out right or that your image isn’t tack sharp.  Unless your lens is broken or your shutter is going, it’s not the camera. This would be a case of user error. Go back to #1 and reread that manual or every tutorial on the internet you can find. Take a look at your settings. See what could be the cause. Still don’t know, go back and read “Understanding Exposure.”

5. Don’t compare yourself to other photographers. Just like with blogging, you can’t compare yourself with other photographers. It won’t get you anywhere! I know it’s hard not to do that but give yourself a break, especially if you are just starting out. Instead of comparing your photography, ask yourself what you like about their photography. Is it their style? Their execution?

6. Ask for critiques. I get a lot of emails from photographers just starting out for my help. They will ask for my opinion and they want my honesty. Make sure you are open to hear all critiques, both positive and negative. Listen to what others have to say. Take their critiques and apply it to your next photo session.

7. Learn the rules. There are some set rules of photographer that will help your composition, your technical aspects, and your overall look of your photo. Rules such as rule of thirds, leading lines, shutter speeds for different situation. Learn those rules and apply them to your photographs.

8. Now that you know the rules, break them! Most rules are meant to be broken. But remember, it’s ok to break the rules, just don’t break them all at the same time.

9. Have fun.One of the reasons I started photography was because I enjoyed it so much. It’s also the reason why I keep on trucking! Of course, there are days when it feels too much but the fun is always there. Whether photography is your hobby, your passion, or your career, you should be having fun!

10. Don’t give up! The only way to learn and grow is through trial and error. There were times I wanted to throw in the towel and quit. But I pushed through and I am so glad I did!

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Looking for more photography tips? Make sure you follow my Photography Tutorial Pinterest Board. Don’t forget to pin the 10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Photography!

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