You have a camera now what?

I came across this meme on Facebook recently and it made me laugh yet reminded me of questions Ive recently been asked.

Being the resident photographer among friends, Ive been asked the following questions several times over the past couple weeks.

I picking out a new camera, whats the best camera to get?

My husband/partner/wife/girlfriend got me a camera, whats the best way to learn how to use it?

Let me address the first question:

I picking out a new camera, whats the best camera to get?

To many this question seems overwhelming but really its quite simple. Get what feels good in your hands. Canon, Sony, Nikon, Fuji and more are all fantastic cameras. They will do more for you then you can even comprehend. If you are just starting out, I recommend going to your local camera store seeing what feels good for you in your hands.

Some placement of buttons will be more preferable on one brand over another. Many times, one brand will just be more comfortable then another. All these cameras will allow you to grow into the photographer you want to become. Just because you start with one brand, as you grow and develop its okay to switch. I started on a Nikon D40 and now use Canon. This year I may switch brands again. Hands on is the best way to chose a camera.

Cameras generally will come with a basic kit lens. Work with that lens then I personally recommend starting off with a cheap prime such as a 50mm. Most brands have them for less then $100 and are referred to as a nifty fifty lens. Once you have your inexpensive 50mm, only shoot with that as you get a feel for it. As you grow, you can start expanding but take your time with it.

Next question:

My husband/partner/wife/girlfriend bought me a camera, whats the best way to learn how to use it?

Honestly this depends on your learning style.

  • Take a local non major digital photography class at an extension of the local university. For me, it was perfect as I needed the class room setting and assignments to push me in learning my camera. 6 weeks of focused homework and getting myself out to shoot was the best step towards my career in learning a camera. It also inspired me to take more photography classes.
  • I played and photofocus podcasts in the background while I worked. Everyday I picked up a new skill. In fact, learning the exposure triangle took a few times hearing it. It wasn’t until one day at work and I was listening to Zack Arias discuss the exposure triangle when finally everything clicked. I think at that point I had heard a lesson on the exposure triangle at least three or four times before lightbulbs went off.
  • Online there are so many resources to learn from. Obviously, here at we have articles on just about everything related to growing as a photographer. All of us here that write and contribute to photofocus love teaching photography and giving back our knowledge that we are continuing learning ourselves. Be sure to check out Photofocus partner too.
  • Check out your local Facebook photographer groups in your area. Many post local workshops and meetups where you can take pictures and get to know the local community.
  • Kelby One does mini photo workshops around the country as well as the yearly Photoshop World in Vegas. In fact, its PSW that changed and shaped how my camera plays a role in my life. I learned more about photoshop and taking pictures in three days then I ever did during a semester of college.
  • Don’t get me wrong, my time as a photography student in college was great. I learned more about art, light, history then I would have on my own. The best part of being a photographer is that you are always learning. Life is more meaningful with hobbies and interests. Invest in yourself to be happy and you will find its worth it.

The Bottom Line

There are many more resources that I haven’t even mentioned but I hope that this helps get you started on finding what will work best for you and your journey of being a photographer even if it’s just to take better pictures of your family. Have fun and enjoy your new camera.

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