While I’ve been taking photos my entire life, I purchased my first serious camera about a year ago, a Nikon D200. Since that time I’ve taken thousands of shots, some have made it up on this blog, others into the Flickr community; most just sit idly on my MacBook Pro.
Here are some of the things that I’ve learned in my rookie year as an ‘enthusiastic’ photographer:
• Carry your camera with you. You can’t shoot if you don’t have it. Learn how to carry it unobtrusively in various situations so it doesn’t always have to be hanging around your neck like a tourist.
• When in doubt, shoot it. A digital shot doesn’t cost anything, so fire away.
• Try to go on photowalks where your primary purpose is to take shots of things. It makes you look at the world differently.
• Read your camera’s manual over and over again. Same for the lens and flash manuals. Know where all of the buttons and settings are and what they do.
• Learn your photo editing software. You’d be surprised with what you can do with a lousy shot and some editing skills.
• Don’t delete anything. Go back and look at your archives, there are some real gems there that you missed many months before when you were quickly picking shots to edit.
• Look at photos from other people either online or in magazines. You pick up things without even knowing it.
• Learn to be fast. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast. Be able to bring the lens to bare, frame, focus, shoot, and keep shooting.
• Learn some people skills. Some people don’t like thier photos taken, especially in other parts of the world. Learn to ask with a smile and a gesture towards the lens. Afterwards, show them the shots in the viewer as sort of a gesture of thanks and an acknowledgment of trust.
• Work on shooting unobtrusively. Again, slow is smooth, smooth is fast.
• Pay attention to light.
• Set you camera up ahead of time, ISO, White Balance, lens and AF settings. It saves from fumbling around with things when you should be shooting.
• Experiment with everything, and then experiment some more.
• Focus is everything. Almost everything can be fixed in post-production except poor focus.