So you realize you enjoy photography. What’s next? Here are a five steps that I think will help you get started in your photography journey!

Step 1Purchase a camera. Starting out with a less expensive or refurbished camera for the first time is a good idea. Here’s why. It will be easier for you to get to know the camera itself. Choosing a user friendly camera will help you to learn the system  (whether you choose Nikon, Canon, Sony, Pentax, etc) easier and faster. Take the time to get to know your camera and what it is capable of. Watch tutorials on YouTube. I learned more from watching tutorials than reading the camera’s manual. My first camera was a small, refurbished DSLR – the Nikon D3100. 

Tranquil Colors (c) Shelby Young
Tranquil Colors (c) Shelby Young

Step 2 Start shooting. Part of learning photography is simply shooting.Take an afternoon to get out of the house and go for a walk. Click that shutter away and don’t be afraid to take ‘the wrong photo’. The beauty of photography is that there is no wrong photo. You don’t have to physically go somewhere exciting to shoot. While it is nice to go to a photogenic location, it doesn’t always have to be that complicated. Sometimes the best thing to do is to go in your backyard and look around. What do you see that you have never seen before? Is there a cool leaf that is perfectly positioned in front of the sunlight? Is there a spider web laden with zen waterdrops? Keep an eye out for the out of the unordinary. Those are the things that often make the most interesting photographs.

Step 3Research photography terms and learn manual. Knowing some of the most important terms in photography can help you learn more about your camera, and it can also help you to grow as a photographer. The ‘Three Pillars of Photography’ are the most important terms to know: aperture, ISO, and shutter speed (or ‘exposure’). These are the base lines of shooting in what is called ‘manual’. Using the camera’s automatic settings to shoot makes the images less of ‘your’ photos. Telling the camera what to do is more than just ‘ready, aim, fire’. This is where the term point and shoot comes from.  Side note – some people it says that kit  lenses are inferior to regular glass lenses. I agree that they are not the best. However, I have taken some of my best shots with mine and I still use it from time to time. So don’t give up on that good-ole kit lens

Cabin by the Lake by Shelby Young
Cabin by the Lake (c) Shelby Young

Step 4Embrace your own style. Every artist (whether photographer, painter, etc.) has their own style. You may not know it yet, but you have one too! Finding and embracing your style is sometimes the hardest thing to do as a photographer (or any artist). Once you know your style, stick with it. Other people will recognize your style. 

Step 5 View others’ work and ask for critiques. Viewing other photographers’ work is what has helped me the most. Sometimes simply seeing another’s perspective can bring the biggest form of inspiration. This can also help you learn more about photography itself. Asking for critiques can be intimidating at times, but it is something that every type of artist should do in order to grow. Feedback comes in different ways, depending on the person. Some people, when asked to give critiques, will point out technical flaws. While some will suggest something outside of your style. It is okay to try what they suggested, but be sure to stick with your style. Keep in mind that it is also okay to NOT try what people tell you. Sometimes hearing critiques is just another means of inspiration. Once you have been shooting for a while and are ready to share your photos with friends and family, Instagram and Facebook are great avenues for sharing your work.

Foggy Morning by Shelby Young
Foggy Morning (c) Shelby Young

So those are my thoughts on five steps to get started in photography. I hope this has inspired you to embark on your journey!