When I first started out as a brand new photographer I have to admit one very scary secret: I was overwhelmed and totally lost! You see I thought I knew what I was doing, but ya’ll I absolutely knew nothing! I was just winging it and I was in that mindset of fake it until you make it; I just didn’t know it. I didn’t know until I met up and had the honor of shooting with some of my friends that totally DID know what they were doing and right then and there it was blatantly obvious I was a complete novice! They were using words and terms that sounded like a foreign language to me. They were incredibly fast with their fingers moving about their whole camera bodies when I was still working in portrait mode! They had more lenses in their gear packs than I knew existed at the time and we won’t even go into the lighting aspect! Being a brand new photographer in this world can be really intimidating, especially when there is so much information out there that you aren’t quite sure where to even start your learning. It’s all just totally overwhelming, right? Well, this is where I want to help! I want to help because I had help and without it I wouldn’t be able to capture the most precious memories I have of my family in the way that I like and the specific style that makes my heart sing!
So, today I’m sharing with you what I feel are the best resources out there for new photographers right now. These are the same resources that I still use when I need a little extra help because guess what: you will always be learning this wonderful craft! That’s the best part about photography!
This is list is a random list of resources from educational tools to actual first pieces of equipment that changed my game! I hope you find it helpful and if you do pass it along to someone else who might need a little help, because we all need a little help sometimes!
- Clickin Moms: Whether you are a mama or not this website will become your number one go to for information, learning and inspiration, if you let it! I will be the first to admit that I blew it off for years. In fact, when someone suggested I become a member and even attend a workshop, I became highly offended. Now, I wish I could go back and smack myself in the face for being so silly. Seriously ya’ll! I am even applying to be Click It Pro right now, that’s how amazing I find this organization. I have completely changed my tune. They have resources, workshops and information for just about every side of photography that you could think of: motherhood, newborn, still life, landscapes, magical and fantasy, wedding, couples, childhood etc. The list could go on and on. They even have their own forums, conferences, photo school, and referral programs! If you are just beginning your photography journey, I highly suggest you head on over to http://www.clickinmoms.com/ and check them out!
- Find a Friend or a Mentor: Most of us learn best by doing or talking it out so find someone you really truly TRUST (that’s the most important key thing in this partnership) and do this together! You can learn your camera’s manual inside and out but if your like me it just won’t truly make sense until you apply it, over and over and over again! I had to learn with someone and that meant not only finding myself a mentor to help teach me the tricks and tips but also finding a friend to go out with me and practice, practice practice! Elizabeth Friske and I would go out on weekends and seek out new locations and we learned photography together! Some things she understood way better than I did while other things just came faster to me. By having someone you trust by your side, you can lean on each other and have fun along the way! It’s also important to find yourself a mentor who is already established, skilled and in the business! Most often a mentor is someone who will take you under their wing (and yes, there usually is a fee because this is their job and their life’s work) who will help you see where you need to grow and what you are already excelling at and then help you determine if you want to make this an actual business and how to start and also make important contacts! Mentors are fabulous and I am very thankful to those that have mentored me along the way!
- The Rising Tide Society/Tuesday’s Together: Need to find a friend and mentor, the best place to meet up with them is at a Tuesday’s Together and a Rising Tide Society Meeting! If you haven’t heard about this, you need to just go ahead and go to this website right now (after you finish reading this post of course!) The Rising Tide is a group of peers in the industry who are all about community over competition! They want to see everyone succeed and fulfill their dreams and part of this community is a place where everyone can come together to meet! This is where Tuesday’s Together come in. You can log on to facebook and find the local Tuesday’s Together group in your area and find out when and where they are meeting next. It’s the perfect place for you to not only find other photographers and like minded creatives in your area; but also find your mentor and friends that could help you grow and develop your creative talents! Also The Rising Tide has an amazing amount of resources and education online! You will adore this website and you will check it everyday!
- Invest In a Good Prime Lens: Not everyone will agree with me on this one but for me it truly changed my world! After you have started to learn your camera truly inside and out, it’s time to invest in a good prime lens! My first lens was the 50 mm 1.8 (canon). This lens is relatively in-expensive when it comes to prime lenses and it’s worth every single penny! I got mine off amazon and I still have this lens and use it as a back up for my 50 mm 1.2 . A good prime lens and shooting in manual mode will take your images to a place where you have total control! You will notice a huge difference and it will make you wildly excited!
- Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography Set: I’ve actual written a post on this before, but I love this set of books! These are incredibly helpful and informational. My books are all dog-earred and highlighted. They are bent and weathered. I still pull them out to reference to this day! They are an easy quick read and they cover just about everything. I will say, they aren’t a fun read. It’s not something you read at night for pleasure; it’s purely for learning sake but it is helpful and he is funny.
- Lightroom: Lightroom is the editing resource that I use the most! It’s also the editing resource that I feel is the easiest to use but that’s just me personally. I do use both Lightroom and Photoshop. There are a lot of great tutorials for Lightroom and also some great videos on Lightroom as well. I do think that it’s much easier and much better to try and get the image right in camera first than have to edit and fix later!
- Back Button Focus: Are you back button focusing?! This will change your life!!! Not everyone does this and that is totally OK! It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but for me, it saves me every single time and it’s the reason that all of a sudden one day my images went from somewhat focused half the time to tack sharp focused all of the time! The easiest way I can explain this is that when you aren’t back button focusing, you are using the shutter button (the same button you push to take the picture) to tell the camera this is what I want IN FOCUS. That can be a little tricky for the camera to handle, especially if you have a shaky hand like I do. When you BACK BUTTON FOCUS, you use one of the buttons in the back of the camera (like the AF button) to focus on the image (and you keep that pressed down) while you press the shutter button to take the picture. So… this time you are using two different buttons to do two separate jobs verses one button to do two jobs! It’s much easier for the camera to handle! *If this is something you are interested in, go ahead and go online to find your camera make and model and type in back button focus! It will show you how! I just had to do this with my new camera too.
- Shoot As Often As You Can: Try a 365 Challenge, it will absolutely show you how much you have grown and also develop your creativity muscles! Offer to shoot for those around you (but do so with boundaries so you don’t burn out or get taken advantage of) Embark on a personal project with your loved ones or your family! Doing big projects like these will not only hone your skills as a photographer but they can mark your growth technically and offer you the chance to develop a body of work and portfolio! These are also great pieces to show mentors for critique but remember, photography is art and art is subjective. Take in critique so that you can learn but also remember that art is art and if you truly love something don’t let another persons opinion of something get you down! You are doing this for you!
- Have FUN!!!! Never stop having fun! This world has it’s ups and it’s down but don’t ever let it get you so down that you stop having fun! There will be times that it will frustrate you and when it does go out and shoot something just for you and no one else! There will be times when this world excites you to the tips of your toes and when it does, celebrate it!!! Share it, post it, embrace it, love it, and most of all laugh about it because sometimes this world can be all too serious! Always remember why you loved it in the first place!
These are just a few things that helped me when I started and still help me now! I”m not a complete pro, I’m still learning! I will always be learning~! I hope this helps for those that have asked and for those that might ask in the future!
My friend and learning partner! She and I grew in this business together and still do! Elizabeth Friske is my girl Friday! She’s my phone a friend and my other half in this crazy photography world! Go find someone that you can trust and do this photography life with! You will be so happy you did!
Back Button Focus!!! Without that one little trick, that coffee cup would have been my subject rather than my cutie pie right there! It saves me all the time friends… all. the. time!
Shoot all the time, as much as you can and just for you! This image was part of a 365 day project that I start every year and fail to complete every year 🙂 hahah! But if it weren’t for my family and the promise I make to take as many images as I can of our real, every day life I wouldn’t pick up the camera at all! It’s what drives me and it is what keeps me going. It stirs up my creativity and pushes me to learn new things every single day! This shot was magical and it was spur of the moment. It’s also one of my very favorites. It’s not technically the best, the ISO is super high and you know what… I don’t care about any of that! Photography is truly about capturing the moment and if you throw out all the rules to do that, then you know what screw those rules!
*The best advice I can give you pals: If you capture an image that really stirs up emotion inside of you, if it takes you right back to the moment you created it and it gives you ALL the feels and all the goosebumps, guess what THAT is a perfect image. It doesn’t matter if it’s perfectly and technically correct. It doesn’t matter if it has a million likes and the respect of your peers. If it tells YOUR story and it brings YOU right back to that exact moments and those rush of feelings come flooding in… you captured a perfect image right there! Job well done pal!
Just remember that!
Happy shooting pals!