A photography plan for beginners

I’m not so much writing this post for others to use as a guide as I am writing it for myself. I mean, I AM the beginner in this story, so bear with me. I impulsively purchased a DSLR camera 2.5 years ago… I had been researching them and really wanted one… and then one of my best friends was getting married and I walked into a local camera shop the day of the wedding and I said “that one. I want it. Now.”

My Nikon D5000. AKA My Baby.

nikon dslr

Since that purchase, I’ve obtained a fancy little 35mm lens that I obsess over and the latest Photoshop Elements 11. I’ve taken thousands of pictures. I bring it everywhere I go.

All of that and two and a half years later and… I’m still shooting in automatic. ::ducks::

I know.


When I have the time to mess around, I practice shooting in manual, but that isn’t often. Most of the time I need to grab a quick shot of my kids… I don’t know nearly enough about the settings to be able to quickly set up manual and snap a photo. So auto it is. I have read tutorials and feel like I begin to grasp the ideas, but since I rarely get the time to practice what I learn, I forget it.

One of my goals for 2013 is to become better acquainted with my camera. I want better photos of my kids and family, I want to preserve more memories, I want to have fun with photography. dslr

So… here is my plan… I mean, I have a pinterest board for photography tips so, really, I should be an expert already, right? ;P

  • Make a list of shots I take most often or of shots I’d like to take. Then I can focus on learning these techniques first and the best manual settings for them. For example–portraits of my family and action shots of my kids.
  • Try to practice with the camera at least once a week. Mess around with the settings, take photos by trial and error. If I can keep up with this habit a few hours every week, I’ll be less likely to forget lessons I’ve learned and can continue moving forward.
  • Start with the basics. I won’t be able to follow lessons that refer to aperture, f-stop, ISO, exposure, etc. if I don’t know the very basics of what they mean. Yes, really, I need to brush up on these!
  • Videos. I’m a visual learner so watching tutorials is a great idea. I have a Lynda.com membership and I know there are DSLR and PSE videos on there–I need to check them out! I know YouTube has a lot, too.
  • PSE. I’ve mostly used it for creating images (like for my blog), but never to EDIT my photos. Again, learning the basics and watching videos. I mean, if I can’t take awesome photos, I can at least dress them up on PSE, right? Haha… but as my friend said, even the best editing job can’t cover up a crappy photo… so I better get practicing!
  • Have fun. Take my camera everywhere and look for new subjects and learning opportunities all the time. Practice makes perfect!

Mostly it comes down to TIME. I need time to sit down and watch video tutorials or to mess around with my camera settings and take some shots. But it’s about time I do more with my camera and I’m excited to learn! I’m excited to utilize PSE 11 and even bought some beautiful actions and textures…

If you shoot manually with your DSLR or use photoshop for editing, how did you learn? How did you find the time?  If you have any tutorials or resources to share with me, I’d love to check them out!



I was partially motivated to do this by my recent job as a YesVideo ambassador. I’m so inspired by their memory preserving services and seeing “10 years of family” or “the kids’ birthdays” all on DVDs that I want to make sure I’m capturing everything! I cherish these times with  my little ones and can just imagine looking back on all these photos and videos some day! Check out their photo and video transfer services.

~This post was created in connection with my appointment as an Ambassador for YesVideo. Visit www.facebook.com/yesvideo to join the conversation.

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