So you’ve got your first camera. Where should you start?

Congratulations! You have your first piece of gear and a brand new camera. This is a big step towards a bright future as an artist. To be honest, when I got my first professional camera, I messed around with it, always took photos in automatic mode, with the aperture wide open, and spent a long time figuring out why my photos were out of focus and boring. I missed these steps, and I don’t want you to do the same. You should be smarter than me and follow these simple tips to be happy with your gear as soon as possible.

Read the manual

Grab a cup of coffee and crack open your camera manual. But don’t over-read it. Get familiar with your new camera’s buttons and basic functions. Then you’ll have time to dig deeper. The best ways to deepen your knowledge are:

Get outside and take as many photos as possible

The best way to get familiar with a new camera is to use it a lot. Use it a lot. Take as many pictures as you can and then review them later. Think about what you would do differently next time. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, for example, overexposing or underexposing the image or tilting the horizon. Mistakes are good and you can learn from them.

Think about your post-processing and image storage

After shooting, you may need software to adjust the image. Adobe or Affinity products are really great and can do professional work, but there are also many free mobile apps for both professional and basic adjustments. You should have a computer with a lot of storage space, because photography is a hobby that consumes storage space. If you don’t want to deal with external drives, you can subscribe to a cloud data plan on Dropbox, Google Drive, or iCloud.

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Take an online course

There are tons of courses available online, and you can easily find discounted courses and buy them for around $10. These courses are great for learning the basics of photography. Things like the exposure triangle or basic lighting techniques about the relationship between shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. There are a lot of great photography courses on Coursera, Udemy, or Domestika.

Open a photography account

Instagram, 500px, Flickr. These are just a few of them. If you want to share your images, you should open an account on a photo sharing site. Moreover, you can upload your photos for others to see, you can easily get inspiration from other photographers and become a part of the community.

Join the online community

Do you think you’re smart enough to build a fortune on your own? Don’t underestimate the power of community. Search on Facebook and join a local photography group, or see how others tackle challenges. There’s always someone worth learning from because they’ve been using the same gear for a long time and have figured out the tiny details.

Choose your first project

Usually, the first question is what should I shoot? You have time to figure out what your “main style” is. To start fresh, you should pick something and make your first series. For example the flowers around your house, or the street scenes near your home. But there are many articles on shooting things when you are out of ideas.

Take your camera everywhere

The best camera is the one you always have with you. Just hang it around your neck every time you go out, even if there are no photo opportunities. Tip: There is always something to capture, and you will regret it later if you don’t bring your camera. Obviously, the more you use it, the faster you will get familiar with your equipment.

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