Congrats! You have your first gear, a shiny new camera. The big first step toward a better future as an artist. Honestly, when I got my first professional camera, I was messing around with it, took pictures in auto mode, wide-open aperture all the time, and took a long time to figure out why my pictures were out of focus and boring. I missed these steps, and I don’t want you to do the same. Be smarter than me and take these simple pieces of advice to be happy with your gear as soon as possible.
Read the manual
Grab a cup of coffee and jump in the camera manual. But don’t overdose it. Be familiar with the buttons and basic functions of your new camera. Then you have the time to deep dive. And the best way to deepen your knowledge is to:
Go outside and shoot as many as you can
There is no better solution to get comfortable with your new camera than to use it. A lot. Shoot as many pictures as you can and review them later. Think about what you would do differently next time. Don’t be scared to make mistakes, for example over- or underexpose your image, or make the horizon slant. Mistakes are good, you can learn from them.
Think about your post-processing and image storage
You probably need software to adjust your images after a shooting. Adobe or Affinity products are really good and capable of professional work, but there are many mobile apps available for free as well for pro and basic adjustments. You should have a computer with a big storage because photography is a storage consuming hobby. If you don’t want to deal with external drives, you can subscribe to a cloud data plan on Dropbox, Google Drive or iCloud.
Take an online course
There are tons of online courses out there, and you can easily find a sale and catch a deal for around 10$. These courses are really good for learning the photography basics. Like the exposure triangle about the correlation of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO or basic lighting techniques, and so on. Coursera, Udemy or Domestika are full of great photography courses.
Open a photography account
Instagram, 500px, Flickr. Those are just the big ones. If you want to share your images, you should open an account on a photo-sharing site. Besides, you can upload your photos to show to others, you can easily get inspiration from other photographers, and be part of the community.
Join an online community
Do you think you are smart enough to make your fortune alone? Don’t underestimate the power of a community. Search and join a local photography group on Facebook or else, to see how others dealing with challenges. There are always some guys to learn from because they have the same gear for a long time and figured out the tiny details.
Pick your first project
Usually, the first question is what should I photograph? You have the time to figure out, what will be your ‘main style’. For a fresh start, you should pick something and make your first series about that. For example the flowers around your house, or street images around your neighborhood. But there are a lot of articles about things to photograph when you’re out of ideas.
Take your camera everywhere
The best camera is the one you have with you. Just hang in your neck every time you go outside, even if there will be no situation to take a picture. Tip: there is always something to capture, and you regret it later if you don’t have the camera with you. And obviously, you get familiar with your gear faster if you use it more.