I first picked up my big girl dSLR camera four years ago. I knew nothing about a dSLR when I purchased it but I knew it could do amazing things. My husband made me promise him that I would learn how to use and not just let it be an expensive point and shoot camera.

And I did.

I read everything I could on the subject and read some more. Over the past four years, I have learned a lot of things – I made mistakes, some big, some small.

So I thought this week, I would share with you the 10 things I wish I knew when I started photography.

10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Photography

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Week 37: September 7-13

1. Read Your Manual. If you don’t know what the buttons do or how to use a dial, read your manual. And read it again. And again. Even if you have one model down pat, doesn’t mean when you upgrade with the same brand, things will be the same.  I just upgraded my camera last year, I am still referencing the new manual. While you are reading, read “Understanding Exposure.” Again, read that a few times. Most photographers I know have well worn copies on their night stand, myself included.

2. Jump into Manual Mode. Manual mode can be so daunting when you are just starting out. The best way that I learned how to use my camera was turning it to Manual Mode and playing around. I would take a picture, look at it on my screen, and try and figure out how to fix the mistake. It was hands down the best learning experience for me.

3. Ditch the kit lens. Kit lenses {the ones that come with your camera} are great for when you are just starting out. Once you get comfortable with your camera, it may be time for you to treat yourself with better glass. Trust me when I say that good glass can make the difference, especially when the good glass is faster and sharper.

4. Don’t blame the camera. 9 times out of 10 it’s not the camera’s fault that your picture didn’t come out right or that your image isn’t tack sharp. Unless your lens is broken or your shutter is going, it’s not the camera. Take a look at your settings. See what could be the cause. Still don’t know, ask for help.

5. Don’t compare yourself to other photographers. I know it’s hard not to do that but give yourself a break, especially if you are just starting out. Instead of comparing your photography, ask yourself what you like about their photography. Is it their style? Their execution?

6. Ask for critiques. I get a lot of emails from photographers just starting out for my help. They will ask for my opinion and they want honesty. Be open to hear all critiques, positive and negative. Listen to what others have to say. Take their critiques and apply it to your next photo session.

7. Learn the rules. There are some set rules of photographer that will help your composition, your technical aspects, and your overall look of your photo. Rules such as rule of thirds, leading lines, shutter speeds for different situation. Learn those rules and apply them to your photographs.

8.Now that you know the rules, break them! Most rules are meant to be broken. But remember, it’s ok to break the rules, just don’t break them all at the same time.

9. Have fun. One of the reasons I started photography was because I enjoyed it. There are days when it feels too much but there is always some fun to be had. Whether photography is your hobby, your passion, or your career, you should be having fun!

10. Don’t give up! The only way to learn and grow is through trial and error.

This week, your challenge is to have fun with your photography. You have free reign on the topic and subject. But make sure to use what you have learned during your photography journey. Make sure you share your photographs on Facebook!