How I Learned Photography (And How You Can Too!)

How I learned Photography (and how you can too!)

Oh why, helloooo there!

Incase it's not obvious, I've always loved taking photos and documenting life. Since I own my own wedding photography business, I often get asked how I learned photography. So today I thought I'd share my journey-incase it might help you learn too!

Growing up, I carried a disposable camera with me every where I went so that I could snap photos to put in my scrapbook! Eventually around high school I graduated to a more sophisticated, $100-something dollar point-and-shoot camera. (Ha!)

(Me with my trusty point-and-shoot camera taking photos of people who do NOT want their photos taken ... obviously.)

It wasn't until September of 2009 that I realized my passion for photography AND weddings and decided to start my own wedding photography business.

Welp, guess it was time to buy my first REAL camera; a Canon 30d that cost me a few hundred bucks.

It was my very first DSLR, and I had no clue how to use it. I had never taken a photography course before, and to this day I still haven't. (So YES it's totally possible to teach yourself!) But let's be honest ... now that I had a "fancy" camera, it would just automatically take amazing, beautiful photos with the click of a button right? Right?!?


For the first few days with my new camera it was very frustrating to me that what I saw through the lens WASN'T what would come out in my camera. This lead me to the #1 best choice in how I learned photography:

I switched my camera to manual mode and NEVER switched back.

Here's a couple photos that I took the VERY first time I ever took my camera out to shoot (in manual!):

Yeah, not too impressive right? But those photos mark the very start of my journey to self teaching!

With manual mode, you the photographer are in control of all the settings. It forces you to really learn and understand how EVERYTHING works. At first it's confusing, but after lots of practice and just shooting everything you can get your lens on it becomes like second nature. If you get stuck on how a particular setting works, don't forget the power of Google and the myriad of free online informational resources! But mostly just get out there and shoot.

In manual mode.

Every day.

That's how I learned.

I shot tons of people and friends for FREE to learn and experiment. Here's a couple photos from some of my first-ever photo shoots with friends:

And here's a few photos from more recent shoots after lots of practice:

I'd like to say there's some improvement right?

PLEASE SAY YES!!!!! Hahaha. Ehem.

Taking your camera everywhere is great for learning because you'll come across all sorts of lighting situations, subject matter, etc. I learned "posing" by just doing free shoots with my friends in a fun, no-pressure setting! Experience really is the best way to learn here. I shot with that Canon 30D camera for the first 2 and 1/2 years of my full-time business. If you view the stats of that camera, you'll see that even a bloody iPhone camera has more megapixels!

An iPhone.

But you know what? I really, REALLY learned how to use that camera and I took some great pictures with it. On the contrary, I see people with super expensive 3 thousand dollar cameras taking improperly exposed, lesser good photos simply because they do not know how to use them. It REALLY is true, 90% of the work is done by the photographer and 10% is done by the camera. (Yes I just pulled those stats out of my arse.) But I'd say that's a pretty sound estimate.  :)

So there you have it friends, the story on how I learned photography. My advice to some one wanting to learn how to shoot better? Get out there and shoot. Every day. On manual mode.

Also feel free to check out my posts on how to make people comfortable in front of the camera, how to get emotion and some tips on what NOT to do!

Got any specific questions? Please feel free to ask them in the comments below!