Six things to concentrate on when you get your first DSLR camera


If you’re immersed in the digital world of content creating, you’ll know that photography is key. When you’re producing your own images for a website, blog or even using imagery to build up followers or create a brand, the better they are, the better you’ll do.

Blogs have really taken hold of photography. It’s not uncommon for even spare-time bloggers to use top of the range equipment, and many blogs have pages of glossy, pristine photos to accompany their words.

Creating something that looks good means you’re creating something that’s going to sell itself better to others. Would you rather scroll through pages of dimly lit photos that look like someone took them on their phone, in the dark, after several gins, or would your eyes prefer bright, well executed, attractive photography?

Probably the latter, let’s be honest.
You definitely do not need a DSLR camera to take good photos. If you’ve got an eye then you can do it on basically anything, but if you’ve taken the leap of getting yourself a pricey, impressive looking piece of equipment, you may as well do it justice. It can be overwhelming, there’s a lot of buttons, functions, modes and options not to mention lenses and straps and caps. It’s tempting to stick it on automatic and leave it at that. BUT DON’T. LEARN.


Here’s 6 things you should concentrate on first:

1)      Take lots of photos – it sounds like a no-brainer, but there’s a reason why ‘practise makes perfect’ is such a cliché. The only way to improve is to always be shooting – learn by doing. This one is also dead easy, all you need is your camera, your eyes and a little time. You’ll be amazed how quickly you start to think like a photographer as well, it won’t be long before you start see opportunities and framing up potential shots in your head about 8,000 times a day. Which brings me to the next point….
2)      Have your camera with you as much as you possibly can. Another obvious one, but you can’t jump on those 8,000 daily opportunities without your camera. And you will kick yourself when you miss them. Obviously, you won’t be able to have it on you 100% of the time (we’re not people of leisure who wonder aimlessly between cafes and coffee shops all day, sadly) but try to keep it on you as much as possible.
3)      Fittingly, point three is about the fabled rule of thirds. It’s a pretty standard rule of composition that basically says you should avoid placing your subject bang in the centre of frame. Instead, switch on your camera’s guide lines, that will divide your viewfinder into nine boxes, and position your subject where two lines intersect. Those lines are also really handy if you’re shooting landscapes: the number of old photos I’ve taken with wonky horizons is a source of never-ending shame. The best thing about this is what a quick win it is – your shots will improve immediately. But! don’t be beholden to it – in photography as in all things, the rules are there to be broken and knowing when to flout the rule of thirds will result in great shots.
4)      Get to grips with Manual mode: the M on your dial makes the camera your bitch, giving you complete control over the settings that will have a huge say in how your pictures come out. There are three biggies to consider: aperture (the size of the hole that lets light into the lens, and determines your depth of field), shutter speed (the length of time the shutter is open) and ISO (the sensitivity of the camera’s sensor to light). Getting an idea of these three things and how they interact with and affect each other, will open up endless opportunities for creativity, whether its pin-sharp focus throughout the frame, getting that velvety smooth background blur for portrait shots or using long exposures to paint with light and motion. Once you’ve got the hang of Manual, using the semi-automatic settings such as Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority will be much easier.
5)      The ultimate cliché: enjoy it. Don’t get downhearted if your shots aren’t coming out like you see them in your head. Simply check your settings and go again. Everyone is on the same learning curve and every photography great has been where you (and I) are now. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Ansel Adams, widely regarded as one of the greatest photographers of all time, said: ’Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.’ And he wasn’t even shooting with a digital camera.
6)      A cheeky final point: be a student of the game. Read a lot about photography. There are a shit ton of websites and blogs about the art and craft of taking pictures, from technique to different bits of kit, so it makes sense to use them.
Thanks for the tips






5 thoughts on “Six things to concentrate on when you get your first DSLR camera

  1. Perfectly wonderful blog, thank you. Timehop reminded me last week I’ve had my DSLR that I was desperate for for ages, for a whole year. I still don’t understand it despite being on 2 course (with my bridge camera tbf) Maybe that can be my New Year’s resolution.

    P.s. is the book in the first pic any good?


  2. I do love a bit of sneaky knowledge, ta very much! I’m still wrestling with manual mode (work in progress) but I’ve got the ‘take twelve million photos *cough* of your dog *cough*’ step nailed.
    The photo of the Autumn leaves is a beaut.
    M x


  3. Thanks for these tips, you’re so right about learning. I’ve had my DSLR for over a year now and I’m ashamed to admit I still use it on automatic setting. I vow to learn though. I also wish my mum (aka my temporary OOTD photographer) would also take it upon herself to learn haha!

    Faye x
    i wish i could wink


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