Twenty years ago, after I had bought my first camera with my friend Josef's help, and after he taught me how to load the thing with film, and went with me for a few hours to shoot the first roll, I found myself on my own when it came to learning photography. I ran out and bought a few photography how-to books, but I found them cripplingly technical, and I honestly had no clue what anything meant in them. The truth is that I taught myself how to shoot completely by trial-and-error, and I have tons of over- and under-exposed prints to prove it. In fact, here's a guilty admission: the first few years, I simply figured out what kind of film to use that worked in bright daylight, kept my camera settings unchanged, and only shot in the perfect conditions -- turning my SLR camera into, in effect, a point-and-shoot. Years later, when Marcus bought me my first digital SLR camera, I shot it in completely automatic mode for the longest time, before finally moving to a "partially-automatic" (aperture priority) setting.
And another admission? I had been shooting for almost a decade before I finally really understood how to shoot in completely manual mode. In fact, I finally and fully figured it out when I started shooting my book, a little over 5 years ago. It's embarrassing to admit that, but it's true. I remember I was trying to get my camera to take a photograph that I knew was possible, but the aperture-priority setting wasn't letting it happen. I vented my frustration to Marcus, who looked back at me incredulously:
"Karen, you know you could shoot the damned thing manually," he said, speaking slowly, as patiently as he could. I stared at him like scales had just fallen from my eyes.
"Oooh," I breathed, as he walked away, shaking his head. "Of course I could. Why haven't I?" And it was at that moment that I finally made the leap -- and since I've been shooting manually almost exclusively since.
By that time, of course, I had met and befriended many photographers, and each of them had shared a little tip or trick that made the move to shooting manually easy. And every time one of my friends taught me something new, usually in simple, layman's terms, I kept thinking, "Man, why didn't those photography books just say that! I could totally gotten the concepts behind photography far sooner back in the 90s when I bought my camera!"
All this to say that this has been a long time coming: I'm thrilled to share with you my latest ebook, Beginning Focus: On Finding a Camera, the Basics of Photography & Taking Great Shots. I've put this together for the very, very beginning photographer, making the assumption that the person reading the book is about to go out and buy their very first SLR camera, and isn't sure how to begin.
This ebook begins with "how to choose a camera" and "how to choose a lens," and suggests ways to improve your shots while keeping your camera completely in automatic mode, before even venturing into more difficult concepts like aperture, shutter speed and ISO. And once you've played with your camera for a bit, there's even a section that shares common beginner mistakes, and how to fix them. In fact, here's the entire table of contents:
Basically, this is the guide I wish I had when I was first starting out. And because it's in downloadable, pdf format, my thinking is that this would be something you could keep on your iPad or other tablet, so that when you're out playing with your camera, and you're not exactly sure how something works, you can pull out your tablet and quickly find the reference to help figure it out.
The download is available for only US$ 19.99, but for the next week, until Monday, May 19th, I'm offering it for only $15.00. If you're brand new to photography, I hope you'll consider giving it a whirl. My hope is that it will continue to fuel your excitement about learning photography.
And of course, once you've gotten the hang of it, please feel free to email me and share your images with me. Because I get really excited when other people fall in love with their cameras, as well.