How Do I Work This Thing?

How do I work this thing? This isn’t how I thought it would go.. I just spent all this money on a camera I don’t even know how to work!

I’ve been there. The struggle is real and I’m hoping to help you get a little insight.

whether you want to start up your own little business, want to take pictures of your little ones growing up or just want another hobby.

Let’s Start With the Basics.

The basics of photography are taught with 3 main components.

ISO– It doesn’t matter what this acronym means. Your ISO settings typically go from 100-3200 or possibly all the way up to 25700.. This is the light sensitivity. When outdoors on a sunny day you will stay low on that scale between 100-300 depending on the shade. On gloomy days you may go up to 800. When shooting indoors you may go even higher.

Now you may realize, after shooting somewhere dark, that your images look grainy.. Images become grainy when your ISO is high. Some times this is inevitable and you can fix it up in PS or LR. Try adjusting as much as possible to avoid having too high of an ISO.

F-Stop– This appears on your camera as F(number). Your F-stop is (in simple words) the number that will effect how much blur you will get in your images. They typically go from F2.8-F11 depending on your lens those numbers could be higher or lower. If you have one subject in front of your camera you will most likely choose the lowest F-stop for the most blur. For additional subjects raise that number to include more focus.

Shutter Speed– This is the length of time the camera shutter is open. The higher the number the quicker the shutter will shut allowing for you to capture movement without blur. If you notice your shutter speed is too slow try adjusting your ISO and/or your F-stop.

Every one of these tools will help you with getting the proper light exposure to your images. To make sure you aren’t over or under exposing the photo use your light meter typically shown like this.. -3..2..1..v..1..2..+3 This tool allows you to see how much light you will be letting in before you take the photo. If the mark is more toward negative then your image will be dark or underexposed. If your mark is more toward the positive it may be bright or over exposed. It’s best to keep the mark close to the center to achieve the best lighting.

Camera with settings
Settings Example


Lighting is so important and can make or break your shoot.

A mistake I see many beginners make is shooting in direct sunlight. There are ways to make this work however, most likely you will end up with harsh shadows and highlights as well as squinting eyes.

Shaded areas are your best friend. This is why many photographers avoid shooting mid day when the sun is high.

Aim for a time of day that allows for a good amount of shade or you may want to go for Golden hour. This is the time of day about an hour before the sun is set. This time gives everything a warm golden look while allowing for you to shoot in the sunlight as the sun is much lower. It is still best to have subjects facing away from the sun to avoid squinting and possible harsh lighting.

Golden Hour Subject
Golden Hour Facing away from sun

What Do I Need?

What do I need to get started?

There is no reason to spend an arm and leg when you are just starting out. You can look for used camera’s for sale (Make sure to be safe and smart when doing so.) If you have a local camera store they may have used body’s and lenses for sale also!

If you would like to purchase new, my suggestion would be a canon rebel body. You can choose to bundle with the kit lens to start off or purchase a simple 50mm prime lens. This lens will give you the blur you are looking for without spending too much.

When purchasing an SD card I always choose SanDisk 32 or 64gb.

Do Your Own Research.

Be sure when getting into anything you do your own research first.

Find what camera will suit your needs best, how much it will cost to do this as a hobby or as a business, and if it is something you truly are interested in investing in.


No not all photographers are eager to help but many of us are. We all started off just as confused as you may be and photography is a never ending learning process.

Are you ready?

Comment Or Message with any Questions or Comments.

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