For my graduation present, I was generously given a Nikon 3200 DSLR camera. A beginner camera from someone who had only admired photography from an endless stream of Instagram photos.
My first impression of my camera was intimidation. There are lots of settings, buttons, and features that make this camera click. This the exact camera that I had wanted, but now that I had it in my hands, I wasn’t sure what to do with it.
So like most newbies, I shot in the easiest setting there is: automatic. Which was totally blowing my mind. The images I snapped with my camera were way better resolution and quality than those I took with the built-in camera on my phone.
But I knew there was more to this DSLR. Why else would there be a million configurations? Being the reader that I am, I read the whole user’s manual. Did you know user’s manuals are super dry? Props to those who write and edit those things. But they’re also pretty informative and gave me a better idea what all those symbols meant.
I played with the settings and began trying to understand aperture and shutter speed and white balance. There are so many setting and adjustments that go into composing a single image. Point and shoot cameras trick you into thinking photography is easy. And snapping a picture is easy, but composing an image is a whole other level.
I’ve been slowly teaching myself all the rules and the rules to break when shooting in manual. The control that is given, all those settings that can be adjusted, is so freeing and truly an art form.
This is not an activity that take ten seconds to master, but it is something that anyone can do. Seriously, learning to take better pictures is a skill worth working on. But I’m also madly in love with photography.
I love photography because I love capturing beautiful things, whether it’s a photo of people or landscapes, and I love that it can be remembered in that moment exactly how it was. People and places change looks, feelings, and meaning, but that photo is a literal memory that you can keep. It’s like writing in that way.
It took me until after I graduated college to go after photography. I was shy about doing something it seemed everyone else was doing and that everyone else is doing better than me. It’s a little nerve wracking to share photos that are important to me that I took the time to compose. I have close friends that have been into photography for years—I didn’t want to feel like a copycat that wasn’t even any good.
And if I’m being honest, I’m not huge on doing things that are super trendy. Sometimes I look at my social media and it feels like everyone is declaring themselves a photographer. But as I’ve tested it out myself, I know the lure photography has. I also know that I want to do things that make me happy, regardless of who else is doing it.
I’m still working on being comfortable sharing my photos, and am hesitant to even call myself a photographer. To me, that title holds importance, and a declaration of “making it.”
So for now I am girl learning to take beautiful pictures. I am girl who loves to take pictures.
What advice do you have for new photographers, or even other artists starting out?
Wishing you all the best.