Before I begin, let me start by saying I'm not a professional photographer, nor a photography teacher.

Now that that's out of the way, I thought I'd share a bit about my hobby. I've had a ton of people ask about equipment and classes and books and any other helpful advise I could give on how to shoot a good photo. Let me share a story that's been popping around the internet. It goes something like this:
A photographer attends a dinner party. The hostess comments to her "I love your photographs, what kind of camera do you use?" Later the photographer comments to the hostess "I loved your cooking, what kind of pans did you use?"
Obviously, camera equipment does make some impact on the photograph you take, however, you can't miss the point of this story. Whether you use a point-and-shoot, a camera phone, or a professional grade Mark V, there is a lot more to taking successful photos than the camera you shoot with.

I started my hobby years back. As the child of a professional photographer, I spent countless hours in front of painted backdrops holding light sensors. I can smile on command, though it's results are phoned-in. Growing up with the exposure taught me how I'd like to see photos -- and posed is not it. I shot sports in B&W for the high school year book and learned to expose in a dark room. Although fun and foundation building, it proved to be too much work, and I was still a teenager when my dad built a dark room. As an adult, I was quick to embrace digital photography from the start but continued to also shoot with a Minolta film SLR. Although I loved my SLR photos, I fell for the enticing lure of digital with it's instant results and ability to capture a shot correctly before walking away and potentionally missing it forever.

I've owned a couple pocket sized digital point and shoots: HP PhotoSmart and Canon PowerShot. And most recently decided to kick my hobby up a notch. I tip-toed into the DSLR world hesitantly. I took comfort in the Canon PowerShot sx20is for it's safety net of features that combined both the opportunity to learn manual settings while still allowing me point & shoot ease. This beginner camera opened the door to the DSLR world at under $400.

Not only did I have a camera to take me into new comfort levels, I also joined an area photo club that challenged me to take photos as a monthly assignment. There is no better way to learn a camera, or any skill for that matter, than to actively do it. Regularly. Photo club allowed me that purpose. I also signed up for a recreational photography class at my local community college and found a photo mentor who was willing to take me under his wing while challenging and encouraging me to expand my skill set.

After a year of learning with the sx20is, I bought the real deal, a Canon Rebel T1i. I felt so big time with all it's relative power and need for additional lenses to be manually selected based on photos desired. Along with the new lenses came additional challenges, but I was learning quickly.

I still shoot and love my Rebel. I have 3 lenses, though rarely remove my 1.8 50mm. In my opinion, it can't be beat for nailing low lighting shots and getting that attractive background blur we all chase after. I'm learning to use my 18-55mm and my 70-200mm more and more but always tend to fall back on my 50mm as a go-to.

Composition is the biggest part of photography and this part can't be bought. It can ONLY be learned through experience. I love the Instagram app for helping me definen my photography style and capture everyday things in a small yet powerful way. Of course the filters don't hurt, but it is a great exercise. And at our fingertips every moment of the day. No reason to miss a shot or NOT be creative.

There it is. My official history of photography. I'm still learning. And still making mistakes. But I find that getting the shot is so much more worthwhile these days.


  1. Brienna, What a great article. I also like the photos you have put here, especially the viewer telescope and the one of the fountain.


  2. I used to take a lot of pictures. I had over $2000 invested in my camera gear. Then the digital age happened. I need a digital SLR that will fit all my lenses. I want one SO BAD!!! But they cost SO MUCH!!!

  3. Baby steps for sure. But how great would it be to get shooting again...?

  4. Anonymous1/09/2012

    My journey just began this past weekend, and while I'm not on "Team Canon" (yet), I appreciate the advice and sharing of your experiences. Great pics, love the first one.