In the future I’ll get more into the “how to” aspect of actually taking photos, for now though, just some basics.

Getting started:

1. Choosing a camera

My camera (now discontinued) – Canon 350D Digital Rebel XT

It’s obvious the most popular brands are Nikon and Canon (Pentax also has merit, but honestly, I ignore anything Olympus and Sony has to offer because I’ve never been impressed with their quality, but that’s just me).

I don’t get the discord between people that use different brands though. Quite frankly, it annoys me to no end. It’s like razzing someone because they like cheesecake instead of tiramisu. They’re all awesome, it’s just personal preference. Do some research and find the brand that suits you best.

Really REALLY research it though, because once you commit to a camera body and a few lenses, you don’t want to be changing your mind and have invested your money in the wrong equipment. is a great site for in depth camera reviews and comparisons.

2. Where to buy
After you’ve decided what you want, shop around. Check your local camera stores, Amazon, and the one-stop shopping site I recently discovered:

Don’t rule out people you know, either. Ask around and see if any reliable friends are selling their equipment in order to upgrade to something better. I bought my camera lightly used, with a lens and camera bag, for less than half-off the retail price from a friend of my sisters and have never had any problems.

You can try Ebay and craigslist, but be careful. Theys full of cuhrazy peeples.

3. What lenses to start with:

It may not be exciting, but a mid-range telephoto zoom like a 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 is a good starting point. It even comes with the camera body in some package deals and is referred to as a “kit lens”. It’s basic, but pretty versatile.

taken with a 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 (and tripod!) from far away
night picnic

taken with a 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 from close up

After that, get a prime lens (this means a fixed focal length lens. It does not zoom, you move your body back and forth to “zoom”). More specifically, get a 50mm 1.8. The large aperture (something I’ll get more in-depth with another time) allows in loads of light making it excellent for low-light situations. It’s really the cheapest and most useful piece of glass you can get your hands on. I use it for just about all my portraits and food photos.

taken at dusk with a 50mm 1.8

A basic telephoto lens is a good choice as well. I’ve used a 70-300mm f/4-5.6 to get my best animal photos at the zoo and theme parks. It’s also great for candid portraits since it allows you to sit far enough away from your subjects that they don’t notice you (that sounds kind of stalkerish, but it’s all in the name of art!).

taken with a 70-300mm lens from across a courtyard
people watching

4. Read about it
I’ve never been to a photography class, but I make sure to read constantly about technique, new equipment, and editing.

There are many many books and websites you can learn from but one book I always recommend reading is The Photography Bible by Daniel Lezano. It has great straightforward explanations of just about everything you’ll need to know when starting photography.

5. Learn from others

Spend some time on Flickr. When I first started getting interested in photography in 2005/2006, I spent hours and hours submitting photos to critiquing groups and rating communities. Not all the advice will be beneficial or constructive, but overall it will help you learn what you can do to improve your photography.

Also spend time looking through others portfolios. Find styles you like and try to copy their technique. Learn what you like.

There are thousands of great flickr users, but here are a few I make sure to keep an eye on:

Matthew A
Frederico Erra

And that’s it for this tutorial. I hope it’s helpful and let me know if you have any questions. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll find someone who does…or just make something up. 🙂