I have a new DSLR, now what?

_MG_9512 (1)Have a new DSLR camera but don’t know where to begin learning how to use it? Let Linda Richards Photography help! Here are some common questions I hear from friends who just got their first DSLR camera and my answers to try help them out.


I received my camera as a gift so I didn’t choose the type or model. How can I learn more about my model? 

When I was starting out with DSLR cameras the first thing I did when I bought a new model was to purchase a book to study. I found fantastic books specific to the model of my camera that goes beyond the owner’s manual you get with the camera.

What are all the other pieces that came with my camera?

  • You want to use the camera strap when using your camera. You never know when someone might bump you or the camera slips. DSLR camera bodies and lenses are not cheap as you already know so don’t take any chances! If I pass my camera to someone to take even just one photo for me, I put the strap around their neck myself.
  • You will want to use your lens hood to protect your lens if you drop it. It also helps reduce glare if you are in full sun.
  • If your camera doesn’t have an on-camera flash you will want to buy one. There will be situations when you will need a flash.
  • Battery packs are great if you are at an all-day event or on vacation and don’t want to worry about charging a battery if you will be taking lots of photos. It makes your camera heavier so keep that in mind. The attachment will hold two batteries and it attaches to the bottom of the camera.

What should I practice and how?

You can practice with anything! You could put a stuffed animal outside on a chair and practice with your settings, moving the chair in different lighting situations or flowers in your home. It is much easier to practice with objects vs. a child or pet because an object can’t tell you they are tired of sitting still. Use your children or pets though when you are ready to practice with shutter speed!

Photography is art!
Photography is art!

How do I know if what I came up with is good quality or not?

Photography is art. If you love your photos, that is what matters the most. I like to look at other photographers’ work and analyze how they used lighting or poses and challenge myself to see images through the artist’s view and what their motivation was behind their choices. When you are starting out I would challenge you to do the same thing. You can learn your camera settings but composition and an artistic eye either comes natural or you have to work at it.

If I see something needs to be changed in a photo, how do I know which settings to adjust?

There is not one answer to this. If exposure is the problem, you can adjust your camera by changing any of the three settings ISO, Aperture, or Shutter Speed but depending on which you choose, the look of the image will change. You will want to refer back to my previous posts on settings for more detail.

My camera has an Auto setting. Why not just use that?

You should start with the auto setting until you feel comfortable using manual settings. The camera is very smart on an auto setting. It may get confused in challenging lighting situations but at first, just begin with auto until you get more familiar with what your camera can do. I recommend practicing with one manual setting at a time until you understand the concept of how it will impact your images. The book for your camera model that I recommended earlier will help you do this step by step.


What other tips would you share with new camera owners? In the mean time, if you need a professional headshot or family portrait done, give me a call!