Thirty Days to Learn Your Camera; A Photography Boot Camp You’ll Love Lesson One

November 30, 2022

Let’s go!

Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash

A lot of my students love my unconventional exercises to learn the camera.

I like to give the gift of photography beyond what the F-stop, Shutter, ISO, and basic lessons can give.

So today, I am going to start a 30 day series as a holiday gift for you to learn your camera.

Even if you are a seasoned pro, I promise that you will take away some new skills from my series.

And the beauty of this series is that you can repeat the exercises as many times as you want to learn something new.

Before you get started with the lessons that I will be posting each day, make sure to follow me and subscribe on the following channels so you get all of the lessons:

Medium: You can read the lessons here.

Anchor: You can listen to my podcast here to hear the lessons, and my podcast is also on Spotify, Apple, Amazon, and where podcasts live if you want to follow and subscribe on your favorite channels.

Youtube: You can watch the lessons or listen here too. This is a relatively new adventure for me, where I removed all of my old videos when the pandemic hit. So yes, I have 9.48K subscribers there, but the channel has been inactive until recently when I started posting again.

Photo Coaching: In all transparency, I share these lessons so that you can grow, and if you need any help with questions about your photography or any of the lessons, I am available as a photo coach for you on Zoom. You can book a lesson for 1 hour with me for just $35 at I am happy to help if you need advice with your photography.

After you finish following the channels to make sure you get all 30 lessons that I am going to be sharing (one each day until Christmas), proceed with the first lesson.

Lesson 1 excercise; Walk North

Photo by Alejandro Luengo on Unsplash

This exercise is simple. You choose your favorite camera that you like to make images with, and you set out from your house or your place of work to walk North.

The camera can be any camera. It does not matter if it is your cellphone, or if it is $10,000. The idea is to get you making images.

Here is the exercise:

Step 1: Take your favorite camera out of your camera bag and prepare to shoot. Grab a bite to eat and something to drink before you leave your house or your office. Take a watch or your phone with you to time your shots.

Step 2: As you leave your house or your office start walking North, every time that one minute passes take a photograph of what is immediately in front of you. Don’t think about it, simply shoot. I would suggest putting your camera in a partial mode such as P or automatic so that you don’t think about it too much. The idea is to make images, not to think about settings at first.

Step 3: Keep heading North, and make a new photograph of what is in front of you every 1 minute.

Step 4: After five minutes have passed, start to shoot blind. Do not look through the viewfinder, and point the camera in the general direction of what is in front of you and push the shutter.

Step 5: Walk for 1 hour exactly, and then sit down at a cafe or on a park bench to review your images.

Step 6: Find your favorite image that you made, and return to the spot that you made it.

Step 7: Now, make a calculated shot of that spot with the settings on the camera that you would like to explore until you have a shot that you love.

Step 8: Return home, unload your camera, and post your image to social medias and tag #shareapicturemagazine. If you want to become a contributor to the community that I run for my students also, you can visit and follow the contributor instructions there.

Bonus: If you like to write, take a moment to write about your experience and share what you felt as you explore the exercise. You can also repeat this as many times as you like from different starting points.

Make sure to follow and subscribe to the above links also for tomorrow’s exercise.

Good luck, and happy shooting!

Hi, I am Charlie Naebeck

I am a husband, photography coach, photographer, writer, podcaster, Youtuber, entrepreneur, and adventurer.

If you like what you read, please consider giving me a follow here on Medium.

I do Zoom photo coaching with students in over 42 different countries, and I would love to help you to inspire you with your photography goals also.

If you want to chat about photography coaching, let’s jump on a complimentary call together at:

Oh yeah, I also have a podcast, and a Youtube channel. Please go check those out also and give them a follow.

Thank you!
Photo Coaching

Thirty Days to Learn Your Camera; A Photography Boot Camp You’ll Love Lesson One was originally published in Share a Picture on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Episode 12 of the What Would Charlie Shoot Podcast

November 30, 2022

On how life shapes our journey as photographers

Listen on or on Spotify, Apple, Amazon, or where podcasts live.

In Episode 12 of What Would Charlie Shoot:

-Charlie talks about how life shapes our path as photographers and the “why” in photography.

-Answering your photography questions. Have a question? Email [email protected] to submit it for the show.

Thank you for listening, and tune in every week for new What Would Charlie Shoot episodes.

Book a free 30-minute photo coaching consultation here: to learn how Charlie can help you quickly improve your photography.

Listen on or Spotify, Apple, Amazon, and where podcasts live each week.

Episode 12 of the What Would Charlie Shoot Podcast was originally published in What Would Charlie Shoot on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

On How Life Shapes Our Path As Photographers

November 30, 2022

Discovering why you start, and how to experience the journey

Photo by Joshua Sortino on Unsplash

Over the years, I have spoken with many of my photography students about an essential question.

The question that drives us all to pick up a camera is universal.

It does not matter what country we are from if we are male or female, our race, or what we believe in — we pick up a camera to capture who or what we love.

And the question beyond the who or what we love about photography that is more important to understand is why we photograph.

Why did you begin? Why do you want to take photographs? What drives YOU to do what you do?

How to identify the why

Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash

To accurately explain the methods for discovering the why to you, let me give you some perspective.

I started photography because I had a Grandmother that gave me a camera at age 10.

At first, I did not dive into photography head over heels. I started on a family vacation to Disney World.

What was my first reason “why” I photographed? It was spending time with my family and remembering the moments we shared.

I would end up photographing alongside my Grandma, and eventually, I got into photographing for money.

There was a distinctly different feeling inside me that felt more hollow when I simply photographed for money.

I did not feel warm/excited/passionate/inspired by many things over the years that I photographed for money.

Yet, these things that I photographed commercially went into the “why” I needed to make a living category instead of the actual answer of why I photograph.

Discovering the why with personal projects

Photo by Stanley Dai on Unsplash

I remember distinctly visiting Chicago for the first time on a trip once.
I was on a boat in the middle of the Chicago river and had a small Sony point-and-shoot camera in my pocket.

I saw a man with a black Nikon camera with a huge lens that kept standing up to photograph everything and everything that he saw.

I felt inspired simply by viewing the size of his camera and lens, and I thought, wow, I need to get myself a camera and lens like that to inspire my photography.

Yet, much later down the road, when I achieved my goal of purchasing a black Nikon camera with a huge lens, it left me feeling hollow again.

I made photographs — sure. Yet, it did not light me up or resonate in the sense that I was doing something that really led to anything. I was simply pushing the button for the sake of pressing the button.

And my first collection of images I made an attempted book out of for a personal project went back to what I started with subconsciously.

I made a book of images of my family and the things that we experienced at age 25.

Was this the New York Times Best Seller that I dreamed of? Nope. Did anyone else care? Nope.

Three copies of the book are in existence. In fact, no one else in this world has a copy of this book except my parents, brother, and myself.

Yet, I felt more alive in capturing these images than I thought by working for others.



In my early 30s, I was laid off from a corporate position where I worked. I was presented with the challenge of what to do next.

My ex-wife suggested that I could continue searching for another corporate job or take time to return to college and finish a degree program.

I chose the degree program as I saw the value in education as a way to improve my situation outside of a soul-sucking 9–5 job.

I enrolled at the University of Michigan’s Art and Design School and found my “inspiration” return.

I was making many things that I enjoyed and loved simply for the sake of doing them, and I excelled in all of my classes.

In my senior year of college, I had a good friend that passed away from bulimia.

No one that was a friend or family to her knew how much she struggled.

She would starve herself to the point where her organs eventually shut down, and she passed in her sleep.

When she passed, it hit me really hard. I felt a fire inside me that I had to speak out about this. And I have always spoken out about what I think over the years through my art.

This timing coincided with my senior thesis at the University of Michigan, so I produced a book called “Resonance” on body image.

Many years later now, I understand that this project was about me trying to understand exactly why my friend went through what she did before she passed.

I photographed over 100 people ages 18+ totally nude, and we collaborated with their written statements of what they wanted to say about body image alongside my photography.

It gave people a voice and a platform to speak out about how they deal with body image and the pressures of society that eat away at individuals.

And when it came time to host my senior thesis show, I thought no one else would show up. Yet, I was greeted by applause and support when I got to the gallery.

I was overwhelmed with emotion and broke down in tears in front of everyone.

The lesson learned: I understood that if I found something that I was passionate about that lit a fire inside me, I had to get it out of me.



During my college study abroad, I was assigned by my professor to photograph ten rolls of film.

I was living and studying in Florence, Italy, at the time, so it was straightforward to find things that inspired me, being it was all a new experience.

My professor told us to hone in on one thing for our project (niche down).

I have always personally struggled with niching down because there are so many things that I am passionate about in life. And my Mom always tells me that my mind drives 100 miles per hour every second of the day.

Long story short, I ended up with a collection of street photography and adventures for my project. I had to decide on more than one thing.

And for my final class presentation, I showed all ten contact sheets as my last works instead of choosing to share specific images from my collection.

It was more about the journey than the destination in this sense.

Years later, I decided in 2015 to publish the collection as a book called “Glimpses.”

I was in my first year as a professor, and I thought I couldn’t send my students on a journey to photograph without sharing my own work and mistakes with lessons that I had learned.

I used this book as a teaching tool, and I sent countless students out into the world with the meaning of the importance of mistakes to learn and make their own work.



On April 5th, 2016, I was photographing behind the scenes for my friend Jordan Matter on his Dancers After Dark project.

We were in Times Square in New York City, photographing three nude dancers and shooting content for Shutterbug Magazine (see the original story here).

I remember specifically when the dancer jumped in the middle of the chaos of Times Square that Jordan froze the dancer perfectly every single time as they practiced.

At this moment, I wondered what the photograph would look like in motion instead of perfectly frozen.

The rebellious nature in my soul told me on this night that I had to do something different. It may be my curiosity. I may have had my new fire inside of me.

I definitely felt the fire inside of me again, and I contacted dancers I met through shooting with Jordan to ask if they wanted to be a part of my new project titled “Kinetic.”

The experience reminded me of what my legendary friend Robert Frank once told me. He had the pleasure of studying under the legend Henri Cartier Bresson who coined the term “The Decisive Moment.”

Robert shared with me once that he printed 136 images and hung them on a gallery wall, calling it his “Decisive Moment,” and that if he did not care for a picture, he took a lighter and burned the negative on sight so that it would never be seen again.

I was not the first to produce something that went against the grain of my mentor’s teaching clearly.

And I ended up photographing dancers and releasing Kinetic on October 20th, 2017. It was my antithesis of what my mentor Jordan Matter had taught me, and I felt alive.

Other tips for finding the why

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Other things that have helped me to discover the why in my photography over the years are:

  1. Free writing: Sometimes, we must dump the thoughts in our mind onto paper or screen to organize them and understand them to find clarity and inspiration.
  2. Adventures: Leaving the house and entering the world often share new experiences and neuroplasticity that inspire us to pick up the camera and make something unique.
  3. Chats with family, friends, and students: Sometimes, simply hearing another person’s insights on a specific topic can be the thing that sets off the light bulb above our heads.
  4. Reading: Reading stories and things of interest can often lead the mind to connect the why in different fashions due to understanding the experience in another format.
  5. Other creative mediums: As photographers, sometimes experiencing thoughts in other creative mediums such as writing, painting, drawing, sculpture, or other art forms can help to surmise the why.

What is the reason that you photograph?

Let’s chat if you want to find the inspiration inside you and understand further why you photograph.

You can book a complimentary 30-minute Zoom call with me, and I will listen to your story to help inspire you on your photography path to give you direction.

Book a call here:

And as always, you can listen in about the topic of today’s post at (also on Spotify, Apple, Amazon, and where podcasts live. Cheers!

Hi, I am Charlie Naebeck

I am a husband, photographer, teacher, writer, entrepreneur, and adventurer.

Book a complimentary Zoom call with me to form an action plan for your photography at:

Also listen to the What Would Charlie Shoot podcast and subscribe at (also on Spotify, Apple, Amazon, and where podcasts live).

If you like what you read, please consider giving me a follow on Medium.

Thank you!

On How Life Shapes Our Path As Photographers was originally published in Share a Picture on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Welcome to my Thirty Day Photo Boot Camp Challenge

November 29, 2022

Get your camera ready, and let’s go!

Photo by Alexander Andrews on Unsplash

Get ready! Tomorrow is the official start of my thirty day photo boot camp challenge.

If you have been wanting to learn photography, this is the time.

If you want to improve your photography, this will cut your chops.

And even if you are a seasoned pro, I promise that I will challenge you.

Get ready to show me the blood, sweat, and tears that you put into your images.

And oh yeah, it is fun! Don’t worry, this is not military boot camp.

What you will learn

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

I have designed exercises in this boot camp for any photographer in any location around the world, with any camera.

There are no excuses to not shoot, and there has never been a better time to learn photography.

I have activities planned for each of the thirty days that will take you indoors, outdoors, connecting with people, enjoying holiday activities, and much more.

And oh yeah, I am giving this to you one lesson at a time.

Each lesson will drop at 8am EST each day until December 30th for the last one in the series.

If you want to participate, make sure to follow me and subscribe on the following links to get ready: (you can follow me to read the exercises here on Medium). (you can listen to the exercises on my podcast here, which is also available on Spotify, Apple, Amazon, and where podcasts live). (you can play the episodes on Youtube also. And don’t forget to like, turn on notifications, and subscribe).

A gift

Photo by Nina Mercado on Unsplash

When you finish the boot camp on the last day, I will give you instructions on how to receive a very special gift.

You will want to make sure to complete each exercise, and to follow the boot camp all the way through to receive the gift.

It is top secret, but if you are a photographer you are going to be very excited to receive the gift.

Get ready!

Photo by Alexander Redl on Unsplash

The boot camp officially kicks off at 8am EST tomorrow December 1st, 2022.

You can read about it here on Medium, you can listen to it on my podcast, or you can play it on Youtube.
Keep these three channels loaded up on your phone in your pocket so that you can get notified each day for a new challenge at 8am EST.

Thank you for joining me for this challenge! I am very excited to share it with you all.

And if you have any questions along the way, leave me a comment and I will do my best to try to respond to comments along the way.

Should I shoot the challenge too? What do you think? Leave me a Yes or No in the comments here.

Let the challenge begin!

Welcome to my Thirty Day Photo Boot Camp Challenge was originally published in Share a Picture on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

On Photography Growth; Visiting my Personal Work

November 28, 2022

A photo essay

The Andes Mountains — Copyright Charlie Naebeck All Rights Reserved.

Sometimes life gives us a lot on our plate, and we forget to take a moment to appreciate what is in front of us.

I have not been interested in photographing for others for a while since I left New York.

I feel content photographing for myself. One day, I want to share the images I make with my children when they are old enough to understand and appreciate photographs.

This contentment is something that a lot of people seek in life and photography.

It could be balanced or finding more about who we are. It may be forgiving those in our lives that have caused us pain.

It may be letting go of fears and leading with our authentic voice.

The Andes Mountains — Copyright Charlie Naebeck All Rights Reserved

It rains a lot in the Andes.

The clouds are one of my favorite things to witness.

I will never forget the first time I flew into Colombia from Miami on how the clouds seemed to eat the mountaintops.

An eternal magical feeling of something more significant in nature taking over something else that is very large also.

I have been fascinated with them ever since.

I often sit on the balcony and meditate while listening to the mountain.
Is my fascination with the mountain in the time I spend gazing at it and trying to process the thoughts through my mind?

Or the mountain is a metaphor for the challenges I face.

Yet on many days, the clouds play hide and seek with the mountains.

Adventures — photo courtesy of my wife All Rights Reserved

I am thankful I have my beautiful wife, an incredibly talented photographer.

I would not remember to document myself without her, as most photographers do.

She reminds me that being present is an essential part of the journey and that one day when we show our children these images, I will be there too, not just behind the camera.

Adventures — photo courtesy of my wife All Rights Reserved.
Nature gives us gifts — Copyright Charlie Naebeck All Rights Reserved.

There is a lot of nature to explore.

I needed to be at the pulse of a thriving city to find things that inspired me to make images.

I realize that no matter where I am now, I can find something — and document and pay homage to what is in front of me.

My photographs are for me first and foremost, and they are not everyone’s style. I’m ok with that.

There was one point in my life when I chased algorithms.

These days, I share honest and transparent thoughts in hopes of helping my photo-coaching students find their way.

Many people want to be popular, and my teaching style is not for them.
My teaching style is for those on a journey — those seeking deeper meaning out of learning their camera.

Sure, I am happy to help you if you are a beginner. I love connecting with beginner photographers.

Yet, if you decide to hire me as your photography coach, expect more from me than sharing how to be popular with you.

Good things come to those who are patient, persistent, and passionate about who THEY are. Not to those that follow trends, algorithms, or the influence of others.

And my job as your coach is to inspire you by helping you find yourself in your photographs so that you can find your way.

Rope on a bucket — Copyright Charlie Naebeck All Rights Reserved.
To enter or not — Copyright Charlie Naebeck All Rights Reserved.

The most significant challenge I face as a photographer these days is the challenge I face within myself.

The struggle to get outside of my own comfort zone.

To find the thing that lights a fire and drives me, yet does not follow — in hopes that it speaks and communicates.

The locks that block the innermost gates of my psyche are robust.

And through photography, one by one, I discover how to open the next door.

Textures — Copyright Charlie Naebeck All Rights Reserved.

I still have a strong affinity for textures.

Ever since I was a student back at the University of Michigan, I have.

It may remind me of my home in Detroit. Growing up, I explored so many abandoned spaces with my camera that had these beautiful dilapidated textures.

And my friends and I made art from the ruin that we found.

Sometimes my love for photographing textures is a rebellion in my own mind.

A rebellion against all of the urgency to find something “perfect” in photography as many try.

I always have had a thing against popular culture, and my stance on photography is no different.

Give me something authentic and genuine any day over popular for popularity and sheep.

New life — Copyright Charlie Naebeck All Rights Reserved.

I don’t know if I believe in reincarnation or not.

I was raised Christian, yet sometimes you feel that you are experiencing something or someone familiar.

My wife and family gave me a new kitten for my birthday this year.
Meet Boris Jr.

He is surprisingly the spitting image of my beloved Boris that I had living in Michigan that I lost one day to a traffic accident.

I was devastated on the day that my original Boris got hit, and a woman brought him to the door of the house.

I could hear his meow telling me that everything would be ok as he passed.
And somehow, he has remained inside of me — one of my best friends sharing countless adventures and lessons together.

Maybe he came back to me in this new kitten?

The new Boris Jr. has many of the same personality traits as my original cat. It is uncanny.

The one setback that I must do is to train the new kitten how to be less vocal.

He sure is a talker and likes to join in on video calls with students or important meetings in the background.

From above — Copyright Charlie Naebeck All Rights Reserved.

One of my favorite experiences visiting Colombia is the cable cars going up and down the mountains.

They remind me of being in Disney World with my family when I was around 5 or 6.

You could also travel across Disney World in the Magic Kingdom on a cable car.

I always got a kick out of looking down from above at what happened below.

Some things just don’t change — and some do.

Resting — Copyright Charlie Naebeck All Rights Reserved.

One day my wife and I set out for a hike with our cameras.

She had forgotten her memory card for her camera in her laptop and was bummed that she would not be able to shoot.

Generally, in my D750, I keep two cards. Yet, lately, I have been fond of shooting with a Sony RX100 that fits in my pocket for all these images.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my D750.

Still, it is difficult to carry a large, expensive camera in areas where people have desperate lives due to political and other conditions out of their control.

My wife always tells me to keep my eyes on the back of my head.

This is nothing new for me growing up in Detroit in very run-down areas.

So when my wife forgot her memory card, we stopped halfway up the mountain at one of the stations to see if a store had one.

As we stopped, I saw a beautiful sculpture of the Mother of Jesus, Mary.

There are a lot of these around Colombia where people stop to pray.

I pledged tithe and entered my coins in my pocket as I asked for safe passage and a pleasant day for our adventure.

And after we finished locating the memory card, we stopped at a restaurant with a view for refreshments for a moment.

I decided it was a day for a beer, and as I sat there sipping, I saw this bird stop for a rest.

I made a handful of images of it as I finished my beer, and we parted ways on our journey.

Strong coffee — Copyright Charlie Naebeck All Rights Reserved

Sometimes you have a bad day.

I am no different.

I had a day when I got up relatively early and traveled almost an hour for a meeting.

My wife traveled with me to ensure I was not lost and that I arrived and returned safely.

We stood and waited for over 45 minutes without speaking from the individual we were meeting.

Finally, we gave up and left as it was clear that no event was happening this day.

We stopped at a cafe that we had never stopped at before, and I ordered an Americano.

Let’s just say it was one of the strongest Americanos I have ever experienced.

Sometimes life signals that you need a swift kick in the ass to change your outlook.

After the coffee, the day sure turned around for the better.

It is just a reminder that we can always change our attitude and outlook by taking a breather.

Photo courtesy of my wife All Rights Reserved.

I hope you have enjoyed my personal essay.

I always tell my students that I can’t ask them to go out into the world to photograph if I can’t share my work.

And these are a couple of peaceful days I enjoy before my brand new 30-day photography boot camp launches.

I will be sharing many tips, tricks, and lessons that you can repeat in your photography as often as you like here on Medium, on my podcast, and on Youtube.

My goal with this boot camp is to get you shooting no matter what level of photographer you are.

It does not matter if you are a beginner or a pro.

I promise that I have something that you can learn from these lessons.

Starting December 1st, you will want to make sure that you are subscribed to follow me at the following:


Anchor: (the podcast is also available on Spotify, Apple, Amazon, and where podcasts live).

Youtube: (go like and subscribe please. I re-opened my channel recently).

I am very excited to share with you all what is in store.

And after you start the boot camp, don’t forget to register at to share your photos and write about them. I have hand-built a fantastic group of photographers there, and I would also love to invite you to share.

If I can help you with your photography in any way, please don’t hesitate to book a call with me at

Thanks for reading, and see you for Day 1 of my photography boot camp on December 1st!

Hi, I am Charlie Naebeck

I am a husband, photography coach, photographer, writer, podcaster, Youtuber, entrepreneur, and adventurer.

If you like what you read, please consider giving me a follow here on Medium.

I do Zoom photo coaching with students in over 42 different countries, and I would love to help you to inspire you with your photography goals also.

If you want to chat about photography coaching, let’s jump on a complimentary call together at:

Oh yeah, I also have a podcast, and a Youtube channel. Please go check those out also and give them a follow.

Thank you!
Photo Coaching

On Photography Growth; Visiting my Personal Work was originally published in Share a Picture on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.