A Letter to Beginner Photographers

April 13, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Dear Beginner Photographer,

Thank you for joining me today. It is nice to virtually meet you in this time where we are all doing these things "online". I am sending you a virtual handshake, high-five, or fist bump as I do all of my students from afar today here in Detroit, MI.

If you have made it to my page, congratulations on taking the first step on your journey! You have either bought a camera, are thinking of buying a camera (if you are looking for suggestions, you can find my gear list here), or someone has given you a camera (make them an album of photos as a thank you!).

At first the camera seems exciting and overwhelming at the same time. I remember taking my first camera out of the box, and I was quick to attach the lens, put a battery in it for the meter, load film, and start snapping away. I was a little bummed at some of my first results because they all came out very dark. It was a different world to learn on film because you 'had' to know manual mode. These days that is no longer the case. We as photographers have several different options to shoot, and none of them are wrong even though everyone has an opinion of their favorite ways to use their cameras.

If you are just starting out, I have a gift for you. I have created several videos on my Youtube that detail the overview of just starting out, into the different modes of your camera, beginner manual mode, and up to intermediate manual mode to challenge some of my long term students that only had a chance to go over some of the basics in places that I have taught with me. Please feel free to visit and watch the videos as many times as you like. A lot of my students enjoy the way that I share material, and the benefit of Youtube is also that you can go through at your own pace.

I have seen a lot of photographers getting creative in the midst of quarantine right now. Most have taken to things to shoot around the house to deal with not being able to go outside. I have started a new tradition to stream a free live photography lesson in different things every day live at 8-9pm EST on my Instagram. I am lucky to have been given the gift of photography by my Grandma when I was growing up, and she would be one of the first to help someone in times like these that we live in, so I would like to do the same for you all. I would encourage you to join me every night to learn something new, ask questions about your photos, and we now have things like Photo Club night on Sundays, and Mondays are all about making something new from old photos as a fun recurring theme so far.

As you start out with your camera, or even if you have been shooting for a while, a thing called time can be a huge factor to practice. I encourage every photographer to carry their camera wherever they go daily to shoot everything possible. I suggest taking the camera and a short lens so that if you get a few minutes to practice, you can make images. I used to work in computers, and I would walk around outside on my lunch break to make photos just to unwind and practice. It sure beat sitting in a cubicle my entire day!

If you find yourself with specific questions, or that you would like to advance your skills faster than you are learning, I also teach online private photography lessons. Please feel free to drop me a note, and I am happy to chat with you about specials on packages of lessons, or individual lessons start at $80/hr. I have students in over 42 different countries these days from my time spent guest lecturing at places like NYU, FIT, Adorama TV, Photo Manhattan, and also from workshop tours that I teach annually these days. I love how the power of the internet has all given us a way to connect no matter where we are in the world during these times with covid-19.

If you have read this far also, I would like to thank you for visiting my pages. I wish you many happy adventures with your photography! Everyone thinks that they can learn photography quickly, but I will share that you are embarking on an inspirational journey of a lifetime! Photography is a gift that we can use to remember, create, work, share, and visually communicate. It takes time and many adventures to fully master. I cannot see a day in my own life without it, and the camera has become an extension of my soul.

Please let me know how your photos go! You are welcome to tag work on Instagram or Facebook @whatwouldcharlieshoot where I will see your work. Please do feel free to say hello any time also! I look forward to getting to hear all about your photos, and happy shooting!


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