I think it’s the teacher in me that misses it all now. Paying it forward, seeing faces light up when they develop a skill or have an “aha” moment. I taught my very first photography retreat last year [and still have to blog it – but I’ll get around to that this week, I promise] and it was so much fun that not only am I doing it again this summer, but I’ve also decided to run an online course for those people that might want to learn but can’t get away.
So why would you want to learn to use your camera? Well, I get quite a few emails from people or comments on Instagram asking what model my camera is. I wrote a post recently about the lenses that I use – and that’s the other question I have from people quite often [I have them listed on my page here, if you’re a Nikon user] also.
The truth is though, that it really doesn’t matter which super-amazing camera you buy if you can’t use it properly – that is, to get the results that you want. I bought my first DSLR in 2012 after the focus on my point and shoot Lumix died on me for the second time during my middle son’s cake smash.
With my first few photographs on my Nikon DS3200, I quickly realised that on automatic, my photographs were so much better than with my point and shoot. Better, but not what I wanted. For the first few months, I had dark photos, photos with the focus somewhere other than where I wanted it to be, grainy photos, grey photos, yellow photos, blurry photos and out of focus photos. I still loved them, and thought they were amazing – but it was pot luck what came off my camera card, and it was so frustrating. I realised quite swiftly that taking photographs is as much about the photographer as the camera. Just like hairdressers and scissors. It doesn’t matter if I’m holding Vidal Sassoon’s scissors – my husband still wouldn’t let me near his hair with them [again – I cut his hair for him once on holiday before we were engaged…. Didn’t go well. I’m no hairdresser. Hahaha [sorry Gav]].
Anyhow, my point is that my camera is a machine – with an instruction manual, and to operate it properly I needed to learn how to use it – and how it works. And I spent SUCH a long time doing just that. Tutors, courses, books. And it was hard for me, because I overthink things so terribly. Then I realised that if I was struggling, others must be too.
You see, photographing products is very different to photographing children – the obvious difference being the speed of our little tiddlers, and that they’re so, so unpredictable. My camera has no idea whether I’m focusing on a cupcake or my two year old on the trampoline. And I need to tell it just that before I take my shot, because otherwise the chances are that things aren’t going to come out how I want them to.
I’ve been capturing photographs of my boys now for about four years now in manual mode. And I mean CAPTURED. I’ve herded cats, wrangled huskies – there are no studio photos with lovely lighting, no posed scenes [except for where I’ve had to resort to bribery], they’re all real, on-the-fly photographs of moments in their lives that I want to keep forever.
I’ve learned quite few things along my journey – spent more hours that I can even guess learning just why things aren’t working the way I want them to, and discovered what my tutors could see when I couldn’t as a beginner – and I truly hope that I can help some of you, if you want to learn how to capture beautiful moments of your little ones’ lives without a studio setting and the price tag that goes with each shoot. That’s not to say I don’t pay for shoots; we have a lovely family photographer of our own too [otherwise I would never be in the frame], but I’d need to be a millionaire to have her follow us everywhere we go.
In our four week course, I will teach you through a series of assignments and instruction in a closed Facebook group and via email. You will understand how to use your camera to capture images to make you smile, whilst still keeping your sanity intact. We’re going to go beyond the simple theory of the exposure triangle and tackle photography practically, and from a parents’ perspective. Four weeks of learning, shooting, posting photos and asking questions – and getting answers that work. No level of previous knowledge is required – just a DSLR [although if you do have some understanding already, that’s brilliant too].
The course begins 1st March, and sign up closes on February 21st.
The full cost is £150, but places can be held with a non-refundable £10 deposit.