So you bought a DSLR..

..Or…What every new photographer should consider…

Everyone is at it! Digital SLR cameras are now available at a price that makes them available to everyone, and no longer the province of professionals.  You just have to walk around a large city like London to see that everyone is snapping, and the equipment is getting more sophisticated.

I’m not going to question anyones decision to buy a DSLR; hell, I bought one myself not so long ago for a number of reasons, but now you have one here’s some basic tips.

1. Know your camera.
Read the manual or even better, buy a book about the model you’ve bought.  There are loads on the market; though the focus is on the most popular marks (namely Canon and Nikon).  Once you have a book – READ IT!  Try out all the things in there – the different modes (yes including Manual!), focusing methods, ISO, in-camera editing etc etc.
Take your time to understand the menus, and play about with it.  You can’t break it (well, you can, but I assume you’re not going to drop it!) and you can always reset it to the factory defaults if you get in a pickle, using the instructions in the manual.

2. Take photos.
Seriously! It’s what it’s there for. It’s the cameras ‘destiny’! Just snap snap snap away.  Start with auto mode for as long as you want to and just make sure you’re constanting taking photos. Fill up the memory card (oh yeah! remember to get one of those too) and review what you’ve taken.  Just delete them in the camera if you really don’t like the photos.  But keep at it, and try to understand why you like certain photos you’ve taken – your opinion is the most important one.

3. Buy some editing software (and take time to learn it)
Some people seem to have a problem with this.  They invest hundreds of pounds on a camera and then refuse to buy software to support the investment.  But consider this…Your camera needs good software to support it, and you’ll be amazed at the difference that software can make to your photos and your ability to fully explore the creativity of digital photography.
I use Abobe Photoshop Elements 9 (PSE) – not the full version of Photoshop CS (too expensive for what I want to do). PSE is cheap and is perfect for photo editting.  There’s loads of tutorials and extensions, and it’s filled with features.
Of course, once you have it, you need to learn to use it.  You don’t need to know everything; but spend time importing your photos and trying the effects.  Have fun with it.

4. Don’t buy loads of lenses.
At least, not straight away! Your camera probably came with a ‘kit’ lens – something like a 18-55mm, and that will be fine for now. Understand how to use it, and it’s limitations, before you rush out and spend more money.

5. DO buy a UV filter.
A screw-in UV filter for your lens will be cheap and should be a must.  It will have no noticable effect on the photos (in fact will improve colours in daylight) but will help protect the lens from scratches, marks, and damage.

6. Get a case.
It doesn’t have to be a big one, but dust it not something you want getting in your camera and a comfortable case will also encourage you to take it out with you.  Which is kind of the point.

7. Join a Photo-blogging site.
Nothing is going to encourage you more than, a daily blogging site. I use, and highly recommend It’s free to sign up, easy to use, has a great community, and will become addictive! Try it!

8. Subscribe to DPS.
Digital Photography School is a wonderful resource for photographers of all experiences.  There are tutorials, articles, reviews, and a weekly email with tips and lessons.  It makes compelling reading!

9. Talk to people.
It surprises me how many people have DLSRs these days. It’s likely that your friends and work colleagues have them. Talk about cameras, ask what they have. Swap tips and ideas!

10. Don’t be afraid!
Photography is an art and a science. People have been doing it for over a century. The technology is complex and advances very quickly.  Photographers will tell you they have been doing it all their lives and still don’t know everything.
It can be pretty scary!

But! It’s never been easier to be a photographer!  You’ve taken the big step by buying a DSLR so don’t be afraid to use it.

And the cardinal rule?  HAVE FUN!