Photography For Beginners (Who Haven't Yet Begun): Turning An Interest Into Something More / by Robert Welsted

Greetings, folks!  By now, it's no secret that I enjoy getting outside and photographing landscapes.  Most of the time, however, I'm out there doing this alone.  After all, who really has the patience to wait for me to unpack my gear and take photos every fifty yards or so while progressing on a hiking trail to some waterfall in the middle of nowhere?  Considering I don't know many other landscape photographers with the same erratic train of though as I have, the answer to that is 'not many'.  But how did I go from someone who once got a ZERO in a middle-school photography class (probably because I was more concerned with playing my guitar in class and not paying any attention to the teacher - sorry, Mr. Agel!) to someone who wakes up while most others are asleep to attempt to get sunrise photos in remote locations on freezing-cold days?  Read on to get a little bit of an idea about that.

 If my middle-school photography teacher were the camera, here, you can imagine why my grade bottomed out.

If my middle-school photography teacher were the camera, here, you can imagine why my grade bottomed out.

Recently, some of you have been asking me some photography-related questions.  These have ranged from "Which camera would you recommend?' to 'I just picked up this *insert camera make/model here*.  Can you teach me how to use it?".  A majority of these folks have an interest in photography, and would love to pursue that passion.  As I am fairly new at this whole game (and have ZERO formal education in it), I am also in the learning stage.  I'd be more than happy to show you what I've learned - if not from a technical standpoint, most certainly from an emotional and artistic one.  Developing the 'eye' for photography isn't a difficult as one might think, and you just might already have 'it'.  Sometimes, a little bit of polishing will bring out anyone's inner shine.

 My preferred tool of the trade.

My preferred tool of the trade.

There is plenty of information available to us at our fingertips, so utilizing the internet is an integral component to the ongoing education process; something that not only applies to photography, of course.  This - and Barnes and Noble - have helped me tremendously.  My personal education comes from a steady supply of books and YouTube videos (hey, it's the easiest way!).  My suggestion to those of you that want to graduate from your iPhone or Samsung (not that they don't allow for some awesome shots, because they most certainly do!) is to either start reading/watching videos about photography basics (aperture, shutter speed, ISO) to help get a base-layer of knowledge, or do what I did and not only read about it all, but grab a camera, set it on manual and start shooting.  I'm an advocate of hands-on training in this regard; it forces you to figure it all out quicker.

 A little light reading never hurt anyone.

A little light reading never hurt anyone.

While reading, watching videos, or grabbing the camera and firing away are steps in the right direction, having a mentor in the field is paramount to progression.  Paul Harrington [owner of Paul's Pics 4 You, LLC (www.fotolightroom.com), renowned photographer, coworker, mentor, and more importantly, friend] has been absolutely instrumental in my young career.  I continue to pick Paul's brain about the art of photography, as well as the business aspect of it.  His experience and knowledge are unparalleled, but it's his continued support that goes the furthest, to me.  It is because of this that I am fueled to learn more and improve with a DSLR in my hands.  For this, I am grateful and appreciative.  Since some folks have looked to me for insight and support - and it is a bit flattering - I can only hope to deliver the same type of help (albeit, on a technically inferior level) to them as Paul has been kind enough to offer to me.  Check out his stuff; seriously, he's the real deal.

All in all, I'm making every effort to absorb as much knowledge of photography as I possibly can, and often look to others for insight and inspiration.  Those interested in this field all start from the bottom - with a desire to capture images that mean something to us (and sometimes to others) - and have the potential to learn how to channel that spark into something greater.  It's a never-ending quest (at least in my twisted cranium) to improve upon a passion and use it to showcase my heart and mind, as well as utilize it as a positive distraction to negativity.  Feel free to join me on this ride.  Grab your camera and I'll make my best efforts to show you the way.  Now, let's get outside.