• Ask Anything

a nice camera for YEARS! It was a DSLR back when they weren’t super affordable and not everyone had one. I would take pictures ALL DAY, EVERY DAY. I paid $1200 for this camera with my graduation money and I just knew that if I paid that type of money, I would take AMAZING pictures…. instantly. That’s how it works right?! Right. Nope. Not even close. I would snap away at EVERY event in college. Cookouts, parties, concerts, sports games, volleyball tournaments… you name it, I was there with my SUPER NICE CAMERA! I would take hundreds and then no one would see them until I spent time making them look extra awesome in iPhoto. People praised me for my skills. Was I really good?

No, not really. But no one else had an SLR and so that automatically made my pictures the best! So this continued for over a year… and then I second shot my first wedding right before my Junior year of college. I loved it…. but when I was shooting certain aspects of the day, I was disappointed that what I was envisioning for certain shots wasn’t shining through in my images. It’s like my camera didn’t catch my vision!!!! Come on you Rebel xti! Didn’t you know that I was trying to expose for the skin?! Not the blaring sun behind the bride?! So frustrating. It was then that I decided to go home and learn to shoot manually. 100% manually. No more auto, no more little green box…. I was going to learn it all.


I went back to campus after that first second shooting job and I switched my camera to the “M” mode and vowed to NEVER change it. It was HARD. I specifically remember shooting pictures at a volleyball game in the middle of the day. Clouds were coming and going and the light was constantly changing and I couldn’t keep up. How in the WORLD did people do this on WEDDING DAYS?! Even though there were  A LOT of over exposed pictures from that volleyball game, I didn’t change my settings. While everyone else was goofing off and having a care-free afternoon at the JR volleyball courts, I was experiencing a pivot point in my camera skills. From that point on, I shot manually… constantly. And that’s how I learned. I didn’t take a workshop, I didn’t take courses at college and I don’t have a photography degree. :) It’s not impossible to be self-taught. I’m living proof that it’s possible! But it takes dedication, a lot of frustration and commitment!! So happy shooting everyone… especially those of you that have a DSLR and are ready to learn your manual settings!  And by the way…YOU’RE the one that will be doing all of work once you’re shooting manually…. not the camera. And that’s what makes you a PHOTOGRAPHER…. not just the girl in college with the NICE CAMERA:)

Happy Wednesday!

Image found via Pinterest and PPA :) Sign-up HERE for more FREE info, tips and advice via our monthly newsletter!

xoxo, Katelyn
12 Comments Ask Anything, Education
  1. Jannira reply

    I did take a couple classes to understand my camera better (it intimidated me). But other than that, I learned manual on my own. Just gotta try, try, and try again. Thanks for this post! Its inspiring!

  2. Jenna reply

    Meanwhile, I was earning my film/photography degree with a crappy point and shoot and learning this very same lesson. Although really we worked almost exclusively in film those days (only about 5 years ago, how times have changed, eh). So very true!

  3. Lyndsey Portell reply

    I LOVE this!!! Thank you for sharing. When I’m having one of my “not so great” days and having doubts and fears, your blog always encourages me. I cannot wait to meet you in November at the workshop.

  4. Kristina W. reply

    I love taking photos with my point and shoot so much… I need to take the plunge and start learning wtih a DSLR!

  5. nicole jessee reply

    You inspire me everyday! I really do think you’re a genius!! <3

  6. Jasmine reply

    So true. Thank-you for sharing. You are fantastic at what you do. Passion is always the fire that lights up the desire to pursue what we love..

  7. Julie reply

    Wow. That was pretty much me! haha. I just graduated college last year and I was the girl at the college who had the nice camera and took the pictures at all the events. I am completely self taught, and I don’t have a really nice camera yet, but I still work with what I have. I love photography! You are such a inspiration to me to keep going, and this post has encouraged me greatly! Thank you for doing what you love and sharing it with us all!

  8. Daryl reply

    It may be worth noting that most people would do better with some sort of training or tutelage as well, to learn what makes a good photograph, and how to operate the camera properly.

  9. Courtney Jones reply

    Thanks for posting this! It’s so true how much work it really does take to be more than just a girl with a nice camera. we try really hard to be the girls that take beautiful photos! :)

  10. Sharon washington reply

    Truer word never spoken! Although I covet a ‘professional grade’ camera I have no choice but to love and make the best out of my rebel t2i. I’m living proof that it is not the camera that counts as I have taken many a beautiful image with my entry level crop sensor as I have also with a point and shoot. I think being self taught is a wonderful learning curve. I am attending a Lexie vornberg senior shootout in September and although I would love nothing more than some good glass and an upgraded camera for this much anticipated event, i’m confident enough that my trusty little rebel will see me through.

  11. Upasana reply


  12. Lois reply

    I wanted a DSLR for a long time but never had the money, being a poor college student. :) But my cousin bought a DSLR and lent it to me! He put in m mode and let me figure out the rest. I’m still learning and enjoying every minuet of it!

Reply to: