LESSON #1: MANUAL MODE
There is no need to be afraid of manual mode. Just turn it on and start playing–you’ll figure it out quick. If you understand what shutter speed, aperture, and ISO do, you’ll quickly learn how to shoot in manual. Perhaps the biggest mistake beginning photographers make when starting to shoot in manual mode is that they expect to nail the shot the first time. Manual mode is a process of trial and error. You’ll get faster and faster at judging the correct settings, but you have to accept the fact that it will take a few tries for each set up. (Bronnie Thompson)
LESSON #2: GET A DEPOSIT BEFORE BOOKING A SHOOT
I read this hard-earned lesson sent in by Troy Browder and I had to laugh, because any pro photographer who has been around for a while has been burned. I learned the hard way, too. Get a deposit and get a contract before ever putting a client down on your calendar. It’s just good business.
LESSON #3: IT IS NOT “CHEATING” TO USE PHOTOSHOP
I have strong feelings about the importance of using digital image editing in our photography. In fact, I had a conversation with Dustin Olsen (who is working with me at Improve Photography now), about digital image editing a couple days ago and was glad to hear that he feels just like I do. My photography is not news, my photography is art. Just like a painter can put whatever she wants in a painting, I feel that I can do whatever I want to my photos in Photoshop as long as I don’t lie and tell people it is a representation of the actual scene.
LESSON #4: BOUNCE FLASH
Most photographers buy a flash with their new camera, but most beginners just aim the flash head right at the subject and shoot. If you point the flash at the ceiling or a side wall and bounce the flash onto the model, you’ll get significantly softer and more flattering light. It’s incredibly easy to learn, but many photographers are afraid to try it for the first time.
LESSON #5: LEARN TO CHANGE THE ACTIVE FOCUS POINT
For most (but not all) photography, I recommend using a single autofocus point rather than allowing the camera to choose several points. When many photographers learn to use one focus point, they often use only the center focus point. To do this, they focus on the eye of the subject or on the correct place for a landscape, and then recompose the picture while holding the shutter button half-way down. After composing to the correct composition, the photographer then finishes pressing in the shutter button. If you sit down for a minute with your camera manual and learn to change the focus point, then you will likely get a much larger percentage of your shots in focus