Monday, January 2, 2012

Becoming a Mom with a Camera - Volume 1 - Learning your DSLR {Photography}

(Let me preface this with saying, I am in NO WAY a professional and have NOT had professional training.  This is straight up, how I learned to use my camera. It probably was not the easiest way, but it (eventually) got me headed in the right direction.  I still have SO much to learn)

I got my Nikon D90 for Christmas 2009.  I used it on Auto for the next year and a half.  Most of the time it was just sitting in our closet collecting dust. I had good intentions on learning how to use it.  I kept putting it off until the next weekend, day off from school, summer break, etc.  I knew the learning process was going to be long and that once I started, I wouldn't want to stop.

Once my daughter was born, I couldn't put it off any longer.  Luckily for me, she was an amazing napper. I chose a couple nap times a week to start reading and taking notes.

Over the course of the last 8 months I have read tons of books, blogs, and manuals.
I have also taken lots and lots of notes.  LOTS.  Each author and mom blogger had their very own tips and tricks.  I wrote them all down and tried them all.  I eventually narrowed them down to one cheat sheet of my very own. 

You might find that you don't need to purchase any books and can find the information you need for free on the internet.  I have a weird obsession with books and sometimes the huge amount of information available on the blogosphere overwhelms me.  I knew I had to start with me, my books, and a notepad.  

Yes, most of the books and posts I read, contained the same information over and over again. I found, reading the information several times from different perspectives, helped me grasp such a huge amount of information in a way that my brain could process it.  Everyone learns differently.  This is what worked for me. 

(Some of you might choose to take a class, which is great! I tried a 3 hour DSLR class last spring. I was 8 months pregnant with a pinched sciatic nerve, a splitting headache, and a 5lb baby sitting on my bladder.  Long story short... I was unable to pay attention and walked out knowing the same amount as I walked in with.)  

Books I Read:
(Many professional photographers recommend reading your camera manual first.  I tried and made it through 2 pages and just couldn't do it.  I did keep it close by at all times to refer to when I needed it.)

*The Mom*Tog's UnManual - It is a guide that explains how to use your DSLR in plain English.  It was a quick read and was short, sweet, and to the point.

* Say no to Auto by Kristen Duke Photography - Another quick read that gave me good info and tips to add to my notes.  She has quite a few sample pictures that include the f/stop, ISO, and shutter speed of each picture.

* Mamarazzi by Stacey Wasmuth - She dives deeper into posing, candid shots and documenting the story of your family through pictures.  LOVED this book and would recommend it to any mom with a camera.

*Your Baby in Pictures by Me Ra Koh -  A book about capturing your baby in pictures each month of their first year.  It gave me tips on how to pose Bella during each stage of development.

Blogs/ Websites

* Ken Rockwell - I HIGHLY recommend his site.  This is where it all started to come together for me.  He tells it like it is and sorts through the world of photography knowledge, letting his readers know which information is useful and which is not necessary. (I also bought his Nikon D90 iPhone app.  GREAT to refer to when you are on the go and have a question.)

*Pioneer Woman - Enough said. (Is there anything she can't do?)

*My 3 Boybarians - AMAZING series of tutorials.  

*Censational Girl - The first blogger I started following when my obsession with blogs began.  She is my design idol and she has some great photography tips!

*Digital Photography School - WARNING you can get lost on this site for hours.  They have hundreds of extremely helpful tutorials.  I loved this post about 21 tips, tricks, and settings all new camera owners should know. 

*Brown Paper Packages - Another great "Shooting in Manual" Summary.

*Clickin Moms - The end all be all for anything and everything to do with mom photography.  They have a very informational weekly newsletter and a forum that covers everything you could imagine. (you do have to become a member of the site to see the forum, which includes a sign-up fee)

I could go on forever, so I am going to stop here.  This is already a hugely overwhelming amount of resources.  

Don't put it off any longer! Get your camera out and start learning! 
-A :)

Watch for my Future Posts:
Becoming a Mom with a Camera - Volume 2 - Lenses
Becoming a Mom with a Camera - Volume 3 - My Cheat Sheet
Becoming a Mom with a Camera - Volume 4 - Post Processing - Lightroom and Photoshop


  1. Hello! I'm a a mom-tog/hobbyist photographer too. I started in 2008 with my Canon Rebel. Love your little series going on here. :) Found you through MCP's project 12.

    Did you purchase the books or did you borrow them from the library?

  2. Hi! Thanks for stopping by! I bought one of the books, borrowed one, and two of them were given to me as gifts! But I know my local library has a great selection, so I am sure yours would too!

  3. Hi, I just did a post on my blog and listed almost all of the same books you did. I am trying to decide if the UnManual is worth purchasing if i have already read the others. I've just recently started shooting manual with pretty decent results but I still have a lot to learn. Trying to decide if I will learn anything new from it or if I should just put the cash toward a new lens.


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