Lesson 1 – Intent

Why do you want to take pictures? You may want to share with others how you see the world around you, you may want to document your life and that of the people you love, you may have a desire to create images that blow other people away. There are so many excellent reasons to get into photography and why you do so is up to you.

I've put this section first because when I learned photography - it was technique first and art second. That is a time honoured way of learning photography. But now that I've done it for 40 years I think it was a backwards way of learning photography.

Photography is an art and you are the artist. If you're thinking you could never be an artist I have good news for you - you already are. Even just taking the time to read this page you've shown you have the desire make images that give you pleasure and can affect others - that is art.

Now comes the fun part - think about why you want to take pictures. Write down a list of:

  1. Things you like about photography. Do you love the moment of seeing the images in prints or on your screen? Is it the challenge of making the photo? Is it the sharing the images with your friends? Is it the memories you get when you look at your photos later? Whatever it is you like about taking pictures, write it down.
  2. What you want to achieve with photography. Do you want to remember what your kids are like at each stage of growing up? Do you like flowers or architecture or mountains and want to document them? Do you want to show the human condition? Do you want to pursue a career in photography? Write down what you want your photography to do.
  3. What subjects you want to shoot. Flowers, dogs, kids, models, food, people's feet, whatever. Write down those things you find catch your eye or make you wish you had your camera when you see it.
  4. How you feel about those subjects. Do you love it, hate it, feel afraid of it, laugh at it, wish it was yours? This is actually the most important section of the lesson. When you understand what you feel towards something, you'll find your photography of it improves automatically.

Now grab your pen and start writing. Once you're done, put it on the wall, throw it into your camera bag or put it somewhere you can easily review it. Add or change it as you grow as a photographer. But once you have the list, you have a great tool to make your photography better.

You may have noticed the link in top right corner for the book "Drawing on the artist within" by Betty Edwards. I highly recommend this book for learning about bringing out your inner artist - it is a very, very good book which taught me a lot.

Next Lesson - Exposure Basics

131 thoughts on “Lesson 1 – Intent”

  1. Take your photgraphy even further after exploring the classes here - sign up for the Photography Masterclass Click Here!
        1. I totally agree with you after reading what it is that we are supposed to write down I really got to thinking a lot about why I have the drive I do to snap the photos that I do

    1. Dear all on this brilliant web site,
      Good day/evening

      Thank you so much for the priceless information that you offer here and for ” Free”

      I finished the first lesson, it’s nice.
      I’d finish the whole course. I’d come back to show how far could I get on taking photos.

      I already joined your face book group.
      Thanks again.

      Love you.

  2. Thank you for this great first lesson! I look forward to reading the rest of the lessons. This really has made me think about why I pick up my camera and what I want to be shooting.

  3. I really loved the first lesson, it really makes a person think, it has taken up my whole first page in my note book. Now on to the second, and third, ect.. Im excited to see what I’ll be learning, and how much I enjoy.
    Thanks 🙂

  4. I am a 14 year old girl that wants to become a professional photographer. I have had so many comments and remarks on my photography now. I am looking to get even better, that is when I found this web site. The first lesson does make you think about why you want to take picture’s. Why you feel such a passion for photography. I think just learning all that is on this page has taken my photography skills to a new level.
    Thank you so much!

  5. Everythings sounds interesting so far…..looks like a program I been lookin for….thank you for this opportunity at no cost…..I love photography, taken pictures is my hobby.

  6. Just updated my camera to a more professional one. I am excited to learn more, and very excited to get even more creative with your lessons. Love capturing “Emotions” & “Detailed up close” work. Thanks for opening the lens on lesson #1

  7. I am excited to have found this site and to be able to take these lessons. This first lesson made me think about why I love photography. I am looking forward to completing all the lessons. Thank you for what you are doing.

  8. Someone once said, and I paraphrase, “Photography teaches you to look at the world through a lens without using a camera”. As I spend more time taking photo’s (nature/birds/landscapes) it seems as though I am ALWAYS seeing things in term of composition! Nothing “looks” the same anymore and I am truly enjoying this awakening!

    1. That’s whats happening to me. I even look at curtains blowing in the breeze and a potential photography!

    Lesson 1
    1. I like to look at photographs that are clear and sharp of almost any subject. I love nature pictures the best. I get a charge when I look through a camera lens. I can focus on the subject and ignore the world around me. I also enjoy taking photos of my family’s doings and putting together a slide show every year for Father’s Day for my husband. I do not like to scrapbook, but like looking at photo albums and books.
    2. I want to take my camera off AUTO mode and start learning how to change settings for different scenes. I especially want to learn how to focus a flower while blurring the background. I also want to start taking interesting architectural pictures. Photographing nature comes naturally to me and I have access to a lot of nature, away from the city. I love black and white photos of people. I want to start taking pictures worth of filling picture frames around my house without feeling embarrassed about the quality.
    3. Flowers, nature, my family, a picture a day of my every day ordinary life, architecture, black and white photos of people, hands and feet especially. I don’t like group photos much, something is usually amiss.
    4. I marvel that a good picture of a flower can make me imagine the scent or the feel of its petals. It makes me remember my mother. Nature pictures make me relax and calm my soul. I need that. I want to record my ordinary life (spilled milk and all) so my grandkids will have a sense of how their parents grew up. I want to photograph the architecture in my little city so people can appreciate what we have to offer instead of always stating there is nothing to do in this town. I want to catch glimpses of people in black and white so I can remove extraneous features and focus on the person. I especially like hands and feet because I think about how we are supposed to use our hands and feet to serve God. What a variety he made. I don’t usually enjoy pictures of children unless I know them.


  10. Thanks for the opportunity to truly reflect on why I take pictures. I want to capture the beauty all around me, freeze moments in time, catalogue events, and tell stories. I want to grow in knowledge and confidence. I want to believe in my gift, acknowledge, and embrace the artist in me. I want to share my art with others. I’m interested in photojournalism, landscape and portrait photography. I love taking pictures of children and teens. I love making collages and finding unique angles. I love taking pictures of landscapes and nature. Children make me happy. They are so eager and free of inhibitions. They are open and unpredictable. I can take pictures of them in their environment –just playing – and I try hard not to pose them. I love capturing the beauty of teenage girls. So many teens have deep insecurities and I love finding their best angles and capturing their spirit. They do frighten me a little because I feel like they’re watching me –waiting for direction -and I’m not confident with posing. They’re so critical of themselves, too. I love looking at family portraits but I am terrified of the “shoot.” Again, it’s the expectancy – needing to appear confident and strong with posing. With nature, I’m at peace because I feel like I can take all the time in the world – no worries to please anyone or “get it right.” I can play and experiment as much as I want. Things that catch my eye: laughter, love, intimacy, sunsets, flowers, a farmhouse, a field, a lake or river. Sharing this passion is risky for me because of insecurities and the need to be vulnerable. I’m excited to take this journey. I’m posting one of my favorite pictures that I took this week.

    1. Hi! I’m Tina. Nice to meet you! I always have that one frightening moment that I’m so confident for not posing people but then I always am afraid of how the shoot will turn out.

      1. Practice, a lot – I trust your not charging for photography until you’ve gain the confidence to handle the unexpected. Until then, practice more. There’s lots of ways to find people to practice with if you go to model and photographer groups for your city on Facebook or search for models on a site like modelmayhem.com.

    1. Hi Ankit – best way to learn is to do; read each lesson and then do it. No one can “teach” you anything (not even your teachers at school) – it is you that learns from what is provided.


  11. 1.I like the fact that when I have a camera in my hand nothing else seems to matter, I can just focus solely on what ever it is I choose to photograph. I love being able to look back through the pictures and be prompted back to when and where a photo was taken and look at all the good things that come from the time it was taken. I love the idea of being able to just Freeze time forever.

    2. I want to achieve top grade photographs that I can look back on and be proud of. That can be shown to my family and friends with a sense of pride. I would also love to become a professional photographer but would like to know more about contrast and techniques before I look at taking a paid course.

    3. I love to shoot the out doors, speedway and families. They are the three subjects I have the most passion for in my life. I love to be out exploring and seeing new things. I also enjoy photographing everyday life and Love to take photos of my daughter.

    4. These subjects are my passions in life and not only when it comes to photography. They are my world. These are the things I am and always will be passionate about

  12. im done with the 1st lesson, However, any recommendations on good cameras that can be bought to train on for shooting and photographing,please

    1. Maya – the camera you choose is really dependent on your budget, but I’d suggest a lower end dSLR that you can easily do manual exposures with rather than everything automatic.

      You could try:
      Nikon D3000 10.2MP Digital SLR Camera with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S DX VR Nikkor Zoom Lens
      Canon Rebel XS 10.1MP Digital SLR Camera with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens (Black)
      Sony Alpha A230L 10.2 MP Digital SLR Camera with Super SteadyShot INSIDE Image Stabilization and 18-55mm Lens
      Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2 12.1 MP Live MOS Interchangeable Lens Camera with 3-Inch Touch Screen LCD and 14-42mm Lumix G VARIO f/3.5-5.6 MEGA OIS Lens (Black)

      (See all Digital SLRs)

      These are just a few suggestions – there are lots of choices. Anything from a name brand will do a great job.

  13. Thank you SO much for creating this site. I have been told to be a photographer at many events and gatherings, but declined.I feared my natural self-taught skills would not suffice. I am looking forward to developing my skills as a photographer since it is firstly an art for me and the technical part makes me a little weary. I rather not go to a class to learn this art honestly. Thank you for making it an exciting do-it-yourself learning experience!

  14. i just love capturing moments, nature and people’s faces. faces alone tells a lot of stories… sorrow, happiness, broken heart, blank face, etc.

  15. Thanks for the wonderful first lesson!
    I really appreciate it since there are just some people who takes pictures and just takes picture. period. I believe long before that photography is something deeper and meaningful than just taking pictures.

    When I was a child, I had wanted to be a photographer.Not just because my grandpa was an official photographer of a president of a country and was so amazed by it but also I find it as a great and interesting Art.

    But people and other things started letting me down, and my dream was gone for a while. And also, how can I be a photographer if I didn’t even have a digicam? That’s how poor we are.

    But now that I’ve grown up, 15 year old, and we have a camera now, and people are saying I have the talent. I started to be eager about it. Silly me, I should have been eager before and should have not given up so easily!

    Now that I realized I have the talent, I’ll have to learn taking pictures manually!

    I promise I’ll answer these and write it down and keep my answers and realizations in my heart :DDD

    this website is awesome!! thanks <3

  16. I am a 11 year old girl who is excited to learn photography and i like that there is a place to learn it instead of going somewhere to learn it …. love it thx….:-)


  18. im a artist. im in 2 year now i choise my careear in photoghraphy n i like to capture brids so i choise wildlife photoghraphy. these sites n lessons improve my photoghraphy skill
    its nice

  19. i’av already startn writing my intensions. .dats fells me good. .n i got to know what i xcatly want to do or want to be while i looking through lens.

  20. I have a very strong desire to create images that i will see and smile ” Unbelievable” ever since i was young. Though am a Nurse, but at this point in my life, i have learnt that you can only be successful at what you have passion for.

  21. i really liked the first lesson and thanks for your motivation,your words pushed me forward to follow my passion.thank you.

  22. 1. I like seeing my photography being used. I feel as though I am in my own world when I have my camera. I love the challenge of taking “the perfect shot”and trying to capture beauty. I also like to pay attention to detail and that is what my photography mainly captures. And this may sound ridiculous, however I like the feeling of standing out by looking odd trying to capture a moment. For example: trying to capture a child at play and I’m chasing after her with my camera snapping shots; or taking a picture of a flower and I may have to lay on the ground.

    2. I want to pursue a career in photography. I want to travel to different state and different countries with my photography.

    3. The things that I love most to take pictures of is landscapes– flowers, trees, grass. I also like taking pictures of people– models, children– sometimes animals. I would like like to capture sports such as racing, football, baseball etc. My dream is to travel and take pictures, maybe with a band or going solo.

    4. I wish the moments I capture represented my life. I love photography however I fear it as well. The conditions and risks one may take to capture a moment scare me, but I love a challenge and I am up for the obstacles that come with my career.

  23. am learning with one great japaness and l really want to learn more so pls send me post on lesson to study more and really understand picture taking,because my colleague says their is some sort of feeling that u felt before takin a perfect picture

  24. l really want to understand the feel of taking a perfect picture and understand photography
    really well

  25. Wasnt going to write what i think of photography… But then i understood that photography is art, and art is my second name! I pick up my camera to picture the moon/stars, my friends and family, my own foot, close up on my flowers, and i would LOVE to picture a meteor shower or even picture small bugs on flowers or whatever.
    Around me, theres lots and lots of friends taking pictures. And i got to know some people who call them selves professional photographers. Yes, im kind of jealous because I dont get lots of comments on my photography, so i plan on working and getting better to become a famous young photographer in my country. And the funny thing is that my mom was learning photography at university, but she forgot everything about it. THANKS A LOT. Loving the first lesson!

  26. one best present i ever get was a camera… i love talking pictures,seeing the moments capture in the camera brings unexplainable emotions..thank you for the free lessons…looking forward to do all the lessons….:)

  27. I am just now getting really interested in Photography I’m 60 and wondering is it is getting to late but I’m going to get going any way. I just bought me a Nikon Coolpix P520 and am looking forward in learning how to us my camera with your help. I really appreciate this first lesson, it is making me think about why I want to take pictures. Thank you for getting me thinking and I’m looking forward to the next lesson.

  28. Absolutely love this 1st lesson. I’ve been told that some of my pictures are very good, but I actually believe that I will look at the way I take pictures with a new perspective. I am completely looking forward to the rest of the lessons!

  29. I just start learning photography with DSLR 2 years ago. The reasons of enjoying taking fotography are: family fotos – grandson (particularly) – travelling – social activities for our ethnic or church communities. Objects of my shootings are: nature landscape, mountain, waterfalls, and other natural phenomenas and also interesting or classic buildings, animals, flowers people etc.
    Photograhy is only hobbies – as the same time would like to share with other people that we have visited and also documented some family birthday events.

    Thanks for this lesson, and hope I can improve my photography skills.

  30. I’m a fifteen year old girl that wants to major in photography but wants to be the best I can and learn things ahead of time! Do I just do these lessons?

  31. 1. I love the face that when I am taking photos nothing else in the world seems to matter. All that matters is what I am capturing in that moment. I love being able to look back; days, months or even years, and see the beauty in the pictures I have taken. It has always amazed me that I can “Freeze time” It is beautiful.

    2. I want to make photos that are unlike any other. I want people to see my work and say “Hey this is beautiful”. I want to become a Professional Photographer. I want to have a sense of pride in what I do. I want to wake up every morning and be happy to go to work because it’s me doing what I love to do.
    3. I love taking pictures of outside, the sun, trees, flowers. I really enjoy taking pictures of my family and friends. Most of all I love taking pictures of my husband, he is such a beautiful person.
    4. I love these subjects. They are my life and my world. I am so passionate about them.

  32. 1 What I like about photography is being able to capture something passing and beautiful and make it into something lasting. And when I’ve successfully done just that, I love that I can show that beauty to other people.
    2 What I want my photography to do? Exactly what I mentioned above! I don’t know if I’ll ever want to peruse a career in photography, but I do want to study it and learn to do it better – and who knows, maybe I can turn it into a profession!
    3 Clouds. Landscape. Shadows. Fingers. A beautifully put-together outfit.
    4 With clouds and landscapes it’s a combination of love an awe. I want to immerse myself in the beauty, and the best I can do is momentarily interact with it so that I can remember it forever. The others are for inspiration.

  33. Hey…I appreciate your content which really inspired me…
    Frankly saying I wrote down my objectives for Photography…
    You worked as a motivator for me…

    1. It’s a fine camera – I’d suggest better lenses before going for a better body unless there’s something you just can’t do with that body such as high-speed sports shooting.

  34. Hello Group! I am new to this class. Thank you so much. I love Photography and want to perfect and learn to use my D-SLR. I look fwd to the lessons and the feedback from all.

  35. For Starters I have a Digital Canon Rebel. (the first one ever made 2003. I have quite few lenses too. tripod, some filters. Will work on my first lesson this weekend. 🙂

  36. LESSON 1

    1. Things you like about photography?

    When I am shooting photos nothing else in the world seems to matter to me. I really love photography! It’s in my blood since I was 10 years old. I love to capture the moment. I love to freeze the moment. I love the memories I keep and the fast eye I have when I see something that is a REAL SHOT.

    2.What you want to achieve with photography. Do you want to remember what your kids are like at each stage of their growing up? Do you like flowers or architecture or mountains and want to document them? Do you want to show the human condition? Do you want to pursue a career in photography? Write down what you want your photography to do

    .I want to take my camera off AUTO MODE Ugh! (frustration) as its been on for years!!! I want to learn to operate my camera in MANUAL MODE and in the dark and learn the skill, PERIOD.
    I would like to perfect my Night Photography, i want to learn how to protect my work, so people dont steal my pictures, how can I put: Jenny Filip Photography on my photos? I have a love of PINTEREST and TUMBLER ETC. I want to make the Best Photos and become a Famous Photographer and TOUR GUIDE and become a MASTER of PHOTOGRAPHY open my own business and have a website and start a career doing this, Not just a hobby. It is my Passion and I love it. Once I learn this skill, nobody can take it away from me and the World Is my Oyster!

    3. What subjects you want to shoot. Flowers, dogs, kids, models, food, people’s feet, whatever. Write down those things you find catch your eye or make you wish you had your camera when you see it.

    I love to shoot landscape, Moon, Wildlife, Harbors, Seasons, USA Roads and unknown paths, beaches, mountains, waterfalls, weddings, FOOD, Signs!, Nostalgia, Antiques, Beautiful People, Stills, portrait, Strangers, Churches, Lighthouses, Business’s, Homeless People, Elderly Couples, Overweight People, Family Holidays, architecture, and Many other things. Most Importantly I want to find Me & MY Style of what I enjoy. I want to Photograph my life and write a book. Most of all I want to make a difference in this world in my Photography and possibly become a teacher. My fiancé will be a major subject along with my Cat Jackson and the outdoors here in beautiful Northwest Indiana. It’s fall! I want to shoot ?.

    4. How you feel about those subjects. Do you love it, hate it, feel afraid of it, laugh at it, wish it was yours? This is actually the most important section of the lesson. When you understand what you feel towards something, you’ll find your photography of it improves automatically.

    As you can see these topics that motivate me. I am very much in love with life and have a good eye when I see something good. I think about becoming a tour guide and My photography skills could help me with that, because I want to love what I do and be my OWN boss and make my OWN Schedule.

  37. I am looking for that forum but cannot find the page. Can you direct me to the blog It was separate from this page that you offered. please send to jennyfilip@yahoo.com Thanks. I was in the middle of signing up when my computer battery died and now I cannot find it in my history either.. weird.

  38. after a long time away from photography, i recently bought a good camera and found this site.
    I am now inspired to begin again and study while looking at everything as a picture.
    Happy Photo Ops … to all !!

  39. I have liked the way you have put up this 1st lesson, and I have gone through it. It’s amazing and very interesting.
    As I am very good in arts and creativity, this is the perfect thing to do for rest of my life.
    I believe in God and love every single thing witch he created for us in this world,(the beautiful
    Nature around us witch helps us to breath, get food, get clothing s, make different types of shelter for us, admire all beautiful living things weather it’s birds, animal, insects, plants, trees, flowers and also the beautiful lakes, rivers, waterfalls, oceans, mountains, blue sky and life under water). And he did not want us to spend our lives all alone but he blessed us with ( father, mother, sister, brother, wife, husband, children’s and relatives). So when we use, love, and admire all these things we need to thanks God for all this. And by adopting photography in our lives, we always remember his blessings and thank him, and always feel his presence close to us. Love for photography is love with God. Thank you for 1st lesson. ( Johnny D’souza)

  40. Although I haven’t yet completed the first lesson as eager as I am I just wanted to read others testimonies, and what an inspiration they are. I am certainly looking forward to finally live out my passion for photography and to find the best way forward and at my own pace, I can’t wait. Thank you

  41. Nice lesson . Knowing why i want to study photgraphy is actually a big begining for m?. Feeling I can become a pro photograher.

  42. I am a 12 year old photographer. I fell in love with photography after I took a couple pictures if my baby cousins on my phone……………and now I’m in love with it. [:

  43. Thank you for the first lesson. It is really great!!! I am planning to purchase my first DSLR. In a confusion between Nikon D3200 and Canon 600D. Can you please help me with this? Thank you

  44. 1. I want to get into
    photography for a few things.
    a) the fun of it
    b) the experience
    c) the art of it
    d) for memories
    e) to use it

    2. I want to achieve: the feeling of achievement, my friends’ praises, to pursue a career, to become talented in the field of photography, something to make memories of.

    3. I like to take pictures of just about everything I want to remember, and before I die, I want to be able to have memories of the whole entire world. I want to see everything and capture it, keep it in the palm of my hand or in my pocket. I want to unlock the secrets of nature and have them in grasp. This is what I want to do with my talent.

    4. Excited, jubilant, eager

  45. Thank you so much for lesson 1. You made it so simple and i’m so excited for the next and next lessons! ‘m into tourism and travel business and i do encounter very many interesting things on my job that i would wish my friends and clients to share. With these lessons, i feel i will improve my photography skills. To add an icing on the cake, the lessons are free! ‘m speechless.

  46. Thanks for first lesson.
    I wanna take pictures to relive our moments of joy, also I have fun in capturing photos .
    I wanna convey messages from my photos.
    Mostly I wanna do natural photography
    I love nature, when I capture nature’s beauty I feel contentment n happiness.

    1. Hi – its a decent 12mp camera (my first ‘pro’ cameras were 6 and 10 mp) – as long as you know how to use the manual mode you can do a lot of learning and decent photography with this camera. At this point, better lenses would be the best upgrade.

  47. gr8 site im rly lookin frwrd 2 learning frm ur blog gud job

    also can u tell me wer i can get a cheap slr camera
    mine is in a bad condition

  48. Photography is another way to express,create n love through picture n share,save,n chsrish memories n exciting moments in time. I love pictuers n taking them being infront or behind tha camara a person cn create positive or negative vibes to inspire a person or just reflect on. I luv taking pictuers of everything!its amazing how u can freeze time with one simple amazing tool n hold that mement foever its grate! 🙂 lesson 1 opens tha creative eye,mind n heart to a whole new level in the photography world the experience to thing, dream n make it happen takes n makes a brand new mold thanks!

  49. I am really glad that i have found this website. I have been taking photos but not really thinking of the reason why i am taking them. I hope to be a better photographer once am done with the lessons you’ve shared.
    Looking forward to learning more from other members of this website.

    Thank you.

  50. Why should I put the things that I like when I should be putting the things that I love? things I love about photography:I get to capture the essence of a person, for who they truly are. It is about viewing the soul through the lens of your camera that only you get to capture that is one of the things I love and I feel like I, as a person, am like spiritual camera and I feel like I am one, with the camera.
    I always said Black and White are the colors of my Soul, like a Polaroid picture. I have always had a love for photography.

    I love the moment of seeing them before hand to ensure that the picture it self quality and something I am proud of .

    I love taking the pictures and the freedom of expression of it and editing them creatively and making them something that was never before seen.

    What I want to achieve in photography number1 I want my own trade mark , number 2. I want to do this because I am passionate about and Number 3 I feel like I this is what I am destined to do.

    I do want to pursue a career in photography. I want to make a change in Photography I want to explore the light and dark aspects of life and dare I say death. In photography film not like others have. I want it to inspire others and I want it to make people feel and wonder what each photo means.

    the subject I want to shoot is people as in real not model people I want to show realism and food because I love food I am a big food lover.

    Things that make me wish I had my camera deafeningly when I go to events that have to do with horror I want to capture every moment of each horror things, expressions ,reactions and creatively. I want capture what Edgar Allen Poe did with poetry but instead with photography. I have always had a fascination with darkness and in depth photography.

  51. Thank you so much for your help.. There may many people who have no sufficient money to get classes but have passion, just like me.. These free lessons on photography are really helpful for us.. Great job.. 🙂

  52. Things I love about photography

    – The freedom
    – The feeling
    – The beauty

    What I want to achieve with photography

    – Capture the moments
    – Save a memory
    – Bring out the elegance
    – Make people happy

    What subjects I want to shoot

    – Portrait
    – Weddings
    – Family photos
    – Babies
    – Nature
    – Architecture

    How I feel about those subjects

    – I love them
    – I can get lost in them
    – Learn a story I am dying to share

    Do I have a mind of a photographer? Could this be something I can be amazing at? I think so I just need some reassurance since I never got to pursue the dream when I was younger. I am still young but ive been wanting to do this ever since I can remember.

  53. I have just turned 46 years old I have always carried my camera with me everywhere I have went whether fishing ,races ,football games ,baseball games .I love to capture everything in photos its always great to go back and look at the caught memories. I got hurt at work over two years ago and was told the surgeons at all not be able to go back and do the same job I was doing and I believe I’m going to take a chance on photography as a way for me to make a living. Wish me luck. And good luck to you as well.

    1. Photography is not an ‘easy’ occupation to make money in, for most people working at 7-11 is more profitable. However with dedication to your business skills (sales and marketing in particular – bookkeeping can be farmed out) and continuous improvement in your photography skills, and it is possible to make a living and have decent life.

      Just remember that you have to get paid enough to cover all your costs plus have enough for yourself to pay for insurance, taxes, a decent car, vacations – all that ‘normal life’ stuff. Underselling your services because ‘that is what people HERE will pay’ will burn you out and drive you to bankruptcy. Everywhere – people don’t like paying for photography. So you have to have the skills to do great photos AND sell people on that fact.

      Good luck in your venture.

  54. I read this first lesson twice. I haven’t put down the list yet though it’s building up in my mind. I love clicking photos of my city Mumbai and post them on my photoblog.
    My photos have improved from 2008 till now, but I don’t know any technicals or basics of photography.
    I started with a gifted Sony 6.0 pixels camera and now have my second camera Canon Ixus-130 (14 pixels) but still don’t know my camera well.
    I love taking photos of my city Mumbai and showing to the world. The city people, children, passengers hanging from the local trains, markets, food, architecture, places of interest, its simplicity in the cobbler sitting under the shady tree and mending shoes, the fisherwomen selling fish…..just about everything…. which is the true spirit of Mumbai. I also love taking photos of my 9 year old son, his parties, our family get-togethers and functions, my cooking and baking too.

    I want to learn photography so my photos are not amateur photos even after clicking for 6 years now, but perfect as I see on other city photo blogs. I can make out when my photo is really good or average but sometimes can’t figure out how I could’ve got it right.

    Thank you for the site and the lessons.

  55. I’ve been learning photography on a Canon Rebel T3i with an 18-55 and 50mm prime lens for about a year. I’ve gotten to the point where I can shoot in manual and am focusing on learning and practicing more this year. I’m hoping to go pro in about a year, though I’ve had to post prices on my site due to lots of inquiries. I’m struggling with achieving a balance between doing shoots for free to practice and gain experience and charging enough to strangers and acquaintances to maintain a level of respect and not be taken advantage of. It’s a fine line. I’m excited to take this course and learn more. If appreciate any advice you can offer. Here’s my first lesson: http://triciatakespictures.com/2015/02/07/my-why/

    1. First the hard comments:

      Are you sure you know enough to not get in trouble while photographing? It’s easy to get decent photos in conditions you’re used to but when something different comes along, a lot of beginners can get into trouble and blow shots. This can cause a lot of damage to their future reputation and loose potential – and much greater – future income.

      There is a lot to know when becoming a professional – and camera handling is at the most basic level.

      As well as being able to get good exposure in a wide range of situations (which means having more and better lenses than you have now, plus flash equipment and being able to use it in more than a basic way) you need to know composition inside and out, how to get people to respond in the right ways for the style of shots you are doing, possibly having studio flash as well as on-camera style flash systems, background, etc.

      Most beginners don’t know what they don’t know. For example, I’ve seen some photographers who feel they are doing great images of people and not realizing their subjects have ‘raccoon eyes’ (caused by light that comes from directly overhead and creating shadows in the eye sockets.)

      You also have to have all your business aspects in place – tax codes, accounting, forms, insurance, contracts and more.

      If you are unsure at all about any of this stuff, my best advice is join a professional organization that has meetings in your area. The dues can be fairly expensive but way less than a few college level photography courses but the knowledge you will gain and the networking you do can lead to a better, more profitable business far sooner than struggling to invent all the solutions yourself.

      Now – if you have all the above well in hand: When to start charging and how much to charge are huge subjects that can up whole books. Basically, start charging when you can handle photography indoors with low lights and outdoors in changing lighting conditions, and the composition and posing help tell a story that flatters your subject. Your images should lead the eye to the subject and not have issues like things poking out from behind heads, the above mentioned racoon eyes, blown out highlights, etc.

      Print out the images you’re getting and compare them to some of the pros already working in the area photography you want to pursue. Honestly look at their images and yours and see how much difference there is. If there’s only a small difference and you can repeat that shoot after shoot – then yes I’d say you’re ready to charge money. If you find your images lacking – figure out how to improve.

      BTW – you’ll always be improving. I’ve been shooting for almost 40 years, and I’m still improving. 😀

      As for what to charge – first determine how much you want to make a year, and how many shoots you could comfortably shoot in a year without cutting too heavily into family time and time to relax and enjoy yourself. Also remember that you’ll only be shooting 10 to 15 % of your time, another 25 or so % will be post processing. The rest of your time is marketing, sales, networking, administration, running errands, etc.

      If you want to make $36,000 a year, and you comfortably do an average of 3 shoots a week for 40 weeks (there’s time needed to take vacations, go on courses/conferences, etc and you WILL have down time when you’re not shooting), add on the cost of your car, your insurance, phone/cell phone bills, a portion of your home utilities, office expenses, accounting fees, license fees, contributions to your retirement funds, marketing materials, web site, and anything else you can figure out.

      We’ll say that all adds up to $60,000 per year you need to make, divided by 40 weeks is $1500 per week – which comes out to $500 per shoot average income. If you have to print for the clients – whatever it costs for materials you need to mark up at least 5X in order to not go broke doing it. Running around getting printing done, the materials, and so one can really, really suck up money in hidden ways.

      Of course, for the first few years, you’ll probably average .5 shoots to 1 shoot per week over the year. Which means you really need to be making closer to $1500 per shoot. That’s actually doable – when I was running my portrait studios I averaged between $1200 and $2000 per shoot and sometimes a lot more. But that also takes a great portfolio, never messing up the shoots and good sales skills.

      I hope that helps. If it all sounds depressing, you need to remember that to succeed in the long run takes planning, learning and lots of practice. As I said, joining an association before you get going can save you a lot of heartache.

  56. I am not good photographer but one day become a good photographer not perfect. and thanks for the information .
    i know photography learning is not easy . its an art but something is depend on technology . Before few years i don’t have camera or technology now i am interesting .

    my dream is i am become a good photographer not immediately but defiantly.

    i am interesting to learn next lesson
    thank you sir ..

    1. I like your emphasis on getting great shots with a point and shoot camera. I use one – and I even use my iPhone – regularly. There are – of course – many times when photographers are trying to get a more challenging image that require a more advanced camera – and that’s where knowing more about photography is important. But most photos could easily be done with point and shoot.

  57. I am 14yrs, from India and I would like to thank this wonderful website because I want to become a professional wildlife photographer and my parents don’t support me, not usually. I always wanted to learn photograpghy and I think step 1 is the best.
    Thanks a lot.
    And yes I have completed the lesson 1.

    1. Hi…….I am from Canada and have too finished lessons 1 and 2, welcome to the wonderful world of digital photography , if I can be of any help let me know, as I have picked up quite a bit and understand it all , Russ Campbell

  58. I really admire this first lesson. It helps you to understand the insight that photography offers, and why it is considered an “Art.” I love photography with a passion and this made me realize why.

  59. I was just searching for some online photography lessons because a friend of mine challenged me not to forget to pursue what I like. I really love taking pictures so this happens when I clicked this site! The first lesson is great.! It helps me realized why I really love to take pictures. At first, I was just thinking the reasons through my mind but then I end up writing it on my notepad! Thank you so much for this free lessons. I’m looking forward to learn more and more as I go on in this lessons. 🙂 More power!!!^^

  60. Finish Lesson One!

    I’m very lucky that you mentioned that art come first before the gadgetry and cost hahahaha. Due to cost constrained, I began to wonder through my own niche; the story behind the pictures! Thanks, I’m blessed.

  61. I was wondering if my Fujifilm S9100 bridge camera is good enough for these lessons ???????????

    Russ Campbell

  62. What can I say…

    I have been taking photos, and enjoying it, for many years as a keen amateur. Not once have I ever stopped to ask myself why? Or, what I get from it. Though very basic in its concept, the first lesson has helped me to better understand my involvement in photography. This should help me to achieve better pictures as a result of this.

    I hope the follow up lessons reveal some true nuggets too.


  63. Thank you so much for all the imformation.it will help me to cement my desire and attraction to photography.but firsty i want to capture pics with my smartphone.plz help me

    1. Check out the pages on composition (s curve, rule of 3rds, negative space) which will help you even with a smart phone camera.

  64. Dear Sir/Madam,

    Thanks for the wonderful thoughts!

    I was wondering which exact book by Betty Edwards you recommended, as I can find several of them with the same title ‘Drawing on the Artist Within’ (and different sub-titles) in Amazon.com. Can you please specify?

    Thanks again!

  65. Hi, I am done with the first lesson. I always loved taking pictures. Specially Birds and nature around me. Do love taking family pics too. Being a science student, needed a guidance on how to go about taking technically correct images. To get clear and sharp images I always used to go for point n shoot cameras n Auto mode. Want to learn photography using manual settings. Never thought of it but first lesson has made me understand why I enjoy, what do I get it from my photography.

    I have DSLR 5200 with the lens AF – S DX NIKKOR 18 – 105 mm f/3.5 – 5.6G ED VR

    This is a gift from my husband’s friend.

    Want to understand the features of this camera in detail.

    Thank you so much. Looking forward to get more from your following lessons.

  66. I love candid photos,Love to capture nature (Flowers, Birds , ocean,Sky etc) & Heritage.I love to gather good moments in my lens. Also as i love travelling,I need to recall all my travelling moments post to it.
    Also,I love to capture smiles?.

  67. I am a chef-in training and I am fascinated by Food photography.
    I am glad I stumbled on this page.
    I would love to learn how to create “perfect” and well detailed food photography.
    Nice write up.

    1. One of the best ways to improve your food (or still life) photography is to look for images you really like, then recreate them to the best of your ability. Look at things like – how much is in focus from front to back (depth of field), where are the highlights and where are the shadows, how high is the camera, how is the image framed.

  68. I am very excited about starting your lessons. I love that the lessons start with “intent”. With the iPhone camera being pretty good, I was thinking of giving up trying to learn how to use my DSLR. But there are so many situations where I want to take a photo, and the iPhone just does not work. Thank you, thank you for this website.

    1. Thank you for your comment – be sure to join the facebook group as well – you can check out some of the wonderful photographers there and we’d love to see your images as you learn.

      1. Wow, you answered my comment right away. Thanks. Lesson One has been so wonderful. I have always loved all art, and have Betty Edwards book, which I will re-read. My main reason for learning to take better photographs is to document the experiences I have with people I love in a beautiful way. I am over 70 and time is just slipping away.

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