What were the First Rules and Lessons of Photography that You Learned?

What were the First Rules and Lessons of Photography that You Learned?

First Lessons and Rules in Photography

Image by Jason Rust

Someone asked me this morning to give them a few tips on how to teach their child photography. They wanted to know what rules and tips they should be teaching their kids about how to use a camera.

The tips I gave were similar to this post I’ve written on lessons to teach kids about photography but his question also reminded me of some of the early lessons I was taught.

  • Probably the first thing I remember my parents telling me about the camera was ‘don’t take too many pictures’. This was of course in the days of film and there was a real cost involved in each frame that I took.
  • Other lessons/rules accompanied that advice – “hold the camera still” was one (I remember this one because it came after my parents had a whole role of blurry pictures developed).
  • Another that came out of another roll of bad shots was “get close to the person you’re taking a picture of” (36 shots of people that you could barely recognise due to them being like dots on a horizon).
  • And then there was the role of shots I’d taken on a beach holiday where all my landscapes had the horizon sloping down to either the right or left – “hold your camera straight” being the rule I learned.
  • Then in high school I remember learning some more ‘formal’ rules in a photography class I took. The Rule of Thirds was probably the one that I remembered and used the most.
  • It turns out that most of these ‘rules’ have stayed with me and did help me improve my images.

    What about you? What were the early Rules and Lessons You learned when you were just starting out taking pictures – perhaps even childhood lessons?

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

Some Older Comments

  • Adrian June 28, 2013 12:13 pm

    As a small child I learned from parents the importance of shooting with the sun of you shoulder.

    But years later at school and when I was the proud owner of my first Kodak Instamatic, our class was taken on a photo shoot into the town by one of our teachers. The main thing I learned from that trip was the importance of using natural framing. It was that single rule that sparked what turned into a lifelong love and interest in photography.

    When I started studying compositional rules for myself the first were: thirds rule, simplicity, leading lines, visual balance.

  • jacques Legault June 28, 2013 05:39 am

    I got my first camera from my uncle who couldn't use it anymore (shaking). It was a Mamiya c330 with 2 double lenses and a weston meter. Therefore, the first thing I learned was to use a lightmeter and even today in the digital age, I sometime still use a light meter for incident light or in my homemade studio and I stiull consider it a gift to have learn how to use it.

  • Ray Sheely February 9, 2012 06:34 am

    A rule I remember is to NEVER breathe while pressing the shutter. Also, don't shoot in the middle of the day. Or you can't hold a camera and get a focused picture if the shutter speed is slower than 1/focal length. Or always shoot in B and W; nobody likes color. Bracket your Kodachromes.

  • Boudoir Photography October 22, 2011 10:17 am

    I still remember my first day with a camera in hand .. 20+ yrs ago .. Dad taught me

    Manual & Auto Focus
    Manual exposure
    exposure bracketing
    rule of thirds
    emphasizing the subject through simplification
    communicating a story visually
    avoiding camera shake

    Handed me a brand new Nikon 8008 and some lenses and told me to come home in a few hours so I could learn how to develop the film and make the prints.

    I would never let my 12 yr old take off for hours with thousands of dollars in gear .. I guess I was lucky to have a crazy photographer for a dad. :)

  • Jason October 20, 2011 04:52 pm

    I too started with rolling my own film, developing the film, actually smelling the odor of stop bath and dare I even say miss it just a little bit.... Its gross.

    What I learned in 21 years of photography (with some breaks here and there as I pursued my aviation career) - there are no RULES.

    Rule of thirds- just a guideline
    Properly lighting your subject - then learn how to take a good silhouette
    Use the minimum ISO - but grain looks good in some instances
    Proper exposure? - but then overexposure makes kids look angelic
    Use flash fill? - but then find natural light from a window is so much better

    There are no rules - if there were Picasso would have been thrown out of art history. Don't get me wrong, you need to learn GUIDELINES - but a real artist breaks those rules to make unique images! Im sure you all agree - otherwise everyones pictures all look the same!

    I have to admit, sometimes a "mistake" lead to the best picture of the day. Funny thing was trying to remember how you did it.... thank god for the digital age and all that data at your fingertips!

  • RJohnston October 7, 2011 05:08 am

    First learned Photography in 1935 from my Aunt, who traveled the National Parks taking photos. She told me to get only a camera with a variable aperture and shutter. So bought a used Kodak Folding Vest Pocket camera with a bellows. Then she taught me to process the film and make contact prints...

  • Ken Morrocco October 5, 2011 11:54 pm

    I used to work with an older photographer. He shot with a Mamyia RB67, 5x7 and 8 x 10 view cameras. His lesson to me regarding aperture....."The bigger the number the smaller the opening the greater the depth of field and the slower the shutter speed. The smaller the number, the larger the opening, the shallower the depth of field the faster the shutter speed." He said, get that straight and you have a basic building block to properly exposed photos.

    It stuck with me.

  • dave October 4, 2011 07:23 pm

    Don't know where I heard it but the first advice I remember receiving was, "Don't bash the 'shoot button', gently squeeze it." I tell my children the same thing today :-)

  • Raelara October 4, 2011 11:37 am

    My father is a professional photographer, he minored in photography in school and spent 30 years working as a high speed videographer. The first rule of photography I ever remember him teaching me was the rule of thirds.

  • A.J. October 4, 2011 02:24 am

    "Keep the horizons line straight!" That was (I can say for sure) the first thing I learnt, along with the same horizon line being in the lower first third or on the second third, NEVER in the middle.

  • Steve October 2, 2011 11:47 pm


  • Ed Fitzgerald October 2, 2011 11:03 am

    I bought my first camera 62 years ago. It had only a shutter release and a film advance so settings would come later. The first rule was squeeze the shutter slowly while keeping the horizon straight. Later on was if you think you have a good picture, take a step closer until you know it. I still use those rules today, but now I have many more things to think about thanks to my wonderful teacher Jean Landon Taylor.

  • Hector Vega October 2, 2011 08:58 am

    My first rules, now I break often:
    - Do not shoot against the sun
    - Do not move the camera
    - Always use the flash in the night
    And the advice I have always followed
    - Do not force the parties
    - Always protect the lens
    - Always hang the camera around my neck before starting to photograph.

  • Andres Jaimes October 2, 2011 06:05 am

    "when taking pictures of people, try to center them in the view" - my mom after seeing some pictures I took of feet... yep only feet.

  • sbarre October 2, 2011 03:27 am

    Don't eat an ice cream cone while carrying your camera!

  • Syntax October 1, 2011 09:09 pm

    "Forget the rules" Listen and appreciate all advice given, but in the end make your own way.

  • Georgie Mathew October 1, 2011 08:10 pm

    "Put that strap round your neck", was the first advice I got :)

  • Richard's Photo Concepts October 1, 2011 05:14 pm

    The first rule I learned was " Don't move the camera when you push the button!". Too many times my photos were blurred because I thought I had to mash down on the release to take the picture. The second rule I learned was "Take lots of pictures! You wont become a good photographer if you don't take pictures. " The idea was to develop a photographers eye. I used to take lots of photographs when I started out. Now after 35 years of taking photos I have figured out the difference between taking a Photograph and taking a picture. And I take less photos but the ones I take are far and away better then the ones I started with. I wish to heck that someone would have taught me about visualizing before you take the shot when I first began this. LOL

  • Gerry October 1, 2011 11:03 am

    I was a happy snapper for many years and then started to be a more "serious" snapper three years ago. Here were my first rules:

    1. Know your camera
    2. Know your subject
    3. Learn composition and exposure
    4. Learn from other good photographers, books and photography websites

    Now I'm happier snapper!

  • Janet October 1, 2011 05:04 am

    I can't remember the first "rule" I learned but the best one was how to SEE LIGHT. To notice the color, intensity, and direction. It drives the composition of most of my photos. The friend who taught me this was a press photographer in New York in the 1950's. This was a wonderful legacy he left me with before he died because I have never looked at the world in the same way again so I'm passing it on...

  • Bernie October 1, 2011 04:46 am

    First lesson I learned in photography, back around 1952, was f8 125th and be there. I also learned that film and processing was expensive, out of my pocket. Digital let me throw that "rule" away.

  • peterk October 1, 2011 02:56 am

    I was more then 40 years of age when I began shooting !!! And still before IS, VC, OS, SSS or some other image stabilizers. So the first rule I've been told of was (obviously) the rule of thumb. Only later on came the rule of thirds, sunny 16, straight horizon and so on.

  • Mort Metersky October 1, 2011 02:37 am

    The first was the rule of thirds, the second since we read from left to right the flow of the image should do that and third, all rules can be broken. When I joined a club16 years ago I learned there was much more to good composition. I am still learning from other photographers and my students.

  • Tom September 30, 2011 10:54 pm

    1. Always have your camera
    2. Its expensive; use the strap
    3. Rule of thirds
    4. Never have to say "I wish I had my camera!" (see number 1)

  • will b September 30, 2011 06:35 pm

    mine were rule of thirds, Juxtaposition, and not caring about what people think while youre taking photos

  • macduff September 30, 2011 05:41 pm


  • Dee September 30, 2011 05:40 pm

    Hahaha, reading the above comments took me back to my childhood and owning my own film camera. The hardest lesson I learnt was to make sure there was a film inside. I would take photos of all my friends I met on holiday only to come home and want to have them printed and find no film inside the camera!!!

    Check the film
    Hold the camera still
    and keep your fingers off the lense!

    Love the site!

  • Graham September 30, 2011 04:47 pm

    1) The rule of ”PATIENCE”.
    Before you pack your bag, pack in a good supply of patience.
    2) Be prepared to be disappointed. Keep on trying (Patience)
    3) Don’t be too critical with your results, there will always be better and worse, keep on trying to improve (Patience).
    4) Understand the basics. If you don’t know where you are going to any road will get you there. You can’t bend the rules if you don’t know what they are (Patience)
    5) Don’t get shutter happy, think and compose (Patience)
    6) Read the manual, read the manual……(Extra dose of patience)
    7) Learn from others with your mouth shut and your ears and eyes open (Patience

  • virginia mcgowan September 30, 2011 04:46 pm

    I was told to just get on with it and hurry up [box Brownie 1954 ].aged 14 Not easy while everyone was pulling faces at me. I was only allowed to take 6 -12 ,pics a year. If they didn't come out, they were't charged for though. I still feel like I have to be fast. ;-(((

  • patman September 30, 2011 04:32 pm

    the first thing my dad taught me about photography was to NEVER drop "my" (his) camera -- i.e., how to hold it properly. this included how to ensure i have a steady hand

    the 2nd was, always make sure the image is in focus. these were the days when everything was manual

    the 3rd was, always refer to the images inside the kodak film box that showed you what Fstop to use for different scenarios.

    it was fairly simple back in the old days.

  • Biju Jacob John September 30, 2011 02:31 pm

    "place the camera strap around your neck, or at least, wind it a couple of times around your wrist" - this is what i tell my friends getting into photography. Nothing more tragic than watching your camera slip out of the hand on to the floor!

  • Jacob September 30, 2011 01:51 pm

    To remove the lenscap :)

  • Baz September 30, 2011 01:50 pm

    My Dad was a proffessional photographer & he was constatnly full of good advice. I remember him telling me to always think of composition, why this background not that, how about a different angle! He also used to say hold your breath for a few seconds then click!

  • Wendy September 30, 2011 01:33 pm

    I am a newcomer to DSLR photography and one of my most important lessons has been, always check your white balance and ISO before you shoot!

  • doyle thomas September 30, 2011 11:50 am

    the first lesson was fill the frame and watch the corners, the most important was its not about what you see, it's about what you envision.

  • jef nolan September 30, 2011 09:56 am

    engage brain

  • Pat September 30, 2011 09:47 am

    Rule 1...film is cheap; take lots of pics. (Dad developed/printed all our b/w film)
    Rule 2...composition; rule of 3rds
    Rule 3...keep the sun behind you
    Rule 4...have fun!!!!!

  • Harry September 30, 2011 08:44 am

    "...you'll never get it back together again" but more importantly, my wife taught me to think like an artist...look at shapes and colors, put people in context, there is beauty where you look for it.

  • Lynet Witty September 30, 2011 07:39 am

    It might not be the rule I learned for photography, but mostly for art, and it was "don't crop your subjects limbs off" :) still listen to my conscious every time I snap a photo.

  • Gary September 30, 2011 07:22 am

    After the initial ones about where to push the button, etc., my Mom said (after I was worrying a lot), that one of the 1st rules was "to have fun; but don't waste film".

  • Ed Hamlin September 30, 2011 06:41 am

    I had watched my father take photographs, he frequently used a tripod eveen when he could have held the camera for the shot, so I knew being steady was important, but the first thing he said to me was" don't put what you want people to see exactly in the middle." He drew what I thought was a game of tic tac toe, and then drew circles of where the best spots were to position people and focal points. By the way the circle weren't quite on the thirds.
    The second thing was to expose to the right. I do this eveen with digital. Film was pretty forgiving but it always turned out better if the exposure was about a sixth to eightth underexposed, especially in harsh light.

    If I were to teach my grandchildren photography, I would stick with the first two and add one more. When you are looking at the things around you, picture it like you are looking through a picture frame with tic tac toe lines, try to make people face fill at least two squares.

  • Copperwillow September 30, 2011 06:04 am

    1) Don't forget to take the lens cap off

    2) Always see your framed picture in 1/3rds

    3) BREATHE, tuck your elbows in, and smile and have fun because it will show even if your behind that camera!

    # 3 is what I first thing I taught my children because it's true!!!

  • Kerensky97 September 30, 2011 05:55 am

    When I got my first camera at 5 (110mm film): "It's better to take pictures with people in them."

    Obviously not always true but by time I was 12 I learned that expanded to "Always have a point of interest in your pictures."

  • Robyn Shafer September 30, 2011 04:31 am

    The first rule I learned was "Don't drop the camera".
    Rule 2 was "Be Patient'.

  • Toysoldier Thor September 30, 2011 03:59 am

    Surprised no one said this rule was one of their first....


  • Steve September 30, 2011 03:06 am

    The first thing I was told was to keep the sun behind the camera. To this day when photographing outdoor activites I first look for the sun so that it says behind me.

  • s. shankar September 30, 2011 02:18 am

    And yes,
    9. Get the sun behind you.

  • s. shankar September 30, 2011 02:17 am

    Someone gave me a book during my formative years of photography. I think it was by Kodak, very colourful set on plain white background, very simple and very vividly illustrated.
    I've picked up some terrific rules from that book which I follow until this very day. These are:
    1. Move in close. Fill the frame with your subject.
    2. Pay attention to framing.
    3. Take time to compose your picture. Keeping a foreground object will give a terrific feeling of depth, more sky can give an idea of distance, put a person or object in front of something to give an idea of scale etc.
    4. Avoid cluttered backgrounds.
    5. Especially watch out for brightly coloured objects in the foreground. A chap wearing a red blazer in the background can kill your picture, for the viewers' eyes hit that red patch first.
    5. Keep the horizon straight.
    6 Keep it simple: do not get too many objects into your pic at the same time.
    7. Avoid long foregrounds.
    8. Focus on the eyes if shooting animals.
    And so on and so forth.

  • Torry September 30, 2011 02:07 am

    The lesson which sticks in my head as the most "well duh" lesson... after the obvious firsts of holding the camera straight, removing the lens cover, etc., is to make sure there's there's no unfortunate juxtapositions. While sometimes such juxtapositions can make for humorous shots, one really does not want a telephone pole or bird feeder growing out of your subject's head... or the branch of a tree growing out of their ear.

  • Laurie Young September 30, 2011 01:54 am

    The most important rule (to maybe not the first) I ever learned was "practice". Rather than expecting my photography to get better I now take the time (only about 20 mins per week) to practice a specific skill. Maybe composition using the rule of thirds one week, or exposing for the shadows the next week.

    Here is a little experiment, pick a rule of photography, go out and take some photos following that rule (just as practice, more to get the experience than to try and get good photos) and then upload your photos to this Flickr group - which I just created for this idea (http://www.flickr.com/groups/1787779@N21/) and lets see what sort of things pople want to practice

  • dom September 30, 2011 01:54 am

    Rule of thirds. Don't ever use flash (now I love flash photography)!

  • Steve M September 30, 2011 01:49 am

    The first day in my Army photography school the old sergeant who was our instructor said, "Remember, film is the cheapest thing you'll be carrying. Shoot lots."

  • George September 30, 2011 01:36 am

    Always remember, the difference between a painter and a photographer.
    A painter has to decide what to add to a picture. A photographer has to decide what to leave out.

    My granddad told me that years ago. Makes sense when you think about it..!!

  • Eleanor September 30, 2011 01:36 am

    First thing I remember my Dad teaching me was to look at the detail in the background before taking the shot. This came out of his job as a wedding photographer, and as his assistant I was tasked with checking that there were no drainpipes sticking out of the bride's head!

  • Dave York September 30, 2011 01:32 am

    the first thing I was told...

    1) Try not to cut peoples heads off
    2) Keep your fingers out of the way, I looked like a muppet with all my fingers sticking up in the air which lead to point 1.
    3) Always remember to wind on the film

  • Carlos September 30, 2011 01:05 am

    Rule of thirds. I was into art as a kid so it translated to photography when I picked it up in college.

  • Dave September 30, 2011 12:52 am

    Look at your settings before you click! Even if you just used the camera, be sure you didn't accidentally bump a setting. Example: While skiing a few years back I took a bunch of pictures of friends at the top of the hill. Then I told them I'd ski half way down and shoot them as they came by. I forget which setting got bumped on my trip half way down, but none of the pictures came out!

    That wasn't really my first lesson, but an important one that has bitten me more than once. Probably my first lessons were sun at your back and hold the camera steady.

  • Geren Mortensen September 30, 2011 12:51 am

    I learned really early on how to read light. The first camera that I used regularly was a "Baby" Rollei, which had no meter. My dad's camera also did not have an inboard meter, and so he'd usually be using the hand-held. So, I learned quickly how, if we were shooting films with different ASA (yeah, I said ASA), how to convert his readings to what I needed. Then, I just started reading the light.

    When I moved to an SLR, the big lesson was to make sure I looked in the corners of the frame. I've worn glasses almost as long as I've been shooting (and longer than I've used SLRs), so it's usually difficult for me to see all of the frame. Until I started thinking about that with EVERY picture, all kinds of things would sneak into the dark corners of my shots.

    Another important lesson was to get in close and simplify the composition.

    Fill-flash was a revelation, as was push-processing film. Did you know Ilford HP5 can be pushed to ISO3200 and still, if carefully processed, yield excellent results?

    Digital cameras with live-view functionality are the best thing since sliced bread, as far as composition is concerned. You get to see 100% of the frame, and really study the image as a "print." It's very much like working with a camera with a waste-level finder. My old Rollei had rule-of-thirds lines engraved in the ground glass, and that functionality is available in many digital cameras with live-view. Some even have digital levels that can be displayed!

    Anyway, I've rambled on well beyond the scope of the original post, so I'll stop waxing photo-philosophical now.... :)

  • Egidio September 30, 2011 12:35 am

    The first thing I remember was the concept of low/high horizon to give the sense of distance in landscape photography.

  • javan September 30, 2011 12:00 am

    Everything in photography is a trade-off...I still remember those words from my first class in photography. If you want to capture action, you have to be willing to accept grain from high speed film and short depth of field. If you want fine grain and long depth of field, you have to accept slow shutter speeds. You want to shoot that monster telephoto lens, better have a tripod. The list goes on and digital photography is no different.

  • Keren September 29, 2011 11:53 pm

    @tim gray: you can buy a costum focus screen and canon will officially install that for you for a small fee. =)

  • Math September 29, 2011 11:14 pm

    1. Don't touch dad's camera.
    2. Don't touch dad's camera.
    3. Ok. You've got yours now? Don't put your subject right in the middle of the frame!

  • Vridar September 29, 2011 10:44 pm

    F8 and be there. Probably not my first, but my first important lesson.

  • Florella September 29, 2011 10:17 pm

    I got hands on my first camera only in my 20s. I remember when I finished my first photography courses for begginers I felt like I a king - I thought I new everything about photography - ISO, aperture and shutter speed.

    Then I attended next photography courses, that was like eye opening to me - photography is much more that those 3 things, there is a soul and creativity. Now I study photography of art and it is completely different world that I wasn't even aware of... It's like finding new horizons of photography every time...

    But to my kids I guess I learn the same things - hold tight, keep fingers of the lens, careful with camera, etc.

    However, I am fascinated that kids find the rule of thirds themselves, it comes natural... They do not know any composition rules but outcome sometimes is remarkable... So I do not put them in the box of any composition rules (jet)...

  • tim gray September 29, 2011 09:57 pm

    MY father handed me his old 1963 Pentax SLR with a 35mm prime lens and told me... Ignore any "rules" you read in any book. That hos you take photos like everyone else. Take photos your way. Break the rules.

    I still have that camera. and I still curse that DSLR's do not have a focus screen. You cant operate a DSLR fully manual with any speed without one.

  • Daniel Lawson September 29, 2011 09:05 pm

    When I was 8 which wasn't long ago I guess...I'm 17 now, I was told to take as many pictures as I could. In the digital era, I think the words 'practice, practice, practice' are the most important ones.

  • Jeet September 29, 2011 08:17 pm

    1. Keep the camera still
    2. Don't cover the lens
    3. Don't cover the flash
    4. Don't move the camera as soon as you press the sutter, wait a moment
    5. Don't get the camera wet
    6. Keep the sun behind you

    And now that I have handed my children a digital still camera, I added few for them:
    7. Keep your subject's head in the frame
    8. Shoot as many pictures as you can - but check the LCD after each one

    My dad was impressed by some of the pics taken by 6-yr olds

  • Joey Rico September 29, 2011 06:47 pm

    the first rule and lesson in photography that i learned was not to break my father's camera!!!

  • Kristian September 29, 2011 06:41 pm

    "Remember to turn on the camera" and "Get that darned lenshood off" are two things I remember my father told me time, and time again when I was a child. Here are some more:

    Hold the camera straight.
    Don't cut off people's heads.
    Get your fingers away from the lens.
    Be nice to your brothers.
    When on a boat, put the strap around your neck, or YOU'll have to dive for the camera!
    Don't run with the camera.

  • Bruno September 29, 2011 05:55 pm

    Don’t shoot with the sun in front of you... which turned out to be totally wrong.
    Don't put your finger on the lenses (wasn't too hard to guess...).
    That's it, nobody really taught me more...
    Then I started reading books and nowadays blog like DPS... and a new fairy world appeared... :)
    My favourite one : rule of thirds (for results and for the science involved!)

  • Fuzzypiggy September 29, 2011 05:21 pm

    2 rules I read in a Scott Kelby book....rule of thirds and use lead-in-lines!

    The second I started making a conscious decision to apply it my picture quality and my skills rocketed, that was 5 years ago and I do it now without even thinking. The second the viewfinder comes up to my eye I instinctively lay the horizon line two-thirds up or down and align my key subjects on the lines' meeting points. Then I pause and check that the RoT is applicable and the key points are working, change as required!

    Over a meal about 2 months ago I showed some of my shots to some of my family and they really liked them, they asked me how you get views captured like that. I said, "You want to make your pictures instantly better next time you go out? Here's the secret! It's called the rule of thirds.", I then explained the basic idea of RoT theory. I spoke to my brother in law the other day, he's not a photograper, just a happy snapper and he said he tried hard to follow the RoT theory and he said he could believe how much better his holiday snaps were this year to last years.

    So it's not just for hardcore snapper like us, just spreading a little knowledge can benefit even the "happy snappers" to get a few more memorable snaps in their albums.

  • Steve September 29, 2011 05:18 pm

    I started back in the day shooting 35mm B&W until I graduated highschool when I went to college for photography. I learned a lot of technical stuff about shooting, rules about light, and different processing techniques but the best lesson I ever got was something you did before ever exposing a frame. Plan or have a plan of what you were going to shoot. Conceptualize the photograph then MAKE the photo. I was taught that we make a photo and not randomly take one.

  • Dewan Demmer September 29, 2011 04:33 pm

    Honestly, I do not remember. I dont remember anyone ever giving me helpful advice in regards to my camera and taking photos.
    The oldest lesson I remember learning during the days of film is take more than one photo, because you never going to take that shot again ... HAH !!
    So for those people who go on about days of film and being economical, I learnt the value of more shots means not regretting a missed opportunity due to scrimping on film, rule for me was film and development was expensive but the memories were, well, priceless.

  • Fonk September 29, 2011 03:19 pm

    Agree with Amanda K. Right now my oldest is 5 (almost 6), and I've been giving her my old point-n-shoot when we go out on hikes and stuff. No rules - just shoot what she finds interesting, and we often have a chuckle at some of the silly shots later. And the nice thing about modern digital cameras is that they just compose the shot w/ the LCD screen anyway, so they kinda figure out how to get the shot straight themselves. There will be rules and stuff later, as she gets older, but for now it's just about having fun with the camera.

  • ArchiDeos September 29, 2011 02:52 pm

    Back from the old days. 20 years ago, when my father got a cheapest film camera. He always remind me that, be careful with the camera, don't drop, always wear at your neck. and don't put your finger in front of the lens.. well that the first, and second when developing the roll of film, well everybody knows that it is costly, so I told to myself limit my picture as much as possible. but for the technical side, always use the flash whenever you took a picture. lol. actually my father is not a photographer at all, he just want to take picture for memories..

  • Albert Evangelista September 29, 2011 01:23 pm

    Shoot & pray!!!

  • Zhu September 29, 2011 12:57 pm

    I never really learned formally but I learned on my partner's camera, an old Nikon.

    1) The little squares are the focus points, and the middle square doesn't always have to be the center of the shot

    2) Play with the shutter instead of flashing systematically

    3) Leave the filter on to avoid scratching the lens!

  • Bert Sirkin September 29, 2011 12:37 pm

    When I apprenticed with a pro, the two most important things I learned was:

    1) film is cheap (the thought being, take a LOT of pictures - you never know when you get a highly saleable image); and
    2) Never show a bad image.


  • rian September 29, 2011 11:50 am

    read. the. manual.

  • Joe Shelby September 29, 2011 11:36 am

    watch where your fingers are, especially the one NOT pushing the button...

    on an old 70s Kodak 110, it was easy for your extra fingers to block the shot as the lens was darn close to the button. not a problem on modern dslrs, but may return to be a problem with camera phones...at least with those, you can see you did it.

  • Barney September 29, 2011 11:33 am

    1. Which end to look through
    2. Which button was the shutter release.
    3. How to support the camera so it didn't move. much.

    It was sometime around 1966 and we had a Kodak rangefinder that I think used 35mm film. Dad got me something after that that used, I think, 136mm??? Came on a roll about 2" long. That camera did more than anything else to ruin photography for me.

  • Connie September 29, 2011 11:01 am

    I started shooting in the early 1950s with my grandfather's box camera. After loading the film, I found it hard not to peek inside and see how my pictures were coming along.

  • Sarah September 29, 2011 10:55 am

    First thing I remember my Dad teaching me was getting close enough that the flash is useful (when it was required that is), and second was forcing the flash on with backlighting.

  • Kyle Franklin Neuberger September 29, 2011 10:48 am

    First lesson: Always carry a spare battery. First lesson part B. Always carry a spare memory card.

  • Shirlee September 29, 2011 10:30 am

    "You're known by what you show" i.e. only show your good pictures if you want people to think you're a good photographer.

  • Ranjitha September 29, 2011 10:03 am

    "Don't put your thumb on the lens...or the flash"

    When we had film cameras and they were very expensive to just keep clicking away :)

  • Cristen September 29, 2011 10:00 am

    It's just been about 2 yrs since I purchased my DSLR and became truly interested in photography as a hobby. I have no knowledge about it whatsoever until I came across DPS. And the first things I've learned here were: the rule of thirds, keep your horizon straight, hold your camera still, and most importantly, achieving that balance between shutter speed, aperture and ISO. I have so much to be thankful for this forum. More power, DPS.

  • Stefani September 29, 2011 09:59 am

    Check your background. That's the rule that has stuck with me the most.

  • Johnp September 29, 2011 09:55 am

    Back in box brownie days it was old the camera still and keep your fingers away from the lens! Life was simple then.

  • jrod September 29, 2011 09:53 am

    Don't put your fingers over the lens. My father had a Minox and that was not hard to do with that little guy.

  • Amanda K September 29, 2011 09:45 am

    Most important rule? There are no rules! Experiment, experiment, then experiment some more. You'll have fun and learn from your mistakes. You can't grow unless you leave your comfort zone.

  • ccting September 29, 2011 09:38 am

    The first thing when i first receive my very first camera (24 June 2011), was to study how the camera works. I never know there were lens, memory card, shutter speed etc etc - I know nothing about camera.

    I took lots of pictures for 2 months and none of them usable. Then I started to learn about shutter speed, aperture, focal length. After that, I eagerly enhance my knowledge about MTF curve, histogram, lens and their pricing. That, i believe helps me a bit for photography, since I am more willing to spend thousand of dollars on insurance than lenses. Finally, I found this web site and some great books, particularly teach me how to see / analyze great photo. I personally think that, we need to train our eyes to see what photographers see before get into the technical stuff.. and I learn a lot of this website.

  • Sheri September 29, 2011 09:34 am

    After shooting for many years and having a little understanding of shutter speed and ISO, I finally dug in a few years ago and committed to learning the Exposure Triangle - ISO/Shutter Speed/ Aperture. Also made a commitment to learn more about composition at that time. I learned what made me like the photos I’d taken in the past and how to improve from there!

  • Melody September 29, 2011 09:17 am

    I first learned in black and white 35mm film photography... I developed my own film, rolled my own film, and made my own prints. The first thing I learned, was to take pictures of things that struck me as interesting. When developing, the first thing I learned was to make the blacks black and the whites white... and to not over-contrast the neutrals.

  • Pavlos Pavlidis September 29, 2011 09:02 am

    "Don't shoot with the sun in front of you" That's the first tip I ever heard about photography. Many years later on I researched by myself and the Rule of Thirds was the first thing I learned about how to take a photo.

  • Scottc September 29, 2011 08:50 am

    Not from childhood, I was a late starter in photography, but the first lesson had to be holding the camera straight. Seems everything I took was crooked.

    I think the most important lesson I've learned since starting photography was about proper use of ISO (particularly using higher ISOs), it was kind of the first "leap" that really expanded my photography.