Photography 101

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Every week I receive questions from budding photographers, so here is my best attempt to give advice to the novice crowd.


My first camera was the Nikon kit package from Costco. It came with two zoom lenses – which was plenty to start learning with. My best advice is to shoot in manual mode as early as possible. Do your best to learn the “exposure triangle” by studying online tutorials, reading your camera manual, watching YouTube videos, and practicing in every type of lighting condition. The best way to learn the exposure triangle is by shooting and gaining the muscle memory for yourself. For the most part, I keep the aperture as open as possible (the lowest number your lens will let you), and I keep ISO between 100-500. The variable for me in lighting situations is my shutter speed.

Editing Software

I edit my images with Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. Adobe has created a product for photographers that is $10/mo for these two products. To start, I think it is important to edit your images manually (as opposed to buying presets and actions). I learned Lightroom by trial and error – I would just play with the sliders until I reach a look I liked. I learned Photoshop by YouTube tutorials – I search what I need to learn (i.e. how to remove background object, how to remove stray hairs, etc).

Today, I still edit 90% of my images manually in Lightroom. I own and love the Mastin Labs and Replichrome presets, but rarely use them. I don’t own or use any Photoshop actions.


“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst” – Henri Cartier-Bresson

I can’t stress the truth of this quote enough.

Just. Keep. Shooting.

As previously mentioned, I learn a lot using Google and YouTube.

Creative Live is a phenomenal resource. Watching live is free and the content is world-class.

I have even purchased Sue Bryce’s 28 Days course.

Fro Knows Photo is a fun way to learn your camera.

Dani Diamond gives away an enormous amount of knowledge on Fstoppers.

Next Steps

When you are ready to upgrade gear, investing in lenses will give you a big step up. A great portrait lens is the 50m. Currently, I shoot exclusively with an 135m.

When you are ready to upgrade cameras, consider a full-frame camera. Shop my camera bag here.

Last note

When practicing with models, paid or not, I believe it is important to have a contract in place (or at the very least, a model release so you can use the images to advertise with one day).

Kirstie jones

fine art equine photographer

A lifetime horse enthusiast, the Texas-based equine photographer has experienced first-hand the immeasurable bond between a horse and a girl. She strives to capture that special relationship for each and every client.

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