A DSLR is a fantastic investment if you’re a photo lover, because they have all the functions you need to bring your artistic vision to life, and to easily capture tricky subjects, like a 2yo on the move! In short, they’re built to take amazing photos, and that’s why you bought one in the first place!
But here’s the thing… they can only do what the ads promise if you use them in manual mode. In auto mode, you can’t control anything, not even your exposure… all you can do is frame your shot, press a button and hope for the best. The camera will decide how it turns out, in every single respect, and it doesn’t understand artistic vision. In auto, it’s only as good as a phone camera, or a good quality compact point & shoot.
So if you buy a DSLR… why would you waste it by using in auto?
And that brings me to our featured grad! Today I’m excited to introduce you to Dawn Laughlin, mother of six and lover of photos. When she got her first DSLR, she knew it could take great photos but she also knew that could only happen in manual mode. She was determined not to waste it, spurred on by the desire to capture photos of her family that she could be proud of and display around her home. So she made it her mission to master that beast!
Read on to learn all about Dawn, her learning frustrations, and how she got there in the end…
I live in a small town in Massachusetts, USA in a 230 year old farm house with my amazingly wonderful and supportive husband and our six children aged from 17 to 3 years old. I am lucky enough to stay at home and home school our children and we spend most of our day between schoolwork and chores on our small farm of horses, goats, chicken, dogs and cats!
In my spare time (if there is such a thing haha!) I teach horseback riding lessons and of course find any chance I get to practice my photography and have started building a small photography business. Very rarely do I not have my camera with me. I love to capture the little moments and details of my children growing up but I also love the challenge of creating art with my images.
I have always loved photography and always had a camera with me growing up. But I didn’t have a DLSR and never had a chance to take an actual photography course. Then my husband surprised me with a DSLR in February 2017 on my birthday… whilst I was in hospital waiting to deliver my youngest son!
I played around with it for a few months and decided that I really wanted to learn how to use it to its full potential and learn how to start shooting in manual mode. So for a couple of months I watched hours of YouTube videos and learned some basics about lighting, composition and camera settings.
However learning alone was a very long drawn out and frustrating way to learn!
I wasted a lot of time trying to figure out the new camera functions, on top of trying to learn all manual mode settings. So even though I’d picked up some tips, I was still missing something. I understood the concepts, but I didn’t know how to actually apply that knowledge to my photos.
Then I discovered Click Love Grow’s Enthusiast Photography Course, and it covered all of the things that I had been researching and learning about, but in a way that I could finally visualise and understand how light, composition and settings all tied together and how to apply it so that I could shoot confidently in manual mode.
If I knew then what I know now, about how much time and frustration the Enthusiast Course saved me, in a heartbeat I’d have started with that rather than trying to figure it out myself!
It was the combination of watching the video lessons and reading the tutorials to get an overview of concepts, then seeing the images from other students and how they created them that made everything click for me.
The course material was really thorough and easy to understand and follow along, and essential for my learning. But in particular it was the CLG community of students and instructors I could interact with daily that played a huge role in bringing everything together for me. Other students on the course would share their images and include the settings they used in a certain type of light or situation, and I really began to clearly understand the process, and what I needed to do to get the photos I wanted. The community was so supportive and also inspired me to keep practicing if I got frustrated.
So in a nutshell, the difference is learning from someone who has already curated what you need to know and what you don’t so you don’t waste time.
They’ve deciphered all the information and taken out the confusing jargon, so you understand it much more easily. And there are people right there to help you clarify anything, with instructors who answer your questions and critique your photos every week and other students who might understand something you don’t, or vice versa so you help each other.
My children are growing so quickly and I can now capture their sports, activities, parties and every day moments, and it makes me so happy to have some images that are actually in frames displayed in our home and on my walls!
What’s more, graduating from the CLG courses has given me the confidence to call myself a photographer.
I feel comfortable when someone entrusts me to take their child’s first birthday photos, and I can capture those moments for other families that they will cherish!
If you want to really understand your camera and use it to its full potential, understand composition and lighting and how it will affect your images…
I would one thousand percent recommend this course!
It doesn’t matter if you’re taking photos for yourself and capturing your own family, or if you want to pursue starting a photography business you will learn so much! And a huge bonus is being part of such a wonderful and supportive community, and even once the course is over you will continue to learn from one another.
Who doesn’t love a before and after shot? The first photo was taken by Dawn at the time she got her DSLR, and the after photo was taken at the end of the Enthusiast Course.