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Class Introduction

Lesson 1 from: How to Take Amazing Photos with your DSLR

Julia Kelleher

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Lesson Info

1. Class Introduction

Lesson Info

Class Introduction

We're going to talk about your DSLR today. And of course, I know sometimes that can be extremely scary. Like, when you graduate from just using your iPhone, or from a point and shoot camera. Remember point and shoots? Remember those things? It can be very intimidating to move to a DSLR, especially because now you're forced to understand exposure. And us professionals always joke that P is for professional, you know instead of program mode, and because we like to rely on that when we're first starting out. I remember all too well, I love to be on P because I was just unconfident in my skills and my ability to shoot when I first started out, and I know it can be very scary but that's the whole point of this class, is to not let it be scary, right? So, we're going to discuss the advantages of using a DSLR, we're going to talk about how to make beautiful images with your DSLR camera, in all sorts of genres. So, even genres that maybe you don't know me well known for. You know, I tend to be...

really focused on portraits, but there's all kinds of things you can do with your DSLR that aren't necessarily around people. Of course, I know some of you are really into landscape photography, there's commercial work, there's food, there's product photography. Those of you who have businesses and maybe you create things on the side, and sell it on Etsy, you know. Shooting those products and making them look enticing to a consumer, is probably part of the reason that you're here. So, a DSLR, graduating to one is a powerful thing to do in your art, okay? First of all, it gives you control. Now, all of a sudden, the camera is not doing the work for you, especially since I'm going to talk all of you into switching over to manual completely, which I know is like, "Woah! Manual, good grief." It gets, trust me, it gets to the point where you will not want to shoot in anything but manual. And then, we'll get to the point where you just go, "I can't." Like, people ask me to shoot on aperture priority mode. I'm like, "You want me to rely on the meter? What do you mean you want me to rely on the meter? I don't want that. I don't want the camera doing the work for me. I want to do the work for me." Right? So, you will get to that point where you will be more comfortable in manual than you will in shutter or aperture priority mode, or for that matter, for program mode. And I think that is going to be the big rule of the day. Everyone from here forward gets out of P mode. We will not touch P mode. It is away from our camera. It does not exist. As a matter of fact, look at it as broken, okay? Oh no, now what are you going to do? You've got to take a shot and P is broken. But that's the reason why DSLR has so much control. It's because when you get out of program mode, now all of a sudden you're the one who's making the image. You're telling the camera what to do, the camera is not telling you what to do. So, creativity, interchangeable lenses. Now you have tons of creativity with interchangeable lenses, rather than what's just given to us on the camera. We now have the ability to use boca, or aperture opening. For those of you who, we'll talk a lot about this, but as you open your aperture you can blow backgrounds out of focus. We call it boca in the industry. Everybody's, "Boca, what kind of word is that? English please?" It's a beautiful word, and it makes your images have that much more impact because it allows you creativity and compositional control, okay? Quality of image. Of course, the DSLR cameras have these wonderful sensors on them, and there's different grades of DSLR. Some of you will have what's called a DX for sensor frame, which is what they call a crop sensor. Have you heard of that? A little crop sensor is a little bit of a smaller sensor than a full frame camera, but those of you who are thinking of upgrading from a DX crop sensor to a full frame camera are going to see amazing differences when it comes to shooting in low light. Okay. So, that's another area where you see quality of image, low light performance, and then of course that upgrade factor. You can add beautiful, quality lenses as you grow in your gear. And oftentimes, people are so obsessed with changing bodies, like, "I've got to have the latest and greatest body." No, have the latest and greatest lenses. The lenses and the glass are what is the most valuable thing that will create beautiful images for you. The camera body, I mean really, it's just the tool. It's the lenses that help you create the beautiful art, and that control and creativity. So, and the other advantage and finally with the DSLR is you are now at the point where you grow, the camera will grow with your skill level. You know, how you feel limited by a point shooter, by your phone? You're like, "I can't do quite what I want." A DSLR, as you grow as a photographer, is what will grow with you. And granted you may have to invest in a little bit more equipment, or you know, upgrade things along the way, but it is something that's going to allow you to get your skill to the next level, as a photographer. So, why this class will help you. First of all, your DSLR will not be so overwhelming. That's one of my big goals is like the DSLR is not a scary thing. You will make creative and impactful images. We're going to talk about color, composition, lighting, all these things that factor into what makes a good image in multiple genres. I want you to learn to see differently and see like your camera sees. The camera has limitations. The human eye can see a spectrum of color and light that the camera cannot. So, I want to teach you to see like your camera, so you will know exactly what that camera is going to take as an image. You'll see it a little differently, but once you understand that you can make your camera see in the way you want it to see, all of a sudden you take control of the object in your hand, that tool, and you create the image that you visualized in your head, okay? You'll be able to better brand a business. Tomorrow we're going to talk about creating imagery for your website, and mock ups, and things where you don't have to invest in stock photography. You can make things totally branded to you and what you do. If you have a business that's very niche specific, like I don't know, like a fitness, let's say you own a fitness studio or a pilates studio. What can you do to create imagery that will work for your brand and your website, without necessarily photographing, you know, girls in sweats and working out, and not really wanting to be photographed? You know what I mean? There's lots of ways to create branded imagery with your DSLR that will help you improve overall the look, feel, and impression of your business. You will never miss an image. How many of you have missed an image? I have, lots, still do. But we all will. It's kind of the nemesis of being a photographer. You're like, "Why don't I have my camera?" That's the worst one, when you didn't have your camera. And then the second one is, "I wasn't fast enough." And you look at the back of your screen and you're like, "I missed it." There's always another image. Just keep that in your head. There's always another image. You will make people look better in this class, and you'll visualize the final result that much better. Which is a very powerful place to be, isn't it? There's something to be said when you're sitting behind your camera and you're about to take the image, and you don't quite know how it's going to turn out. It's a scary feeling. It's like, especially, when it counts, when it's something for someone else, or it's an image for a client, or it's for somebody else, or you have something in your head that you want to create and it's just not coming out that way. It's very frustrating. So I want you to be able to learn to visualize the final result before it happens, which is a very powerful place to be and it grows that confidence. Doesn't it? It makes you feel like, "I can do this. I can do this. It's okay." So, you are in the right place if you're upgrading from a point shoot to a DSLR. You understand the exposure triangle and you want to train your eye a little bit better. And I know some of you may be still a little unconfident in the exposure triangle. That's okay. Trust me it takes years to get it down, okay? You're perhaps a hobbyist who is passionate about image making and you want to up the quality. Take the quality of your photography up several levels. You're in the right place if you're DSLR images don't come out technically correct all the time and you want more consistency. That was a big one for me when I was starting out. I just felt like I'd get once in a while a good image but not consistently a good image. If you own a business and want to take better images for your marketing, branding products. Perhaps you have an online shop or a catalog that you need consistent good quality imagery for. You're in the right place if you're exploring what kind of photography you want to do. Maybe you're just kind of like trying lots of things. You don't really know exactly where you want to focus in a genre. So, this is a chance for you to experiment with the different genres. You're curious about what a DSLR can do to make your images that much better. You know a DSLR can help but you're just not sure quite how. You're also in the right place if you see photography is a creative skill and you want to make more artistic images. When I first came into the DSLR world, I just thought taking a picture was capturing a moment. It wasn't until I really started understanding my camera that I realized it's a paintbrush. It's a tool for influencing light. And light is my medium of choice. So, paint is a painter's medium of choice, right? There's people who do mixed media, right? There's sculptures. There's drawers. There's pencil. There's charcoal. There's watercolor. There's all kinds of different mediums. Light is my medium. And the tool that I have, the paintbrush is my camera that helps me put light the way I want it. Now obviously, I can't make light do things that God can do but that's okay. I still want to influence it the way my camera can influence it. Does that make sense? So, there is limitations, of course. So now, with this course, comes some freebie stuff from us. We have the DSLR quick reference guide and Adobe Raw basics. And I will have, by the end of the class here, I will have Linda go grab, my studio manager will go grab the little DSLR. It's a foldable pocket guide that will give you those quick DSLR tips on the run. You can literally shove it in your pocket, which is kind of nice. Not only in composition and color but also technique, exposure, and all those kinds of things. So, download that. And it's also an Adobe Raw basics. Now how many of you are shooting in Raw, right now? Look, almost all of them are. Yes. That's so good. If you're not shooting in Raw, I'm going to encourage you to change that. And for those of you who don't know what Raw is, your camera comes to you shooting in jpeg. When you first pull it out of the box, it's set to give you jpeg images, which are compressed files. In other words, data is thrown out because it needs to compress the file into a smaller format. Which when you go to edit the images, all of a sudden you have less data to work with. So by shooting in Raw, you allow the camera to take in and record a file that includes all of the information on the sensor. And so, then when you go into Photoshop, you now have much more flexibility to produce edited images. Basically, you can take advantage of everything that's in the file rather than just what's compressed in the jpeg. So, we give you an Adobe Raw basics on how to use Adobe Raw and what the different sliders do, and what's important, and what's not. What you can ignore and what you need to focus on. So, go to and you can send it to your email. Of course, we're going to ask... I'm a marketing guru. So we'll ask for your email. Of course, we'd never spam so please keep that in mind. And we'll send that to via your email account and address. Also don't forget to join our Facebook group. I've had that group up since, what? My first Creative Live class, I think it was. So, yeah, that group has grown into a nice group. Tons of good people in there who are willing to help and always welcoming to all levels. And there's some very advanced people in there and some very beginners. And we all make sure and help each other out with what we're doing. So, let's talk about who this crazy person is and her family who is actually trying to teach you today. Who is she? Well, I am a, we lost a slide there. Go back. I am a mom. That's not me. There we go. I own a studio in Bend, Oregon. Like kind of said earlier, I've been on Creative Live a lot. And I got my first SLR camera at 15 years old. So, oh my gosh, almost 30 years of shooting. That's old. And my dad was a photographer. He was a landscape guy. And he's been a photographer for years. And when I was 15 years old, for Christmas, he gave me a Pentax K1000. You guys all know what a Pentax K1000 was? It's a film camera that was all manual. It did not really have program on it. And so, you were forced to learn how to shoot manual mode and it was all manual focus. Just everything about the camera made the photographer do the work. And that was probably the greatest gift my dad could have ever given me, was to teach me how to struggle from the start. I didn't have automatic to rely on. And at first, it was so frustrating to me and I was angry. I'm like, "Dad, why did you give me this stupid camera? It sucks." And he just looked at me, he said, "Julia, learn to use it and you will learn to see." And I'm like, "Okay." I begrudgingly moved on, and talk about being a spoiled brat. Your dad gets you this beautiful camera and you're like, "I can't use it." It's a childhood frustration. So, I remember what it feels like to be in that position, but we would also spend hours and hours in the darkroom together. My dad had a darkroom and we lived in Switzerland. I was raised in Europe and we lived in this top floor apartment in downtown Lucerne, Switzerland. And we had an office. It was a four bedroom apartment so it was pretty good sized apartment. And one of the bedrooms was a den and my dad blacked out the windows, and put in a red light, and made this gorgeous dark room, and he still has those enlargers today. And I would spend hours with him in the dark room and he's the one who taught me how to develop my film, and how to be... The smell of fixer. Oh my gosh, the smell of fixer is so intoxicating. It's like sucking in Sharpie pens. It smells so good. And to this day, the smell of fixer brings back incredible memories to me with my dad. People think I'm crazy but, hey. Of course, those days are long gone. And then, when I was 18, he got me a Nikon N8008 which is now a camera that has program mode. And I used to shoot in program mode and think, "Oh, my gosh. This is so easy." But then, I came back to those roots and went, "Oh, man. Dad was right. I need to be shooting. I need to get off of program." So finally, I moved into aperture priority mode and from there finally moved into manual. So, it's okay to take that path. It's okay to start on program. It's okay to then move to aperture priority mode or shutter priority mode and then finally into manual. But my goal is by the end of this class, I want you all shooting in manual well and confidently. And it takes a little while to get super confident in it. It's not going to happen right away. So, don't be hard on yourself if you're like, "I can't get this." Eventually, it becomes instinct but if you don't force yourself to do it, you'll never get there.

Ratings and Reviews


Julia is an amazing teacher!!!! Funny, go with the flow, honest, and obviously so gifted at what she does. That came through and also inspired those feelings in me as a novice photographer. I left her class feeling excited to play with my camera and appreciate that she encouraged me to use what I have now and get good before spending tons of money on fancier stuff. I also love that she showed how everyday materials from Home Depot can make for great images. I particularly appreciated the 2nd day on product photography, social media images and the short demos in PhotoShop. Please do a full class on just this Julia/Creative Live!!!!!

Brandon Couch

So first off I've been doing photography for a little bit now and only shot in manual 20% of the time and was okay with it. Since coming to this class and seeing how manual mode isn't scary, it is everything you need and want in the life of photography, I now will not use anything else. The team at Creative Live is amazing and Julia's love for other starting and even professional photographers is amazing. She would sit and talk to us together and individually and really loves those who love photography. I would recommend this class and any other one of Julia's classes here on CreativeLive. I can't wait to come back. Was AMAZING!!! LIFE CHANGING!!!

a Creativelive Student

What an awesome class! I am not a beginner and am currently making a living as a photographer and was interested in this class because #1 Julia is such a great teacher with such talent and #2 I was expecting to take away some valuable information to pass along to my little after school beinning photo club. I am happy to report Julia did not disappoint:-) What actually happened was that I learned so many things that I probably should have known being a seasoned professional that I lost track of my original intention of why I was there. I couldn't wait to pull out my camera and try all of the new things that I had just learned. The color balancing and the little dot showing when your camera (Nikon) was manually focused alone was worth the price. I enjoyed every minute of this course. Thanks Julia! Anyone would benefit from this course....

Student Work