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How to Get Your Camera Off the Shelf: 5 Expert Steps

How to get camera off the shelf and finally start using it.

Two years ago, my dad got excited about photography, spending a lot of time researching before he decided on a Sony RX100, a mirrorless camera that seemed perfect for capturing life’s moments. I was just as excited to see the photos he would take.

However, as time passed, his enthusiasm faded, and the camera ended up forgotten on a shelf. This is a common scenario for many who find the technical aspects of photography — like ISO, shutter speed, and aperture — too complex, especially when compared to the ease of a smartphone camera.

In this article, I’m sharing five straightforward tips that I hope will motivate you to pick up your camera from the shelf and start taking beautiful photos and creating memories.

5 Tips on How to Finally Start Using Your Camera

#1. Make Your Camera Part of Your Daily Scene

Visibility Inspires Action: Place your camera in a spot where you’ll see it every day, like on a shelf near your door or on a table by your keys. The more you see your camera, the more likely you are to pick it up on your way out. 

This was a game-changer for me. Each glimpse of my camera was a gentle nudge, a reminder of the unexplored potential sitting within its lenses. By integrating the camera into my daily routine, I turned a passive hobby into an active pursuit. It wasn’t long before grabbing my camera became as natural as grabbing my wallet or phone before leaving the house.

My Fujifilm X100V mirrorless digital camera

Creating a Habit: By consistently seeing your camera, you’re more likely to use it regularly. Over time, this builds a habit, and photography becomes a natural part of your life. The key is to reduce the barriers to starting. By having the camera easily accessible, you eliminate the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ problem.

Make your camera a piece of art. A beautiful camera displayed in your living space can serve as a constant source of inspiration. It’s not just a tool; it’s a piece of craftsmanship that begs to be used.

Aesthetic Appeal: Make your camera a piece of art. A beautiful camera displayed in your living space can serve as a constant source of inspiration. It’s not just a tool; it’s a piece of craftsmanship that begs to be used.

#2. Master the Basics to Stay Motivated

Understanding Over Memorizing: learning the basics of photography, such as ISO, shutter speed, and aperture, is crucial. It might seem tedious at first, but understanding these fundamentals gives you creative control. 

When I began, I dedicated time each day to learn what each setting did. I experimented with different combinations, noting how they affected the image. This knowledge is empowering; it transforms photography from a game of chance into a craft.

Start with Manual Mode: While it’s tempting to rely on auto mode, manual mode forces you to make conscious decisions about your photos. It’s a learning curve, but it’s also a journey of discovery. Each adjustment teaches you cause and effect, and with time, you’ll be able to predict the outcome of your settings before you even press the shutter button.

Fujifilm x100v mirrorless camera with fixed 35mm equivalent lens

PRO TIP: If you don’t feel comfortable using manual mode right from the start, I recommend trying one of the semi-automatic photo modes, such as Aperture Priority mode, and analyzing the values of the other two settings. This approach will help you start to understand how the exposure triangle works and the correlation between all three major settings.

Celebrate Small Wins: Each time you nail a shot by adjusting the settings correctly, celebrate it. These small victories are the stepping stones to sustained motivation and deeper learning.

#3. Invest in a Prime Lens for Everyday Photography

Compact Gear, Constant Practice: A 35mm prime lens is a versatile tool that’s perfect for everyday photography. Its compact size means you can take your camera everywhere without it being a burden. 

I purchased the Sony 35mm f/1.8 OSS, which is compact and lightweight, for my Sony A7III. I found it to be ideal for street scenes, portraits, family photos, and even some landscapes. The lightweight and compact form factor of this lens encouraged me to practice daily, improving my skills with every outing.

Young male taking a photo of someone.
Photo of me using my Sony A7III paired with Sony 35mm F1.8 OSS prime lens.

Sidenote: Right now, my camera of choice is the Fujifilm X100V, which I use on a daily basis and love for its compact size and incredibly awesome retro-style design. Unlike many other cameras that I’ve tried and owned in the past, this one just makes me want to go out and take photos. It isn’t the perfect camera for everyone because it has a fixed 35mm equivalent lens, meaning that you can’t change the lens to another type and you don’t have zoom capabilities.

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Quality Over Quantity: A prime lens often offers superior image quality compared to zoom lenses. This quality can be incredibly motivating, as you see the sharpness and clarity that your photos can achieve.

If you want to learn more about lenses, I highly recommend you my in-depth article on camera lenses.

Creative Constraints: Working with a fixed focal length can seem limiting, but it’s a powerful creative tool. It forces you to think more about composition and to physically move to frame your shots, engaging with your environment more actively. I recently wrote an article in which I discuss how using one focal length can significantly improve your photography skills.

black and white photo of a male taking photo of a landscape

#4. Find a Photography Buddy

Shared Passion, Shared Growth: Having a friend who shares your interest in photography can be a significant motivator.

My photography buddy and I set regular outings to take photos, providing a sense of commitment and camaraderie. We exchanged tips, challenged each other, and grew together. It’s a partnership where both parties benefit, pushing each other to explore new perspectives and photography techniques.

photo of a male standing on a piece of ice holding a tripod with a camera
Photo of my photography buddy

Accountability and Encouragement: A photography buddy holds you accountable. On days when you might feel less inclined to go out and shoot, knowing someone else is counting on you can give you that extra push. Plus, the shared experiences can lead to lasting memories and even better photographs.

I still remember how my friend and I, also named Alex, decided to visit the Great Kemeri Heath Trail in January 2021 when it was freezing cold, at -28°C outside. Our goal was to take stunning photos of the sunrise, so we woke up at 4 AM and drove there from Riga. 

We were literally the only crazy people who had decided to visit this place in such weather conditions, but it was a lot of fun, and each of us managed to take a few cool photos and capture the overall vibe of that day. 😉

Male standing with a camera in a snowy and cold atmosphere
My photo buddy, Alex, shooting a landscape photo at -28C.
Photo collage of two photographers in a freezing cold conditions
A few selfies that we took that day 😉

Diverse Learning: Everyone has a unique eye for photography. By shooting with a photography buddy, you expose yourself to different styles and approaches, which can broaden your own photographic horizons.

#5. Engage with an Online Community

Feedback Fuels Improvement: Sharing your work online, especially in communities geared towards critique, can be incredibly beneficial. 

When I first posted a photo on a /r/photocritique/ subreddit and received a flood of upvotes and positive feedback, it was exhilarating. But even beyond the praise, constructive criticism from fellow photographers helped me refine my photography skills even further.

Screenshot showing Photo Critique Subreddit
I often share my photos on Reddit to receive constructive feedback from the community.

Sidenote: If you’re on Reddit, feel free to follow me there.

Building Confidence: Each positive interaction builds confidence. Photography can be a solitary hobby, but online communities provide a platform for encouragement and validation. When your work resonates with others, it’s a powerful motivator.

Learning from Others: Observing and engaging with the work of others can also be a learning experience. You can see how different photographers tackle various challenges and apply those lessons to your own work.

How to Finally Start Using Your Camera: Final Words

As we reach the end of our photographic journey together, it’s important to remember that every great photographer was once a beginner, standing at the threshold of their potential, camera in hand, just as you are now. The tips shared here are more than just guidelines; they are stepping stones on the path to capturing the world through your unique perspective.

By placing your camera within sight, you invite the possibility of a new adventure every day. Learning the basics of photography demystifies the process, turning technical hurdles into creative leaps. A prime lens becomes not just a tool, but a companion on your daily walks, capturing moments that might otherwise pass unnoticed. A photography buddy transforms the journey into a shared voyage, enriching your experience and expanding your vision. And sharing your work with an online community opens the door to new insights, encouragement, and growth.

Photography is a language of light, moments, and perspectives. It’s a way to tell stories, preserve memories, and see the world anew. So, take your camera off the shelf, embrace these tips, and step out into the world with your lens ready to capture the beauty that awaits. Your camera is more than a device; it’s your ticket to a never-ending exploration of the visual tapestry of life.

Let the dust settle on the shelf, not on your aspirations. Go ahead, take that first shot, and let each click be a declaration of your passion for photography.

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Aleksandrs Karevs

Aleksandrs Karevs

Hi, my name is Aleksandrs and I am a full-stack digital marketer passionate about digital photography. In my free time, I enjoy taking photos with my everyday companion – FUJIFILM X100V. Read full story here.

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Aleksandrs Karevs OHMYCAMERA Founder & Author

ARTICLE BY

Hi, my name is Aleksandr and I am a full-stack digital marketer from Riga, Latvia. In 2018 I became obsessed with photography and decided to create this blog to share my knowledge about both photography and marketing. In my free time, I enjoy taking photos with my everyday companion – FUJIFILM X100V.

Aleksandrs Karevs OHMYCAMERA Founder & Author

ARTICLE BY

Hi, my name is Aleksandr and I am a full-stack digital marketer from Riga, Latvia. In 2018 I became obsessed with photography and decided to create this blog to share my knowledge about both photography and marketing. In my free time, I enjoy taking photos with my everyday companion – FUJIFILM X100V.

Discover Why 2,367 Photographers Love This Free eBook!

Simply enter your email below to receive a FREE eBook filled with actionable tips for immediate photography improvements. 

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