So, you’ve got family get-togethers, babies, kids, or grandchildren, possible weddings in the future, birthday parties and more.

What do all these have in common?
Answer: The memories need captured.
Problem: You don’t have the money to hire a professional photographer.
Solution: Do it yourself.

Really? I can do all this myself and create professional-looking results?

Of course you can.

#1: Buy the camera
Save up about $500 and shop around for a decent DSLR. That’s a lot of dough, but the money you save will outweigh the initial expense. Trust me.
You can find a nice Nikon or Canon DSLR at places like Walmart, Target or BestBuy. Do your research first and make sure you get the best bang for your buck. You may even be able to score a great used camera through places like Adorama and B&H Photo for lower prices.

#2: Study
There are literally thousands of “How-To” videos on Youtube. Watch them, take notes. View online articles on “How to Take Great Pictures.” Learn the right settings you need to implement on your camera to capture the images you desire. Learn the right framing lengths as well.

#3 Practice
Face it, the first few pictures you take will be bad. That’s inevitable. But practice does, in fact, make perfect. Every professional photographer has been where you are. Remember, the main difference between a professional and an amateur photographer is one takes a great-looking picture by chance, whereas the other takes great-looking pictures on purpose.

#4 Never Leave Home Without It
Carry your camera everywhere you go. The more you use it, the better you’ll become. Aim to take at least 5-10 random pictures per day to get comfortable with your DSLR.

#5 Conformability
After you are comfortable with your camera and its settings, offer to take pictures of a simple event, like a birthday party or holiday celebration within your family…etc. Because it’s for your family, if the pictures don’t come out that great, no harm, no foul. If they do come out great, take on more portrait-intense photography, such as your child’s high school senior session, baby or grandbaby session, etc…

#6 Reaping the Benefits
Remember, the earlier you start practicing with your new camera, the sooner your bank account and wallet will thank you. Forget spending $500 on your kid’s high school senior pictures. You can do it yourself for under $20 (prints and all). Forget hiring a wedding photographer for your family member or friend. You can do it yourself for free, if you place the images on a cd with copyright release (which is really what most brides want).

#7 The Sky is the Limit
You never know. Social media is a major platform for sharing special moments. The photos you snap of your family with your new camera may just cause a buzz and bring you inquiries: people desiring your photography skills for money. You may just have enough practice and enough talent to score a few sidejobs and supplement your income.
That’s what I did. I started with no talent, no money and no skill. Now, I run a successful photography business that serves the North East. If I can do it, anyone can.

If you have any questions on how to get started, please, leave a comment or contact me.

Good Luck.

Justin lives in Charleston, West Virginia with his family, where he runs his business Waybright Photography, helps local businesses with online marketing and writes grants for nonprofit organizations.

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