Lesson #1: Just because you have an awesome camera doesn't mean you're an awesome photographer.
What?! You have to have skills? Lame. So, my dreams quickly got squashed. But, seriously, it's so true! Whether you've got a point-and-shoot, or a DSLR, if you're shooting in automatic, you can get the same results. But once you actually understand what the deal is with shutter speed, aperture, and ISO, that's where you can build your skills and become exceptional.
And I've definitely seen this mentality from other people, and even myself. You think it's all about being creative and if you've got a great model, setting, and lighting that's all you need, but there really is more to it than that. Knowing the basics of how to get the camera to do what you want it to do is where you can truly make anything come to life.
Lesson #2: Now you will critique everyone's pictures.
One of the unexpected bonuses to the class was that Amber would show us how to look at pictures, see what was good and bad in them, so that we could build our knowledge of what makes a great picture. And now having that knowledge, makes me feel like a mean, hypocritical judge. When I look at pictures taken by people that I know have fancy cameras, I judge. Sure, I'll be the first to admit that I may not be able to take a better picture than what they took, but how could they possibly have under-exposed their picture?! Or why do they have such a distracting background? And the subject's eyes aren't in focus! *gasp* It's awful, but ignorance was bliss. Now every photograph is subject to my judging eyes.
Lesson #3: You have to practice, practice, practice
So, the class is done, and Payton, Lessye and I are all inspired to take moving, emotional pictures that capture the moment perfectly. So, I try...and I fail. And I quickly run back to my security blanket of automatic mode because at least my pictures don't turn out blurry and unfocused.. Then, I'll warily go back to manual and adjust the settings, and then I get one great picture. So, I try again. I mean, I can't let all that money spent on the class go to waste! So, over time I know I'll be presented with numerous different situations where I need to adjust my settings slightly, and hopefully I'll soon know how to quickly adjust the camera settings to get the best picture, instead of having to think real hard before snapping the shot.
Now, I am, by no means, any better at taking pictures now, than I was before; in fact, I feel like I got worse, since I try to avoid automatic mode and try to apply the lessons, so recently my pictures sometimes turn out all fuzzy and dark. But, knowing is power, right? And I'm confident that with time, my lessons will be totally worth it. In fact, I hope to take more classes when my schedule opens up.