When I purchased my first DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex), I genuinely didn't know what I was doing. Sometimes I'm not even sure why I bought that Canon Rebel in the first place. I mean, I was fairly happy with my point-and-shoot, like, for reals, I did my research. It was bomb. But apparently I was looking for something a little more nuclear (Get it? A bigger bomb?). Blurry backgrounds were all I wanted in life, and a big-girl camera was the ticket.
Something was really frustrating though. My big-girl camera didn't solve my blurry-background desires. Shooting in Auto mode wasn't giving me the magical pictures like I saw on Flickr. Those other modes were disastrous little letters of confusion, and much to my dismay, RTFM (google it) hardly applied in this case. I kind of liked some of my pictures, and I was really excited to do well, but overall I was clueless.
This was at a time when Facebook groups weren't really a thing, and photographers were still pretty closed-minded about sharing their secrets. Quickly learning that it takes more than good gear to take good pictures and that my avenues for growth were limited, I turned to a form of education that seems somewhat obsolete today:
Lolz with eye-rolls, right? One Barnes & Noble trip and 20 big-ones later, I had in my hands Scott Kelby's "The Digital Photography Book." It was easy to understand and covered a wide range of topics. I read them all. Well, I read them all except for sports. It was my go-to guide, and I immediately started putting the techniques he mentioned to practice. Something that was once mysterious began to take form, and I look back on those first moments with such a strong feeling of happiness. It was oddly rewarding.