I often hear questions about how to get into photography. What camera is best? What camera should I get? How do I start taking photos? etc. My response is usually “it depends” followed by “what do you want to photograph?”
Let’s get the camera part out of the way. It doesn’t matter what camera you buy as long as it fits in your budget. The only thing I recommend is one that has interchangeable lens. When I started, I bought a Canon SL1 with 2 kit lens for $600.00. Any camera you purchase will be a lot more than you need for quite some time as you learn photography. If you want small and light, think about a mirrorless camera. They are much more compact than a DSLR. Go to your local camera store and try out all the brand and see which one feels the best in your hands, which is the easiest to use. I have a Canon SL! and a Sony A7Rii. When it comes to ease of use, the Canon is so much better than the Sony. The menu in the Canon is very easy to navigate where as the Sony is complicated and annoying. However, the image quality from the Sony is amazing and worth the annoying menu system.
The next step is to think about what you want to photograph. Street, weddings, portraits, landscapes, etc. Now do some research and find a local professional photographer that gives workshops in the photography you are interested in. If you live in Seattle and want to do landscapes, you can contact me and I will be more than happy to teach a workshop. I took a one day workshop when I was first learning and the knowledge I gained in the that one day worth the money. You will learn how to get the camera out of auto, learn how to shoot in manual, composition, using a telephoto lens, aperture, shutter speed, ISO and how they all work together, etc. You don’t know what you don’t know so you won’t know what you look up on Youtube.
The next thing you should spend you money on is Lightroom and Photoshop tutorials. While Lightroom is fairly easy to learn, Photoshop can be very complicated. Spending $40 to $60 on a tutorial is well worth the money. I have purchased several of them from Ryan Dyar, Joshua Cripps, and Ted Gore. Each one has their own unique style but it’s more about learning the program than anything else. Before you start thinking about how a real photographer shouldn’t use Photoshop, remember that Ansel Adams would spend an entire day in a darkroom editing 1 photo. The only difference is it is on a computer instead of a darkroom. Since you should be shooting in Raw format, the photos are very flat compared to a jpeg but have so much more data that editing is possible. If you only shoot in jpeg, your camera does the Photoshop for you depending on how the manufacturer set it up.
Basically, find a camera that you like and fits your budget, figure out what you want to photograph, take a workshop, purchase Lightroom and Photoshop tutorials, learn to edit your photos, and generally have fun with it. It is an art forma nd takes several years to find you own style and process. So get out shooting and unless you are being paid, fill the frame with what you like.