• I'd recommend visiting Orms in Cape Town - they're my favourite camera store on the planet.
  • If you can't get there, check out Kalahari.com for all kinds of camera equipment and photography self-help books to get you started. They have great stock of all kinds of bodies and lenses for you to play with.

Photography has always fascinated me. I always saw photos that people around me had taken and I always thought, “Wow! What amazing images. How did they do that?” It was always this big mysterious area to me, especially when my uncle would disappear into his darkroom and a day later he was showing us all these amazing pictures. Somehow I thought that this photographic ability was something that was way beyond my capabilities and was only for those magi that possessed these special gifts.

So I never tried to pursue this any further. I bought a point and click camera and did just that, aimed and clicked. This cost a fortune to have photos developed, only to discover that all the photos I had taken were an absolute disaster! Some were blurry, some had two pictures on top of each other, whilst others had all the heads chopped off. I was very relieved when our local stationery chain introduced the boo-boo bin. This meant that you could see your photos first and then ditch any photos that were blurred or no good, and you paid only for the ones you kept. I probably kept two out of a roll of film.

Then came the digital cameras and my photography didn’t improve at all. The only difference was that I didn’t have to pay for the photos. I could now just delete them from the stick. I was about to give up when I saw that a couple of people were tweeting about photography lessons and so, as a family, we decided to take a course.

By this time we had upgraded to Canon 7D DSLR bodies and had a couple of lenses that we were experimenting with. The course was fantastic and all of a sudden you found yourself understanding how your camera operated and how to get the kind of shots you wanted. We did an exercise every week working through the different effects like motion blur, depth of field, framing the subject, the rule of thirds, shutter speeds, ISO and many more.

We came out of the lessons feeling far more confident and relaxed about photography in general. Soon after, we went to Kruger National Park and took loads of photos every day for 6 days. When we got back we were amazed at just how good our photos were.

I can recommend lessons as part and parcel of buying a camera, it makes an amazing difference. Enjoy your camera and get out there and take amazing photos.