I have a confession to make…

I haven’t taken my camera out in six months.

Now, I know… I know… even though I’m not a professional photographer, I’m supposed to be better at this whole photography thing than you are because I work with professional photographers and sometimes I tell you their secrets, right?

Well, truth is, I’m no better at this than you are… and, even the pros go through times where they feel discouraged and/or uninspired (that’s actually another of their secrets)…

Everyone goes through ruts and unscheduled downtime. They may not tell you this. But it’s true.

And those who don’t go through it usually get burnt out.

So, if this is you this week, and you haven’t had your camera out in a while, I asked some of my favorite photographers to give you some photo tips for starting fresh (or starting over).

For me, the moment to start shooting again came last week at my daughter’s swim meet.

I was asked to step in as the team photographer when the regular team photographer threw out his back.

The night before the meet, I charged my batteries, emptied two cards, packed my favorite lens, and thought I was done.

But what I should have done was googled a few tips and settings first… along with some composition ideas to create a shoot list. Because when I got there, it was like I’d totally forgotten everything I used to know.

Little by little, I worked through all my kinks. But lesson learned… next time a simple google search and checklist will save me some anxiety and frustration.

And here’s something else…

Now that the meet is over and I’ve had a chance to look through my images, I can see all the mistakes I made… all the times where my focus caught the lap lane markers instead of the actual swimmer… all the times I missed a tip of someone’s finger, because she was swimming so fast I couldn’t get ahead of her in time.

But do the moms and dads of young swimmers care? No, they don’t. They’re thrilled! I stepped up to provide photos of something they care about. I did the best I could. I always strive to improve. And honestly, I brought more skill to the table than they have, and they’re grateful for it.

So throw out your doubts and insecurities about being the best and just do your best.

By the end of my very first day shooting, I was already markedly better than I was when I started. The same will be true for you. It’s one of the things I like most about photography. It doesn’t take an engineering degree to improve your skills and know-how. Help is just a click and a practice session away.

Volunteering to shoot something for a friend is a great way to learn. And it sometimes gets you behind the scenes, too.

The instant you realize your camera is a magic key back stage, it immediately becomes a more valuable skill to learn. So just put yourself out there and see where it takes you.

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