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"The Best Photography Advice I Ever Got" with Jeff Carlson

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Jeff Carlson encourages you to think of yourself as a photographer, not just someone carrying a camera, because it can change the way you see your world.

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From the author of

Name: Jeff Carlson

Job Experience: I'm an author, photographer, and late-nighter who's written dozens of books for Peachpit Press. I'm also a columnist for the Seattle Times, a senior editor at TidBITS, and a frequent contributor to Photoshop Elements Techniques, Macworld, and other publications.

Most Notable Achievement: Author of The iPad for Photographers

Favorite Camera: Nikon D90

Advice: I'm a latecomer to photography. I've owned several point-and-shoot cameras, sure, but they were documentary devices. I wanted snapshots of things, and a camera usually came out of its case only for vacations or special occasions. And then, several years ago, I traveled to Africa—an environment so different from my Seattle home that it deserved a better camera.

I bought a Canon PowerShot S2 IS, a "superzoom" model with an integrated lens that offered a few more features above a pocketable point-and-shoot. I found myself exploring its features to get better shots, and while on my first safari I ended up with some great photos.

After that trip I was hooked. I saw myself as a photographer, not just a tourist with a camera, and wanted to take better photos. Soon after, with a few nudges from supportive friends, I bought a Nikon D80 DSLR and committed myself to learning all about photography and how to use the camera. It wasn't just a gear change—it was an image change. Seeing myself as a photographer altered the way I look at scenes, the way I notice light, and keeps my eyes open for unexpected photo opportunities.

So, my advice? Give yourself permission to buy that camera you want (or the one you can afford) that does more than what you're used to. Think of yourself as a photographer, not just someone carrying a camera, because it can change the way you see your world.

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