Two years ago for my 33rd birthday, Jay and the kids bought me a fancy camera. I have an aversion to instruction manuals, so I didn’t read the one that came with the camera. I just figured it would come to me eventually, like through osmosis or something.

Turns out, it didn’t really come to me like that and this past winter I finally broke down and read about how to use my camera. I wanted to get  a new lens and thought that I probably shouldn’t pay for that unless I really knew how to use it. This learning and reading and stuff has greatly enhanced my pictures (duh) and now I am kicking myself that I didn’t learn it sooner.

Now I should say, I had the “basic” settings down but not the “artsy” ones on the top row of the settings. This is what I’m still trying to learn. Now this may come easily to some of you with fancy cameras, but I don’t really have that kind of brain, the kind that can quickly figure out situations such as: If I have this kind of lens, and it’s this type of light, and I want this kind of picture, then I need to do X. Keep in mind I nearly failed my logic class in college. I remember it went something like: If A + B = C, and C never equals A, and B sometimes likes to dress up in women’s underwear, then C + B = who gives a shit?

I think though, that I’ve gotten a little better in the past couple of months, reading some things that came with my camera and other photography blogs. So when Erin asked me to take her kids’ pictures, I felt somewhat certain I could deliver something that wasn’t complete crap.

Eventually, I did deliver at least one (sometimes even two or three), decent picture of her kids. The results are below. But let me tell you what, this taking pictures business is no joke. In fact, I thought it was actually kind of hard work. I found it to be both mentally taxing and hand-cramp-inducing more than anything else. I’m glad Erin was there to try to make the kids smile so that at least I didn’t have to try to throw that in the mix.

During that shoot, I discovered a few things–like that I kept forgetting to switch my camera settings. For instance, she’d ask me to get some of the kids running around, so I set my camera, and then we decide to take a picture of the four of them by the tree, and whoops, didn’t think to set it back. But she didn’t know that at the time (I guess the cat’s out of the bag).

Also, I discovered that my memory card is incredibly slow. Why didn’t I notice this before? So between each picture I’d get a “busy, busy, busy” sign while the previous photo was saving. And the kids are like smiling, smiling, smiling, and I’m just like–dammit!–hang on, hang on, hang on…

And finally, I’m pretty sure lighting will forever elude me.

So I have to give some mad props to my friends and family members that do take pictures for a living or semi-living or even a serious hobby. I envy you. Like the hundreds of other things I tinker with, I’m not sure if I’ll ever get anywhere with photography, but it’s fun to try. The kids gave me another lens for Mother’s Day. I think Jay knows that as long as he keeps supplying me with new things to figure out, I’ll be determined to keep plugging away. He’s crafty like that.

So–here you go: