I had a friend at work approach me last week with some photography questions. His wife had just bought a new digital SLR camera and wanted some advice about taking better photographs. My head filled with a hundred of the most important things to impart about better pictures using a new DSLR. Poor guy, my brain opened up and a dozen things started to come out. I covered f-stop and depth of field to ISO and white balance before stopping myself and doing a reality check. Any information imparted has to be suited to the audience to be relevant. Any expert in their field has two dozen chapters to fill with their wisdom, but none of it counts if the audience fails to connect. What is f-stop or shutter speed to a new photographer who has been using an i-phone or a Point-and-Shoot?… Nothing. So I stopped myself and thought hard about the number one thing. Much like trying to decide what to build first – what is my biggest return on investment? So for learning photography, mine was ‘take your camera off AUTO mode’. Shoot manually. Become immersed in the work. If you are forced to make adjustments yourself, then you have to learn something about your new tool. Don’t get me wrong, automation is a thing of beauty. I use every tool and feature at my disposal in our new world to make things easy. Maybe it is just the Luddite in me talking, but I still believe that doing the math, long hand, is the best way to understand the real fundamentals of how things work. So, my advice was ‘take it off auto mode’ and figure out the rest. Poor woman, she is probably cursing me now, wondering why all her photos look like crap or maybe she has gone back to auto and is happily shooting mediocre (still fun but less artsy) pictures of the kids (which is great by the way). Point is, I was so excited to have someone come to me, recognizing me as some expert, to get my advice. I had to really stop myself and focus (work through the myriad of noise in my head) to offer some relevant bit of wisdom that might make sense to anyone beginning a new journey. Sharing is indeed caring, but only if you get it right.