Do you have a really nice camera that is languishing in the closet? Do you find yourself only pulling it out for holidays or birthdays? Do you feel guilty that you spent so much money on it because you find yourself taking pictures with your smart phone instead? Do you feel like you don’t know how to use it? I can help you. Read this blog and then go get that camera out of the closet!

I have a friend who has a really nice camera but hadn’t felt that she was using it enough so she made herself take one photo a day. I thought that was a pretty cool idea and I enjoyed the photos she posted on Facebook but eventually her daily postings becoming fewer and far between.

It’s a lot of work to drag out your heavy camera, especially when there is not an event to be captured. It can be easier to grab your small digital camera or use your smart phone. Even if you don’t understand how to use the various settings on your camera, you can take great photos in the automatic mode. As I’m sure you know, the best way to learn how to use your camera is to use it!

A number of years ago my husband gave me my first DSLR camera for a birthday gift. I had been using an “idiot proof” 35 mm ever since I stopped taking pictures with a film camera. We were getting ready to leave for a trip and I told my husband I’d bring my small camera for convenience.

“Oh, No. You need to learn how to use the new camera and the plane ride is the perfect place to read the manual.”

I listened to his suggestion and brought the camera and read the manual on the long flight. I learned how to use it and took some great pictures on our vacation. I’ve never forgotten that conversation and it has inspired me to grab “my big camera,” on more occasions than I probably would have otherwise.

When that camera broke my husband was kind enough to get me a new Canon. This camera is way more complicated than my old one, so I found myself signing up for a very inexpensive camera class at LaGrange Camera. It was a great refresher since I hadn’t taken a photography class since my days of using film. What the teacher didn’t know about my particular camera, Heather, the store manager did. Taking a class isn’t necessary to learn how to use your camera but it is convenient and helpful! As long as you go out and practice what you learn each week, the information will stick.

How do I get myself to pick up my Canon and make some pictures? I create projects for myself. I’m not a scenic photographer so I usually need live models. I set aside an hour every so often to take some photos of my three dogs. Kids loved to be photographed and are pretty willing to let you use them as models. Every time my kids are all together I do a photo shoot. Sometimes I come up with a project like the ones featured in this blog: Taking Fun Photos at Ikea! So create a project, pull your camera out of the closet, and have fun!

Kathleen Thometz is an artist, writer and founder of Doodle Art & Design, a teaching studio in Western Springs. She lives with her husband, kids and three doodle dogs: Rainbow, Sunshine and Thunderstorm. You may contact her at

Kathleen Thometz

I am an artist, writer, and art instructor with four children, one husband, and two doodle-dogs. I have contributed articles to the and Chicago Parent Magazine and wrote the Artist's Eye column...

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