Sadly, many of us let our DSLR camera just sit there unloved and unused, letting it collect layers of dust. And that’s a great big shame! It’s easy to forget about your “fancy” camera, especially since pulling out your ever-present smartphone to capture that stellar avocado brunch, that newest, awesome crafty project or the super adorable puppy on the street is just so convenient. But you own that DSLR for a reason — to take better photos, pics that won’t merely sit on your phone but rather are worthy of printing, framing or getting a ton of hearts on Instagram. In honor of the White House’s super cool initiative — the National Week of Making — this is the week to start using your DSLR, and we can totes help you with that.

girls using dslr camera

1. First, learn to properly use that fancy-pants camera of yours. We have a great Intro to DSLR Photography online class that you should totally sign up for. During the class, you’ll learn all those all-important basics, like how to use the various settings on your camera and shoot in all sorts of different lighting situations, as well as the difference between various lenses. To really step up your photographic game, all this is oh-so-necessary.

2. Once you’ve gotten a handle on the basics, start experimenting. Once upon a time, to take photos, you’d have to use actual film, drag it down to the local Fotomat and pay to get it developed. These days, with the advent of digital photography, you have far more freedom to snap away and try things out. Put yourself in different situations: Take pictures at night, take close-ups, take long shots, try to capture a sunset or capture the best picture EVER of your favorite niece. As they say, practice makes perfect, and this totally goes for photography.

Photographing in nature

3. Actually do something with those excellent images. Don’t let your pictures merely live on your hard drive or in the cloud; honor your new skills by utilizing the photographs you’ve taken. Print some out, frame them and put them on the wall. Have thank you cards or holiday cards created with your fav pic. Or upload your masterpiece to Instagram and impress everyone. If you want to share your pics via Instagram, you should consider getting EyeFi, the WiFi SD card that lets you instantly transfer images from your DSLR to your smartphone. You can load them up wherever you are, which is ideal if you’re traveling. There’s no middleman (aka laptop) between your DSLR and Instagram gold. Plus, while you’re at it, you should take our How to Crush It on Instagram online class. With your new DSLR skills, you will so totally crush it!

Now get snapping, creating and enjoying that deep sense of accomplishment for finally putting your “real” camera to work. And don’t forget to check out all the photography classes that Brit + Co has to offer. The entire collection can be found here.

Show off your DSLR photos by tagging us on Instagram @BritandCo. We want to see them!

(Photos via iStock)