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You will be amazed how little it costs to get quality instruction.

Be sure to check out the big camera shop in your area. Our local camera shop is staffed by a lot of pros (good ones too, judging by their work), and they will offer evening or weekend classes on a variety of topics. $40-$100 is about the range in our area, your mileage may vary. Sometimes they’ll even offer you a discount or free admission to a class if you buy a related product. Our local shop will give you a free enrollment in their $100 lighting workshop if you buy a $120 softbox. If you were going to buy a softbox anyway, it seems like a good deal.

Another resource is local photography groups. I am part of one, where about once a month a bunch of folks ranging from pro to amateur enthusiast get together and talk shop. Sometimes they’ll even have a photo critiquing night. It’s not as bad as this site. Usually folks are commended for their bravery, and I’ve never heard someone critique a shot in a hurtful manner.

As I alluded to in my last post, practice makes perfect. The best advice I ever received about photography was “take a photo every day.” Now, the point of the advice wasn’t to just point and click once a day, but rather to actually put thought into a shot. Compose it, then recompose it. Tweak settings, then push the shutter button and take that photo. It’s an easy goal, and if you do it, you’re going to see a much more rapid improvement in skills than if you spent a million years reading forums and books on photography while the camera collects dust.

Good luck!