Please keep in mind that the journey to being a better photographer is just that - a journey. Do not expect to be a ton better tomorrow, or next week. THIS IS A LEARNING PROCESS.
It requires weekly, if not daily, practice. The more photographs you take the more you will learn and improve.
Do not be intimidated by the equipment. Our new world of digital photography has opened a new world of high-tech gadgets, where “more complicated” is the norm. If you choose to invest in the gear, learn how to use it.
Do not be intimidated by the actual act of taking photographs. Shoot an object at several different angles and viewpoints. Don't shoot just one and walk away. If people stare at what you're doing, that's their problem, not yours. On the same token, be respectful of others.
The basic concepts of good photography have NOT changed over time. Good light, good composition, correct focus, and good color are the same now as they have always been.
F-stops and shutter speeds are the same. Having a “latest and greatest” camera is not going to save your lack of knowledge of the basics.
Learn to look at light. Good light is the principle determining factor of any photograph. Consider the “magic” time of day when shooting outdoors- from dawn until the sun breaks the horizon, and evening from when the sun dips below the horizon until dark. Look at highlight and shadow. Without shadow, we have no shape. Look at the quality and direction of light that comes in through the window, shoot it, and keep notes of the results. Once you become more proficient with the controls of your camera for a correct exposure, light should then become the primary emphasis of any photo you take. Think in terms of good light.
Look at the work of other visual artists. Photography is a visual art form, and is very subjective. Have respect for others' work, whether you like their work or not. Everyone is at different stages of their craft. Visit museums and art galleries, and browse the art and photography book sections at the bookstore and library.
If you choose to work at becoming a better photographer, continue with your education. Take classes from a variety of teachers. At the very least, go out and shoot with other photographers that have more experience than you, or can mentor you. Join a camera club or amateur group that you are comfortable with. Do not be afraid to ask questions.
You are the only person who has to be satisfied with your work. Shoot for yourself, not for others. There will be time for that later if you do work-for-hire (or if you want to keep peace within your family).
Don't turn it into a chore. Take you time. And don't forget to have fun!
Feel free to contact me with questions or concerns.