As some of you know, I've been taking photography classes every Tuesday in Adams Morgan with Sam D'Amico Photography. When I purchased my Nikon D90 camera two years ago I immediately started shooting (without reading the manual). I never shot in auto mode but would use priority aperture mode to take my photos. Sometimes my photos would look great, but half of the time they wouldn't. I never worried about lighting, shutter speed or exposure since my camera would automatically adjust itself. After two years of owning my camera, I decided that I needed to shoot in manual mode to truly understand the art of photography. I've learned so much in my classes that I can use my DSLR like a point and shoot (if I wanted to). Now, I feel like I'm making photos versus just "taking" them.
I highly recommend taking classes with Sam if you're looking to learn more about DSLR or film photography. He won't help you develop your style, but he will help you learn how to use the tools you have within your camera that you can use to evolve as a photographer.
Here's a photo of my dog Shea that I took to practice spot metering and depth of field. Where are you in your photographic journey?