The Essentials of Photography

We always smile, laugh, and cry whenever we see special moments of our lives captured on photographs. Photography is a great hobby that lets people record even the simplest moments in life. These simple moments become great when we look at them 10 to 20 years in the future. Unlike with other hobbies, photography can be for everybody.

Although it takes a professional to capture photographs that will give you goose bumps, amateurs can always record great shots as well. One way to make sure that you get good shots is by understanding the essentials of photography. Just like with anything, you need to study the important things about photography in order to understand the hobby a lot better.


As a photographer, you need to learn the basics in order to know the advance essentials of photography. Basically, photography means light and graphic. Therefore, you are making images or graphic with light. Without light, it’s impossible to create an image with your camera. Have you ever wondered why the camera doesn’t click when there’s no light on your subject?

Traditional photographers use chemicals on the effect of light to get the images they want with their camera. Photographers nowadays rely on the electronic device known as a sensor to capture images with light. Basically, you need light to process an image whether you are using a traditional or an electronic camera.


In the simplest words, aperture is the size of the opening in your lens when you are going to take a picture. The size of the opening in your lens plays a huge part in how small or large the amount of light that gets in.

In photography, the aperture is measured or calibrated in f stops. The higher the number the stop is, the smaller the aperture you have on your lens, and vice versa. So if you’re planning on using a small amount of light for your photo, then setting the f stop high will allow you to accomplish your goal. The same thing should be done if you are planning on using larger amounts of light. All you need to do is to get a low-numbered f stop so that you’ll have good amount of light in your photographs.

Shutter Speed

In case you wonder why some images are blurry while others are crisp and clear regardless of the fast movement of the subject, the answer would be the shutter speed. Basically, shutter speed is a mechanism which opens and closes on a fast pace whenever a photographer clicks on the camera to take pictures of his subject.

A subject that involves movements should be shot with a high shutter speed in order to capture the motion. In case you’ve calibrated your shutter speed slow, then you won’t be able to record quality shots. However, if you adjust the speed up, then you’ll be able to get the image you desire without compromising the quality of your picture.

Shutter speed range depends on the ability of the camera. Good quality cameras are capable of fast speeds of 1,000th of a second or a lot more. Professional photographers, especially those who are into sports or wildlife, invest on state-of-the-art cameras that can capture the fastest movement on earth.

Aside from the movement of your subject, a fast shutter speed will also reduce the effect of camera shake. Amateur photographers who do not rely on tripods when taking photographs of their subject should consider adjustments on their shutter speed. If not, then effects of camera shake are always present in their photographs.

Exposure Value

First and foremost, you need to understand what the meaning of exposure in photography is. Basically, it is the quantity of light allowed on a photograph. It is the product or combination of your aperture and shutter speed. Before you can really understand exposure, it would be best if you try to familiarize both aperture and shutter speed first. Once you understand the two most basic essentials of photography, you’ll have to remember that there’s no such thing as perfect exposure. Basically, it’s all a matter of personal preference. One art piece would look great to you, but won’t be visually appealing to other people. However, there is a “proper exposure” that should be followed if you want to produce good images.

A proper exposure requires an 18% gray reflectance. Although professional photographers can work on adjusting the combination of exposure and shutter speed, you should always follow the rules in order to get quality photographs. However, there’s no rule that you shouldn’t experiment with your camera. Always feel free to explore, especially when it comes to playing with your aperture and shutter speed. When you’re having a hard time getting the right exposure you prefer, you can always look back and check at the proper exposure. You can always use it as a reference but should never hold you back on exploring whenever you use your camera to record your subject.

Film Speed

Last but not the least, film speed is a factor in affecting the outcome of an image. While a digital camera doesn’t have a film, they provide film speeds in order for the photographer to have this option. Film speed is adjusted on the ISO setting on your camera. Available speeds range from ISO 100 up to a thousand or more depending on the model of your camera. Although digital photographers have the easiest way to change the options just by pushing a button, traditional or chemical photographers usually change the film. Most chemical photographers also use multiple cameras with different films to capture the same shot on various films.

Film speed works by reacting faster or slower to light intake. Basically, the slower film speed you set, the slower it will react to light intake. As a result, it will require a longer exposure or a larger aperture in return. On the other hand, a faster film speed will give you the opposite. Understanding film speed is important when you are shooting outdoors as it affects the brightness of your image.

Understanding the basics of photography will allow you to manage better shots with your camera. The model of your camera doesn’t really matter. What matters most is your knowledge on how to use it to your advantage. Most of the camera owners do not really understand the essentials of photography. As a result, they don’t appreciate the real beauty of the digital cameras that we have today. However, if you’ll study and appreciate the basics such as the aperture, shutter speed, exposure, and film speed (ISO), you’ll see the difference whenever you produce quality shots.

Although they are not that easy to remember, especially when you are quite new with photography, memorizing them will actually help you get great shots. You don’t have to be an expert photographer in order to capture beautiful images. All you need to do is to adjust the above-mentioned essentials of photography to get what you want with your subject. Some people keep notes to help them remember the essentials of photography. Always bear in mind that a good camera won’t always give you great shots. However, good understanding of photography will always provide you the best possible shots you want.