Photography 101 – Introduction

Hello followers of Secret Entourage! I’m the owner and photographer for Pepper Perfect, and I’m known as Snapshot, the lead photographer here at Secret Entourage. We’ve decided to begin a series of articles known as Photography 101, to help our readers (self-proclaimed photographers or not) begin to understand the main concepts behind digital photography, and also to improve skills along the way. There are hundreds of ways to share your pictures online with your friends these days via social media, so why not make your photos look better? Who knows, maybe you’ll find your new favorite hobby, or perhaps even new career.

My main goal throughout this entire series is to keep my points simple, plain, and easy to understand. I’m not here to bore with you pretentious “art speak”, and to demand you to acquire a serious knowledge of the fundamentals of art for your photos to turn out good. I want to show you the quickest way to learn the basics, to make cool photos, and then to have to you get out there and learn for yourself what works and what doesn’t. I should make full disclosure: I am a self-taught photographer, I have had no formal education on photography, let alone art. I should also state: I have a strong belief that being self-taught has proved helpful in a multitude of ways while forging my self as an artist and nailing down my own unique style.

I have nothing against formal education, but it seems ironic to me that to learn how to become a creative, you should put yourself through generalized classes and programs. Saying that, why should you read my thoughts on what makes good photography? There are definite factors that make images more appealing than others, and learning these things will help you understand how to make these images yourself. Also, to have your own unique style, you need to learn when and why you should break these rules and ignore everything you’ve decided is required.

That’s enough philosophy for one article though, were just here to make some cool photos, not save the world. I’ll give you a preview of what you can expect in the following articles.

There are five main factors in photography that make a good image:

1. The most important thing in photography, digital or film, is lighting. Without light we cannot see, let alone take a photo. Whether it’s light from the sun, the lamp in the room, the headlights of a car, or the glow from your cellphone — if it’s in your frame when you take the picture, it determines how the photo will come out looking. Lighting will determine the colors, contrast, and overall feel of your photos. The heart and soul of any photo. Learning to control this aspect of your photos, will allow you to mold the photo you want to create.

2. The next elements are composition and framing — how you place the objects and main points of focus in your photo relevant to the other objects. There are “rules” such as the golden ration and rule of thirds, that will be brought up in detail in later articles that will usually produce a pleasing result. I like to break these rules, but you should know why you’re breaking them so it’s for a purpose.

3. Understanding your equipment and the technical aspects of how it works will also aide you to produce better images. Knowing how to use your tools for your craft is an obvious necessity. There are several aspects to your camera, lens, and lights that need to be understood, so you can technically produce the vision that you will develop. Terms such as aperture, ISO, depth of field, shutter speed, etc. will be covered in easy to understand examples with relevant images in the next article.

4. What you do with your digital images on the computer will also decide the final quality and look of your photographs. We live in a digital age, and some photographers hate this — they want to stick to their dark smelly room and develop rolls of film. I embrace the digital era of photography, and the post-processing aspects as well. This is where you can really add a unique twist to your images, and allows you to fix minor mishaps that you overlooked when you originally took the picture. There are several different programs and techniques for editing your photos, I’ll be covering my favorites in great detail with video and picture examples in future articles.

5. Lastly, the subject matter of your photo. You can take a photo of your front yard, but unless you live in Hawaii, it probably won’t turn out very interesting. It’s all about what you’re shooting, and where. I’ll explain what to look for, and how to find subjects and locations that you might otherwise look right past. This requires creativity as well, don’t take a picture of that stupid statue that everyone and their mom has already taken a picture of, try taking a picture of that rusty metal trashcan beside it.

I apologize for the large chunk of reading in this first article, but I wanted to give you a feel for where this will be going, and what to expect for. Expect a large supply of images and media for you to watch and learn with in the future articles!

Thanks for reading,