The first step to taking better pictures is understanding how an image is formed. Knowing how it all happens will help you better understand how to use your camera to make your vision come true. Whether you’re a parent just trying to take better photos of your fast moving toddler or a budding photographer wanting to make your dream of owning a business come true, starting with the basics is key to your success.

Before we dive in, let’s breakdown what photography is. Put simply, “photo” means light and “graph” comes from the Latin term for mapping, so when we take a photo we’re literally mapping the light. Remember, in the ‘ol days photos were all black and white, so you worked with light and shadows. Okay! Let’s move on.

There are 3 primary keys to creating a photo: aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Each one of these is a way to control light with your camera. The trick is to understand how to use them to make something amazing.

Aperture adjusts the opening in the lens to let light in.

Shutter Speed controls how long the light is allowed in.

ISO indicates how sensative the camera (or film) is to light.

Each of these setting can indicate what to do with the other two. I know that sounds crazy, but I promise I’ll go more in-depth on each one. Right now, let’s focus on how they work together.

A perfect exposure—a.k.a. image or photo—has the right balance of Shutter speed, aperture and ISO. If one setting is off, the image will be either overexposed (too bright) or under exposed (too dark). This takes time to learn and explore and different amounts of light will need different ratios of these settings.

For example: photographing your son’s soccer game at 10am on a sunny day will need different settings than taking a picture of your husband playing with your kids on the couch.

The general rule is: higher aperture = slower shutter speed & lower ISO.

Posted by:Amy Clark

Hey, sunshine! I’m a proud entrepreneurial mama with three kids and a hunky husband. I worship chocolate like a deity, drink homemade lattes like my life depends on it and think jeggings are one of the greatest inventions of the 21st Century. A photographer, educator + military spouse, my happiest days are spent helping creative-based small business owners reach their business goals. Have questions about photography, business or life with 3 littles?- feel free to email me!

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