Photography 101: The Ultimate Guide

black canon dslr camera

Welcome to Photography 101, the ultimate guide and introduction to Photography. I have spent many years as a professional, writing over 100 posts on tips, and tricks, as well as sharing my own photos and experiences. To celebrate my 10th year as Briony Molly Media, I thought about sharing all the basics in one long and epic post.

photography 101

Photography 101

Photography 101


Photography is an art form that has been around for centuries. From the first daguerreotypes to modern digital cameras, photography has evolved to become an integral part of our lives. Whether it’s capturing memories of special moments, documenting the beauty of the world around us, or creating works of art, photography is a powerful tool. It is used to express ourselves and connect with others.

So, what makes a good photograph? While there are many factors that contribute to a great photo, here are a few key elements to consider:

  1. Composition: The way elements are arranged within the frame can make or break a photo. Whether it’s following the rule of thirds, using leading lines, or experimenting with negative space. The way you compose your photo can have a huge impact on its visual impact and storytelling.
  2. Lighting: Light is one of the most important factors in photography. Whether it’s natural light or artificial. The way light falls on your subject can dramatically change the mood and feel of your photo. Experimenting with different lighting sources and techniques can help you achieve the look you want.
  3. Focus: The focus of your photo is where your viewer’s eye will naturally be drawn. By controlling the focus, you can guide your viewer’s attention. Creating a sense of depth and dimension in your photos.
  4. Post-processing: While it’s important to get the right shot in camera, post-processing can help you fine-tune your images and take them to the next level. From adjusting exposure and color to cropping and adding filters, there are many tools and techniques available to help you create the look you want.

Of course, these are just a few elements to consider when it comes to photography. Whether you’re just starting out or have been shooting for years. The most important thing is to keep experimenting, trying new things, and pushing yourself creatively. By doing so, you’ll not only improve your skills as a photographer. But also discover new ways to express yourself and connect with others through the power of images.

black canon dslr cameraPhoto by Amine  M'siouri on

DSLR Cameras – What to Look For

DSLR cameras have become a popular choice for amateur and professional photographers alike. They offer a wide range of features and flexibility that makes them ideal for capturing stunning images in a variety of settings. But with so many options available, it can be overwhelming to choose the right DSLR camera for your needs. Here are a few things to consider when shopping for a DSLR camera:

  1. Sensor Size: One of the most important factors in a DSLR camera is the size of its sensor. A larger sensor allows for more light to be captured. Which results in higher-quality images with better dynamic range and less noise. Full-frame sensors are the largest available. However, they also tend to be more expensive. APS-C sensors are a popular choice for many photographers, offering a good balance of cost and image quality.
  2. Megapixels: Megapixels aren’t the most important factor in image quality. Yet they can still play a role in the sharpness and detail of your photos. More megapixels means larger image files, which can be beneficial if you plan to print your photos in larger formats.
  3. Lens Compatibility: Another important factor to consider when choosing a DSLR camera is lens compatibility. Many manufacturers offer their own line of lenses that are compatible with their cameras. There are also third-party options available. Make sure to research which lenses are compatible with the camera you’re considering.
  4. Autofocus System: DSLR cameras offer a range of autofocus options. From basic single-point autofocus to more advanced systems that can track moving subjects. Consider the types of photography you plan to do and choose a camera with an autofocus system that fits your needs.
  5. Video Capabilities: If you plan to shoot video with your DSLR camera, consider the resolution and frame rates it offers. Many modern DSLR cameras offer 4K video capabilities, as well as a range of frame rates for slow motion and fast action.

When choosing a DSLR camera, it’s important to find one that fits your specific needs and budget. By considering these factors and doing your research, you can find a DSLR camera that will help you capture stunning images and unleash your creativity as a photographer.

the exposure triangle

Settings – Photography 101

Understanding the different settings on your camera is essential to capturing great photos. Automatic modes can be convenient. But taking control of your camera’s settings can help you achieve the results you want and take your photography to the next level. Here are a few key settings to consider when shooting:

  1. Aperture: The aperture controls the amount of light that enters the camera and affects the depth of field in your photos. A wide aperture (low f-number) will create a shallow depth of field. Blurring the background and keeping your subject in focus. A narrow aperture (high f-number) will create a deeper depth of field, keeping more of the image in focus.
  2. Shutter Speed: The shutter speed determines how long the camera’s shutter stays open. Controlling the amount of light that enters the camera and how motion is captured in the image. A faster shutter speed (such as 1/1000th of a second) will freeze motion. A slower shutter speed (such as 1/30th of a second) will create motion blur.
  3. ISO: ISO controls the camera’s sensitivity to light. A higher ISO setting can help you capture photos in low-light situations, but it can also introduce digital noise into the image. Lower ISO settings are ideal for bright conditions and can produce cleaner images.
  4. White Balance: White balance controls the color temperature of the image, ensuring that whites appear white and colors are accurate. Different light sources (such as sunlight or fluorescent bulbs) can have different color temperatures, so adjusting the white balance can help you achieve the desired look for your photo.
  5. Exposure Compensation: Exposure compensation allows you to adjust the overall brightness of your image. By increasing or decreasing the exposure, you can brighten or darken the image to better capture the mood and tone of the scene.

Experimenting with different combinations of these settings can help you achieve the look you want and capture stunning photos. Don’t be afraid to try new things and push your creativity as a photographer!


Next in Photography 101 is Composition. Composition is one of the most important elements of photography. It involves arranging the various elements of a photo in a way that is visually appealing and helps to communicate the message or story you want to convey. Whether you’re taking photos of landscapes, people, or still life, understanding the principles of composition can help you create powerful and impactful images. Here are a few key elements to consider when composing your photos:

  1. Rule of Thirds: One of the most well-known principles of composition is the Rule of Thirds. This involves dividing your image into thirds both horizontally and vertically, and placing your subject at one of the intersecting points. This creates a more dynamic and visually interesting image than placing the subject directly in the center.
  2. Lines and Shapes: Paying attention to the lines and shapes in your photos can help you create a sense of movement and flow. Diagonal lines, for example, can create a sense of motion and energy, while curves can add a sense of grace and fluidity.
  3. Depth: Creating a sense of depth in your photos can add a greater sense of realism and immersion. This can be achieved through techniques. A shallow depth of field blurs the background. Or placing objects at varying distances from the camera to create a sense of foreground and background.
  4. Framing: Using natural or man-made elements to frame your subject can add interest and context to your photos. This could be a tree branch framing a sunset, or a doorway framing a person.
  5. Balance: Creating balance in your images can help to create a sense of harmony and stability. This can be achieved through techniques such as using symmetry or balancing the visual weight of different elements in the photo.

By paying attention to these principles of composition, you can create more engaging and impactful photos. Experiment with different techniques and find what works best for your particular subject and style.

photography 101 lighting


Lighting can drastically affect the mood and tone of your images. Whether you’re shooting in natural light or using artificial lighting sources, understanding different lighting techniques can help you achieve the results you want. Here are a few key lighting techniques to consider:

  1. Natural Light: Shooting in natural light can produce stunning results, but it’s important to be mindful of the quality of light. The golden hour (the hour after sunrise or before sunset) is often the best time to shoot, as the light is soft and warm. Shooting in direct sunlight can be challenging, but using a reflector or diffuser can help soften the light and create more even lighting across the subject.
  2. Artificial Light: Using artificial lighting sources such as studio lights, speedlights, or even household lamps can give you greater control over the lighting in your photos. One common technique is the use of a key light, which is the main light source used to illuminate the subject. Fill lights can be used to fill in any shadows, while backlighting can create a dramatic effect by highlighting the subject’s silhouette.
  3. High Key Lighting: High key lighting involves using bright, even lighting to create a light and airy feel. This technique is often used in portraits, fashion photography, and product photography to create a clean, bright image.
  4. Low Key Lighting: Low key lighting involves using darker, more dramatic lighting to create a moody or mysterious feel. This technique is often used in portrait and still life photography to create a sense of drama or depth.
  5. Rembrandt Lighting: Named after the famous Dutch painter, Rembrandt lighting involves using a key light to create a triangle of light on one side of the subject’s face. This technique can create a sense of depth and dimensionality, and is often used in portrait photography.

By understanding different lighting techniques and how they can be used to achieve different effects, you can take your photography to the next level and create stunning, professional-looking images.

photography 101 editing

Photo Editing

Photo editing is an essential part of modern photography. Whether you’re a professional photographer or just starting out, photo editing can help you enhance your images and create the exact look and feel you’re after. Here are a few key tips for effective photo editing:

  1. Use the Right Tools: There are many photo editing software options available, from free options like GIMP to more advanced programs like Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom. Choose the software that works best for you and your needs, and take the time to learn how to use it effectively.
  2. Adjust Exposure: Exposure is one of the most important elements of a great photo, and adjusting it can help you bring out detail and make your images more vibrant. Use tools like brightness, contrast, and highlights/shadows to adjust exposure and bring out the best in your images.
  3. Crop and Straighten: Cropping and straightening can help you improve the composition of your images and remove any distracting elements. Use the crop tool to trim the edges of your photos and the straighten tool to align any crooked lines or horizons.
  4. Colour Correction: Adjusting the colours in your images can help you achieve a specific look or feel. Use tools like saturation, hue, and temperature to adjust the colour balance and make your images more vibrant or subdued.
  5. Sharpening: Sharpening can help you bring out detail and make your images look more crisp and clear. Use the sharpening tool to enhance edges and make your images more visually appealing.
  6. Experiment with Filters and Effects: Filters and effects can add a creative touch to your images and help you achieve a specific style or mood. Experiment with different filters and effects to find the ones that work best for your images and personal style.

Remember, photo editing is a creative process and there are no hard and fast rules. Experiment with different techniques and find what works best for you and your images.


With practice and patience, you can create stunning, professional-looking photos that truly capture the essence of your subject. Take time to find your niche, and what you enjoy. Don’t beat yourself up that your images aren’t wonderful first time round!

What do you feel is the best tip for a beginner? Let me know in the comments!

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Published by Briony-Molly

Photographer & Designer. Horse Owner, Book Fanatic

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