Photography Essentials: 10 Exercises for Better Photos | Sean Dalton | Skillshare

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Photography Essentials: 10 Exercises for Better Photos

teacher avatar Sean Dalton, Travel Photographer

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Class Introduction


    • 2.

      Class Project & Pacing


    • 3.

      Equipment and Overall Class Approach


    • 4.

      Mastering Composition


    • 5.

      The Key to Understanding Light


    • 6.

      The 3 Aspects of Color


    • 7.

      Achieving Depth with Aperture


    • 8.

      Capturing Motion with Shutter Speed


    • 9.

      Recreating Your Favorite Photo


    • 10.

      Image Reflection in 25 Words


    • 11.

      Planning and Executing a Photoshoot


    • 12.

      Creative Photo Walk


    • 13.

      Self Portrait


    • 14.

      A Final Note & Next Steps


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About This Class

Feeling overwhelmed by all the photography information online? Sean's got you covered.

In this activity based class Sean guides you through 10 essential photography exercises that will help you develop a strong foundation for capturing beautiful photos. You will learn all the most fundamental lessons of photography, as well as countless tips and tricks that will help you establish yourself as a photographer.

Here are some of the things you will learn:

  • How to capture unique compositions that stand out
  • How to understand light like a veteran photographer
  • How to find complementary colors in nature
  • How to master aperture and shutter speed
  • How to plan and execute a photoshoot from start to finish
  • How to find your unique photography style
  • Plus countless other tips that will propel your photography skills even further.

This course was designed for:

  • Beginner photographers with little to no experience who want to improve their photography skills
  • Intermediate photographers who want a deeper understanding of foundational photography concepts
  • Anyone who wants to improve their general knowledge of photography in order to capture beautiful images

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Meet Your Teacher

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Sean Dalton

Travel Photographer

Top Teacher

Hey guys! I'm Sean.

For the last 5 years I've been traveling the world capturing as many photos as I possibly can. I'm drawn to a wide range of photography styles, and constantly striving to improve my art. Emotion and storytelling are two central pillars of my artwork, and I am always looking for new and interesting stories to tell via my camera.

I'm originally from San Francisco, California, but have spent the last few years chasing stories and light throughout Asia.

Most of what I teach relates to my background with travel and lifestyle photography, but I am constantly expanding my focus as I continue to grow as a photographer. I'm pumped that you are here, let's grow together!

I'm active on Instagram, and you can also find me on YouTube.... See full profile

Level: All Levels

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1. Class Introduction: [MUSIC] When I first started learning photography, I remember feeling so overwhelmed by just the sheer amount of information that was online. Since then, I've taken hundreds of thousands of images across the world, and doing so has really helped me understand that the only way you can really grow as a photographer is to grab your camera, head outside, and just take as many photos as you possibly can. Hey, guys what's up. My name is Sean Dalton and I'm a Travel Photographer based in Bali, Indonesia. I've been shooting professionally for about eight years now. I've also helped over 200,000 photographers improve their photography skills through my online workshops. In this course, we're going to be covering what I believed to be the 10 best exercises that you could do to take better photos. These are things that you can do at home on your own with little to no experience and each one will get you engaging with a different aspect of the photo-making process. We're going to be covering topics like composition, lighting, color, and also a few more technical things as well, like how to capture or freeze motion using shutter speed, and how to achieve depth in your scene using aperture. We'll also do some more grounded activities that really allow us to think critically and draw creative connections between different aspects of the photo-making process. Lastly, we're going to finish off with one of my favorite activities and that is shooting your own self-portrait. This course was made to be a practical one. It's really not over theoretical and not overly technical either, rather, it was made with a simple goal of just getting you outside and taking photos. It's my hope that at the very least, this course will help you do that. Whether you're somebody who's just starting their photography journey or maybe you haven't picked up your camera in a while, and you're looking for a little bit of inspiration, this class will help you solidify the foundations of photography and set the groundwork for you to create beautiful images in the future. With that said guys, if you are ready to get started, I certainly am, let's start the first lesson off with the class project, and then we'll dive into the first of our 10 activities. 2. Class Project & Pacing: Because this is an activity-based class, of course, there's a project involved, and the class project for this class is to go out and complete one of the activities from one of the lessons here in the course. Just choose one of the 10 activities that we'll cover, complete it, come back here to the course and then post your results in the class project section below. When you're sharing your results, go ahead and just tell us a little bit about your experience. How did it go? What were some of the things that you were doing? What you were looking for? Just write a little bit about your experience and then also share some of the images that you captured on the activity. I can't wait to see Number 1, which activity you choose, and also the results that you come up with. If you wanted to do more than one activity, that is totally fine. I think there is a lot of overlap between some of the activities and you can go out and complete multiple within just a few hours. Of course, that's the best way to become a better photographer anyways, so I definitely recommend doing that if you think you can. But with the class project out of the way, guys, I just want to make one more quick note on the timing of the class. Of course, there are 10 activities in this class that you can go out and complete. But realistically, I don't know if you're going to be able to do it all on one day, you might, but I think something good to do is to dedicate one day per exercise. On Day 1, you do a composition exercise, then Day 2, you do the lighting exercise, Day 3, etc, and so on. Or you could split it into weeks. You can have one week focus on composition, one week focus on lighting, one week focus on color, etc. It really is just a personal preference. You can paste this course, however, you think is best for you, you can watch it all straight through, take notes on the activities, and go do them later. Or you can watch one lesson, complete the activity, and then move on to the second lesson, etc. It really is whatever is best for you, I just wanted to make a note about that because there is no right or wrong as to how to do this. It's whatever you feel most comfortable with. But with that housekeeping business out of the way, guys, let's move on to the next lesson. 3. Equipment and Overall Class Approach: Hey guys, I just wanted to add a quick lesson to touch on equipment a little bit. Equipment is of course important, we're photographers and we're using cameras. But most of this class honestly can be completed with something as simple as an iPhone. Now there are a few lessons that will require a more robust camera with manual settings, and I'll let you know when that's the case before I get going. But for the most part, a lot of this course is focused on the stylistic side of photography and an iPhone is totally fine for that. Now, I personally have a lot of professional photography gear because I'm a professional photographer, but I'm going to be shooting with a lot of different cameras throughout this course. In fact, for most of this course, I'm going to be shooting with my Fuji X100V. This is an amazing camera and it strikes a great balance between something like an iPhone that's very simple to use and a more professional DSLR camera like this. Each of these cameras serve a different purpose in my life. I have a ton of cameras that I use probably equally. But I really do like this Fuji because it's simple, but it still has manual settings and it takes amazing photos. I also do want to touch briefly on camera settings. Now, camera settings really aren't the focus of this class. In most of the lessons in this class, you can honestly shoot in full auto modes or in half auto modes like aperture priority or shutter priority. I'll talk about those in each of the lessons where those are applicable. Now, you're more than welcome to shoot in manual mode if you have the skills to do so, or if you're just looking to improve your technical photography skills. But in general, camera settings aren't the main focus of this course. Let me briefly explain why. I've always broken down photography into two different spheres. There's the technical side of photography and the stylistic side of photography. There is a ton of overlap between these two spheres of photography but for the purposes of this course, let's just look at them separately. The technical side of photography basically has everything to do with camera settings and numbers, and aperture and shutter speed and ISO, and anything related to math or numbers. That's the technical side of photography. Basically, anything that has to do with your camera or any of the gear that you might have. The stylistic set of photography, on the other hand, is much more subjective and has a lot to do with the artistic side of photography. Things like composition and lighting and subject matter choice, color, things like that. Like I said before, yes, these things can certainly be technical, but they're also highly subjective and these things must be honed over time through action and reflection, and not just sitting in a classroom. In this course, I really want this side of photography to be the main focus, the stylistic side of photography. The technical side of photography is important, of course, don't get me wrong, but more importantly is your understanding of light and subject matter, and composition and color, and all of the subjective stylistic components of photography. These are the things that make great photographers and these should be your guiding principles when learning photography. Some people will say that the technical side of photography is equally as important and maybe that's true but I think that the technical side of photography just naturally develops over time. I promise, one day it's just going to click and you're going to get it. We're going to touch on the technical side of photography in this course but my photography essentials class here on Skillshare goes much more in-depth into the technical side. I definitely recommend checking that out if you haven't already. It's actually one of the highest-rated photography classes here on Skillshare. But with that disclaimer out of the way, guys, let's jump into the first exercise of this class and talk about one of my favorite topics of photography, and that is composition. 4. Mastering Composition: Well, as you can tell by the name of this lesson, I think you already know what we're going to be talking about, and that is composition. But before we do so, I just want to briefly break down how these activity lessons are going to be structured. In the first part of these videos, I'm going to introduce the topic that we're going to be focusing on in the activity, and then I'm going to explain it a little bit and give you a solid foundation of understanding before we actually jump into the activity at hand. Once we get to the activity, I'm going to walk you through that exercise and explain a few different things about it and also share my experience with each of these exercises to give you a solid example for how you can do yours. I've made each of these lessons as easy to follow as possible, but feel free to pause the video and add a quick note in the timeline down below if you need to. But now let's go back to composition. Composition is hands down one of the most fundamental pieces of photography or any art form for that matter. In photography terms, composition is essentially how you arrange the subject matter in your scene within your frame, so where you orient things in your frame and how you capture it. There are so many different types of compositions and you might've heard of concepts like rule of thirds, framing, depth, etc. All of these things are great, but I believe the most important factor of composition is the idea of perspective. Now, this is something I actually mentioned in almost all of my photography courses because I do think it's one of the most foundational pieces of photography as a whole. Now perspective is essentially how you orient yourself to your subject or where you're standing in accordance to your subject. Shifting your perspective is going to greatly change the outcome of your image. Now you can change your perspective by physically moving around your subject, so getting closer to your subject, getting further away, moving to the left, to the right, up and down, and also zooming in and out with your lens can actually shift your perspective as well. Now, one of the best ways to master this idea of perspective is to force yourself to adopt new perspectives while you're photographing a subject. For this exercise, I want you guys to grab your camera and head outside, or you can actually do this at home as well and find an object to photograph. Then I want you to capture 50 unique photos of that one single object. You can choose any object for this. It could be a shoe, it could be a mailbox, a car, or water bottle, or even a camera would work. The smaller the object, the more difficult this is going to be, and also the more simple the object, the more difficult this is going to be. So if you choose a basketball, it's going to be pretty difficult whereas if you choose something a little bit more complex and a little bit bigger, it's going to be easier to do this exercise. Now for my project, I actually ended up choosing a surfboard that we have here in our villa. It's simple, it's not too glamorous. It's my roommate's surfboard, and I think it just looks really cool, I like the colors as well. I thought it'd be good for this exercise. The point of this exercise really isn't necessarily to capture a bunch of beautiful photos, but it's rather to just stretch our minds and gain a better understanding of how perspective ultimately changes the outcome of each image. I went upstairs, I grabbed the surfboard from the surf rack outside my roommate's room. I set it up in our garden and I proceeded to take 50 different photos of it, so I shot it wide, I shot it up close, I shot it from either side, from the top, from the bottom. As you can see here, this is just me just working around the surfboard and just trying to be creative and trying to come up with new perspectives. I'm constantly shifting where I am standing in accordance to the surfboard. I'm even getting up really close and focusing on some of the details as well. Overall, I think the photos came out really nicely. I was actually surprised. I think part of the reason why is because the color just looked really nice against the green. Those are actually complimentary colors. We're going to touch on that a little bit in the color section of this course. But overall, I think I got a really wide range of compositions here and I really like repeating this exercise once every 3-4 months or so because it does force me to constantly have that mindset of like, okay, I need to find a different perspective. I need to shift my perspective because when I'm not shooting, I'm on a project, I'm shooting for a brand. This comes in clutch every single time because almost always I run out of creative ideas. I'm like, oh, I'm not exactly sure how I should approach shooting the scene. I just fall back into this initial exercise and I just start deconstructing my scene and capturing as many different perspectives as I possibly can. I almost always walk away with photos that I would not have captured if I didn't think this way. Now I shot this exercise with the Fuji X100V, like I said before, I love this camera and I just shot it in aperture priority. I've mostly just set my aperture at fl5.6 and then I left it there and I'll let the camera do everything else. Now once again, you can shoot this however you want. An iPhone is totally fine for this lesson. Just whatever you feel most comfortable with. But overall, I really love this exercise. Now, this is actually the same exercise from the class project in my photography essentials class. In that class, I do touch on some of the more concrete principles of composition. That's not what this class is about like I said, we're not talking about the technical side, we're talking about the stylistic side. I just want you guys to get out there and shoot. But if you do want to learn more about the technical side and then I'd definitely recommend checking out that class. But that's our first exercise, guys, I love this one. I can't wait to see your class project if you choose this to be your class project. But with that said, let's move on to another core foundation of photography. We talked about composition. Now let's move on to lighting, which is arguably even more important than composition, which is already so incredibly fundamental to making great photos. 5. The Key to Understanding Light: Lighting is one of the most important concepts for photography, simply because cameras capture light. That's how they work. The light enters through the lens, goes into the camera and it's recorded on a little sensor inside that camera. But light also has so many other impacts on an image. It changes the composition, it changes the emotion, the color, and it just overall shapes the mood and the emotion of your photograph. Now I've always felt that one of the things that separates a great photographer from an intermediate photographer is just having an intricate understanding of light and how it affects all aspects of their image. I think any photographer with a degree of talent will tell you the exact same thing. Now speaking of great photographers, this next exercise was actually taught to me by somebody who I consider to be a great photographer and somebody who has photographed some pretty amazing people around the world and has influenced me in many different ways. Now he told me that one of the best ways to understand how light works and how cameras capture light is to completely eliminate color while we're shooting. In other words, this basically means shooting in black and white. In the old days, this meant basically shooting in black and white film. But nowadays, we can change our cameras to shoot in black and white. Shooting in black and white is a technique that many other photographers swear by as well. I've heard this from so many different people. I personally know several very talented photographers who credit their deep understanding of light and tone to shooting black and white when they were first starting out on their photography journey. That's exactly what we're going to be doing in this exercise. We're going to be shooting in black and white, which in my opinion is timeless and beautiful. I mean, it's really going to help us understand light to a better degree. Now, don't get me wrong, color is amazing. If you've seen my Instagram, you know that most of my current work is heavily focused around color, on the emotions related to color and color harmony and things like that. We are going to talk about all of those things in another lesson here in this class. But we really want to focus on light as well because light, like I said, is really is what's going to set your photo apart. Shooting in black and white forces us to focus on light, so that's what we're going to be doing today. For this exercise, the very first thing we're going to do is take our cameras and set it to shoot in black and white. This is really easy to do on the iPhone, for example, you just swipe up and go to Filters and then you can choose the black and white one. You can do this on most other cameras as well, even DSLRs. I mean, if you aren't sure how to do this, you can easily just Google your specific camera model with the words black and white in the search terms, and you should be able to figure it out quite easily. Once you've set your camera to black and white, head outside and take a short photowalk to a local park or down the street or anywhere you think that just looks interesting or might have some interesting light. Once you're there, look for scenes that have just really interesting or dynamic light and take some photos of those scenes. The actual subject matter really doesn't matter here I think the focus is purely on light and contrast or the difference between the light in the dark areas of an image. Notice how the light hits objects and changes the way they look in their shape, in their appearance. Also notice how light changes the composition of an image as well. This is especially true in high-contrast seeing were the shadows can create strong lines through an image. One photographer who I think did this incredibly well was a photographer by the name of Paul Strand who shot in black and white and it was purely focused on lights and how it shapes and forms different objects or scenes. He's an absolute photography legend. They teach him in a lot of photography classes in college and things like that. I mean, his work definitely inspired my project for this lesson. Now you can do this exercise at any time throughout the day or night, as long as there's light sources available to you. If you want to take this exercise a step further, you can actually shoot the same location at different times throughout the day. If possible, shoot the same place at midday and at sunset, or even at sunset and nighttime. This is really going to help you understand how light changes throughout the day and also how it changes the overall look and feel of your image. Now as a landscape photographer, I'm usually out shooting during sunrise and sunset because at that time the light is very soft and often very golden. But when I shoot in black and white, I actually love to shoot in the middle of the day when the sun is a bit higher in the sky. That's because the light is much harder and we get much more interesting shadows in our scenes, and overall the light is just more complex and contrasty which I think looks really cool in black and white photos. That's exactly what I did for this lesson. I went to the beach on a bright sunny day, it was actually incredibly hot here in Bali. But I wanted to get those strong contrast and also I like it because there wasn't a whole lot of people on the beach. But overall, I love how the photos came out. I captured so many images on that short photowalk. My favorites were the beach capes where you could see that there was a person and they appeared very dark next to the beach around them, which was much brighter. Some of the shots were misty as well. I also liked the photos of the sky. The sky was looking so cool on these photos. This particular photo with the palm tree and the sky behind it, and there's actually a little kite back there as well looked really interesting. It's just so interesting to see how the camera renders brightness levels in the different colors as well. I also love this photo so much of these farmers drying their rice on the beach. I think it came out so well. I really liked these photos. I think I'm going to be posting this online. Also this photo of the beach where you can see the water had receded and there was a line of light reflecting from the sun that was splitting the beach in half and creating a really interesting leaning line up the beach to this really dark rock in the background. But yeah, this is a really great exercise and if you guys do decide to do this for your class project, I'm super pumped to see some of your black and white photos. 6. The 3 Aspects of Color: In the last lesson, we eliminated color in order to really focus on light, but now it's time to flip that on its head and focus on color. Now, in photography, we actually break down color into three different factors, hue, saturation, and luminance. Hue is the actual color itself, so blue, red, green, orange, purple, yellow, etc. Saturation is the purity of that color. A more saturated color is a more pure form of that color. Another way to describe it is basically a more vivid color. A desaturated color is starting to lose that purity and it's moving closer to gray. Now, lastly is luminance. Luminance is essentially the brightness of a color, thick dark blue versus light blue, for example. They're the same hue, they're both blue, but they have different brightness levels, ultimately making them different colors. Now, what does this mean for photography? Well, it has actually a greater impact on editing because when we're editing, we can actually control all three of these factors. But understanding these three aspects of color also helps us better understand color while we're out taking photos as well. For this activity, I want you guys to venture back outside and choose one color to focus on. This can be any color at all, as long as it's present in your environment. The more abundant the color, the better and the easier this activity is going to be. Then I want you to try to photograph that color in different ways. Pay attention to the different aspects of color we discussed, hue, saturation, and luminance, and take note as to how colors render within your camera. Also, try to see how many different shades of color that you can capture of that specific shade. So if you're shooting blue, see how many different colors of blue you can photograph, whether it's dark blue, or light blue, greenish-blue, etc. I'm in Bali, Indonesia so of course, the color I chose was green. You might be able to tell it's my favorite color, my wall is actually green and I painted that wall green. But we're actually surrounded by green out here, pretty much everywhere you look, you can see green and if you go onto a rooftop, you'll see pretty immediately that we're actually surrounded by green. I chose the color green for this exercise. Now my original plan for this exercise was to actually go to a nearby village and photographs of the greenery there. But while we're shooting the composition lesson here at home, I just realized how much greenery actually exists in our house. I never really took the time to look at each plant and evaluate all the different shades of green that we have here at home. But there really is so much here, so I decided to just spend time shooting in the garden here. I actually spent about an hour photographing all the plants and the trees that we have in our garden. I didn't realize that we have so many different shades of green just here at home, there's dark green, light green, yellow-green, blue-green, even greens that shift slightly towards purple. All of these colors can be categorized as green, but they're all still very different from one another. I didn't realize that until I really spent the time looking at it and evaluating these colors. Now, if you want to take this exercise a step further, and I would totally recommend doing so, try to find a color that's complementary to the color that you choose for this activity, and try to photograph those two colors together. Complimentary colors are colors that sit opposite from each other on the color wheel, which is just a nice little diagram that helps us look at different colors and the relationships between each other. When paired together, complementary colors create what we call a harmonious color relationship. In other words, they just look great together. Common complementary color combinations that you might see well, that's a mouthful [LAUGHTER] that you might see out in nature are blue and orange, red and green like the surfboard and the greenery we showed earlier. Yellow and purple. I'm sure you can find them all over nature if you know where to look. Even this plant that I photographed has complementary colors, the red, purple hues, and the green look really nice next to each other. Recognizing complementary colors is a great skill for photographers, not only for finding complementary colors in a natural environment but also being able to choose the right outfits or props for a shoot to create color harmony in that photo. I'll mention this later on in the course because we're going to be executing a photography brief later on. But just know that having an awareness of complementary colors is a great skill to have as a photographer. Now, a great way to experiment with different complementary colors is to use this awesome tool at You can see all the different color combinations as well as several other types of color relationships. I definitely recommend just go in there and playing around with it, clicking the different combinations, and just getting a feel for it, because this will help your understanding of color. But overall, like I said, having a good understanding of color is important as a photographer because we often need to make sure we're accounting for all of the different colors in our scene, no matter how muted or vibrant those colors might be. A photo can be ruined by one-off putting color in our photo, so it's important to really pay attention to all the colors that we have in our scene. But just to quickly recap this exercise, I want you guys to head outside go into a little photo walk, and photograph one color. The emphasis is on one color, so whether that's blue, green, yellow, or whatever, whatever your favorite color is. If you would like, and I would definitely recommend doing so, look for complementary colors to that color you selected and see if you can find them together and photograph those two together. You might not be able to and that's okay, but just be on the lookout for it. But with our color activity out of the way, guys, in the next lesson, we're going to move on to a slightly more technical lesson, but I promise it's not that hard to get. We're going to be chatting about aperture, so if you guys are ready to get started, let's move on to that lesson now. 7. Achieving Depth with Aperture: Now, I want to move on to a slightly more technical topic, but I promise it's not that bad so bear with me. In this lesson, I want to talk about how you can create depth in your scene using aperture. This is pretty fundamental to photography. I think it's really important to learn how aperture works and how it affects the way your image comes out. But before we dive into the actual exercise, there are a few things that you should know about aperture first, so let's just chat about that first. Now, aperture is one of the three main camera settings that composes what we call the exposure triangle. The other two settings being ISO and shutter speed. Now, the exposure triangle is just a handy little diagram that shows us all the camera settings that regulate the amount of light entering our camera, which ultimately dictates the exposure of our image or basically how bright or how dark our photo appears. That you may or may not be well versed in the exposure triangle yet, but that's okay. You don't need to be for this lesson, I focused on the exposure triangle quite heavily in my photography essentials class. I highly recommend you checking that out if you want to better understand this. But in short, aperture is the little hole on our lens that opens and closes to regulate the amount of light entering our camera before that light is recorded on a little sensor inside the camera body. Aperture, also known as the f-stop of a camera, is denoted by a number which you can find on your lens. Each lens is different, but common apertures range anywhere from f/1.4 all the way to f/22. Now, a smaller aperture, a larger number, allows less light into the camera than a wider aperture, which is a smaller number and this allows more light into the camera. Now, I know this can be a bit confusing because a small aperture is a larger number, while a wider aperture is a smaller number. But I promise you will get the hang of it in time, so don't get too hung up on this right now. From an exposure standpoint, aperture is actually pretty easy to understand. A small hole lets in less light than a big hole. But like all three of our main camera settings of the exposure triangle, aperture has its own unique creative effect on our image beyond just simply regulating how much light enters our camera. This should be your main consideration with aperture. The creative effect of aperture is its ability to control the depth of field in our scene, or essentially the range of focus between objects close to our camera and further from our camera. A smaller aperture, which is a larger number like f/8, f/11, or even f/22, will result in a much larger depth of field. Meaning you have focus all the way from the foreground to the background of your image. Landscape photographers often like to shoot with smaller apertures to ensure that they get everything in there scene in focus. Now, a wide or a large aperture on the other hand, which is a smaller number like f/1.4, f/1.8 or f/2.8 will result in a much shallower depth of field. This means that if you want to take a photo with your subject, like a model is nice and sharp, and you want the background to be nice and blurry, you wouldn't want to use a wider aperture to do this. Portrait photographers, for example, they like to shoot with water apertures to get nice separation between their model and the background. Now, I think the best way to understand how aperture affects the depth of field of your image is to capture photos at all the different apertures of your lens. For this exercise, you're going to want to find a subject. It can be anything at all as long as that subject doesn't have something directly behind it. Once you've done that stand a few feet away from your subject and capture one photo at all the different apertures that your lens can do. Starting at the maximum aperture of your lens or the smaller number. This is often going to fall anywhere between f/1.8 or f/4 depending on your lens. Then once you take a photo there, slowly close your aperture, taking photos after every adjustment that you make. Once you get to f/16 or f/22, you can stop. For this exercise, what you're going to do is set your camera to aperture priority or the little API or AV mode on your camera, depending on your manufacturer. What this camera mode means is that you choose the aperture of the camera and everything else is auto. The camera selects the shutter speed and the ISO, so you don't need to worry about exposure. The only thing you're setting is the aperture. Now, if you're using an iPhone, you can actually still follow along as the iPhone has a simulated aperture while in portrait mode. That's pretty cool. Also, try to do this during the day as you might run into issues shooting with a smaller aperture if you're shooting at night or in low light. I went out and photographed a little temple in the rice fields near my village and I selected this place because the background, as you can see, is nice and far away. As you do this, notice how the depth of field in your scene changes. My lens can go from f/1.4 all the way to f/16. You can see a huge difference in these photos. The photo that shot at f/1.4 is nice and blurry in the background. We have nice subject separation, isolation, and this is what we call a shallow depth of field, whereas the shauna f/16 is much more sharp and in focus throughout the whole frame. But oftentimes this can be a little bit distracting, like I think it is here. Now, the reason why I think this activity is so good is because aperture is almost always the first setting that I think about when I'm taking a photo. That's simply because the depth in our scene is very important. Doing this exercise will really help you understand how aperture affects the depth in your scene and ultimately will just give you so much more creative control over your photography. I promised this activity is going to help you learn aperture quicker, but with our understanding of aperture and how it affects step out of the way, let's move on to another lesson where we're going to talk about shutter speed and its unique creative effect, which has to do with motion and motion blur. 8. Capturing Motion with Shutter Speed: Now that we've covered aperture, let's move on and talk about shutter speed and shutter speed is one of the other main camera settings in the exposure triangle. The other two being aperture and ISO. Now, the shutter of a camera is the little flop inside of your camera that opens and closes to allow light into the camera body. The light enters through the lens, through the aperture, and then it goes through the opening shutter, and then it is recorded on the little sensor inside the camera. The click that you hear when you take a photo is actually the shutter opening and closing. The time between the shutter opening and closing is your shutter speed. Shutter speed is also denoted by a number, so one second, two seconds, one-twentieth of a second, one-one hundredth of a second, one-five thousandths of a second, which is quite fast, etc. A faster shutter speed allows less light into the camera, while a longer shutter speed allows more light into the camera. Once again, just like aperture from an exposure standpoint, shutter speed is quite easy to understand. But just like aperture, shutter speed has its own unique creative effect on our image, and that's its ability to freeze or blur motion in our scene. A faster shutter speed like one-two thousandths of a second, one-five thousandths of a second freezes motion, while a slower shutter speed blurs motion. One second, two second, if something's moving in your scene, you might get a lot of blur in that photo. For example, you can see this in sports photographers. They're often photographing fast-moving subjects, so they need to shoot at shutter speeds like one-twenty-five hundredth of a second, 1/5,000th of a second, sometimes 1/8,000th of a second, which is very fast. Whereas on the flip side of that, some landscape photographers who want to show blurry water in their scene, or they want to get star trails in the sky. They'll shoot at one to even 30-second exposures to get that really nice soft-looking image. But generally speaking, if you shoot faster than 1/500th of a second, you shouldn't get that much motion blur in your scene unless your subject is moving fast. But if you shoot slower than 1/100th of a second, you may or may not get some motion blur in your scene if something is moving in that photo. I think the best way to understand this is just to go outside once again and photograph a moving subject. A road is usually good for this or you can ask a friend to run around in front of your camera. Basically anything that's moving. Now, photograph that moving subject with a wide range of shutter speeds. You can take photos at one second, 1/50th of a second, 1/100th of a second, and then even 1/1,000th of a second, all the way up to the fastest shutter speed that your camera can do, which should be around 1/4,000th of a second or 1/8,000th of a second. Notice how a faster shutter speed freezes that motion so there is no motion blur in the shot. Whereas if you use a slower shutter speed, the moving subject might appear a bit blurry. Now, you might be thinking to yourself, Well, why wouldn't I just use a fast shutter speed all the time then? Because I don't want my photos to be blurry. Well, the thing is about shutter speed is that this motion blur can actually be used creatively to a really cool creative effect. Mastering this will allow you to get some really interesting creative shots. The reason for this is because adding motion blur into your photos shows dynamism. It shows movement and they can make a photo feel alive. I experimented with slow shutter speeds in another course that I posted here on Skillshare, creative portrait photography, where me and my friend Kelsey, we went out to the beach and we shot a really fun portrait scene. I shot a lot of those photos at fast shutter speeds, but I also shot a lot of photos at slow shutter speeds, like 1/30th of a second, 1/40th of a second. Some of my favorite shots from that course, where when we use a slow shutter speed that really emphasized the movements of her running through the water and just being active because she was active, she was running around and I wanted to capture that in those photos. These shots, for example, these were shot at about 1/30th of a second and we're both moving. This is a pretty slow shutter speed for movement in the scene. You can see a lot of the frame is blurry, but there are parts of the frame that are nice and in focus because they stayed the same distance away from the lens. I think these photos came out really cool and there's a lot of other photographers that use this creatively as well. Now going off of this, something that you can do with a slow shutter speed. You can do what's called a tracking shot, where you use a slower shutter speed and you move your camera along with the subject so you pan your camera with a subject. The subject is actually not changing its location in your camera, but the background is because the background is not moving. You can do this with cars, anything that's moving quickly. In this photo, for example, you can see our subject here is in focus while the background is nice and blurry. I actually captured this photo in Bangkok while filming my night photography class here on Skillshare and I shot this with a shutter speed of, I think it was 1/30th of a second as well. The background is nice and blurry because it's moving. But our subject is nice and crisp because he stayed in the center of our frame. Once again, the exercise for this lesson is to go outside and photograph a moving subject and try to photograph that subject at different focal lengths. If you can do this at night, that'll be really cool because you can get some really interesting light trails, especially if a car is driving fast. You can get the headlights to create long streaks across your photo, which does look really interesting. But overall, this exercise is really going to help you understand how shutter speed affects the motion of your scene. Just like how the creative effect of aperture is important on our photo, shutter speed is just as important and understanding how shutter speed affects movement and motion in your photo is pivotal for photography. The sooner you grasp it, the better. But before we move on, I just want to make a quick note about ISO because I didn't add a specific exercise for ISO, but I did for aperture and shutter speed. The thing about ISO is it's creative effect is not as impactful as the creative effects of shutter speed and aperture. I didn't think it's a pivotal lesson to include in this course. Don't get me wrong. ISO is important. But I just didn't want to focus on this course because like I said before, we're focusing on more of the stylistic things in this course. ISO just really doesn't have that same impact on a photo like aperture or shutter speed does. But with these two technical lessons out of the way, guys, let's move on and talk about something a little bit less technical. A little bit easier to understand, and come back to these solid stylistic roots of photography. 9. Recreating Your Favorite Photo: All right guys. Well, for this next exercise, we aren't going to be focusing on anything super technical and anything that we really needed to go in-depth about before we do the exercise. That's because we're just going to be recreating a photo that we really like. Recreating a photo is actually a really fundamental exercise and I think almost every photographer should try this exercise when they're first starting out. The reason why I think it's so effective for improving your photography is because it forces you to account for all of the factors involved in a photograph. Many of those things that we've discussed in this course so far. Composition, lighting, color, subject matter, depth, and so on. For this exercise, I think it's pretty straightforward. I just want you to go out and find a photo that inspires you in some way and a photo that you think you could realistically recreate. They do have to be somewhat realistic here. Obviously, you can't just recreate any photo that you see. Some photos, it's just not realistic to do that. But we also aren't going for like a one-to-one re-creation of this photo either. Just find a photo that you think you could feasibly recreate to some degree. Once you find your photo, go ahead and sit down and write out a few notes about that image. The main things you want to focus on are, number 1, the overall mood or the emotion is that photo is giving off. Number 2, of course, the subject matter or the actual physical objects or persons in that scene, their expressions, how they're positioned, what they're wearing, if there's any props using the scene, etc. Next, of course, we want to pay very close attention to the composition of the photo. What was the photographer's perspective to the subject? Where were they standing? How did they photograph that scene? Also what lens were they using? Is the shot really zoomed in? Is it compressed or was it shot with a wider angle lens? You can just see more of the scene as a whole. Those are things to think about as well. Of course, we need to pay very close attention to the lighting in that scene as well. And whether that light is hard light or soft light, the color of that light, whether it's warm or cool. Lastly, and most importantly, is the positioning of that light. Where is that light spilling into the frame from? Is it coming in from the top, from the side? Is it coming from the bottom? Is that the sun? Is it natural light source or is it a man-made light source? What is that main light source? See if you can identify that. Now, once you write down all these notes, go ahead and try to set up a scene, re-creating the photo-based off of all the things that you identified. Now, like I said before, this really doesn't need to be perfect. I think it's impossible to make a perfect re-creation unless you have all the same subject matter, and the same location, all that stuff. For example, if there's a table in your reference photo and you just don't have the right table, maybe it's a different color, a different shape, whatever, just use any old table that you might have at home. The purpose of this exercise is to just help you deconstruct a photograph and identify how it was shot. By doing this, and then re-creating your own similar photo, you're going to gain so much insight into the original artist's mind and their artistic process as well. I actually got my start in photography by basically recreating photos from a photographer that I really looked up to. I was living in Thailand at the time and I was incredibly inspired by this photographer named Tor, his Instagram is torthanit. I'll link that down below. He was capturing these amazing photos of coffee and food around Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. We actually started shooting together quite a bit shortly after I moved there. In the beginning, my style was basically identical to his. I mimicked the way he used light, the way he composed his shots and I even chose the same subject matter as well. I was massively inspired by him. I just wanted to take photos that were as beautiful as his. I paid really close attention to all the details, all the small details in his photo and the light, and basically everything that I saw in those images, I accounted for. It just taught me so much about his workflow and how he created these beautiful photos. All I was really doing was just breaking down those images of his into functioning parts and then trying to put those pieces together into my own work. I think it was pretty effective at doing so. The cool thing about this is once you get good at doing this, you're going to be able to tell so much about the artistic process behind any photo that you see. It really is a powerful exercise. I think this is what helped me become the photographer I am today, one of the most important exercises that's helped me become the photographer I am today. I really am excited to see the recreations that you guys do. You know what's funny is actually when I was writing this lesson yesterday, somebody actually recreated one of my images on Instagram. One of my old coffee photos that are shot in New Zealand, I think in 2018. But instead of re-creating it through a photo, they recreated it in a 3D rendering. It's actually crazy how close that this artist got to my original photo. But with that said he did make some changes. I just want to make a quick note about copying before we move on. Because I think this is a touchy subject for a lot of people, especially in the artistic community. I think copying or mimicking is really a central part of the photography learning process. But what I don't think is cool, is copying someone's photo and then taking all the artistic credit for it. I think art evolves through artists mimicking each other's work. But if you're going to take credit for a piece of artwork, then you should always be adding some creative adaptation to that work before you take credit for it. When you're a complete beginner, I really don't think this is a huge deal, but once you start improving your skills, I think it's important to put your own artistic touch on your work and slowly start developing your own unique style. This is what happened when I was shooting with Tor in Thailand, for example. Both of our styles evolved over time and now we have completely different styles of photography. We both came from that same place of shooting coffee and food and that very moody type of vibe. But now we shoot completely different things. But with that said, I really loved this activity. Like I said, I think it's just so important to be able to deconstruct a photograph and you'd learned so much during this process. I'm super excited to see you guys this class projects. If you decide to use this one in your class project, I hope you do. I hope somebody does because I really do like this exercise. But now let's move on to the next exercise. 10. Image Reflection in 25 Words: A recurring theme that you guys have probably heard me say throughout this course several times now is just this idea of slowing down and really analyzing a photo and evaluating all the different aspects of the image that we've discussed so far, so things like lighting, composition, color, subject matter, all of those things. But with that said, a photo is also so much more than those things. It's so much more than just the way it physically looks. What makes a photo great is ultimately the story that it tells, and the emotions that it elicits among its viewers. In this lesson, I want you guys to take a look at one or two photos that you just absolutely love, photos that get you inspired, you think they're beautiful, you think they mean something and then I want you to just to stare at those photos for five to 10 minutes. As you're staring at those photos, go ahead and write down 20 to 25 words that come to mind when you see that photo. These words can honestly be anything at all. They can be emotions that you feel when you see the photo, or just random thoughts about things that you see in the image, or even notes about the technical side of the photo and the composition and the lighting, whatever you want to write. I think the best way to explain this exercise is just to show you guys. This is a photo that I captured in Vermont in autumn and it probably is one of my favorite photos I've ever taken. Just the way it looks and the vibes and the colors, everything just does it for me. The colors, in particular, I think in the composition as well with the house in the middle, just looks really nice. But more importantly, I think the reason why this photo stands out to me so much is because it has the story of this lonely, yet beautiful house on this gorgeous lake surrounded by some of the most beautiful colors I've ever seen in nature. There might be a fire and the fire pit and it's maybe a little bit chilly outside and overall it's just a very cozy scene and I love that. I think it's really easy to picture yourself in that little house on a crisp autumn morning and I think that's why this is ultimately one of my favorite photos that I've ever taken. I sat down and I wrote down 25 words to describe this photo. Here are some of the words that I came up with; warm, cozy, comforting, peaceful, inviting, calm, tranquil. All of those things are just relating to the emotions that I'm feeling when I'm looking at that image and it's like this peaceful, inviting, and warm environment. I also wrote down, smooth, grand, crisp, so physical things in the photo, the smoothness of the water, the grandness of the building, and just the crispiness of the air maybe or the smoke coming out of the chimney. I also wrote down, book and fire. I wrote book because I think I associate books with coziness, like autumn, chilly, rainy weather, so I thought that fit that theme quite well and I also wrote down fire, fire for a few reasons, the fire in the leaves, the fire in the chimney. I think fire just popped into my mind quite quickly. I also used a few other words like lonely and isolated and somber. Because I think even though this is warm and inviting, there is something a little bit isolating about it because there's this house, it's alone, there's no road to get there and what if there's a storm and you get trapped? I don't know. There is an ominous vibe to it to some degree, so I think those words came to my mind once I started thinking in that direction. Then I wrote down some words related to the composition and just the way that it looks and those were symmetrical and balanced. Then I wrote a few other random words as well that just popped into my mind, austere, vibrant, muted. I think it's vibrant because of all the colors, but I think it's also muted at the same time because it's a bit simple and there's not a whole lot happening, so it's muted in that sense and then I also wrote ordinary, magical, fairy tale, poetic and trusting and these are also just words that popped into my mind that I thought fit this image really well. As you can see, there's a wide range of words and some are certainly contradicting to each other. But overall, these are just things that I felt when I was looking at this photo. I've done this with plenty of other of my images as well. It helps me reflect on my work and see some of the things that I've done and pinpoint some of the things that I don't like about the photos that I've taken or maybe things that I would change in the future if I got the opportunity to photograph that thing again. Now the cool thing about this activity as well is you could do this with any photo. You don't have to use your photo. In fact, I would urge you to use somebody else's photo. I think that'd be a great opportunity to really deconstruct somebody else's work. You can even use one of my photos if you want. You can just go to my Instagram, screenshot that and sit down and write some random words and I'd actually love that if you guys did that for the class project. Just breakdown some of my work. You don't have to, but it would be cool to see it. That's an idea for your class project. But yeah, I think this is just a great exercise for looking at a photo beyond its face value and being able to explain why a photo is beautiful, instead of just looking at it and saying, yeah, that's a great photo. Let's look at another one. It's spending more time on it, diving into it a little bit deeper, and really figuring out what makes that photo speak to you. I honestly do think that this translates into your own work as well and if you're doing this often, maybe every week or every day, you're going to see a massive improvement in your own photography. But now that we've talked about this idea of reflection, let's move on and talk about executing a photography brief, which is great if you're looking to become a professional photographer or you really have shots in mind that you really want to capture. Let's move on to that lesson now. 11. Planning and Executing a Photoshoot: Another exercise that I've found that's really improved my photography skills over the year is this idea of carrying out a photography concept from start to finish, starting with the process of actually sitting down, thinking of an idea and then writing it out, planning it, and then finally going out and executing it and coming away with the photos. So instead of just having a really rough idea and scrambling to go shoot it, this is more about really taking the time to write out our thoughts and write down a plan and plan out every aspect of our shoot. A lot of those amazing commercial photos that you see in advertisements online or any photos from your favorite big brands. I guarantee that there's multiple talented people, tens of hours, and thousands of dollars that go into creating those photos and that's because every single little detail about the shoots are planned out and scripted beforehand. In this exercise, we're going to try and do something similar. For this exercise, I want you guys to think of a photoshoot idea. You can always look and find some inspiration before you do this. I like to do that on Instagram. I like to find some photos that inspire me and save them to a mood board and they should all be revolving around the same theme. Maybe it's a certain type of portrait. Maybe it's a nighttime portrait or a sunset portrait, or maybe it's a still-life photo, or maybe it's even a landscape photo. Putting together this visual mood board is a really good first step in something that I always do with my clients before we start planning the actual shoot. But once we've got those things down, now we really want to write out some detailed notes based on some of the following things. Number 1, the overall mood or the overall vibe of the photos. What do you want to portray in those images? What emotions do you want to elicit? Once you've locked in that fundamental idea of the overall vibe, the overall move, then we can move on to some of the fundamental things that we've been talking about through this course so far. Things like the location, the lighting slash time of day, the models, the subject matter of the props, the colors, etc. This is very similar to the lesson where we're recreating a photo, but the difference here is that you're using your own creative ideas and making something that's uniquely yours. We're not recreating anything here. We're making something truly unique. A good example for this exercise is basically just any commercial shoot. I did this shoot last year with this really awesome travel where brand called Boesen and we did all the shooting here in Bali, all around the island. We had models, makeup artists, drivers, assistants, etc. and there was so much planning that went into that shoot. But when we started planning, the first thing we asked was, what's the emotion and what's the vibe you guys want to go for with this? Let's share some images and talk broadly about what you guys are looking for. Once we lock that in, we selected the location based on that, we selected the lighting to match that mood, we found models that were fitting the look that they wanted, and we also chose some colors that they wanted. Of course, they wanted green, so perfect, for here in Bali we had lots of green available. They also wanted blues as well. Also great because we live on the beach. We created a really detailed plan based on all those things we selected the best time of day to go shoot. We organize the drivers and all that stuff and with that plan, we went out and we actually executed the shoot and it was awesome. The photos came out really well. I'm super pumped with them. We all got paid. Everyone was happy and we also had a ton of fun as well because we had a solid plan in place and we weren't scrambling to get certain things done. Of course, you're not going to be able to always control every factor and one of the biggest things you're going to come up against with shooting in natural light is the weather, the weather is super unpredictable here in Bali, sometimes it just starts storming out of nowhere. Luckily, we got really lucky with the weather that day, so we didn't have to worry about rain or anything. But overall, the shoot just went really, really well. But in short, the purpose of this exercise is to get you guys engaged with the planning side of photography a little bit, and then ultimately turning that plan into a real photo. I think just the act of sitting and planning something before going out and shooting is a great learning experience in general. Great photographers do take the time to research and plan their photoshoots. But then once they're on the site, they also have that creative ability to find new compositions and try new things and think outside the box and create something really cool. Photography is all about striking a balance between those two things, planning and knowing went to break the rules, and that's a skill that does take mastering over time. Okay, guys, we are almost done with this class. We just have two more exercises left to go over and I really liked these exercises. One of them is one that I do all the time almost every day and one of them is one that I think every artist should do no matter what medium they are creating on and I'm super excited to talk about that one. With that said, guys, let's move on to the next lesson. 12. Creative Photo Walk: Guys, welcome to the second to the exercise in this class, and this is one of my favorites. It's not my favorite, but it's one of my favorites. It's actually one that we've already been doing throughout this course, and that of course is the photo walk. Now, a photo walk is essentially just going outside on a walk somewhere nice and taking photos of some of the things that you see. We've already done this on the lighting exercise for example, in the color exercises as well, I asked you guys to go outside and photograph a specific theme. For the color, it was finding a specific color and for the lighting, it was to look for interesting light and shoot in black and white. But for this lesson, I want you to go on your own photo walk and photograph whatever you want to photograph on that walk. If you see something that looks interesting, you can photograph that, if you see some interesting color, photograph that, or maybe you just feel like you want to take a picture of something and you can't really explain why, go right ahead, take as many photos as you can. While you're doing so, you need to think about some of the concepts that we've discussed in this class so far and see if you can apply some of the principles to your own photography. I recommend doing this somewhere that you think is pretty, somewhere you think is nice or somewhere you think is interesting. If you're traveling, that's probably the best-case scenario for you to go on a photo walk. One of the first things I do when I travel is I go to my hotel, I check-in, put my stuff down, grab my camera, and I go for a walk. I think on my first day in Japan, I walked like 45,000 steps, my legs were a mess, I just was so tired and exhausted, but I was so interested in everything that I was seeing and I was taking so many photos and actually did that for like a week straight and I captured so many amazing photos and it's such a great time. But if you're not traveling, that's fine, you can go on a photo walk in a nearby town, in a city, in a park. I go on photo walks here all the time near my house. I just like to be outside taking pictures. I think it's a really great creative activity, and I actually made a mini class here on Skillshare, talking about some of the benefits of creative photo walking and how you can do it to improve your photography. I definitely recommend checking that out if you guys are interested in diving into the photo walk a little bit more. I go on photo walks all the time here in Bali, and one of the places I like to go to is this little beach town on the southern part of the island called Uluwatu. They have these big cliffs spilling down onto the ocean, and there's a lot of little surf shacks and villas and coffee shops, and it's just a great vibe and I think it's such a nice place to take photos, so I go there often, I explore and I photograph some other things that I see. I've captured some really amazing photos there, and it's also just a great time and it was really helpful for me specifically during the pandemic when I just had a massive lack of creativity and I needed to do something to break out of that, the photo walk really helped me do that. But this was an exercise I definitely had to include in this class and I really am excited to see what you guys do on your photo walks. It's one of the most fundamental beginner types of photographic activities that you can do when you're first starting out, because it just gets you outside taking images of things that you see. It helps you look as well, helps you be more mindful, more present, observe some of the things in your environment, and overall, it just helps you hone in your photographer's eye and helps you become better at identifying things that would make a great photo. This image back behind me actually on my monitor screen is one of my favorite photos that I captured on a photo walk in California on my most recent trip home. I was actually shooting a film and I was walking through San Francisco for a day and then I also walked along the California coast in Monterey and some of the little towns over there and I captured some really nice photos. Those were all just on a photo walk in the middle of the day, so you can do this at anytime of the day. If you want to go in the morning, in the evening, in the middle of the day, it doesn't really matter. The whole purpose of this activity is just to get you outside taking images in a place that you find beautiful. I really look forward to seeing the world through your eyes on your photo walks, so I hope you guys enjoy this activity as much as I do, but with that said, let's move on to the last exercise in this class which personally, is my favorite. 13. Self Portrait: Welcome to the last official exercise in this class guys, you've made it this far and I've definitely saved the best for last. This is my favorite activity out of all the things that we've done so far simply because I had a great experience shooting my project for this class and this is actually the exercise I'm selecting for my class project here in the class and of course, I'm talking about the self-portrait. Shooting a self-portrait is a really intimate activity. It's just you and a camera and your creativity and a sense of vulnerability as well, being able to surrender yourself to the camera and depict yourself in a way that you want to be depicted. This can be very difficult, setting up a camera and dealing with the technical side as well as trying to look good and fulfilling this whole creative vision that you've made for yourself but ultimately it is a great experience, it's a lot of fun, and it's so helpful when mastering all these different facets of photography that we've talked about so far in this course. For this exercise, I want you guys to photograph your own self-portrait. When you do this I want you to first think about how you want to be depicted in this photograph, sit down, write some notes out like we did in the lesson when we were planning out our photoshoot. Get a general idea of what you want to capture in your self-portrait and how you want to be portrayed. Do you want to look cool? Do you want to look sexy? Do you want to look interesting? Or do you just want it to be a realistic depiction of who you are at this point in your life? Write those notes then grab your camera, put it on a tripod, iPhones work great for this as well. In fact, it's much easier I think to shoot with an iPhone but grab your camera, set it on a tripod and snap a few photos of yourself. This is an activity I have done a few times over the years and one that I would like to do more especially after completing it for this class but I remember one of my first photography classes in college, one of our assignments for that class was to photograph a self-portrait of ourselves and I remember sitting in my dorm room setting up my tripod and capturing myself on a couch and I was big at the time, I was playing American football, so it's really heavy and muscular and I just remember this photo and I don't think I'll ever forget it. I'll see if I can find it for you guys but I depicted myself like that because when I wasn't practicing or studying, that's what I was doing, I was sitting on the couch. It was realistic depiction of me and I wasn't trying to portray that I was great or anything and not to say that there's anything wrong with that, you can portray yourself however you want to be portrayed, there's really no right or wrong here but after looking at that photo and then realizing, I just recently turned 30 and I don't have any really nice realistic portraits of myself that I've taken in the last few years. For this assignment, I really wanted to capture something intimate and just a realistic depiction of who I am at this point in my life, having just turned 30 years old and including all the flaws that I might have but some of my strong suits as well. I set up the tripod in my room and I just sat on the bed. I really liked the lighting in there, that's one of the reasons why I chose it and I like the color of the wall on the back of the room, it's this nice dark gray. I just looked into the camera and I really wanted to focus on my eyes. I wanted to capture a close-up image of my eyes because I feel like I have these really deep blue eyes but a lot of the time they don't shine through unless there's direct sunlight on them, then you can really see how blue they are simply because they're so dark and I definitely think I achieved that with some of these images and also I just wanted a stoic expression but I also got some laughing photos as well because sometimes I think I don't look great when I laugh or whatever but I think that's ridiculous, I should embrace who I am and I wanted to do that with these photographs. I'm really happy with how they came out, I almost shared with some of my friends, they're pumped too and I hope you guys have just as good of an experience as me while you're doing this assignment. Just to touch on the technical side a little bit, this can get pretty tricky especially when you're trying to focus with your camera when there's nobody there. It's pretty easy to actually take the photo. You can just set your camera to a self-timer mode or for three, five or ten seconds but the focus part is what I found to be a bit difficult. What I did was I actually sat pretty close to the camera and then I manual-focused on my face at first and made sure it was nice and sharp but then I discovered a setting called DMF, Direct Manual Focus, and basically what that did was it allowed me to autofocus on my face first then I could hit the shutter and take the photo. This is even easier if your camera has Wi-Fi and you can connect it to your phone. Unfortunately, my camera is brand new and there's not firmware for it to do that yet so I couldn't do that but for previous self-portraits I've taken in the past, I have used the iPhone app where I just hit the shutter and I can take photos of myself or you can purchase a separate remote shutter where you can actually click it with your thumb and the photo will capture. This is a really fun one guys. I hope you decide to use this one for your class project. If I could have an ideal situation, you guys could do multiple of these for your class project because I think they all show a different aspect of creativity and some of you might be really good at doing a self-portrait, some of you might be really good at capturing different compositions are really great at shooting black and white. I think we all have our own strong suits in photography. I think that's a natural thing but ultimately, if this is the activity you choose for your class project I'm certainly pumped to see it. 14. A Final Note & Next Steps: All right guys, we have made it to the end of the class and I really hope that it has been helpful for you guys so far. Before we go, I just want to mention a few things and leave you with some things to think about as well. The first of those being one of the first things I actually said in this class. In fact, the first thing I said in the introduction of this class, I said, the only way you can really improve as a photographer is just to get outside, take photos, make mistakes, make connections, and just engage with the photography process. Ultimately, that is what's going to make you a great photographer, because that is what's going to teach you all of the different aspects of photography that you need to learn, all the different stylistic things, all the technical things, and just slowly more few into a great photographer. This is certainly the case for me and so many other photographers that I know as well. They're great because they stay true to the craft and they practice and they continually get better and they always have that growth mindset where they're constantly learning and they're constantly trying to improve. These 10 exercises that we've discussed in this class will certainly get you on that path and they'll get you outside taking photos in a range of different scenarios, all of which will teach you something different about the photographic process. I hope you guys go outside and complete some of these activities. I also hope to see some of your results in the class project section of this class. If you guys want to keep learning with me, I have a ton of classes here on Skillshare. I think the natural progression in photography, once you've engaged with the photo making process, is to dive into the editing side of photography. This is almost equally as important as the photographic process because great photographers edit their images. They always have even the best film photographers from back in the day. If you guys want to learn more about how to edit your images, I recommend checking out my Adobe Lightroom class where we talk about how to find your own style and how to use Adobe Lightroom from top to bottom, all the different sliders and all the different things you need to know. I'll make it easy for you guys to understand, but I have a ton of other classes on Skillshare here as well, so you guys can check those out on my profile. I also make free photography content for YouTube, so you guys can check that out. I'll put a link in the description of this class. If you guys just want to support me, you can buy me a I'll leave a link down there and you could just leave a little message. I love reading those. Those are sort of my favorite things to see. If you do decide to do that, thank you so much. I appreciate all of your support that you guys give me. With that said, once again, thank you so much for sticking around to the end of this class. I really do hope it's been helpful for you. I hope to see you in some of my other classes as well. Don't be shy. Feel free to reach out as well on social media. I hope to see you very soon.