Photography Essentials: Understanding the Basics | Sean Dalton | Skillshare

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Photography Essentials: Understanding the Basics

teacher avatar Sean Dalton, Travel Photographer

Watch this class and thousands more

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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.

      Course Introduction


    • 2.

      Course Project


    • 3.

      Camera Settings


    • 4.

      Balancing Exposure


    • 5.

      Do you really need to use manual mode?


    • 6.



    • 7.



    • 8.



    • 9.

      Manipulating your Environment


    • 10.

      Social Media Tips


    • 11.

      Finding your photography style


    • 12.

      Photo editing tips


    • 13.



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About This Class

Want to learn photography but don't have time for a 20 hour course? Sean has you covered.

In this 90 minute course, Sean focuses on all the essential information you need to know in order to capture beautiful images. You'll learn all the most fundamental lessons of photography, as well as countless tips and tricks that will help you establish yourself as a prominent photographer.

Here are some of the things you will learn:

  • How to fully understand and master your DSLR or mirrorless camera
  • How to choose the best camera settings and camera mode
  • How to nail the perfect composition
  • How to get tack-sharp focus in every photo
  • How to identify perfect lighting environments
  • How to find your unique photography style
  • Photo editing tips
  • Social media tips for photographers
  • 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

Hope to see you in the course dashboard!

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: Beginner

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1. Course Introduction: When it comes to learning photography, honestly, there's so much information out there that it can be overwhelming. I've always felt that there's only a few things that you really need to know to take good photos when you're first starting out as a photographer. Once you understand those most fundamental things of photography, it's up to you to take those things and go out and shoot, and practice, and grow as a photographer. My name is Sean Dalton and I'm from San Francisco, California. For the past few years I've been working as a travel and lifestyle photographer throughout Asia, pursuing projects that interests me, projects that inspire me and just continuing to grow as a photographer. When I first started out as a photographer, I think I felt like a lot of people, maybe how you feel, I felt really creative. I felt like I could capture a lot of different things. But to be honest, I didn't even know how to properly set my aperture, and instead of being a tool, the camera was actually a barrier for me because I didn't know how to properly use it. Once I learned the technical side of photography, it really opened up doors for me creatively and I could really set myself free, and I could truly capture whatever artistic vision that I had in my mind, I could capture in a photograph. In short, we are going to be covering basically everything you need to know about how to take good photos. That includes things like how to choose the best camera settings to capture the photo that you want, and how to use manual focus and auto-focus effectively. How to nail the perfect composition. How to find the perfect light for any scenes, as well as how to find your own unique photographic styles or the process that you can take to developing your own unique style and standing out from the competition. How to establish a strong social media following as a photographer, which is really important in this day and age. Then I'm going to give you some crucial photo editing tips by walking you through two different edits, showing you how to edit those photos from start to finish. In short, we are going to be covering all the most crucial things that you need to know to take better photos. I think these are things that every photographer really needs to know. Plus I'll be providing plenty of examples, animations to help you really understand the topics that we're going to be talking about or to make it easier for you to understand, I think those will really help. This course was designed for anybody that just wants to take better photos, or anybody that wants to become a better photographer in general. Maybe you're somebody that just wants to understand how to use the camera better, or maybe you're somebody that aspires to be a professional photographer one day. In short, if you're looking to improve your photography skills, this course has you covered. If you don't have a DSLR or mirror-less camera and all you have is your smartphone, that's totally fine. A lot of these topics we're going to be discussing in this course are actually relevant to any camera that you might have. With that said guys, let's get started. 2. Course Project: We have finally come to the course projects and this is a project that I did when I took a photography course in school and this is the project that hands down, made me a better photographer. This is the single activity that I remember from taking that class in college and this has helped me so much to become a better photographer. The project is to go outside, find something that's interesting, or maybe it's not even interesting maybe it's just something normal and shoot that thing 50 times, maybe it's your car or a fire hydrant or a tree or a basketball, whatever it is. Take your camera and take 50 different photos of that object with 50 different compositions. In order to do this project, you really, really have to think outside the box and really push your creativity. Usually when we see something we'll only think of maybe one or two ways to shoot it but if you're really trying to get different compositions and get some really interesting shots, this activity will be amazing for you. A few tips are to move both vertically so, shoot it from above, shoot it from below and then also horizontally. So shoot it from the right side, shoot it from the left side and then also depth wise so stand back and shoot it, get really, really close and shoot it some of the different details on it, and just really think outside the box and try to come up with something unique. After you've done that, after you've captured those 50 photos, come back to the course and post your favorite photos from that shoot here in the course project. You want to post all 50, post all 50 but one photo is honestly fine. Maybe just your favorite photo from that activity. Trust me, this is not an easy exercise I remember totally struggling with it when I was in college, I had to shoot a fire hydrant and I just couldn't figure out different ways to shoot it. But I really did get some really unique shots from that activity shots that I really would have never taken before I did that. So I really think this is an awesome lesson and really helpful for you and not only improving your composition but learning how to work better and just thinking outside the box in general. I really hope you take the time to do this. I love taking a look at you as project, especially this one. This is my favorite project, so please take the time to do that. I will check those out. Other students in the course we'll check those out as well and I can't wait to see what you come up with. 3. Camera Settings: The first thing we need to discuss is how your camera works. This is hands down the most fundamental piece of photography. We're using cameras as our tool. As photographers, that is our tool. If we don't know how to properly use the camera, then we can't really capture what we really want to capture. We can't set ourselves free creatively. So in short, cameras work by capturing light. Every time you hear that click, that is basically the shutter opening up and light is coming into the camera. What does that mean? Well, inside every camera is what you call a black box. It's devoid of all light. It's completely dark and within that black box is a sensor. That sensor is what records all of the information coming into the camera, records all of the light coming into the camera. Because cameras capture light, we need to tell the camera how much light it actually needs to capture. The reason for that is because it affects the brightness of our image. If we have too much light entering the camera, our photos is going to be what's called overexposed, which is way too bright. If we don't have enough light entering the camera then our photo is going to be too dark. Thus, it's really important for us to regulate how much light is entering the camera so we can have a photo that is properly exposed and just looks really good. That's exactly what we're doing when we're shooting in manual mode. Instead of allowing the camera to choose how much light is entering our camera, we're choosing, we're telling the camera how much light we want to enter the camera. The reason why we want to shoot manually instead of allowing the camera to choose how much light enters, is because all of the things that affect how much light enters the camera also have another effect, a creative effect on the image. There are three different settings that we need to adjust to control the amount of light that enters our camera. Only three. We need to create a balance between these three things in order to get the proper exposure. Those three things are shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. Those three things comprise what we call the exposure triangle, which is a nice little diagram that helps us understand how they all affect the exposure of our image. All three of these things affect the exposure of our image, which we already stated, but they also have their own unique effect. Once you understand what effect that each of these things has on your image, you're going to be able to capture any image that you want to capture and you can also use any camera in the world because they all work the exact same way. The first of the three settings I want to talk about is shutter speed. Now, shutter speed is denoted by a number, so one-second, 1/100th of a second, 1/4000th of a second, etc. Remember how I told you how there's a little mirror that flips up and then flips back down to allow light to enter the camera, well, the speed of that flick, that mirror is the shutter speed. Shutter speed regulates the amount of light entering your camera simply by how long that shutter is open. The longer that shutter is open, the more light enters the camera. The shorter that shutter is open, the less light that enters the camera. It's pretty easy to understand and you can actually see it and hear it when you're looking at a camera. Let's take two photos here and I want you to look inside the camera, and I also want you to listen. Every time you take a picture, you actually hear two clicks. The first click is the shutter opening, and the second click is the shutter closing. For this first shot, I'm going to take it at a really fast shutter speed, which means that not a lot of light is going to enter the camera. Listen to how quick this is. It's very fast. That is basically not allowing a lot of light to get into our camera, which will result in a darker image. Now let me show you the other side, a really slow exposure, which means that we're leaving the shutter open for a long period of time, allowing a lot of light to enter the camera. I'm going to do a one-second exposure here. Once again, listen and look. A lot longer than the 1/4000th of a second that we did on the last one. Let me do that again. You guys hear it click up and then click down. That is shutter speed in accordance to light and how much light is entering the camera. But, remember I said that all three of these setting shutter speed, aperture, and ISO also have their own creative effect on the photo. Now the creative effect for shutter speed is the ability to freeze motion and, or blur motion. The faster your shutter speed, the more motion you're going to be able to freeze. Select sports photographers, they shoot with a really fast shutter speeds, so everything is sharp and zero motion blur. If you shoot with a slow shutter speed where you're going to have more motion blur in your photo, if there are things in your photo that are moving. This diagram really helps us understand the creative effect of shutter speed and how it allows us to freeze motion. This diagram takes into account not only the amount of light entering the camera, but also the creative effective of shutter speed, which is the ability to freeze motion. On the left we have less light with a faster shutter speed. So 1/2500, which is a pretty fast shutter speed, you're going to be able to freeze a lot of motion with that. That's why we see that little man completely crisp, nice and sharp and that's because we're using that fast shutter speed. On the other side, we have a one-second exposure, which means that we're letting a lot of light into our camera, but also we have this blurred look. Now one thing to note is that, there is no right or wrong. This is a creative feature. A lot of photographers will use a range of shutter speeds to capture whatever look they want. For example, if you're shooting sports, you're going to want to shoot at a really fast shutter speed like 1/2500 or 1/1500, or sometimes they even go higher than that, 1/4000. If you're shooting your friend walking down the street, you can usually shoot at 1/500th of a second or 1/250th of a second. Those are usually pretty good and note my cameras a lot of the time hanging out at those shutter speeds. Then if you're a landscape photographer and you want to capture a blurry ocean with the blue waves, or maybe you're shooting in a city and you want to catch like a lot of light streams from the cars. You can shoot at a one-second exposure. You can even shoot at a 30 second exposure. I've seen a guy shoot at a 200 second exposure, it just gave the photos such a cool look because it allowed so much motion blur in the image that it was completely blurry in some areas, but incredibly sharp in the areas that weren't moving so it is a creative effect. When you see those photos of the stars in the sky with a star trails, those are crazy like 5-30 minute exposure where they're just leaving the camera open for so long that the rotation of the Earth is actually changing the position of the stars in the camera allowing them to capture those really cool star trails. Another thing to note about shutter speed is that shutter speed negate the amount of camera shake in your photo. If you're shooting at a really slow shutter speed like this, you can't handhold that camera because, even just a little bit of shake is going to result in a blurry photo. The rule that I always have is, if I'm holding the camera in my hand, I try not to go below 1/100th of a second for shutter speed because that will allow us to make sure that our moving hand is not going to make the image blurry, unless you want that look, but usually it doesn't look very good. If you do have a more modern cameras, some of the more modern cameras have like embody stabilization or the lenses have stabilization, which means you can drop below that 1/100th of a second because the camera has a stabilizer inside allowing the image to be more crisp. Next I want to talk about aperture. An aperture is also known as the f-stop. An aperture is also denoted by a number, and it's usually indicated as a mark on the lens. This lens is 1.8, which means the maximum aperture of this lens is 1.8. Now apertures typically range from 1.2 all the way up to F 22, and that just depends on your lens. Aperture is pretty easy to understand. Aperture is basically the size of the hole in your lens that's allowing light to enter the camera. Basically, the wider that opening, the more light that's going to enter the camera, and the smaller the opening, the less light that's going to enter the camera. What gets complicated when we start talking about the numbers, aperture is weird. It doesn't make a lot of sense because the smaller the number, the wider the opening. An aperture of F 1.8 or F 1.4 is a really wide aperture, which means a lot of light is getting into the camera. Whereas an aperture of F 10 or F 14 or F 22, those are really small apertures, which doesn't allow a lot of light to get into the camera. This is another thing that you can actually see in the camera when you look at it, it's pretty cool. If you look into the lens of this camera, you can actually see a small hole with what looks like blades around the hole. That hole is essentially our aperture. Now if I adjust the aperture, you can actually see that hole getting bigger, allowing more light into the photo. That's great. We understand how aperture controls how much light enters the camera, but what's the creative effect of aperture? The creative effect of aperture is the ability to control the depth of field. A depth of field is essentially the amount of blur in an image beyond the subject that is in focus. We also call this, this blur Bokeh. Bokeh has convert really sexy term and photography right now because bokeh looks really cool and it can really make your image look super artistic. When it comes to depth of field, essentially, the larger our aperture, which is a lower number in this case, the shallower our depth of field will be. The smaller our aperture, which means a bigger number like F 8 or F 22, the more focus you will have in your scene. You can have focus all the way from the foreground, all the way until the background. Now, both small and large apertures are super important for photography and we use all apertures of the camera depending on what type of thing we're shooting. So for example, if you want to take a portrait and you want to have that person's face and focus and then have everything behind them be really nice and out of focus, so we can really focus on the person, on the subject. Or for that we're going to want to use a wide aperture. An aperture of F 2.8 or F 2 or F 1.8 or F 1.4, that is a super wide aperture, which will really give us that cool, unique, artistic look. But if you want to capture something like a super crisp landscape and have everything nice in focus, including maybe there's a bush in front of you, and then far off in the distance is a beautiful mountain and you want to have both the bush and the mountain in focus. Well for that, you're going to want to use a really small aperture, like F 18 or F 22. Aperture is really important for capturing that really creative learning. I think it has one of the bigger impacts on your photo. Once you can understand this, you can really start taking some really cool artistic photos. For me, when I understood aperture, it really helped click the other things into place. The last part of the exposure triangle, the last setting that we need to understand is ISO. ISO is also denoted by a number, usually starting at 100, which is a low ISO all the way up to 12,500, or even crazy numbers like 56,000 ISO. Now, in short, the easiest way to understand it is ISO is the sensitivity of the sensor. We can get more technical than that, but I think that's the most important thing you need to know. It is the amount of sensitivity that your sensor has. The higher the ISO, the more sensitive your sensor is going to be, which means that it's going to be able to record more light. The lower your ISO, the less sensitive your sensor is going to be, which means less light in your image. When it comes to regulating the amount of light into image, ISO is pretty easy to understand. But the unique effect of ISO can really have a strong effect on your image and not really a good one. That's why I like to call ISO our last resort. Let me explain why. When we increase our ISO in our camera, we're increasing the sensitivity of that sensor. However, with greater sensitivity, comes greater instability. When I say greater instability, I mean that the camera starts to guess the light waves that are entering the camera. Doesn't really have the stability to understand all of the different light waves that are entering the camera and properly record them. Which means that the higher our ISO is, the more digital noise or digital grain is going to be in our image, which honestly just looks really bad. It doesn't look good. It's really not like the old film grain that we used to see. When you look at an old image from a film camera, there was that grainy and really artistic look. It gives the photo a texture. Well, that looks great on film cameras, but with digital cameras, it doesn't look good at all. It's all of discolored and it just really doesn't look good. We want to avoid this as much as possible. We do that by basically keeping our ISO as low as possible. The only time we increase our ISO is when we've set our aperture, we've set our shutter speed and we still don't have enough light entering the photo. Maybe we're shooting in a dark environment or maybe indoors where there's just not enough light. Only then, only as a last resort, do we increase our ISO. Like I said, ISO can really negatively affect the quality of your image. I want you to experiment with this. Take an image at 100 ISO and then adjust the camera and then take another image at the maximum ISO that your camera can take it out. Whether that's 6,400 or all the way up to 32,000, whatever that number is, take an image of that, zoom in and look at the image. It's going to look dramatically different. Now that we've talked about all three of the pieces of the exposure triangle, and we've talked about the creative things that they do as well. We need to talk about them together. In this next lesson, we're going to talk about how you can balance all three of them to capture the image that you want to capture. 4. Balancing Exposure: Balancing our exposure actually becomes quite easy once we understand aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, the three things that control the amount of light entering our camera. How do we know if we have a balanced exposure? How do we know that there's going to be the perfect amount of light entering the camera and not too much or too little? Well, the camera actually tells us how much light is entering the camera. It tells us that with a cool little feature called the light meter. Now, all cameras have a light meter. Some of them have it on top like this one, and then they'll also have it in the viewfinder. When he looked at the viewfinder and you have pressed the shutter button to focus, the light meter will pop up on the bottom. If you have a mirrorless camera, that will be the same thing, once you look into the electronic viewfinder, you will see the little light meter on the bottom there. What is the light meter? Well, essentially the light meter is just a little line that has a few numbers on it and it tells you how exposed your image is. There's a little indicator that moves from left to right showing you where your exposure is in accordance to that line. If your indicator is to the right of that center point on the line, that means your image is overexposed, and if it is to the left of the center, that means your image is underexposed. A good rule of thumb is to just try to keep that indicator right in the center. That's how you know that you pretty much have a balanced exposure. The light meter is essentially how you know if your image is balanced, but how do we know which settings to choose? How do we know if we want to have a fast shutter speed or a slow shutter speed, or a wide aperture or shallow aperture? How do we balance those things and get the creative look that we want? I think the best way to understand this is with some real-world examples. Let's say, for example, I'm shooting a portrait of my friend. Remember that we said ISO is the last resort, so we want to keep ISO as low as possible. I'm going to set that to 100. The next thing I'm going to do is set my aperture to 1.4. The reason I'm setting my aperture to 1.4 is because I want to have a really shallow depth of field. I want to use aperture creatively and blur the background behind her and make everything look really cool. That's my first thought. My first thought is creative. It's to capture that blurry background and isolate my subject. Now we have an ISO of 100 and an aperture of 1.4, which is really wide, which means that there's a lot of light entering our camera. Now, in order for me to balance my exposure and ensure that we're not getting too much light in our image, I need to make my shutter speed faster and I'm going to adjust my exposure with shutter speed. In this situation, because I'm not shooting a moving subject, I really don't care how fast or how slow my shutter speed is. So I'm only using it to balance on my exposure. In this case, because we have a lot of light entering the camera, I'm going to make that shutter speed really fast all the way at one-four thousandth of a second, and that will balance out the exposure perfectly. Now, let's move on to another example. Let's say I want to shoot a landscape. I don't want to have everything in the image in focus, and I want it to be really sharp. Once again, I'm going to set my ISO and I'm going to leave it as low as possible at 100. Next thing I'm going to do is set my aperture. I'm going to set my aperture to a number that is going to assure that I have nice sharpness throughout the photo all the way from the foreground to the background. In this case, I'm going to try f /16. That's a pretty small aperture, and that will really make sure everything is in focus and give us a really, really deep depth of field. Now, because my aperture is so small and the ISO is so low, we really don't have that much light entering the camera. In order to balance my shutter speed, instead of making my shutter speed faster like I did when I was shooting the portrait, I need to make my shutter speed lower to make sure that we have enough light entering the camera. But now remember, if you drop your shutter speed below one-one hundredth of a second, then you're going to have camera shake in your image and then your images are going to be blurry. That's why landscape photographers use a tripod, is because they're always shooting really high apertures and they want to ensure that they have crisp photos, so they put their camera on a tripod, it doesn't move at all and they can use whatever shutter speed they want, it doesn't matter how slow it is, they're going to be able to get everything in a nice sharp focus. For the last example, let's talk about shooting a portrait at night. We don't have a lot of light and we're working in a really low light environment. It's these situations where you really need to understand how to properly use your camera in order to come away with a beautiful image. Say it's really dark outside and my lens is set to f/4. A lot of lenses that you're going to buy in the beginning, the maximum aperture is going to be a four, which is not super wide, but it's not bad either. That still lets in a decent amount of light. I've dropped my shutter speed down to one over one hundredth of a second. Once again, I can't really go any lower than that because if I go lower than that, then I'm going to get camera shake in my photo. I don't have a tripod to stabilize the camera. That is the slower shutter speed that I can go while still maintaining sharpness throughout the frame. I've set my aperture, I've set my shutter speed, but there's still not enough light entering the camera and I really need to get the shot. So what do you do? Well, you turn to ISO, which is the last resort, and we increase our ISO to balance out our exposure. An ISO of 100, it might not be enough, so I'm going to go up to 400. If we still don't have enough light entering the camera, go up to 800. Once again, you just keep going until you're sure you have enough light entering the camera. In short, ensuring the proper exposure is just you creating a balance between these three things. Once you understand how to create that balance, you're going to be able to capture any image you want to capture. Whatever you've you got to shoot, you need to determine what the most important thing is. Are you trying to freeze motion? Are you a sports photographer and no matter what, you need to freeze motion? Or are you just trying to get an artistic shot with a shallow depth of field? Identify that first, identify which is more important to you, and then adjust the settings based on that. For me, I typically like to shoot at a wide aperture, whether I'm shooting food, or portraits, or street. I like to shoot with a wide aperture of f/1.4 or f/1.8. That's just because I like that shallow depth of field. Because I always have my aperture set to that, well, then I just adjust shutter speed to balance my exposure. I'm really not thinking about camera settings that much. I set my aperture and then I'll just adjust my shutter speeds and make sure that the exposure is good. Then once again, if I'm shooting in a really dark environment, then I will just increase my ISO if I need to. But honestly, I rarely adjust my ISO because I simply don't need to. Sports photographers, they're not worried about aperture as much as they're worried about shutter speed. Food photographers could care less about shutter speed, but they really care about aperture because that is really going to determine the sharpness of the food and where they have their focus and things like that. 5. Do you really need to use manual mode?: Which camera mode should you shoot in? Well, we always hear about manual mode. I've been talking about that in this course. As I said before, manual mode, all it's doing is basically giving you creative control over all three of these things, shutter speed, aperture, and ISO, we can completely control all of them. But do you real need to control all of them in every situation? On the answer to that is no, you really don't. That's because as I stated before, usually only one of these settings, it's going to be super important for you. Like I said before, if you're a food photographer, aperture is super important, if you're a portrait photographer, once again, aperture is important. If you're a sports photographer or you're shooting NASCAR or something, then you really need to focus on shutter speed. You really only need to be shooting manual if you're in a low light environment and your camera just keeps bumping up your ISO and you really don't want to have a high ISO, then you should be shooting in manual. But mostly the other time, I like to shoot in aperture priority. Aperture priority mode is basically you set the aperture of the camera, and the camera will select the shutter speed and the ISO on its own. Cameras are smart, so won't just jack up the ISO. It's going to start with shutter speed. It's going to adjust your shutter speed based on how much light is entering the camera, and then if there's not enough and it goes below one 100th of a second, then your camera will boost ISO, so the cameras are really smart. That's why I like to shoot an aperture priority, It's easier especially if I'm trying to get a lot of different shots. Some like at an event or something like that, or street photography, Aperture priority is great. Especially if you're shooting during the day, you don't really need to worry about ISO. Aperture priority is awesome. If you're a sports photographer, well, a lot of sports photographers, we'll use shutter priority because as, as I said before, they need to ensure that they're getting everything in sharp focus and zero motion blur, so they can shoot in shutter priority. Auto mode, do I recommend shooting in auto mode? I don't recommend shooting in auto mode. At least shoot in aperture priority if you need to shoot in manual mode. But you really shouldn't be shooting in Auto because then you're really taking away a lot of your creative control, that you have over the camera. I recommend shooting in aperture priority or in manual mode. There are a few other useful settings that I think you should know, and the first one is white balance. We're talking about digital photography, white balance is basically adjusting the colors in your image to look more natural. Cameras have a bunch of different white balance setting such as daylight, cloudy, tungsten, which is like indoor lighting or the poor lighting, fluorescent, a few different other ones as well. Then they usually have in automotives wall where it will take everything into account and choose a white balance for you. When it comes to white balance, I always recommend that you don't shoot an auto white balance. The reason for that is because we can very easily adjust the white balance of our image in editing. But if we have a bunch of different images shots at one location, and we use the auto mode, so all the different color temperatures are lot different, well, then it's going to be hard to do bulk editing. We're not going to be able to just adjust the white balance of one image and apply it to all of them. We're going to have to do each one independently. What I like to do is set my camera to daylight, white balance. That usually works for most situations, and then when I'm in editing, all just fine tune that white balance a little bit. White balance is very important. But I recommend just selecting one of the presets in your camera and just leaving it on that for most situations. The next thing I want to talk about is RAW vs JPEG. You might have heard this before. When we're talking about RAW and JPEG, we're referring to the file that your camera is capturing. Every time you take a picture, the camera is actually computing, it's saving that information into a file. JPEG is a smaller file, but is it a file that your camera is actually compressing and actually editing in the camera to just give you an image that looks pretty good out of camera and a smaller file size. A RAW photo basically means that your camera is not doing any processing on it, it's not compressing it, and it's giving you as much information as it possibly can. What does that mean? Well, that means that we can better edit our photo and post because we have more information in our photo, we have more information in the dark areas and more information in the light areas. I always say shoot RAW because, editing is a very important piece of the puzzle and it's important for us to learn how to enter properly. Editing is much easier when we have RAW photos. When it comes to the RAW vs JPEG debate, I'm going to keep it simple and say, shoot RAW for the purposes of this course.That's the best recommendation that I can give you. Besides focus, which we're going get into here now, autofocus and manual focus. Those are pretty much all the things you need to know about your camera. Those are the most important setting. Setting your file type RAW and JPEG, and then also setting your white balance if you could understand those things, and then you can also understand the exposure triangle, you're going to be good to go. 6. Focus: I want to take a brief second to talk about focus, specifically autofocus and manual focus. I think a lot of us when we hear manual mode, we also think of like manual focus and we think that may be manual focus might be better than autofocus or something like that. But the truth is, autofocus is awesome. I'm using autofocus 99 percent of the time in my photos, especially with cameras in this day and age, the autofocus is incredibly smart, incredibly fast, and very useful. The only time you really going to be wanting to shoot with a manual focus is video. Video oftentimes we're shooting with manual focus, but also if you're using a really, really wide aperture, you have a really shallow depth of field that you need to make sure that you're focusing on something very specific. Like with macro photography, oftentimes you might use manual mode or if you're shooting food and you want to make sure something is really in focus, then maybe you using manual mode, but oftentimes you're only using manual mode when you have a tripod. Autofocus is just really the better option for most situations. When it comes to autofocus, there's a few different modes. Usually there's three modes on, but really only two of them are the ones that you really need to know about. Those two things are single shot autofocus, that's what Sony calls it, or Single-Servo autofocus for Canon. Nikon will also have a similar name. Then the second one is continuous autofocus, continuous autofocus is also known as Continuous Servo autofocus for Canon. Once again, different camera companies were call these different things, but they're essentially doing the same thing. Single shot autofocus, is essentially you focus the camera once and then the camera stops focusing, it won't focus again until you take your finger off and then refocus. Continuous autofocus is a little bit different. Once you have pressed the shutter and engage your focus, it's going to continue focusing on whatever you point your camera at. If I'm focusing first on my mic in front of me and I'm on continuous autofocus, and I'm still holding down that focus button and I move over and shoot my laptop or something, it's got to adjust focus. But with single shot autofocus, once I focus here a beep beep and then I can move anywhere and that focus is not going to move as long as I continue holding that focus button. Which focus should you use? Continuous or a single shot? Single shot is going to be better for you in most situations. The reason for that, is because with single shot autofocus, you can focus on something, maybe your focus point is right in the middle of your viewfinder. You focus on something that's right in the middle of your frame, and then you can recompose your shot and you can adjust your composition. But if you're shooting a continuous autofocus and you focus on the thing in the middle and then you try to adjust your competition, well then your focus point is going to be shooting around and focusing on different things around your frame and oftentimes you don't really want that. But you do want continuous autofocus if you're shooting in video or if you're shooting motion. Because if something's moving across your frame, you don't want to have to be like refocusing every second to make sure that your subject is in focus, oftentimes they won't be in focus. If you're shooting somebody moving, well, you're going to want to shoot in continuous autofocus, you can follow them and they're going to stay in focus as long as they stay in the middle of your frame or wherever your focus point is in your viewfinder. They're both really useful most of the time, unless I'm shooting motion, I'm shooting on single shot autofocus that's the best advice I can give you for capturing good photos and making sure that everything is nice and sharp in-focus. I do have a pro tip for you and that is to use back button autofocus. Back button autofocus means that instead of have pressing the shutter button to focus your camera, you actually are using the button on the back of your camera to focus your camera. Why that's good? Because it allows you to separate your shutter button or what you use to take your photo and a button to capture your focus. I love this because if I'm shooting something and I'm going to be moving around a lot within this area I can focus with the back of my camera and then I can move whatever and it's going to stay in focus. But if you're autofocus is set to your shutter button, every time you press a take a photo, it's going to refocus and it's going to be focusing too much. I like to keep them separate and I think a lot of professional photographers actually separate the two. You can do that by going to your camera settings and then just turning off the half-press shutter autofocus feature, and then you just use your thumb to focus instead of your main finger here. Pretty cool feature, and that's definitely something I recommend you do if you're shooting with a DSLR or a mirrorless camera. By now the age old question, where should you focus your camera? After you've selected either single shot autofocus or continuous autofocus, where you supposed to point the camera to make sure everything is in focus? That really depends on what you're shooting. If you're shooting a person like a portrait, you want to focus on maybe their eye or maybe just their head and that will usually be good enough to get good focus in their face and then have everything else blurred behind them. If you're shooting a group of people and they're all at different depths, say there's a person here and there's a person here, and then there's somebody in the middle, well, if you're shooting with a really wide aperture and you have a really shallow depth of field. If you focus on the person in the front, then the person on the back is going to be out of focus. But if you focus on the person in the middle, then you're going to have more uniform focus throughout the frame. Well, like to do when I'm shooting groups of people is just to make my aperture a little bit smaller, just to make sure I have an update of the field to get everyone's face in focus. If you're shooting a landscape, you can focus on something maybe in the middle of your scene like there's a tree or a river you can focus there, or you can focus in something in the background, maybe a mountain or something like that. With landscape photography, your focus point is much less important than your focus point with things like portrait or food photography. That's subtle because you're using such a small aperture, everything is in focus and your depth of field is so deep your focus point it doesn't matter as much, just focus on something in the distance and usually everything will be in pretty good focus. 7. Composition: For this next lesson, I want to talk about composition. One of the first thing you need to do when you're studying composition is to make yourself a nice warm cup of coffee. Jokes aside. Composition is incredibly important when it comes to photography, and composition is the thing that people are often referring to when they say, "That photographer has the eye, " or whatever that means. Usually they're talking about composition. In short, composition is basically how you arrange the objects in your frame. Good composition is very important because as human beings, our brains work a very specific way. Our brains want to see something that's easy to see. What I mean by that is our brains want to be able to look at an image and process everything that's going on in an easy to understand way. When an image doesn't have a good composition then our brains can't properly navigate the photo, and because our brains can't properly navigate the photo, our brains subconsciously think of that photo as not beautiful. That's why composition is so important at its most basic level, good composition allows your viewers eyes to navigate around the photo, find the main subjects, and then take in the entire scene in a way that's easy for the brain to comprehend. When it comes to composition, there are many, many, many different types of compositions that are accepted in photography. Honestly, I think when it comes to teaching composition, you can't over teach it because a lot of it is going to come when you're out shooting. If you confine yourself to a very specific list of compositions, then you're going to be really holding yourself back creatively. I think it's important to understand some of the concepts of composition, but not so much like this is a good composition and you should try this, and this is a good composition and you should try this. The reason why I have the course project as shoot one object 50 different times is because that is going to really help you improve your composition. But with that said, there are some things that I really want to talk about. The first thing is perspective. Perspective is essentially how you orient yourself in accordance to your subject, whatever that subject might be. This is hands down the most important, the most fundamental piece of composition that you need to understand because where you are in accordance to your subject greatly changes the outcome of the photo. In this concept of perspective is also relevant to all of the different things we're going to talk about here in this composition video. You can adjust your perspective by either moving forward and backwards, horizontally, so left or right, as well as vertically, up and down. No matter which way you're moving, you're adjusting your perspective on that main subject. There are a few different perspectives that you can try where you're shooting. The first one is worm's eye or basically where you're down below and you're looking up. This often gives your subject a bigger appearance, gives them more authority in your photo, and it can also be used to isolate them from anything else behind them, if you find the background obtrusive, you can shoot up at them and maybe use the sky as a background. The opposite of worms eye is bird's eye. Looking down on the subject, this often makes objects look smaller, and it's good for showing a cityscape. You can show a lot of different things with a bird's eye view. Another one is just straight on, so just shooting it straight on and right in the middle. That's a good perspective, and then also shooting it from either side. Sometimes if I'm traveling and I want to shoot a road, you're in the middle of the desert and there's a really cool road and you have those linear lines. You want to shoot the road where you can shoot it from the middle and then you can shoot it from both sides. It's hard to know which one's going to be better until you shoot it. What I always like to do is find my subject and then just shoot it with a bunch of different perspectives. Move around it in so many different ways, like I said, for the class project, try to adjust your perspective and try to get some unique compositions. Once again, perspective is the most fundamental piece of composition and understanding perspective and how it affects your photo is going really help you understand composition later on. The next piece of composition that I want to talk about is the concept of leading lines or diagonal lines of interests. As human beings, we love lines and photos, and the reason for that is because they really help guide our eyes. Leading lines refer to lines in the image that naturally guide our eyes to the main subject in a photo. Think of somebody in a tunnel, all of those lines of that tunnel are converging onto our main subject in the middle. If it's man-made, we often call those geometric leading lines. If it's from nature, we call them organic, so we do see this in nature quite a bit, even if it's just the separation between the sand in the water or the trees in the ground. There's a lot of different leading lines that can be found organically in nature. Then if you're shooting in a city, there's often a lot of really interesting geometric lines that you can use to lead to your main subject. Now oftentimes where these lines converge, we call that the vantage point. That's where these leading lines coming together and finalize on our main subject. Diagonal lines of interest are very similar, but they're not always necessarily leading our eyes to our main subject. Maybe they're just balancing the composition or adding interest, or making the composition a little bit more complex, a little bit more interesting. Here's a few good examples of diagonal lines of interesting really cool photos. You can see how the diagonal lines really add so much more interest in complexity to the images. The next concept I want to talk about is one that you've probably heard of, and that is the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds can be understand by basically breaking down your frame into nine different equal parts. The rule of thirds states that you should place your subject in one-third of the frame, so either the left or the right side. The reason the rule of thirds is so great is because by placing your subject on one of the sides of the image is right in the middle, then you have that whole other side to show something else, maybe it's a background of a mountain or maybe they're in a cafe and you want to show a little bit more of that cafe where you can do that and you can also create a very balanced frame. Maybe your main subject is on the left side, but then you have a lot of stuff happening on the right side, so even though the main subject is on the left, we have a lot of really interesting information that balances out the frame a little bit. I think the rule of thirds is just great because it allows you to deviate from we naturally want to do whereas put the subject right in the middle of the camera and take a picture that way. This will help you think a little bit outside the box and help you understand that you can position your subject in different parts of the frame to come up with another cool look. The next concept I want to talk about is framing. Framing essentially is using different thing in your environment to basically frame your subject. Framing looks good in the reason why is because once again, our eyes can see where the main subject is. It helps us focus on the main subject. With framing, you have natural framing. Things like trees, even mountains sometimes, and then you also have man-made framing like doors or windows or anything that is going to surround your subject with contents, whatever that might be. I really like to frame my shots or something in the foreground. If I'm shooting a portrait and I'm outside and there's some trees or some plants. Sometimes I'll duck behind the plants and try to get some greenery around the edges of my frame, to eliminate some distracting areas and make sure that we're really focusing on the main subject in our photo. The next concept I want to talk about is depth. Depth is a really important thing when it comes to photography. Conveying depth in our images really allows us to understand what's happening in the scene. When we see a flat photo, it just doesn't really appeal to us that much, butt if we can see depth in the photo, it tells a much more compelling story. When talking about depth and photography, I think the most important thing to ensuring you have depth is to make sure you have a foreground, a mid ground, and a background. A foreground is essentially an object or some type of subject matter that's very close to the camera. Mid ground is somewhere in the middle, and then background is something far away from the camera, maybe that's mountains in the distance, or something like that. I think landscape photography is a really good way to understand this. If you have a landscape photo, you might have a plant in the foreground and the mid ground maybe have a river or a lake, or some trees or something like that, and in the background you have some faraway mountains. This allows you to really understand the environment because we can see three different pieces of the environment that really adds a level of depth in the photo. This also goes hand in hand with framing. Like I said, I often frame my subjects with something in the foreground like a plant's so I keep it really close to my camera, and then I'll shoot my subject which is a little bit further away. Not only is that creating depth, but it's also framing my subjects. You're killing two birds with one stone, if you will. The next topic I want to talk about is negative space and negative space is essentially blank space in your photo. Maybe it's just pure white or pure black or just, there's really nothing happening in that part of the image. Negative space can be used to really put the focus on your main subject and get rid of any distracting details in your scene. It can lead to a more simple composition I mean a more minimalist composition, if you will. It can really be used to enhance the composition of your photo. The last topic I want to talk about is this concept of balance. When I say balance, I mean basically the balance of your frame. We have symmetrical compositions and asymmetrical compositions. Asymmetrical, a good example of that is maybe you have your subjects on one-third of the frame, and then the other side is completely blank. That's an asymmetrical composition, whereas a symmetrical composition is that subject would be right in the middle. It's a little bit more simple. It's minimalist. There is no right or wrong. You don't always need to have a balanced frame. You can really go with some really cool asymmetrical looks and have even an abstract look. I think that goes with all of these principles in this composition video. All of the things we've talked about here are good guidelines for you to understand composition and understand what people like to see in photos. But in no way are these the only way to do things. Composition is very much a creative process, and I think a lot of the time we over teach it. Composition comes from you, the photographer, and you're going to master it by going out and coming up with really cool, unique compositions. Learning composition is hard to categorize. Even just looking at our inspiration on Instagram or on Facebook or wherever you get your inspiration from. Looking at those images subconsciously. We look at those compositions and we imprint what we like in our minds. Next time you see some photos you like take a look at the composition and really break it down. I think that's a great way to learn some of the things that you like, and then you can go on and implement those things later on when you're shooting. 8. Lighting: For this lesson, I want to take a second to talk about lighting. Lighting can be a very complex thing when it comes to photography, it can be very technical. But it's also the most important because as we said before, cameras capture light. I think one of the things that really sets good photographers apart is their understanding of light. They can use it to really capture the look they want. They can manipulate it, they know where to find the best light to capture the photo that they really want. Now, lighting isn't something that you really can completely teach in our course. It's pretty complex. There's a lot of different things going on and light can really affect your photo in different ways. But there are a few topics that can greatly improve your understanding of light and the effects that it has on your photo. For this video, there's three things I want to focus on. The quality of the light source, the strength of the light source, and the direction of the light source. These are the three most crucial features to understand and essentially every light that you use in your scenes, whether it's from the Sun or indoors or whatever, that might be, all three of these things, these three topics are going to apply to that light source. Starting things off, first is the quality of the light source and this essentially means how good that light source is. There's really two categories that fall into the quality of light or all light sources for that matter. That's natural light and artificial light. Natural light is referring to light from the Sun and artificial light is referring to lights like this one that I'm using here or a flash or any light that's not from the Sun. For the most part and I think, for most photographers needs natural light is king. Natural light is the most beautiful light, it has the nicest color. It's called natural light for a reason. It looks so natural, it looks so good. It can be very flattering for your subjects. I think the only time artificial light is necessary is if you're shooting at night or if you're a professional photographer and you need a very specific lighting setup that you just can't really get from the Sun because, the Sun's not always that reliable. Don't worry about using artificial light. Don't worry about using flashes or anything like that. Natural light is amazing and most of my favorite photographers of all time understand how to use natural light in a really beautiful way. Quality wise, natural light and that's what I'm want to be focusing on as this course goes on. The next topic I want to discuss is the strength of your light source. When we're talking about the strength of the light source, oftentimes we're talking about hard light versus soft light. Hard light being the light that is very strong, very bright, resulting in a lot of different shadows, maybe high contrast, and soft light being light that is a little bit more gentle, a little bit more relaxed, and just easier on the eyes in general. The strength of a light source is dependent on two things. The size of that light source. The bigger the light source typically, the softer the light, and then as well as the distance of the light to the subject. The closer that light is to your subject, actually, the bigger that light source becomes, and the further away the smaller that light source becomes. We can often use something called a diffuser to make our light source bigger. That helps to spread out the light a little bit, softened it up and helps us get better results with things like Portraiture, food photography, or any photography where we just don't want a really hard light. For example, if you're shooting in the middle of the day, in the middle of the day, on a hot summer day, that light is going to be very hard. You're going to have shadows under the eyes if you're taking a portrait, you're going to have shadows under the nose, it's just not going to look that great. But if you add a diffuser in between your subject and the Sun, well, that will make that nice and soft and a lot easier to shoot. You can also shoot in the early morning or in the late afternoon, that is the best time to capture natural light. That's because it's more soft during that time. The color is really beautiful. It's often very golden and that's just beautiful light that you can shoot in. When it comes to hard light, I don't want you to completely dismiss it. Some of the best street photos of all time were taken in really hard light. That's because like I said, it adds a lot of contrasts, then you can also get these really harsh long shadows in your image that can create areas that are a little bit mysterious, a little bit interesting, a lot of interesting aligned, so hard light is very cool and I think it's just as interesting as soft light. Experiment with shooting at different times of the day and that'll give you a better understanding of a hard light versus soft light and things like that. The last topic I want to discuss in terms of lighting might be the most important out of all three and that is the direction of the light source. I break down the direction of the light source into three different ways. Front light, so that means you're shooting with the light so the light source is behind you, or maybe right in front of your camera. Side light, so the light is coming from the side, it's hitting your subject from the side, and then back light where you're shooting into the light. Maybe you're shooting somebody indoors and their window is behind them or you're shooting somebody outside and the Sun is behind them. All three are going to drastically change the outcome of your photo. One of the biggest tips I have for you to capturing more dynamic photos with more interesting light, is to not shoot with the light. Don't shoot with front light. When you're shooting with front light with the light source behind you, or just directly in front of the camera, you're not going to get any of these shadows in the image. It's going to light everything perfectly. Everything's going to be evenly lit and it's just not going to be dynamic. It's not going to be that cool. If you shoot with side light or back light, you're going to get a lot more interesting light coming to the frame. You're going to have shadows all over the place. It's just going to look way cooler. Personally, I love shooting the side light. I think it's the easiest to shoot, because you're not shooting into the really bright Sun and it just looks the best and this goes with all types of photography, food photography, portrait photography, landscape photography. I always try to shoot with either side light or back light. I think this is one of the things, if you going to understand this, you're going to set yourself apart from 99 percent of the photographers out there. Lighting is one of those things that so many courses overlook, but it's also the most important and it has the biggest effect on your image. Next time you go outside and shoot, try shooting from different perspectives in accordance to where your light source is. Go outside with a friend, anytime of the day, it doesn't matter, and shoot them with the Sun behind them, to the side of them and then also on the Sun behind you, and just look at the differences between the photos. I think you'll come up with some really cool stuff. 9. Manipulating your Environment: This is a topic that I really haven't seen discussed in many beginner photography courses, maybe except for food styling courses. What I'm talking about is manipulating your environment to get a better composition or a better image in general. What I mean by this is basically physically changing your environment around you to get a photo that looks better for your camera. If you're shooting a model, then that would be positioning your model to look better in the image. Maybe you're posing them differently. You're having them stand up, you're having them sit down. I think that's the easiest example to understand. Then, if you're shooting food, then that means you might be moving things around on the table. Taking out a glass if it's distracting, or adding silverware to balance the composition or something like that. Sometimes adjusting your physical environment isn't possible, so with things like street photography where you really want to be hands-off, you just want to let things develop naturally, well, then you're not going to be to physically adjust your environment. But you can in other settings. I think this is one of the things that a lot of beginner photographers they don't do. They see a scene and then they think that it's just up to them to shoot that scene. But in reality, you're the photographer, you're the artist. You can adjust that scene to make it look however you want it to look. So if you're going to a restaurant and they set a plate down in front of you, you want to take that photo, you're not confined to take that photo in that place. Move it to the other side of the table. Ask if you can shoot it in a different part of the restaurant. You have full creative control as a photographer, so don't be afraid to take control, and adjust your physical environment. Adjust things with your hands, move things around, and try to come up with a better composition that way. Everything that is in your frame is working together to tell some type of story. I really want you to think about all of the different things in your frame, and that's why I made this video is not to teach you a concrete lesson, but rather to get you thinking about how all of the things in your frame are telling some type of story and how you can change things in that frame to better tell that story or maybe tell a slightly different story. So think about that next time you're shooting something. Whether you're shooting your person or some food, or even a landscape. Putting something in the foreground of your landscape can tell a completely different story. For example, if you put a piece of trash, an empty water bottle in your foreground of your composition, well, that could be commentary on environmental change. Whereas if there's no bottle, it's just a beautiful image of a landscape. So physically, adjusting the environment of your photo can really have a profound impact. So I just want you to think about that going forward. 10. Social Media Tips: Now I want to take a little bit to talk about social media. As you very well know, social media is massive in this day and age. Everywhere we look in a lot of our lives are consumed by social media, whether it's Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter. They're so many forms of social media out there. But the reason I wanted to add this section of the course is because in this day and age, it's incredibly important for photographers to be on social media. In fact, it's become easy that a lot of photographers shoot almost exclusively for social media. A lot of the photos that I go out and shoot when I'm traveling are shot with the purpose to be posted on Instagram or to be shared on Facebook or something like that, then that's because those social media platforms are important for me from a business standpoint for photography, and that's the case for a lot of other photographers as well. I just wanted to add this section to give you guys some social media tips specifically related to photography to help you grow your social media or have your social media as a resource that you can use to score more clients or just use as a portfolio going forward. Just to preface this, most of my experience with social medias on Instagram, you guys might have seen my other courses here on Instagram. A lot of the things I'm going to be talking about are related to Instagram, but they're also related to other forms of social media as well, whether that's Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc. The first social media photography tip I have for you is to shoot vertically. The reason why it's important to shoot out a vertical aspect ratio is simply due to the fact that a lot of people are consuming content on their phones nowadays. A lot of people are consuming content, they're seeing your images or your videos from their cell phone, not from their computer like they used to, and because they're viewing it on a cell phone, well, a cell phone has a vertical aspect ratio, which means it's longer than it is wide. When we're presenting our work online, we want to take up as much real estate as possible. The bigger we can get our photo on someone's face, the more they're going to see it, the more they're going to recognize it. It's just going to affect them more emotionally than a smaller photo. That's really why we want to shoot vertically. We want to take up as much real estate on that smartphone screen as possible. When I say shoe vertically, I mean, actually flip your camera into a vertical aspect ratio and take a picture like that. Instead of shooting in landscape mode, should it in vertical. But with that said, we shouldn't totally confine ourselves as shooting vertically because horizontal photos still very much have their place. A lot of websites still want horizontal photos because laptops and computers screens, they're a horizontal aspect ratio. Don't completely confine yourself to a vertical aspect ratio when you're shooting but just think about that, maybe take a photo and a vertical aspect ratio and then take another photo at a horizontal aspect ratio. You can go back and choose which one you think is better, and maybe you have one for social media and then you have another one for your website portfolio or something like that. The next social media tip I have is probably the biggest one and that is consistency. When I say consistency, I mean consistency in two different ways. Stylistic consistency as well as thematic or content consistency. Starting things off with stylistic consistency. When I say that, I mean, having all of your photos fit a similar stylistic look. Maybe that's all of your photos look dark and moody or maybe the opposite. Maybe they're bright and airy and maybe they're very colorful. Maybe they're all black and white. Having some stylistic consistency is really important for standing out in social media in this day and age, specifically, if you're shooting for a social media like Instagram where you have a grid format and all of your photos are presented in a nine by nine grid. It's very important to have all your photos looking similar because then it shows somebody when they come to your profile that this person has their style dialed in. I know exactly what I'm going to be following them for. I'm following them so I can see more photos of this style. One of the easiest ways to have a consistent style in your photography, is to have a similar editing style with all of your images. For example, I saw presets and a lot of the time, I'm only using one preset for months at a time. Right now it's my Auckland preset. I love it and I use it on all of my photos and then I make small adaptations. All of my photos have a similar color scheme, similar lighting scheme, and everything just looks stylistically similar. If you're using an app like VSCO or just some other filter app or even a filter on Instagram. Choose one filter and go with it and use it on all your photos and then just adapt each photo so that filter fits that image. The second piece of consistency is, content or thematic consistency. This is something I talk about heavily in my Instagram courses, and essentially, your Instagram page should follow some theme. Some you identifying yourself as a photographer. You should identify yourself as a travel photographer or a food photographer or a fashion photographer. The more specific you can get with that, the better off you're going to be because you're going be able to appeal to people that are looking for something very specific. If you're just a photographer, well, there's millions of photographers on Instagram. But if you're a dog photographer, well, that is a lot more specific and I think you'll be a lot more successful because you can stand out from other people, which is very important for social media in this day and age because there's just so many people on social media. Everyone's on social media. Find some theme that you can focus on. Maybe you photograph flowers or you photograph people, street photography or you photograph food or coffee or whatever that might be, find some theme to focus on and then produce content around that theme. I really want to hammer in this point of consistency. I think it's so important and it's probably the biggest mistake that I see people making on social media is, they have a lot of really awesome photos, but there's just no consistency there. Whether it's stylistic, all the photos just are very radically different styles or the theme is just completely out in left field. There's a picture of a dog, which is a great photo, and then there's a picture of an airplane and other great photo, but they just don't really match. Now I want to caution you about this too because this can also limit you creatively if you just go out and you only hit it one way, and you only shoot one way, and you only post certain photos. Well, then you're going to be limiting yourself creatively. You should not be doing that when you're first starting out as a photographer. I think you should maybe have two Instagrams, or two forms of social media. One where you just plus whatever the hell you want, and then the other one, you maybe experiment with more of a consistent style. My next tip for you is just to post as much as you can. When I first started out teaching Instagram, I always said that you should only post your best content. 10 out 10 content only. But as socially and has evolved and as I've learned more about social media and more about creating a general. I've changed my mindset on this. I think you should just post as much as you can. Post all of your photos because maybe there's a photo that you feel like it's not that great, but maybe you post it and everyone loves it. We can't predict what people are going think. Post everything you have, get it out there so people can see it. The more visible you are on social media, the better. Going off of that and being as visible as possible, you should engage with other accounts. No matter how much you post, if you're not actively going out and engaging in commenting on photos and liking photos, or however that process looks like on the social media platform of your choice, if you're not doing that, then you're not going to be able to grow. Outreach is very important for every industry in this world. The same thing works with social media. You're going to be posting photos, but you should be going out and liking other peoples photos and providing feedback and providing criticism and just going out and getting your name out there. The more you can get your name out there, the more your account is going to be seen, which means that you can grow and you can continue to establish yourself on social media. My last tip is, just don't shoot exclusively for social media. Yes, Instagram is an important piece of the puzzle, and other forms of social media are important as well. But you really are confining yourself if you're just shooting for social media. Just shoot what looks good and shoot it how you want to shoot it. Don't worry about shooting a specific way. Just go out, be creative, and just take as many photos as you can because that is the most important thing when it comes to learning photography and becoming a better photographer. It's just to pursue your creativity and just go after it and take as many photos as you can. 11. Finding your photography style: This is one of those subjects that I always hear people saying that you can't teach. Of course, I'm talking about style. I often hear people say that, you can't teach style, that it's organic, and it needs to grow, and develop over time on it's own. Well, I think that is true to some extent. There are some guidelines or a process that photographers or any artists for that matter, can follow to better understand the direction that they want to go. ten how to grow into their own unique style and have their own unique identity. When it comes to a photographer, well, their style is dictated both when they're out shooting. The thought processes that are going through their mind when they're actually taking the photo, then also, how they're processing that photo. How they're editing that photo and crafting the story and honing in their story, in the editing phase. I actually have a really detailed course on how to find your own unique editing style. If you want to learn how to find your own unique style and you're not sure how to navigate that process, you can check that out. But for this course I want to talk about finding your own style and general. Both editing and also the shooting process and how you can create your own unique look through that way. The way I like to explain this is a process. It is a process that you can follow to understand some of the things that you would like, implementing those things into your own work and then growing and adapting into your own style. The first step is to find your inspiration. Find other photographers, other artists what they absolutely love, and combine all those photos into a single place, whether that's saving photos on Instagram or having actual physical books. Whatever that might be, find your forms of inspiration and take note of those things and look at them often. After you find those forms of inspiration, the next phase is to mimic. I think a lot of people hear this and they think, no, I don't want to copy other photographers, I want to be my own unique artist. My response to that is I think mimicking other photographers or other artists is the best way to learn. I mean, it really helps us understand some of the things that they're doing and it involves a lot of trial and failure trying to get that similar look. It really pushes your boundaries in terms of not only your creativity, but on the technical side of photography as well. You're going to find your inspiration and you're going to mimic their photos, whatever that might be. If it's landscapes or portraits, you're going to try to get similar lighting. You're going to even try to edit the photo in a similar way. After the mimic phase, you're going to go into the adapt phase, where you're going to take that style and you're going to adapt it. You might add something a little bit different, your own style. This is where your own true unique style comes into play. After you adapt that, then you're going to evolve and the evolving process is a little bit longer. There's no specific period of time, but over time, your style will evolve into something that's very unique. An example I would like to give is, when I first came to Thailand, I hooked up with a lot of awesome Thai photographers. They all had a similar style, shooting coffee, the coffee culture, their coffee scene, as well as food and things like that. When I first got here, I was so inspired by their work and I just wanted to shoot the same thing, so I did, and a lot of my early work related to food and cafe photography was very similar to theirs. It was almost mimicking it. But over time, my style evolved a little bit. I can't tell you a specific time when it did, but it. If you look at my work, now, from what it used to be, it's very different from their work, and it's much more unique as well. I think over time, you identify some of the stylistic things that you like in a photo, you learn what type of story you want to tell, what emotions you want to elicit. That will change over time and really help you develop your own unique style. This is the process that I always recommend following, find your inspiration, mimic the inspiration, adapt the inspiration, and then evolve that into your own style. 12. Photo editing tips: Now I want to take a little bit to talk about editing, and editing is so important for photographers nowadays. You have so much creative control over your images, and honestly a lot of my digital signature, my uniqueness and my photography, it comes from my editing style. Everyone's going to have a different editing styles. Some people want a more realistic look, some people want a more stylized look with a lot of really crazy colors, and just a very different style, something very far from reality. It doesn't matter. Whatever you want, whatever you're drawn to, go after it. Edit a photo however you want to edit it, and don't let another person tell you that your editing style is wrong, because at the end of the day, it's not. For this lesson, I'm going to be using Adobe Lightroom, and I'm going to walk you through two different photos that I photographed. This first one was photographed out about six o'clock in the morning at a mountain temple in Thailand. Really awesome beautiful places called Doi Suthep it's in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I photographed this monk from behind, and he's going through one of his morning prayers. Then the next image, here is just a cup of coffee that I photographed in New Zealand about a year ago. A simple shot, but I'm going to show you how we can completely transform it into something really cool. Now before I dive into these edits, I do want to say I do have a course on Adobe Lightroom. That course is going to walk you through all of the different functions of Lightroom. Break down every little slider, every little detail, and then also give you more tips for finding your own unique editing style and how you can go about that process. But with that said, let's dive into these images, and I'm going to show you guys some basic editing tips here. Starting things off with this image from Doi Suthep here, first off, just such a cool shot here, shot this at 35 millimeters F1.4 , ISO 100, so it's 1.4. You can see here this is all nice and blurry and he is nice and sharp. But one of the first things I see here is the composition is pretty kind of bad. This light pole here, this door doesn't look good. The first thing I'm going to do, I'm going top this here, click this here and that I'm going to go down here, click four by five. This is going to be posted on Instagram that's why I'm cropping it, four by five aspect ratio, and then I'm going to drag it in here and just completely get rid of this side thing here. Drag it down a little bit, and I want it symmetrical, I want it in the middle here. I think that looks good, and then I'm going to scroll down here. I'm going to skip all these features. I'm going to go to Transform and I'm going to hit "Auto". Now, Auto is going to align everything so it just looks more symmetrical. Now we have him in the center with this painting and these pool poles here, and everything just looks really good. Now I'm going to go back up and I'm going to start with the actual edit. This is the basic editing section, the white balance, I'm going to leave it where it is, I think it looks pretty good, I might come back to that. I'm going to reduce the highlights, maybe 15 and increase the shadows maybe about the same 15. This is going to increase our dynamic range a little bit, get more details in the shadows, more details in the highlights. I'm going to go down here to whites. I think I'm going to leave whites, maybe go up just about five, just a little bit, and then I'm going to leave the Blacks where they're at. Now Clarity is something that I used to increase, but now I actually like to decrease it. Maybe about 15, and then I'm going to show you how I will make him stand out later on. Now scrolling down here to the Tone Curve. This is where you can really come up with some really cool looks. I always like to do what's called a basic S-curve. S-curve is where a lot of photographers are using nowadays, it just gives your photo kind of a soft look while still maintaining high contrast in the mid tone areas. I'm going to click here, I'm going to drag that down, and that's going to make our photo darker, moodier, come back to the middle, bring that up to the middle there, and then I'm going to bring the Highlights up here, at third point, and then I'm going to go ahead and drag the corners down. This corner I'm going to drag it up, and this is going to soften out those blacks. Make them nice and soft and really easy on the eyes. Even though the photos really dark here, we have really dark areas, it's nice and soft from that Tone Curve there. That's a basic S-curve there you can see a looks like an S. Now we're going to scroll down here to the HSL color sliders. Hue is referring to basically what hue of that color is, or is the red, is it more pink, or is it more orange? Is the blue, more green, or more purple? Such as you can see what it does to just this bag here. Pretty cool. We're not going to do anything too major. But one of the first things I'm going to do is go to Saturation. I'm just going to desaturate the orange a little bit. I think it's pretty strong. Then I'm also going to desaturate the red a little bit. I think the red is really strong in that carpet. Just a little bit. Because now we're getting a little bit too desaturated of a look at our image. Maybe just desaturate the red and then less of the orange. We have this standing out less but the orange is really standing out here. I think the blue, I think every other color is okay here. Then we can go into the Hue and adjust the colors if we want to. But honestly, I think the camera did a really good job of capturing the colors here in this image. I'm not really going to change much in regards to the Hue there. Now scrolling down to Lens Correction. I like to click Remove Chromatic Aberration. But I always like to click Enable Profile Corrections. Profile Corrections is going to basically look at your lens and then get rid of any distortion around here. But I often like to have a little bit of natural vignetting. But I think actually in this case it does look good with the Profile Correction on it. It brightens everything around. Then I can add my own form of vignetting here. When I scroll down here, I can bring this Vignette down and that'll just add a little bit of darkness around the corners, give it more of a moody look. For those of you that have seen my Instagram, you guys know I love that moody look, so got to have that moody look. Now the calibration here, you can really transform the colors in your image to something pretty wild. But as I stated before, I like the colors that we have. I want it to be more of a realistic look, so I'm not going to use these sliders here. But if you wanted to, you can come up with some really cool color combinations. That's something I really highlight in my other course, where I focus on all of Adobe Lightroom and all of the different sliders. You can check that out if you're interested. But now we have a pretty good edit. There's the before, there's the after, before and the after. Then we can just go in and make small changes. I always like to come back to the basic sliders and make small adjustments, and just make sure everything looks good and it looks where it needs to be. Maybe I'll come in here, adjust the Temperature a little bit. I'm also going to reduce the Vibrance a little bit, I think it's a little bit vibrant. The last thing I'm going to do is add a Selective Adjustment Brush here. Bring the Clarity up to 25 or so. Then I'm going to paint his back. That is just going to make sure that he is nice and sharp and in focus and all the details on him. But the rest of the image is kind of blurry and low in details so we can really focus on him specifically. But that's how I ended this photo. There's before, after, before and after. I think that looks pretty good. That's a photo I would definitely post on social media. Nice, dark moody look. Now moving on to this image, this is an image I photographed, like I said in New Zealand, and it's a good photo, looks pretty cool. Now to edit this photo, I'm going to do the same thing. I'm going to go in and I'm going to crop it, make it four by five aspect ratio. I'm going to crop it here. Then I'm also going to straighten it to make sure the coffee cup is nice and straight. Hit "Enter" there. We've got a pretty good composition there. I'm actually going to start with the Exposure. I'm going to increase the Exposure because it's a little bit dark. This image is a little bit dark. Maybe just 0.30. Then I'm going to increase the warmth a little tiny bit just because I think this photo will look good, a little bit warmer. I'm going to come down here and bring down the Highlights, maybe 15. Same like the last photo. Same with the Shadows; bring those up a little bit. Increase our Whites here a little bit just because it's really going to make this cup stand out and then we can also lower those Blacks. That's just going to add a lot of contrast and give it just a bolder look. That looks a lot better already. It looks pretty good. I'm going to leave Clarity where it is. I don't think we need to lower it because this is already pretty soft. This photo, by the way, were shot at 85 millimeters F1.4. It's really soft because it was shot at 1.4. All of this area, nice and out of focus and this is nice and crisp and sharp. We have supreme focus in this image. That was a dumb joke. Now we come in to the Tone Curve here and do the same thing. I'm going to drag this bottom point down, make a point in the middle, and then also make a point up top. Now you can see what this is doing to our image; it is getting real bold now, really high in contrast. I'm going to soften it up by increasing this corner here, and then the same thing with the Highlights, bring that down a little bit. We've got our S-curve there. You can always come back up and increase our Exposure if we need to, and fine tune the basic edits. I always like to come back to those because the Tone Curve is going to affect this. The colors are going to affect it, it's all going to affect each other. Coming down to the color HSLs. Honestly, I don't think there's a lot of adjustments that I would make to this image. I like all of the colors here. I think they all looked pretty good. We can try to adjust the Luminance, maybe increased the red a little bit just to make it stand out. But for the most part, there's not a whole lot I will do here and that's okay. A lot of the time cameras do a really good job of capturing color and there's not a whole lot you need to change. Coming down to the Lens Correction. I'm going to leave it off in this case. But I am going to brighten the photo a little bit. A little bit more here, 45. Bring the Black style, a little bit. We have a nice high contrast look. There's the before, there's the after or after. I think that looks pretty good and maybe a little bit vignetting. But now what I want to do is, we have this window here and we can see that there's a lot of light coming in under the cup, but it still is really dark. Now we can add a Graduated Filter here and I'm going to drag it over this part. Then I'm going to increase the Exposure here and I'm going to bring in a little light through that window; and it looks totally natural. It looks like there's a lot of light naturally coming through that window. But little do you know, it's from a Graduated Filter. Then we can go on the other side and go the other way and make it darker. This is called Burning and Dodging. It enhances the highlighted areas and the dark areas in the image to just make the image look more dynamic. Now we have a nice dark area here, nice bright area here, and the divide is right in the middle and I think that is a good edit. That some edit that I would totally post. Here's the before, here's the after, here's the before, here's the after. Dramatic difference, and I think it looks really good. These are just basic editing tips, guys. I mean, there's so much you can do with these programs. I just wanted to walk you through a few different edits just to show you how I would edit a photo and how I would go about that process. Usually, I do it it with presets. I have presets that I use. I usually use one or two presets, and I use them all in my photos so I can have that consistent look in my images. You guys want check those out there available on our website, If you do want to check those out, you know where to find them. But these are some basic editing tips and I hope that you found them helpful. 13. Conclusion: All right, guys, you've finally made it to the end. We've talked about a lot of stuff in this course, and honestly, I really hope it's been helpful for you. We talked about composition, we talked about how to use your camera, we talked about lighting, we talked about social media, there's a lot of stuff in this course, and I hope that there are some gems in there for you that you can take, and move forward. When I started this course, I said that, there's so much information out there, but there's only so much that you really need to know, to become a good photographer, and I think I've done a good job of covering all of those things that you need to know, in order to become a good photographer. But now at this point, the most important thing for you, is to go out and shoot, to go out and to create, and just be active, and just get after it. I've said that a few times throughout this courses, you got to be energetic, you got to want it, you've got to be passionate about it, because photography is a craft, it's an art, and it's so much fun when you fully invested in it. You can go on some absolutely incredible adventures when you're chasing these awesome photos, or maybe you're just going out with a friend and take some portraits, or you go into a restaurant to shoot some food. Whatever that creative process looks like, it can be an adventure, and that's why photography is so much fun. Now it's time to go out and do that course project, go out and take 50 different photos of one item, come back, posts in the course, I'll check it out, others will check it out, I'm going to think that's going to be the first step for you moving forward from a creative standpoint. But I honestly want to know what you guys think of the course. If you could just take a few seconds to leave a quick review here at the bottom of the course, that would be really awesome, really helpful for me. I really love hearing from you guys, and if you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me at, or follow me on Instagram and send me a message. I love hearing from you guys, I love connecting. With that said guys, once again, I hope it's been helpful for you, and honestly, I can't wait to see you in the next course. I have a few more courses coming out here soon, and I hope to see you in those courses as well. Thanks a lot guys, and I hope you have a fantastic day, fantastic week, fantastic year, fantastic life. I'll see you guys later.