Photography For Beginners (Shutter Speed, Aperture/F-stops, and ISO)
Perhaps the most important part of photography is exposure. And no I don't mean likes on Instagram or shares on facebook. We will talk about that kind of exposure in another article. I'm talking about how you expose your photos in camera before you ever click the button. It doesn't matter how good your camera is or how good the composition is if your exposure is off it can ruin a great photo. I would know because I've done it many times. Of course if you're shooting in RAW like you should be than you can recover a poorly exposed photo with software like Adobe Lightroom. But even Lightroom can only go so far. If your photo is too over exposed you can't save the highlights and if your photo is too underexposed you cant recover the shadows. It's best to expose your shot how you want it before you take the photo and to do so you'll need to know the 3 basic elements of exposure: Shutter, Aperture, and ISO.
For the sake of time I'll assume you've located the shutter, aperture, and ISO buttons on your camera, if not, the photo above might help locating them in the menu however every camera is different. This article is specifically for shooting in manual mode. I know for a new photographer manual can seem scary but if you just learn these 3 elements of photography you'll elevate your game ten fold. Below is a cheat sheet to help you but I'll explain each one in depth below.
I won't bore you with the mechanics of each element. My goal is to make this as short and easy to understand as possible. All you need to know about ISO is the Higher the number the more light your camera will bring in. But there's a caveat to ISO you need to know. The higher you go the more grain you will get. However grain isn't necessarily bad. Some photographers want that grainy look. That's their style. But if that's not the look you want it's best to keep your ISO lower than 1,000.
That being said every camera is different and new cameras can go much higher with less grain than the older ones. For instance my SonyA7iii can shoot with ISO at 1,000 with no noise but my older SonyA6000 could only shoot at ISO 500 with no noise. It's best to play around with your camera in a dark location and find the sweet spot for your specific camera. Open the photos in light room and check the histogram to see what settings you used for each photo. Find the photo with the highest ISO but still has little to no grain. Remember that number and try your best to avoid going over it Last thing you want is to find out you just did a shoot for a client and all your photos are too grainy.
Aperture is a set of small blades that create a hole that determines how much light is let into the camera. The wider the hole the more light that comes in. The size of this hole is measured by F-stops. A large F-stop like F-22 means the hole is very small, and a low F-stop like F/2.8 means the hole is wide open. So the higher your F-stop the darker it will be and the lower your F-stop the brighter it will be however brightness and darkness aren't the only thing the changes when you adjust your aperture.
Aperture also controls depth of field. Depth of field determines how much of your photo is sharp and in focus and how much is blurry. A low F-stop like 2.8 is very narrow and will only focus on a specific part of the image while leaving everything else blurry. The closer you get to your subject with a small F-stop the more narrow the focus will be and thus the more blurry the background will be. A low F-stop is how you get that creamy background and beautiful bokeh effect with the lights in the background. Just keep in mind if you're shooting portraits it's extremely hard to get the eyes both in focus and everything sharp at a low F-stop like F/1.4 or 2.8. I find F/4.5 is best to get everything on your subject sharp and in focus. If your photographing a beautiful landscape or group of people however you will want a large F-stop like F-11 or F-22 to make sure everything and everyone is in focus.
Every lens is different and will determine how low you can go and how sharp an image looks at low aperture. My favorite lens in the Sony 85 MM 1.8 Prime
Without getting technical all you need to know is the lower your shutter speed the more light is let into the sensor and thus the brighter your image will be. The caveat for shutter speed is this: The lower you go the more sensitive your camera gets to movement and thus the blurrier your photo will be if any movement is involved. This means movement of the camera itself and the subject you're photographing. I highly suggest if you go under 1/100th of a second you use a tripod because anything below that and your camera will detect movement and the photo wont be sharp. Just remember your shutter speed effects brightness, darkness, and blur. For example if you want to catch movement of a athlete or waterfall just as it is in real life with no blur you'd want to use a fast shutter speed like 1/500th of a second and up. If you want the creamy smooth blur effect on a waterfall or a light trail at night you'd want to use a slower shutter speed like 1,5, or 10 seconds. A tripod is a MUST for slower shutter speeds. This is my go to Tripod.
Now that you know how each of these elements effects your exposure it's important to remember each one plays off the other. If you change one you'll have to change the rest. Lets say you're photographing a sporting event. High action, lots of movement. You'll need to crank up your shutter speed so your subjects aren't blurry. Probably 1/1000 and up. However, by doing so that will make your images darker so to makeup for the shutter speed you'll have to bring up the ISO. Lets say you're photographing a beautiful landscape or group of people, you'll want a large F-stop so everything and everyone is in focus. That will however bring down the brightness so you'll have to bring up the ISO and slow down your shutter speed to something like 1/125 to makeup for it. It's a dance but the more you do it the easier it will get. Of course there are pre-set modes on every camera to make this easier but then you have less control. Practice is the only way you will truly master your camera so get out there and practice, practice, practice.
Shoot in RAW
The 4th Element I think every new photographer should know is the power of shooting in RAW instead of JPEG. RAW files are a format that captures all the image data from your camera. ... Because no information is compressed with RAW you're able to produce higher quality images, as well as correct problem images that would be unrecoverable if shot in the JPEG format. Of course you'll need a program like adobe Light room or Photoshop to edit the RAW file but you have so much more to work with. Shooting in RAW will elevate your photography tenfold. I hope these tips help. Let me know if they did in the comments below and make sure to connect with me on Instagram HERE
Lets face it, professional models can take a lot of the burden off us as photographers by bringing their posing expertise to the table. But unfortunately we don't always have the benefit of shooting with a professional model. As a high caliber photographer it is important to have the ability to pose normal people with little to no experience in front of the camera. Below I have put together a list of 27 posing ideas for men who are not models along with photos for reference. Every photo below was taken by me.
While certain genres of photography get to work with models, most genres involve shooting normal people who will have varying degrees of comfort in front of the camera and natural posing ability. Posing was the hardest thing to learn for me personally and it is something I still work on every day. While I am jealous of photographers who have a natural ability to pose people on the fly, I unfortunately have found that I work best by having a list of go-to poses that I know work well for me and can fall back on if I need to. Until now I have kept that list to myself. If you are a model or photographer who struggles with posing I hope this list helps. Make sure to bookmark this page so you can bring it up at any shoot and go down the list and nail every pose. You do that and you will be guaranteed to leave the shoot with tons of variety. Connect with me on Instagram HERE and let me know if this article helped in the comments below.
1. Both hands in pockets
This pose works just as well with both hands in your subjects pants pockets but if they are wearing a jacket have them place both hands in their jacket pockets. Try full hands in or just thumbs showing.
2. The profile Pose/Side View
Have your subject stand to the side so you can only see one side of their face. Ask your subject if they have a favorite side. Most people do. Make sure to try different angles and perspectives.
3. Side Lean While Looking Away
Have your subject lean against a wall with one shoulder against the wall. Have them look at the camera, up at the sky, turn their head and look down or off into the distance. Make sure they have good posture. Stand tall and straight. Add a prop like coffee for more of a lifestyle feel.
4. The Laugh
Any time you can get your subject to genuinely smile or laugh take the shot. These candid moments are gold. Something I like to do for a laugh is ask my subject their favorite comedian and play that comedian on Spotify for a few minutes until they laugh. Or dad jokes, Really bad dad jokes often do the trick.
5. Hand on Wrist
This one only works if your subject is wearing a watch or bracelet. I usually tell my male subjects to wear a watch before hand. This gives them just one more thing to do with their hands. They will appreciate it.
6. Hand to Face
Have your subject turn to the side, slightly turn their torso/head and rest their head into their hand. Loose fingers and not to much bend in the neck.
7. The Scowl
If your subject hasn't done a photo shoot before they most likely assume they should be smiling for every photo. But depending on how they plan on using the photos and what mood and message they are trying to achieve smiling may not be the right choice. Try a slight scowl to change things up.
8. Over the Shoulder
Have your subject stand or sit to the side and look over their shoulder either at the camera or slightly looking back over their shoulder. A more serious look works best for this pose.
9. The Sleeve Pull
This pose works great if your subject has on a long sleeve shirt or button up. Have them play with their sleeve by pulling it up.
10. The Inside Pocket
If your subject is wearing a blazer or jacket with an inside pocket have them go through the act of putting something in the inside pocket.
11. Play with Buttons
If your subject is wearing a button up have then go through the act of buttoning and unbuttoning their shirt. Have them place one hand over the other as if they are about to unbutton their shirt.
12. Fist in Hand
This is a great pose for a more muscular subject who wants to show off those arms. Have them face the camera, stand tall and place a fist in one hand and flex.
13. Hand to Chest Side View
This is another great one for a subject who wants to show those arms. Have your subject stand tall, to the side, slightly turning their torso to the camera with one hand up by their chest, flexing the bicep, and looking into the camera or into the distance.
14. Jacket Over One Shoulder
If your subject has a jacket or blazer have them throw it over one shoulder.
15. Hands on Waist
Have your subject stand tall and place both hands on their hips or waist and flex those arms. Shoot from slightly below at an upward angle for a stronger look.
16. Sit and Lean
Have your subject sit and lean placing an elbow on the knee and hand to face.
17. Hand to Neck
Have your subject bring a hand to their neck just below the chin. Keep the hand loose. They aren't choking themselves.
18. One Hand in Pocket
Have your subject place just one hand in a pant pocket.
Depending on the mood and message your subject wants to convey a book is an easy prop to bring with you that can be used in multiple ways shown below. Again your subject will appreciate you giving them something to do with their hands.
20. Back to the Wall
Have your subject put his back to the wall looking into the camera or off into the distance. Try different perspectives.
21. Hand behind the Head
Have your subject place one hand behind his head. Not too much bend in the neck.
22. Cover half the Face
Have your model cover half his face with one or both hands. This brings all the focus to one eye.
23. Sit one leg Under
Have your subject sit on the ground with one leg under the other. Resting one elbow on the knee and the forearm on the thigh.
24. Hands Behind the Back
Have your subject place both hands behind their back, hands in butt pockets.
25. Sitting Pose
When having your subject sit on steps try different perspectives and have one foot higher than the other rather than both feet on the same step.
26. Candid Walking Pose
Have your subject walk a straight line down the side walk. Make sure he is walking casually, naturally and not looking into the camera. Try shooting from the side and slightly up from a lower angle.
27. One hand on Shoulder.
Have your subject look into the camera while placing one hand on his shoulder.