Learn Photography: A Comprehensive Beginner’s Guide


Looking for more than a beginner’s guide? Take Phil’s Photography Masterclass Course!

Note: This post is part of our “Getting Started” series of free text tutorials on some of our most popular course topics.

To jump to a specific section, click the table of contents below:

Editor’s Note: This is a syndicated blog post from Udemy. It is being republished here with permission.

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10 Basic Tips for Better Street Photography

julius motal the phoblographer project street 05

Street photography is a genre that has more practitioners now than at any point in its history. There seem to be many schools of thought on what does and does not constitute street photography. For a good sense of where street photography is today, we recommend checking out the recent panel discussion on the genre hosted by The Candid Frame. To help you along, here are ten things to keep in mind on the street. Continue reading…

10 Basic Tips for More Interesting Photos in Big Cities

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony 24-240mm f3.5-6.3 FE review images (41 of 64)ISO 4001-1600 sec at f - 3.5

Shooting photos in big cities presents many opportunities to photographers for architecture, street, and candid shooting. It can be both a technical and creative challenge due to the fact that the pace is often quite fast. Sometimes you’ll only have a second or two to capture an image until you’ll need to keep moving. We’ve rounded up a number of quick tips (both technical and creative) to raise your keeper rate.

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Styling and Framing Your Food Photos at Home

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 8.14.18 AM

Screenshot taken from the video

Photographer Jenny Woodward gave us an awesome tutorial video the other day talking about the basics of lighting food photos at home. But now she has two other videos on styling and framing your images. She recommends using a white plate, adding textures, and overall creating a scene that looks homely and familiar with a touch of color while staying minimal.

When it comes to composition, she talks about the rule of thirds and how they’re meant to be broken at times.

Her other videos are after the jump, and are just long enough to be squeezed into a quick break from work today.

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Raymond Hau’s Captivating City and Landscapes

Couds Roll in

All images by Raymond Hau. Used with permission.

Raymond Hau is a Chartered Accountant from the United Kingdom now living in Hong Kong. He does not consider himself a photographer but enjoys taking photos–which he does incredibly well. His typical subjects are landscapes, cityscapes and building though he tends to add a mix of people, food, etc.

The photography bug bit him back in high school when he used to work in the darkroom after shooting with his Contax SLR and a 50mm lens. Like many artists, the photo enthusiast within him stayed dormant in college for other priorities to take over. When he got out, it reawakened within him.

So what makes Raymond so special? His incredible sense of symmetry, composition, and the scenes that he captures with a unique perspective.

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Making the Best of an 85mm Lens

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss Rokinon Sigma 85mm f1.4 three way comparison (2 of 3)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 3.5

Getting into portraiture? Then what you should really consider is an 85mm lens. Sure, everyone talks about 50mm lenses–but the 85mm can be considered the best focal length for portraiture (aside from the 135mm lens). By design, 85mm lenses have a more shallow depth of field than the 50mm or 35mm and so even though you may focus outward, the chance of what you want in the scene actually being in focus when stopped down is much less due to the laws of physics.

Long focal lengths were always in demand in the early days of photography and it was only until 35mm film came about that folks wanted wider glass. However, when it came to portraiture the 85mm was always a tried and true staple. Here are ways to make the best of an 85mm lens.

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Shooting Better Food Images With One Light

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Fujifilm 16-55mm f2.8 WR review Graham's images (15 of 19)ISO 4001-60 sec at f - 2.8

Food photography isn’t tough to do, but good quality food photography can be incredibly tough. It’s all about timing, composition, colors and lighting. Good food photography whets an appetite and elicits emotions connected to food. If you can make someone smell the Mac and Cheese that you just cooked, then you’re well on your way to making better food images.

Here’s how to go about shooting better food images by using one light and keeping it simple.

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Zach Shenal: Photography is an Adventure

Zachary Shenal Adventure (7 of 15)

All images by Zachary Shenal. Used with permission.

Photographer Zach Shenal has been shooting adventure work for around a year and a half, and his work is bound to make him one of the more up and coming adventure photographers that we’ve seen in a while. After buying a DSLR while in the US military, he got really into photography. He started out shooting landscapes until the photo bug bit him and he was reading every tutorial he could find.

“I never really got into portraits as passionately as landscapes, but there is just something pleasing about showing a person interact with his/her environment.” Zach tells the Phoblographer in his pitch email.

Zach has an interesting sense of composition and creates scenes that show drama and use photojournalistic elements to tell stories. All of these combined make him an excellent adventure photographer that we just had to talk to.

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Jonas Jacobsson: Exploring Magnificent Landscapes


All images by Jonas Jacobsson. Used with permission.

Photographer Jonas Jacobbson is a 23 year old photographer who hails from Sweden and tells us that he’s been very fortunate to travel. He studies full time and the rest of the time is spent on his photography business. Lots of his work focuses on landscapes.

“There is nothing more satisfying than standing with your feet before a magnificent landscape. And the journey there is often as important as the final destination.” he tells us in his pitch email. Jonas further states that making money will never be his objective, it will always be about being inspired by the world.

We talked to him about his inspirational photos and his mentality of simply going out there and shooting.

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Garrett Graham: Finding Great Landscapes Through Google


All images by Garrett Graham. Used with permission.

Photographer Garrett Graham grew up in Fresno, California and moved to Los Angeles looking for a little adventure. What he found was photography.

“I started taking pictures as a way to explore my new home and from that it’s taken me all over the world.” says Garrett. “I believe in the mantra, ‘If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of better stuff.’ So I spend my days looking for the best stuff.” Being younger, he didn’t have to spend hours and hours looking for solid locations. Instead, he used Google to find them and instead of spending countless hours scouring for good locations, he spent more time shooting and honing his craft.

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Kathryn Vincent’s Beautiful Food Photo Compositions


All images by Kathryn Vincent. Used with permission.

Photographer Katherine Vincent is a law graduate that lives in Sydney, Australia. Her love of food, tea, travel and cookbooks is reflected in her blog, the Kulimary Adventures of Kath. There she shares recipes but also does an incredible job sharing her food photography. Katherine puts a lot of work into her images with careful compositions, styling and wants to earn a living one day taking photos.

We talked to Katherine about her inspiration, compositions, and building a blog.

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How High Contrast Black and White Can Simplify Your Photos

Agfa APX 25

Agfa APX 25

In the past couple of years, we’ve seen lots of use of black and white in both films and photos as a creative story telling element. While this has everything to do with the lighting, it has even more to do with the contrast in a scene. Over and over again, we’ve seen loads of subjects simply pop off the screen or paper all because of a solid high contrast black and white image. As we’ve explained before, the deeper your blacks are the sharper an image can be perceived by the human eye–as is well demonstrated in the image above.

But here is how high contrast black and white takes that idea and puts it a step further.

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The Basics of Shooting Better Cityscape Photos

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony a7 Mk II JPEG images (5 of 10)ISO 4001-320 sec at f - 5.6

Cityscapes in many ways are similar to landscapes, but instead can combine lots of geometrical shapes and can be a bigger problem when it comes to contrast–or at least that’s what a typical landscape photographer would say. In fact, the key to better cityscapes has to do with embracing the cities for what they are. Instead of worrying about the technical details, just go out there and shoot. Part of it comes from instinct, another part from just how captivating a scene can be, and the other part is knowing how to translate that captivation into images that make others feel the same way that you did.

In essence, it’s more than just capturing the moment. It’s about making someone feel like they’re in the moment.

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6 Tips for Perfect Composition in Portrait Photography with a 50mm lens

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss 50mm f2 Loxia review product photos (6 of 6)ISO 2001-125 sec at f - 4.0

Composing portrait images with a 50mm lens not only has to do with the normal composition rules, but also with elements of a person’s body. For example, they always say that you should focus on the eyes, and the folks at Weekly Imogen seem to agree. Their first tip has to do with specific face placement. They state that the eyes should be in the upper third area of the image because of the natural way that it draws a viewer in and lets them explore the rest of the image.

Imogen also says that using natural frames helps. The rest of the video on the perfect composition of portrait images with a 50mm lens is after the jump.

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How to Get the Most Pleasing Bokeh in Your Images

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer SLR Magic Bokehmorphic review photos (7 of 15)

While Bokeh is often used as a crutch to create a beautiful image. When used correctly, however, it can do a terrific job to help tell a story visually. We’re not going to encourage to never stop down. In fact, you need to when telling certain stories with images. However, we are going to let you know about a couple of key secrets on how to get the best from your lens and get the best bokeh.

In fact, we do this as part of our lens testing here at the Phoblographer.

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Andreas Ott’s Black and White Street Photography Emphasizes Geometry

Andreas Ott Street Photography 2All images by Andreas Ott. Used with permission.

“I am a street photographer based in Bonn, Germany.” says photographer Andreas Ott in his original pitch email to us. Andreas works in IT and has been a photographer for 15 years. He became a street photographer in 2013 after discovering the work of Thomas Leuthard. However, balancing a job, a family and a personal love of art can be very tough to do.

He recently shot a series about street life in Cuba and was amazed by the friendliness of the Cuban people whom he photographed. But Andreas’ true strength is with his sense of composition. Andreas shoots in black and white sometimes and much of this work is high contrast–emphasizing shapes and the way that he composes scenes.


We talked to Andreas about his sense of composition with what he sees on the streets.

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ISO 400 – David Brommer Talks About Niche Photography

julius motal the phoblographer david brommer 01

In this episode of ISO 400, we hear from David Brommer, a studio photographer and Director of the B&H Event Space where he has given many talks on photography. His talks largely deal with composition and developing a style, and all those videos are on YouTube. Yes, they’re long, but they’re well worth the watch.

He got his start in photography in the late ’80s, and for three years in the mid-90s, he ran a gallery space in Seattle called Suspect Photography, where he showcased some cutting edge work. Brommer’s had a lifelong interest in dark subject matter and religious symbolism, and much of it has a found a way into his work.

There’s a painterly quality to his photographers, which is, at least in part, a result of his art education, and when he talks about composition, he often refers to master painters.

For more of Brommer’s work, you can check out his website. If you’d like to see some of his talks, check out the top results on YouTube.

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Why Photographers Need to Do Photo Walks Together

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss 50mm f2 Loxia review images (8 of 32)ISO 1001-1250 sec at f - 2.0

Every now and again, I like to find another photographer and go shooting with them in a random location. We grab our cameras, chat, look around, find things, comment on the shadows and lighting, and show each other the photos we have. It’s fun, it’s creative, and it’s a genuinely great way to spend time with other people and not spend a lot of money.

Photographers in general though need to do this. Sure, you may have your camera with you all the time–but someone else won’t. You could be the person who helps them break out of a creative rut or their way of seeing things may help you.

This is why photographers need to do photowalks together.

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9 Photo Composition Tips as Applied to Steve McCurry’s Photography

Screenshot taken from the video

Screenshot taken from the video

The folks over at COOPH have put together a video highlighting photo composition tips based on the work of famed photographer Steve McCurry. It’s all based on the rule of thirds and placing subjects on specific lines due to how the scene works with the way the human eye views images. But they also talk about using things like natural and environmental frames to make someone pay more attention to specific points of your images.

One of the most important tips that they talk about has to do with filling your frame and getting close to your subjects, which we recently talked about as well. Indeed, filling your frame with all the important details and getting rid of any extraneous pieces is key.

Even more interesting: they state that Steve places the dominant eye in the center of the image because that way it gives the impression that the eyes are following you.

The video is after the jump.

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Composing Photos While Balancing Content in an Image

Screenshot taken from the video

Screenshot taken from the video

Effective compositions can overcome pretty much any technique that you use to make your image beautiful, with the exception of content. Photographer Tony Northrup tries to explain this and also includes things depth, planes, etc. In fact, he tries to talk about a balance of content in the image and the composition itself. And while he doesn’t spend much time doing so, we get an idea that composition and content need to be balanced in some way or another to create more effective and interesting images.

Tony’s video on more effective composition is after the jump.

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How to Make the Most of a Portrait Lens

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss Rokinon Sigma 85mm f1.4 three way comparison (1 of 3)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 3.5

So you’ve got a portrait lens, now what? You want to take portraits, right? You can go right ahead, point your camera and spiffy new optic towards your subject and hope for the best, but you’re not that type of photographer. You want to step it up more. You want to create a photo that makes someone say, “Wow.”

First off, it’s time to get inspired. Then, you’ll need to understand the lens.

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