what is photography

What is Photography?

What is Photography ? It is hard to imagine a world where photography doesn’t exist. Just think about how prevalent photography is in our world, from the ability to capture family moments to admiring famous photographic art, pictures really make up a lot of our world.

However, while most people could identify what a photograph is, not everyone really understand the art of photography, where it came from and what is involved with this detailed art-form. Many times, we take all of the photos around us for granted, because we are so accustomed to seeing these images in our everyday lives.

However, by taking a deeper look at what photography is, even those who are relatively unfamiliar with photography can have a new appreciation for all things photo related. Read further to answer the question further: What is Photography ?


Photography: The Universal Language

Photography is often called “the Universal Language” because it can speak to all people, from all over the world, no matter what actual language they may speak. It can appeal to all people and often say far more than words alone can.

This is one of the most beautiful things about photography—it can connect people from all over the globe with a single image. Photography dates back to the 1800s, with the first permanent photograph, known as the “View from the Window at Le Gras” was first captured in France in 1826.

While cameras had already been around for years before this—this was the first time that photos were able to be captured permanently. Since then, photography has grown, developed and become the universally adored art form that we all know and love today.

Photography 101

Before we get into some of the more specific details of photography and what it entails, it is important to have a basic overview of photography and what it is.

At a basic level, photography is simply the art of capturing light with a device (camera).

Typically, photographs are captured through film or digital sensors to then create an actual images. The unique thing about photography is that you can capture type of light that are often invisible to the human eye—such as radio waves, UV lights and even infrared light.

Photography has come a long way since is first burst on to the scene and today, photography is capable of capturing stunning images that many may have never thought were possible.

Photography Gear: What You Need to Take Photos

While photos may seem to be very commonplace in our world today, there is a lot more that goes into taking photos than many people realize. You need a lot of gear in order to take photos.

While today’s smart phones do have enough camera power to take beautiful photos, and they suffice for more novice photographers, if you really want to explore the art of photography and take professional grade photos, you are going to need a lot of equipment.

Here is a basic rundown of the gear that most photographers use in order to capture their photos.


If you choose to use a stand-alone camera, instead of a smart phone camera, you will quickly realize just how many different types of cameras there are out there today. Stand alone cameras can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.

Read reviews and think about what it is that you are looking for in a camera, just make sure that you can change out the lenses on the camera.

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The most important thing you need in order to take a picture is of course a camera. However, the next most important thing is a lens. Lenses can make a major difference in the quality and style of your photograph.

Here are the basic types of lenses:

  • Prime Lenses- Non-zooming lenses for portrait photography.
  • Zoom Lenses- Standard zoom lenses to capture photos from far away.
  • Telephoto Lenses- Great for capturing sports and fast-moving subjects.
  • Macro Lenses- Meant for macro photography.

Experts recommend that you start with a standard zoom lens and then add more lenses from there.

Canon 6d Racetrack Playa Sailing Stones

Cranking up the ISO can light up a dark scene. When you balance the levers properly like a teeter totter a natural feel will emerge.

Post Processing Software

In today’s digital photography world, post-processing software is a must have for any photographer who wants to edit their images to professional quality. These software programs allow you to change color, lighting and other flaws in your photos so that you can get the exact final product that you need.

There are programs such as Photoshop or Lightroom that you can purchase outright or even subscribe to for small monthly payments.

Other Accessories

While a camera, lens and the right software program make up the three basics that you need in order to take quality photos, there are other accessories that can really help when taking any images and they are some of the cornerstones of modern photography today.

These accessories include:


The tripod has been around for a long time and it is still one of the most valuable and versatile tools out there. It is great for landscape photography and for time lapse photography and is a great way to take pictures when you don’t need to be behind the camera, or when you are worried about camera movement.

Long Beach Sunset Photography

The Image on the left is a bracketed shot. 8 Images as different exposures were stacked to bring out more color in the shot. The Image to the right is a single image. Notice the difference!


Polarizing filters are another great tool for landscape photographers and are essential for when you shooting outside.


While most cameras come with a standard built-in flash, there are many situations, when you need to buy a separate flash, transmitter and receiver, especially if you are looking for an off-camera flash. Remember, lighting is key when it comes to any photo.

With these accessories, any person can start capturing photos with ease.

What is Photography :  Fundamentals

Photography gear only makes up only part of the battle when it comes to taking beautiful photos. A lot of successful photography has to do with art, but before you get into the creative aspect of photography that makes taking photos so special, every photographer should understand the fundamentals of photography.

Understanding the fundamentals of photography will not only help you if you are planning on taking photos, but it will help you have a greater appreciation for what goes in to capturing the photos that you see.

Malibu Sunset Photography

Shot in Malibu California with a canon 5dmk4 at 70mm f11 3 second exposure

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed (along with aperture and ISO) are one of the three things that make up the Exposure Triangle that creates the perfect exposure for your photo.

When you adjust the shutter speed, you are adjusting how fast the shutter on your camera opens and therefore how much blur is captured on film. Adjusting the shutter speed changes how your moving subjects are recorded. Less exposure freezes something in motion, while more exposure gives you that blur showing motion.


Adjusting the aperture means changing the depth of field in the image (or how much of the shot is in focus). Less exposure, with a larger aperture has a larger depth of field while more exposure through smaller aperture has a more shallow depth of field.

However, as soon as you change aperture, you will need to change shutter speed and ISO—everything needs to balance.


ISO is the final element of the Exposure Triangle.

Adjusting the ISO or light sensitivity will impact how much light the sensor on your camera needs. This will also introduce visual noise, or grain into the image.

However, when you adjust ISO, it will impact shutter speed and aperture, so you need to find the perfect balance between the three elements when taking your photo.

Hawaii Sunset Photography

A Hawaiian Sunset with a focus on the sun setting — Often times you can underexpose your shot to get more detail in the sun and bring out the colors of the foreground in post production


Composition is the other most important foundation of photography, and one that starts to border on the more creative side of taking photos.

Composition is all about how the individual subjects within your frame come together to create your final image. You can alter your composition by moving yourself or the subjects, and while there is no hard and fast rule on composition, the viewers eye should be drawn toward the main subject, so if there are distractions in the way, they need to be removed.

The Rule of Thirds is a common composition rule and the theory is that the main subject shouldn’t necessarily be in the middle of the frame, but that they should be in a specific third of our frame. Imagine that your photo is split into a grid of nine equal squares. These squares intersect at four points, which is where the subject of your photo should be.

Photography is a process that requires a lot of equipment and knowledge, but if you ask any photographer, they will tell you that a creative eye is necessary in order to really capture the essence of photography.

horse photography

Capturing depth of field in your images can really create a dramatic feel

There are also many different shooting concepts and approaches to capturing photos that are what truly make photography an art form.

There is no real way to teach creativity, but the more that you explore professional photos and the more you take in the world of photography and photos that you love. Take the time to look at other photos, as this will teach you more about your preferences and what inspires you. This way, you can stretch your creative muscles and start expressing yourself through photography on your own.

Whether you are looking to start taking photographs on your own, or if you are looking to have a greater appreciation for photography, hopefully this guide will help you understand what this art-form really is all about

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