The Beginners ABC of Camerawork

How to decide artistically & technically what your picture will look like before you press the camera shutter release.

Unravelling the process of instantly made decisions.

Things to think about BEFORE you press the button.

The Beginners ABC of Camerawork


What attracts you to the potential picture is it visually interesting?
How are you going to best record that attraction & interest for your viewer to appreciate?

Lighting from the side & back makes an interesting black and white photograph.


Check for Distractions & Highlights in the background (saves removal work later).
Are you standing in the best place?


Composition Choices
“Composition is the strongest way of seeing” (Edward Weston). One strongest view among many.
Separate & Select what is to be left in or left out of the picture.
Aim for simplicity – Less is more.
Get Closer – Fill the frame.
Do you need to include the sky?
Is a Higher / Lower / Alternative – camera viewpoint more effective?


Depth of Field Choices
DoF is the apparent foreground to background sharpness.

What is the Foreground / Background Relationship, do you need a large DoF (Large f. Number) to pull the picture together?

Limited Depth of Field (Small f. Number) provides visual tension and interest for the viewer.


Exposure Choices
When is the best time to press the shutter release?
Expose to retain Highlight detail by checking the Histogram for Over-exposure.
Bright Skies – Do you need Plus / Minus Exposure Compensation?
Bright Skies – Do you need Graduated / Neutral Density Filters?
Long Exposure – use a Tripod / Cable Release / 2 Sec Self Timer Delay on the camera.


Focus Choices
What is the subject – is it in sharp focus?
Select a single focus point and tell the camera where you want the picture to be sharp. The camera does not know what the subject of the picture is.


Gently Press the Shutter Release

Congratulate yourself  YOU made all the creative decisions NOT the camera.

Visit for the Intermediate and Advanced Versions of the Camerawork ABC.

(c) Andy Beel FRPS


4 responses to The Beginners ABC of Camerawork

  1. A.Barlow says:

    Nice write up man. I often have come across things that I find appealing that I have a hard time photographing. I come to realize that it isn’t the subject exactly, but the context in which I find it. Lot’s of times being in the moment just has to be enough for me. 🙂


  2. Nice post, I like it, most useful. May I suggest, tho it truly would muck up your alphabet, that some reminder to check the foreground and centre ground too as well as the background? We live v rurally and I’ve seen any number of us take images that are all carefully set up and checked but we have failed to notice that there is a piece of barbed wire running across the area between foreground and middle ground, right across the interesting bits. The eye edits it out when you just look because you are concentrating so hard on checking everything else. It doesn’t half give you a surprise when you check the completed image and find that it has become a bit of a prison scene, razor wire and all 🙂


    • andybeel says:

      Hi DoF
      I have just taken a quote off my website before I read your comment “Look for what you don’t see”(Rashid Elisha).

      When I was a beginner my camera was always putting things in my pictures that weren’t there!!

      See for further quotes to help our photography.



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