Camera Basics 101 - Start Here (pt. 1)

Camera Basics 101 - Start Here (pt. 1)

So you’ve picked up a camera and want to know how to use it. You’ve come to the right place! Welcome to our creative corner here at Kind and Well 💛


When you first got your hands on your very own camera, you probably thought, “I’m going to capture amazing things with this.” And you’re probably really eager to start learning everything as fast as possible.


I know because I felt it too!


Once you start, that feeling of wanting to create beautiful art sticks with you. Suddenly the world becomes your canvas, and your creative eye is the paintbrush.


Keep reading for Part 1 of our Camera Basics 101 series to learn the fundamentals of your wonderful camera. In this series, we will keep everything super simple and accessible, and we will only cover what you need to know to get started.


Remember this: you are an artist. you decided to embark on this creative endeavor because you have an itching (or burning) desire to bring your vision to life. You are a creative first, and an “-er” second — photographer, filmmaker, YouTuber, freelancer, etc.


Whether your intention is to create for an audience, for a client, or solely for yourself, your art matters. And your art is unique to you. And the more you create and practice your craft, the more you’ll refine your expression into something that can’t be replicated.


Camera Settings: Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO

Aperture, shutter speed, and ISO are the three main settings in your camera that you’ll use when taking photos or capturing videos. Each of these settings affects your image in different ways.



Aperture refers to how wide or how narrow your lens opens. Think of this like a window: when your lens opens wider, you let more light in to your image. When the opening is more narrow, you let less light in to your image. Here is a general rule:

Wide lens opening = lower f number (ex: f/1.8 or f/2.8) = LOWER aperture

  • Image gets brighter

  • More background separation (aka blurry background)

Narrow lens opening = higher f number (ex: f/8 or f/16) = HIGHER aperture

  • Image gets darker

  • Less background separation

Example scenarios:

  1. In broad daylight, you might use a higher aperture to let less light into your lens because a lower aperture would be too bright and wash out your image.

  2. At night, you might use a lower aperture to let more light into your lens because your environment would be too dark to capture.

  3. When taking a portrait photo of one person, you might use a lower aperture to create more background blur to focus on your subject.

  4. When taking a scenery photo, you might use a higher aperture to ensure there is no background separation so that everything is in focus and nothing is blurry.



Shutter speed refers to how fast or slow your camera takes a photo in one second. For example, a shutter speed of 1/50 means your camera will take an image in 1/50th of a second, and a shutter speed of 1/2000 means your camera will take an image in 1/2000th of a second. This also affects your image in it’s own unique way. Here is a general rule:

Slow shutter speed = lower 1/x shutter number (ex: 1/30 or 1/50)

  • More motion blur

  • Image gets brighter

Fast shutter speed = higher 1/x number (ex: 1/1000 or 1/2000)

  • Less motion blur

  • Image gets darker

Wait, why would shutter speed make your image darker or brighter? Think of this like a running water faucet that you forgot to turn off. If you are slower to turn off the water (shutter speed), more water (light) will get into your sink (image). If you remember right away and are quicker, your sink will have less water.

Aperture physically opens and closes your lens to control light. Shutter speed controls light by capturing your image either slower or faster.

Example scenarios:

  1. You might use a lower shutter speed to show movement or contrast in a photo, such as capturing a blurred moving car in a busy street.

  2. You might use a higher shutter speed to capture very fast movement without blur, such as a live dance performance or a sports event.



Put simply, ISO refers to how much your camera is artificially enhancing your image to make it brighter. Here is a general rule:

Just keep this as low as possible 😉

Focus on getting the right aperture and shutter speed first. Think of ISO as the finishing touch to perfect your image and make it juuust right.

Example scenario:

  1. You are taking a photo of a cute kitten indoors and want the background to be a little blurry but not too much (f/3.5). You also want to make sure you are capturing movement without darkening the image too much (shutter speed 1/125). However, the light in the room you are in is somewhat limited. You might raise your ISO slightly (ISO 400 or ISO 800).



exposure (noun) - the creative way in which you, the artist, controls how light passes through your camera using aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.

Having the correct exposure is super important when capturing photos or videos. How you expose your image is how you are deciding to tell your story. That is, through your own creative eye. While there are technicalities to having a nicely balanced image, these rules are meant to be broken from time to time. So go on and start practicing!


Let me know if this was helpful! Feel free to explore the other guides on our site and click here or Part 2 of Camera Basics 101.


Be kind and be well,


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