9 Common Photography Terms Beginners Need to Know

For a beginner photographer there’s so much to learn and take in that it can get a little overwhelming. All of the settings on the camera, the rules of composition, the best times to take pictures, what lighting works best for each situation, and even what kind of photographs you want to take. When you add in the fact that there are lots of little acronyms and technical terms that more experienced photographers throw about like everybody know them it can start to feel mind boggling.

Reading the jargon used in a camera manual, or even some photography blogs, it can sometimes appear as though they’re written in a foreign language. So if you’re struggling to tell your ISOs from your aspect ratios, here are 9 common photography terms beginners need to know.


Aperture refers to the size of the lens opening when you’re taking a picture, and each different size is called an f-stop. Changing that size allows more or less light in, which in turn will have a huge effect on the resulting image in both how light it is and the focus.


This controls how sensitive the camera is to light. A lower ISO means it’s not very sensitive so is good for pictures in the daytime, and a higher ISO meaning it’s extremely sensitive allowing you to take shots in lower light. Using a high ISO will however make your images grainy, so it’s important to get his right.

Shutter Speed

The shutter is the part of the camera that is responsible for taking the picture by letting light in when it opens and closes. Shutter speed refers to how long it stays open for, with longer shutter speeds allowing more light in.


Digital photographs can be stored in different formats, with the standard one being JPEG. The camera automatically does some of the editing of Jpeg images, whereas the RAW format gives you greater control at the editing stage.


Noise is what the grainy or speckled bits in your images are called, and most photographers try to eliminate this at all costs. You can generally avoid noise by using the lowest possible ISO for the light that you’re shooting in.

Shutter Release

The shutter release is the button on your camera that you press to take a photograph. You can also get remote shutter releases which work either by a cable or over WiFi allowing you to take pictures without touching your camera.


This is the hole that you look through when you take a photograph. Some cameras don’t come with one and just have a screen to look at, but generally you’ll find the viewfinder at the top of the camera.

White Balance

The white balance allows your camera to capture colors in the exact shades that they appear. You can adjust this to compensate for how different shades look in different lights in order to make them appear correctly in the picture.

Depth of Field

This refers to how much of an image is in focus. A shallow depth of field will focus on a subject close up and the rest of the image will appear blurred. A large depth of field will keep a wider focus with more of the image appearing crisp.

Now that you’re up to scratch with your photography terms, why not use your newfound skills to take some great photographs? They’ll look awesome as one of our pieces of custom canvas art and all you have to do is upload your image and our design team will take care of the rest. 


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