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Basic Photography 101 Part 3

Basic Photography 101 Part 3

In Basic Photography 101 Part 2, you learned about editing tools and how to make your photos amazing. I’m proud to say that you are well on your way to becoming a photographer. With plenty of practice, you will advance to the next level in no time at all. Now that you understand two of the most important aspects in photography, I will let you in on some photography etiquette and tips.

Photography Etiquette

Like all professions, there are courtesy rules that are understood and followed by every photographer. These three photography etiquette are what makes you professional and respected.  Avoid giving all of us a bad name when you are out shooting photos by following these simple etiquette.

1. Always Ask Permission Before Snapping Photos. When you are taking a quick snap of a stranger (someone’s child or any person), be sure they are aware you are doing this. The last thing you want is someone scolding you for being invasive and disrespectful. Many people are uncomfortable with being in someone’s picture. They are not sure where the photos will end up so give them a heads up and respect their decision if they say no.


Not everyone was as cool as this young lady. She knew she was being photographed and was OK with it.

This also holds true when you are browsing in a local establishment especially gift shops, specialty shops or night markets. Ask the owner or general manager if it is OK for you to snap some pictures of their amazing space or unique items. Some establishments will post a sign that says NO PHOTOGRAPHY ALLOWED. In that case, put the camera away.


Because I asked permission, this vendor allowed me to take a photo of her merchandise. Another photographer was denied because she did not ask. See her waving her hand from behind the jewelry rack?

2. Be Discrete. This is in no way an extension of the etiquette above. I am not saying you should snap someone’s photo without their permission and run away. Being a discrete photographer is about respecting the occasion. For example, your six-year old daughter is having her first ballet recital. In a dark auditorium, you go from one end of the room to the other snapping photos and flashes everywhere. This can be distracting to the dancers and audience. You don’t want to be that person! Be aware of your environment and be discrete when and where you take photos. Also, don’t put yourself or others in harm’s way just for that one good shot.


3. Ask Permission Before Sharing. With social media being the norm, many photographers even non photographers forget that not everyone wants to be on social media. When I take a photo of someone, I always share it with them privately (via email or text). What they do with it is up to them. If I’m at a family or friends gathering, I’ll let them know these photos are going to be on Facebook or Instagram. Lots of people are OK with that but it’s common courtesy to give them a heads up. If they are uncomfortable with it then respect them and don’t post without their permission. They will appreciate it and respect your work.

Now that you know the three most important photography etiquette, let’s move on to the finale. I know you’ve been waiting for this part, the 5 cool tips for beginning photographers. There are hundreds of tips I can talk about but to keep things basic and flowing, here are 5 cool tips to start your hobby or career off as a photographer.

5 Cool Tips for Beginning Photographers

1. Have a Go-To Lens. Every photographer has a favorite go-to lens. This is the lens they keep on their camera the majority of the time because it is most functional to the photographer. My two favorite lens are the Canon 50 mm f/1.8 and the wide angle 35 mm f/1.2. The 50 mm lens is very affordable for beginning photographers. The cost for a 50 mm is between $99 to $120. The colors are brilliant, focus is sharp and the lens are extremely lightweight. The only downfall is that the 50 mm appears to be zoomed closer than where you are standing. It’s good for street photography but you may need more space for portraits. Nikon may have the same version so do your research.

This is a shot of my recipe box using a 50 mm. I stood right over the box to snap this shot.

When working with prime lens, pick on what is best for your needs. This is a shot of my recipe box using a 50 mm lens. I stood right over the box to snap this shot.

The 35 mm is my go-to lens. I keep this lens on my camera 75% of the time. The wide angel allows me to take photos as my eyes see it. I don’t need to back up like I do with the 50 mm. The low f-stop creates a beautiful and crisp focus while blurring the background. The cost is between $350 -$600. Remember, prime lenses are fixed in one position, therefore it cannot zoom in or out.

This shot was taken with my 35 mm lens. I stood in the same place as I did shooting the 50 mm. See how much room I have with the 35 mm compared to the 50 mm?

This shot was taken with my 35 mm lens. I stood in the same place as I did shooting the 50 mm. See how much room I have with the 35 mm compared to the 50 mm?

2. SD Cards Matter. I learned this the hard way just last week. While I lent a friend my usual SD card to download photos, I used a cheap 4GB SD card I found in my stash at home. I thought all SD cards were the same as far as functionality. I realized I was wrong when I started taking photos with a cheap memory card. The camera was slow while flipping through images as well as zooming in on a photo. Indoor photos came out grainy and appeared to have a very low resolution. I’m not saying a 4GB SD card is the problem. It’s the brand and quality of the SD card not the storage limit. Even poor quality SD cards can be corrupted after a few usage. I learn that from my Cancun trip last year. All of my photos were gone and could not be restored by the Geek Squad. Be aware of which SD cards you are using. Paying a little extra for a trusted brand is totally worth the investment.

How you delete images on a memory card makes a huge difference. Don’t select “Delete All Images” from your camera. Instead, select format card every time you want to clear the memory card. This allows the SD card to delete files and consolidate space more efficiently ultimately saving the SD card in the long run. Never delete a photo on the memory card via your computer. This may corrupt the memory card.

3. Stage a clean surface to style your shoot. I use a variety of surfaces to give my photos a different look. For example, black foam boards can be used to capture rustic photos. A white foam board is used for the clean kitchen counter or office desk look. It’s best for food and lifestyle photography. You can also use these boards to block or bounce light onto the subject your are shooting. Another example is the popular marble kitchen counter surface. You can mock this look by using marble printed contact paper. These surfaces help you stage your shoot without having to go into a studio. These affordable items can be purchased at Walmart or craft stores.

Staging a photo studio

Here is an example of staging a photo with a black surface. The white board reflects the light from the window. The middle and right photos are the results of the set up.

Working with Black and White surfaces

Choosing the right surface to work with has a great impact on how your photos will turn out.

4. Hold steady. A good stance is vital to taking sharp photos. From now on, notice how photographers hold their camera. I’m right handed so I hold my camera with my right hand and my left hand is holding the bottom part of my lens. My elbows are against my body for support. I stand with my left foot in front and right foot in the back at a 45 degree angle. This stance allows me to utilize my body as a center foundation. Holding the camera in mid-air gives no support and causes the hands to be wobbly. The result of a poor stance is blurry pictures.

5.  Follow your role models. Think back at when you decided you wanted to get into photography. What inspired that thought? Who inspired your photography style? This is the person you should be following on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. You can learn a lot from studying their photographs and style. This will help you develop that photographer “eye” as well as compare techniques. I have a few photographers friends that I admire and I’m totally inspired by their work. Check out their portfolio and follow their Instagram accounts for inspirations.

Jennifer Chong at JChongStudio  Instagram @Jchongstudio

Whitney Huynh at Tulle and Grace Photography Instagram @tulleandgrace

Theary Meak at PaperLilly Photography Instagram @ thearypaperlillyphoto

Johnny Cheng at Johnny Cheng Photography Instagram @J0hnnych3ng

I hope you find this post as well as part 1 and part 2 to be useful. Now you are ready to get out there and practice photography. With these skills, you will see the world with a new set of eyes. Have fun and enjoy it!

Photography workshop


* Chan is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.



  1. Great tips! I'm always looking for ways to improve my photos and I love all of these tips!

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