When breaking into a new field like photography, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the jargon you’ll need to learn to survive. Who wants to appear unknowledgeable by their peers when talking about something that might seem amateur to others? Remember that everyone else was a beginner at some point as well and that there’s plenty of time to learn all of the lingo. Instead of looking at a long list with no starting point, here are a few words that you should know to get your career as a budding photographer underway.



  • Aperture: The size of the opening in the lens. The wider the aperture is, the more light will be let into the image, and vice versa. It also plays a role in determining the image’s exposure and how much an image is in focus.
  • Bokeh: The orbs created when lights are out of focus in an image. It’s an effect seen relatively often in aesthetic photos on sites like Pinterest or Pexels and affects your picture’s quality. To get this in your picture, you’ll need to aim for a wide aperture.
  • Burst Mode: Rather than taking pictures one at a time, turning burst mode on will have the camera continuously snapping photos for as long as you hold the button down (or until the camera can’t process anymore). 
  • Depth of Field: How much of an image is in focus. The camera focuses on one point in the image, keeping it sharp while the rest of your image goes out of focus. This is often seen in portraits: the subject is sharp while the background is soft and blurred.
  • Exposure: Determines how light or dark an image is. If your photo is dark, it didn’t receive enough light, making it underexposed while receiving too much light to overexpose your photo. Aperture, shutter speed, and ISO determine the exposure of an image.
  • Focus: If something is in focus, it will remain sharp, while something out-of-focus will appear blurry. You can have multiple points of focus or a single focal point, but this is always something to consider when you’re taking a photo.
  • ISO: Determines how sensitive the camera is to light. An ISO of 100, for example, is perfect for daytime photography because it means the camera isn’t very sensitive to light. On the flip side, an ISO of 3200 means the camera is very sensitive to light, which is great for low-light shots. ISO is balanced with aperture and shutter speed to get a proper exposure.
  • Shutter Speed: The part of the camera that opens and closes to let light in and take a picture. Setting the shutter speed will determine how long the shutter stays open within seconds or fractions of a second. The longer the shutter is open, the more light will get into your shot, but anything that moves while the shutter is open will become a blur in the photo. Tripods are necessary for longer shutter speeds to avoid blur.