Photography or photo making is a way of creating images using cameras. It’s been around for a long time, changing a lot since the 1800s. Nowadays, photo-making involves using different tools and techniques to capture moments or scenes. In this article, we’ll look deeper into the history of photography, how photographs are taken, photography genres, the purpose of photography, and the best cameras used in photo-making.

Understanding the Word ”Photography”

To begin with, the word “photography” comes from Greek roots. “Photo” means “light,” and “graph” means “drawing.” So, when you put them together, photography is like drawing with light. It’s all about using a camera, whether it’s an old-school film or digital, to catch the light and make pictures.

The History of Photography

The history of photographic art goes back way before the 19th century when it was officially invented. Even in ancient times before telegraphs and typewriters, people were experimenting with capturing images. Additionally, one of the earliest techniques was called the camera obscura.

What Is a Camera Obscura?

Some historians believe that early humans used a primitive form of camera obscura to trace images using stone tools. In the 4th century BCE, the Han Chinese philosopher Mozi mentioned a similar concept, although it was called by a different name, as a method for gathering light rays. Greek philosopher Aristotle expanded on Mozi’s ideas in his book “Problems” by discussing why the sun’s rays appear crescent-shaped when viewed through certain objects like a sieve or leaves.

Nearly 2000 years later, during the Renaissance period, inventor Leonardo Da Vinci described the camera obscura in more detail in his writings. Furthermore, he explained how sunlight passing through a small hole in a dark room could project images of outside objects onto a wall inside the room, but upside down. Despite the understanding of how camera obscuras worked, figures like Mozi, Aristotle, and Da Vinci, didn’t know how to capture these images permanently.

Photography Invention

Photography was created in 1822 by a Frenchman named Nicéphore Niépce. He came up with a method called heliography, and with it, he took the oldest surviving photograph called “View from the Window at Le Gras” in 1827. Niépce’s heliography technique was inspired by ancient ideas about the camera obscure.

Furthermore, Niépce experimented with different materials to create early photographs. He used silver plates along with bitumen of Judea and lavender oil in a process called heliographing. This term came from the Greek words “helios” meaning sun and “graphein” meaning write, suggesting a process of “sun-writing.” However, this method was more like engraving than modern photo making. In 1826 or 1827, Niépce finally had a breakthrough with his picture “View from the Window at Le Gras.” Many experts believe this was the first photographic art ever taken and developed.

How Does Photography Work?

Photography goes beyond its definition. To understand it, let’s explore the exposure triangle. Additionally, since photography’s inception, these three components have been crucial in transforming light into images.

a person hold a camera taking a photography of water
Understanding the Wonderful World of Photography


Think of the aperture as the camera lens’s opening. When you snap a photo, the aperture widens to a set size, allowing a specific amount of light to pass through.


After passing through the aperture, light reaches either the camera’s digital sensor (in digital photo making) or light-sensitive film (in film photography). ISO measures how sensitive your camera’s sensor or film is to light.

Shutter Speed

Another part of the exposure triangle is shutter speed. This refers to how long the camera’s shutter stays open, letting light in. It’s usually measured in milliseconds to minutes. Once light passes through these exposure components onto a sensor or film, it forms an image. The process of creating an image varies depending on the medium used. Film stock undergoes chemical processing, while digital photography undergoes digital processing. Let’s explore these different photo-making mediums to see how they’re alike and different.

Photography Mediums

In today’s world, digital photo-making has become the go-to choice for many photographers. With the rise of mirrorless cameras, DSLRs, and smartphone cameras, digital technology has taken over. But before all this, there was film photography.

Film Photography

Film photography is like stepping back in time but in a cool way. You use this special stuff called film to take pictures instead of digital cameras. This film is like a magical sheet covered in tiny crystals that react to light. After you snap a photo, you have to develop the film using chemicals in a dark room to see the picture. It’s like a little science experiment! Film photography has its charm compared to digital. It gives you a wider range of brightness levels, and you can find some pretty affordable cameras. Plus, the photos have this cool grainy texture that’s unique to film.

a man taking film photography
Film photography

Digital Photography

In digital photography, photographers capture photos using an electronic sensor to capture light, instead of using film. Compared to film photo-making, digital photo-making has some benefits. It allows instant review of photos, which is great for getting immediate feedback. It’s also more cost-effective because there’s no need for physical film processing. Plus, digital cameras can store a lot more pictures thanks to their digital memory cards.

Purposes of Photography

Photography serves different purposes based on what the photographer wants to achieve. The purpose of a photo shapes how photographers take it, frame it, and select the gear they use. This could be influenced by why they’re taking the photo, what or who they’re capturing, and how they plan to use the image.

Here are three main purposes of photo-making:

Art Photography

Fine art photography is when a photographer’s artistic vision takes centre stage, rather than just capturing the subject as it appears in reality. It’s about expressing the photographer’s ideas and feelings through the image they create. Critics recognize this type of photography based on how they receive it and the intention behind its creation, setting it apart from other types of photo-making. Any camera capable of capturing still images can take fine art photos because it’s the photographer’s creativity, not the equipment, that makes the photo artistic. This type of photography can cover various subjects, including abstract concepts, storytelling, or capturing natural landscapes like those in Ansel Adams’ famous works.

In essence, art photography is about pushing boundaries and exploring new ways of seeing the world. It relies heavily on the photographer’s creativity and vision to convey a message or provoke a response from the audience.

Documentary Photography

Documentary photography is a type of photography where photographers capture real-life events and subjects as they unfold. Unlike other forms of photography that may focus on artistic expression or storytelling, documentary photography aims to present situations or subjects neutrally and factually.

You can spot documentary photo-making in news reports, historical archives, and collections. The main focus in documentary photo-making is on the subject itself. Over time, when the subjects or events captured hold historical significance, documentary photographs can become iconic symbols of that moment in time.

Commercial Photography

Commercial photography involves using photo-making to promote goods, services, companies, or events to attract consumers. For instance, you often see commercial photo-making in advertisements for food, fashion, and various products.

However, some photo-making doesn’t neatly fit into these categories. Additionally, in recent times, commercial photography has incorporated elements of art photography into its campaigns. Likewise, some art photographers have ventured into capturing real people and situations, as seen in street photography.

Photography Genres

Landscape Photography

This genre focuses on the beauty of natural scenery, from majestic mountains and sprawling deserts to serene beaches and captivating forests. Landscape photographers use techniques like wide-angle lenses and compositional elements to create awe-inspiring images.

Wildlife Photography

Calling all animal lovers! Wildlife photo-making requires patience, skill, and an understanding of animal behaviour. Photographers capture the essence of wildlife in their natural habitat, showcasing everything from majestic predators to delicate insects.

a man taking a wildlife photograghy
Wildlife Photography

Nature Photography

This broad genre encompasses all aspects of the natural world, not just landscapes and wildlife. Additionally, it includes close-up shots of flowers, macro photo-making of insects, and stunning astrophotography of the night sky.

Portrait Photography

This genre captures the essence of a person, conveying their personality, emotions, and character. Portrait photographers use various lighting techniques, backdrops, and poses to create impactful images.

Wedding Photography

Wedding photo-making documents one of life’s most significant events. The photographers capture the emotions, joy, and special moments of the ceremony, reception, and surrounding celebrations.

Fashion Photography

This genre showcases clothing and fashion accessories creatively and artistically. Fashion photographers collaborate with stylists, makeup artists, and models to create captivating images for magazines, advertisements, and campaigns.


Photojournalists use their cameras to tell stories, capturing real-world events and social issues. Additionally, their images aim to inform, educate, and raise awareness about important topics.

Event Photography

This genre documents events of all kinds, from corporate conferences and product launches to birthday parties and concerts. Moreover, event photographers capture the atmosphere, key moments, and people involved in the event.

Street Photography

Street photo-making captures the essence of everyday life in public spaces. Moreover, the photographers often work candidly, capturing candid moments and the energy of a city or town.

Abstract Photography

This genre goes beyond literal representation, focusing on shapes, patterns, textures, and light to create visually intriguing images. Abstract photographers manipulate light, shadow, and composition to evoke emotions and interpretations.

Fine Art Photography

Similar to abstract photo-making, fine art photo-making emphasizes the artistic expression of the photographer. Additionally, these images are not just documentation; they are creative statements with aesthetic value.

Black and White Photography

While colour photo-making reigns supreme, black-and-white photo-making offers a timeless and classic aesthetic. Furthermore, it allows photographers to focus on light, shadow, and composition, creating a sense of drama and emotion.

Best Cameras Used to Take Photography

Choosing the best camera for you depends on your skill level, budget, and the type of photo-making you’re interested in. Here’s a breakdown of some of the best cameras for different categories:

Sony Alpha 7 IV

This versatile mirrorless camera boasts a powerful 33MP Exmor R BSI CMOS sensor, exceptional autofocus capabilities, and impressive image and video quality. It’s ideal for professional photographers and videographers who demand exceptional performance.
A Sony Alpha 7 IV, the best camera to take photography
Sony Alpha 7 IV

Fujifilm X-T5

Canon EOS R10

Sony RX100 VII

Apple iPhone 13 Pro

GoPro Hero10 Black