Photography 101


Photography 101 is the perfect all-in-one tutorial for anyone who wants to jump into the world of photography. Join our team as we shoot at 20+ locations for a hands-on approach to learning the basics of photography!

Learn the fundamentals of camera-use and optimize lenses, exposure, and focus to capture the beauty of your surroundings.

Our experiential approach combines studio instruction and on-location guidance, helping you fuse theory with real-life practice.


  • 50+ Sample Images


Table of Contents

PH.101 Chapter 01
  • 01 - What You'll Learn
PH.101 Chapter 02
  • 01 - Introduction: Art of Photography
  • 02 - What is Photography?
  • 03 - What Makes a Great Photo?
  • 04 - A Mirror Between Worlds
  • 05 - Developing a Style
  • 06 - Passion vs. Business
  • 07 - Standing Out
PH.101 Chapter 03
  • 01 - Introduction: Exposure
  • 02 - What is Exposure?
  • 03 - No Correct Exposure
  • 04 - How is Light Measured?
  • 05 - How Light Enters a Camera
  • 06 - How the Settings Relate
  • 07 - How the Settings Affects an Image
  • 08 - Histogram
  • 09 - Dynamic Range
  • 10 - Conclusion: Exposure
PH.101 Chapter 04
  • 01 - Introduction: Camera Basics
  • 02 - The Physical Camera (Exterior)
  • 03 - The Physical Camera (LCD Pt. 1)
  • 04 - The Physical Camera (LCD Pt. 2)
  • 05 - Inside the Camera
  • 06 - Sensor Size, Full vs. Crop
  • 07 - Megapixels
  • 08 - Image Quality
  • 09 - White Balance
  • 10 - Histogram
  • 11 - Drive Modes
  • 12 - Auto Focus Modes
  • 13 - Metering Modes
  • 14 - Conclusion: Camera Basics
PH.101 Chapter 05
  • 01 - Introduction: Camera Modes
  • 02 - Full Auto Mode
  • 03 - Program Mode
  • 04 - Aperture Priority Mode
  • 05 - Shutter Speed Priority Mode
  • 06 - Manual Mode
  • 07 - Bulb Mode
  • 08 - Custom Settings
  • 09 - Conclusion: Camera Modes
PH.101 Chapter 06
  • 01 - Introduction: Lens Basics
  • 02 - Focal Length and Aperture
  • 03 - Physical Properties
  • 04 - Lens Focal Lengths
  • 05 - Prime Lenses vs. Zoom Lenses
  • 06 - Kit Lenses vs. Pro Lenses
  • 07 - Image Quality
  • 08 - Image Stabilization
  • 09 - Lens Filters
  • 10 - Buying Advice
  • 11 - Conclusion: Lens Basics
PH.101 Chapter 07
  • 01 - Introduction: Focus
  • 02 - Manual Focus vs. Automatic Focus
  • 03 - Focus Methods
  • 04 - Auto Focus Modes
  • 05 - Auto Focus Drives
  • 06 - Focus Techniques
  • 07 - Depth of Field
  • 08 - Focus Stacking
  • 09 - Conclusion: Focus
PH.101 Chapter 08
  • 01 - Introduction: Camera Types
  • 02 - Film
  • 03 - Smartphone
  • 04 - Point and Shoot
  • 05 - Mirrorless
  • 06 - Entry Level DSLR
  • 07 - Pro Level DSLR
  • 08 - Medium Format
  • 09 - Conclusion: Camera Types
PH.101 Chapter 09
  • 01 - On Set: 1st NEON Look
  • 02 - On Set: 2nd NEON Look
  • 03 - On Set: 3rd NEON Look
PH.101 Chapter 10
  • 01 - On Set: 1st MIRROR Look
  • 02 - On Set: 2nd MIRROR Look
  • 03 - On Set: 3rd MIRROR Look

Course Downloads

Jump Into the World of Photography

What Makes a Great Photo?

The modern photographer has myriad tools to choose from: new cameras and upgraded accessories are hitting the market every month. But how important are they? Does gear make a photo great? Learn how today’s photographers choose their tools sparingly but wisely to protect their wallet without compromising their work.

A Mirror Between Worlds

While a camera is important when it comes to capturing a photo, it won’t make creative decisions for you. Learn to enhance what is unique about you and the way you see the world.

Business vs. Passion

Ever consider leaving your job and making a career out of photography? Learn best practices and possible pratfalls from professionals who’ve made the transition.

Developing a Style

How do you make your photos stand out from the pack? What are the techniques that will preserve your distinct style while elevating the final product? Learn how to develop your vision and create work that bears your own artistic signature.

How Light is Measured

Understanding light is key to creating authoritative work. Become acquainted with the F-Stop–which is the unit for measuring light–and see how measuring and wielding light can refine the beauty of your images.

Understanding the Histogram

A critical yet often-ignored part of photography, the histogram displays the light and color information in the photo. Master this simple yet essential concept, and say goodbye to over-exposed images!

There is no “Correct Exposure.”

Sometimes it is ok for a picture to be “too bright” or “too dark.” Learn the rules so you can break them. Creativity is rewarded in photography, so push the boundaries of your images!

Shutter Speed, Aperture & ISO

Since light varies drastically from one location to the next, adaptability is one of the most important skills of the photographer. Luckily it’s not just guesswork. We’ll teach you how to use shutter speed, aperture, and ISO to get the perfect exposure for any environment.

A Mirror Between Worlds

While a camera is important when it comes to capturing a photo, it won’t make creative decisions for you.

The Physical Camera

Modern digital cameras are loaded with buttons, dials, knobs and other features. Photography 101 covers the physical camera in depth, revealing helpful tips along the way to give you more power when shooting.

Compare Sensor Sizes

Not all cameras are created equal. Learn the difference between camera types including Film, Smart Phones, Point & Shoots, Entry-level DSLRs, Pro-level DSLRs, Mirrorless, and Medium Format cameras.

Menus, Options & Preferences

There are hundreds of options and preferences in a modern camera. How can you adapt a camera to work best for you? Learn to master every feature a modern camera has to offer.

Image Quality

Download and compare images from a range of cameras from smartphones to medium format digital backs. See for yourself the differences between camera types and how they affect image quality.

Auto Mode

Auto mode is a great place to start. In Auto Mode, the camera chooses the best settings for you, allowing you to focus on the subject. In this tutorial, we explore the pros and cons of shooting in Auto Mode.

Aperture Priority

In Aperture Priority Mode (Av, A), you are responsible for choosing the aperture, and the camera takes care of the rest of the settings to create a proper exposure. Learn when to use Aperture Priority to get the most out of your images.

Shutter Speed Priority

In Shutter Speed Priority (Tv, S), you choose the shutter speed, and the camera selects both ISO and Aperture to create a properly exposed image. We cover a variety of circumstances where Shutter Speed Priority excels.

Manual Mode

In Manual Mode, you are responsible for choosing the proper camera settings to create a good exposure. While this mode requires a bit of knowledge to use correctly, it provides more control over the camera than any other mode.

Explore Focal Lengths

Come along with the Phlearn Team as we explore lenses with a range of focal lengths. Each focal length has different applications, in this tutorial, we cover Macro, Wide, Standard, Telephoto and Super-Telephoto lenses in depth.

Kit vs. Pro Lenses

Will you notice a difference when moving from an economical ‘kit’ lens to a higher priced ‘pro’ lens? Explore the advantages and disadvantages of both and download images photographed with both entry-level and pro-level lenses.

What Lens Should I Use?

In this tutorial, we explore a broad range of lenses and cameras using downloadable images. By examining images shot with focal lengths varying from 16mm-300mm, and apertures from f/1.2-f/22, you’ll be able to see the effect each lens has on its target and learn to choose the right lens for the job.

Buying Advice

Which lenses are necessary, and which are luxury? When is it better to rent than to buy? We’ll show you how to make smart decisions and stay within your budget while getting the most out of the today’s products.

Manual vs. Auto Focus

Most modern lenses offer the choice to shoot in Manual or Automatic Focus. While Auto Focus is more commonly used, Manual Focus boasts unique opportunities to gain more control over your work. We’ll explore which focus mode to use and when it’s best to use them.

Learn Focus Techniques

Focusing on a still subject is relatively straightforward, but what happens when the subject moves? Learn techniques to help you achieve proper focus in a variety of situations including both camera and subject movement.

Depth of Field

Depth of Field effects how much of an image is in focus. Many factors influence DoF, including aperture, focal length, distance, and sensor size. Learn how to utilize Depth of Field to draw more attention to your subject.

Focus Stacking

Certain applications require extending the Depth of Field beyond the physical capabilities of a lens. Learn how to use photography + Photoshop to focus stack images and increase the focus area of a picture.

Smartphone to Medium Format

It’s a shoot-out! Watch as the iPhone 7 Plus, Hasselblad 500 C/M Film Camera, a Point-and-Shoot Canon G11, an entry-level Canon 6Ti, a Pro-level Canon 5Dmkiii, a Mirrorless Sony A7rii, and a Medium Format Phase One IQ350 compete side-by-side. We’ll keep the setting and natural light consistent from one camera to the next to give you the most accurate look at their capabilities.

Download and Compare Images

There is no such thing as the ‘Best Camera”. Different cameras are great in different situations. This tutorial includes full-resolution RAW images available for download so you can compare each side-by-side.

Camera Breakdown

Our camera analysis goes beyond shooting with each camera type. We also examine each camera in depth and break down different qualities including Low Light Performance, Ease of Use, Cost, Customizability, Interchangeable Lenses, Control over Camera & Image Quality.

Image Quality

At the end of the day, the most important quality of a camera is the image quality. Compare quality between many different formats and manufacturers to help you choose the best camera for you.

Extended Content

Behind every image you see, there’s a batch of rejects. A less-mentioned but equally critical component of photography is being selective of your own work. Get a glimpse into the process of whittling down hundreds of photos into a refined, representative showcase.

Tips & Techniques

Every shoot provides learning opportunities for even the most seasoned photographer. Our photo shoot videos are loaded with pop-up tips and tricks to make your next photoshoot as successful as possible.

Behind the Scenes

Our on-set videos are shot with multiple camera angles so you can see every aspect of a photo production. Enjoy a behind the scenes look at the entire production.

Unscripted & Real

Want to know how a photographer interacts with models and crew during a photo shoot? Watch it happen in real time and enjoy the subtle nuances that are frequently left out of the “Edited Version.”

Show Off Your Work


  1. very good course, would be even better if photography 102 and 103 were around, this would make a massive difference, especially if 102 and 103 were as comprehensive as 101. If you are thinking of doing 102 and 103 might I suggest you live studio lights till 103 and concentrate on composition and flash off camera in 102. Really hope you do 102 and 103. Thanks again.

  2. watching through this material and listening to Aaron’s passion for photography has really re-kindled my own photographic interest and personal passion for creative photographic art. This amazing series of tutorials show Aaron off as a really amazing educator.,.

  3. Where can I find photography 301?

  4. I have a Canon 5D Mark IV. Your tutorials on focussing have helped me get a much better handle on how to use the impressive powers of this camera. I’ve now switched to back button focussing as well. Thanks for your great work.

  5. You make learning fun and make so I can understand what needs to be learn. Thank you so much.

  6. I love Aaron.

  7. Love it, watched this years ago and now I’m a full-time photographer. The only question is, when do we get photography 102?

  8. I thought a lot about the best way to write this review without sounding too excited or exaggerating. I have been working online for 15 years and I have met and been taught by hundreds of instructors world-wide (having been working for Microsoft for 10 years) – I must say and admit that Aaron is possibly one of the best instructors I have met (albeit online) in my life. Aaron could teach anything and make it fun and easy to understand. I consider myself an intermediate photographer and I watched this course knowing that I will benefit alot. Other instructors teach you the technicalities and sometimes the philosophy, Aaron teaches you everything and inspires you and mentors you and coaches you and you become a master without you knowing it. Thanks for all what you do with Phlearn. Chapter 2 alone could be sold for thousands of dollars although it is very simple and brief.

  9. 101 was super informative? Are 201-301 coming out anytime soon ?

  10. Aaron. I’m making my way through the modules and I’m so glad you took on this enormous project. Thank you. I am a new photographer (2 years) and self-taught. I’ve just enrolled in course work and decided to utilize PHLEARN to supplement my learning. I will edit or add a final recommendation when I finish this course. Overall, I like it’s organization even though it jumps around a bit (i.e. during exposure ahead to high key/low key as examples – not sure a beginner would understand those terms). My main problem is that an educator includes ISO as part of the exposure triangle and relates increasing it a stop with letting in more light and lowering it with letting in less light. ISO is just applied gain to an exposure already captured. If I turn up the volume of a CD or MP4 I’m playing, it doesn’t change how the recording was made, just what is played. Increasing or decreasing your ISO changes the “volume” of the recorded light using shutter speed and aperture. Yes? So I find when facts are not correctly represented I start to lose a little faith in the education. Update will come after finishing Photography 101.

  11. Amazing tutorial. Congrats Phlearn! When is Photography 201 – 301 coming out?!

  12. Great tutorial, amazing Fantastic!

  13. I have paid for an online photography school and found it was a waste of money. I learned more on You tube! However that was also limited. I am finally getting the information I need. Even though I have been shooting and getting booked I decided to take the Photography 101 course anyway. OMG I knew I didn’t know a lot but this confirmed I knew nothing! I am soooo addicted to this course and so excited to look at every course on this site. Every chance I get I am on this website. Thank you for creating this website it is truly legit!

  14. What a wonderful, insightful and instructive tutorial. I really learned a lot. Cannot wait for 201 and 301. Any update on when they will come out?

  15. I’ve only just began , currently on chapter 2 but I can tell i’ll be extending my subscription for many many months if not years to come. Great stuff!!!

  16. I loved this whole tutorial from the beginning to the very end. And for the very first time I finally had a revelation on techniques and meanings I always struggled with and couldn t find anyone able to explain everything properly in details and as a whole. Aaron you are the most talented (and hilarious!!!) photographer and teacher (you have a natural inclination for this!). THANK YOU! – do you have a full serie dedicated to lighting as well? Especially for studio photography. That would be super interesting!

  17. amazing tutorial!

  18. Simply addictive! Can’t get enough of this, great job Aaron & team 🙂

    PHLEARN Staff
    Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it.
    • Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it.

  19. Clear, fun and effective. Actually the most effective tutorials around on the web I think. Great job! Keep on going guys. Thanks a milion!

  20. amazing tutorial and really waiting for 301 so much when does it will come ?

  21. Love this class! Only problem: can’t stop to watch 🙂 But seriously, thank you so much.

  22. I have literally learned more in the three hours or so watching your tutorial than I have learned in almost a year! Wow!!!! This is an awesome tutorial and I am just at 101. Can’t wait to see what 201 and 301 has in store for me.

  23. As a dyslexic, trying to learn something new has not been easy, as most of it is in text form. Finding phlearn a few years ago has been life-changing for me. There are so many videos on youtube, but it does not compare to having a structure; someone who loves to teach, teaching you. Thank you so much for these videos

  24. I’m obsessed with Phlearn! I have been self-teaching myself photography for a few months now and although there is a lot of information online it just doesn’t compare to what phlearn has to offer. Everything that Aaron teaches makes sense, so easy to understand and it is actually incredibly inspiring. I just want to be shooting and phlearning all day long! Thank you for this incredible information, I wish I could give more than 5 stars!!!!

  25. I am so excited to PHLEARN something new!! This is the best gift I coul get this month! Thank you so much for those amazingly understandable tutorials. There is so much work you put in them! It shows…Thanks again!

  26. Epic tutorial, I’m a proffessional photographer for many years, but i saw this anyway (with some skipping) and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested or already is in photography. p.s.: Jamie has a very sexy voice 🙂

  27. Thanks Aaron and team for taking us behind the scene with the Neon project. AMAZING stuffy.

  28. Love what Aaron is saying about gear. It really is not about the gear, it is the person who is taking the images. Sure, a PhaseOne would be amazing to shoot with, but heck, who has money for that. My favorite quote by Aaron “you can take amazing images with a phone, and you can take crappy images with a full-frame camera.”

  29. Wow, I can only do 5 stars, I’d put up a galaxy if I could. The information and presentation are incredible. I learned more from this series than any other I have seen. I never really used the balance of ISO, aperture and shutter speed the way Aaron explained it. I also never knew that a lot of lenses have a “sweet spot” in their focal length. What a difference! It opened a whole new way of looking at things. I’m already losing sleep over the wait for Photography 201-301! Thank you so much!

  30. thanks Aaron for this awesome tutorial….always you are my inspiration !

  31. This is easily one of the BEST photography courses I’ve ever seen in real life or online! It’s amazing how personable Aaron is and it’s very clear that he really enjoys teaching this material! One of the things that I find really interesting is the additional tidbits of shooting information and the live shoots that PHLEARN has put into this course. I think that new and experienced photographers alike can easily pick up something from this lively and extremely interesting course on photography!

  32. I have been shooting for a number of years and I have watched a number of different beginner classes and this one has a fantastic amount of information. Very well done!!

  33. You really caught what us beginners want and need to know! awesome course, great team. Really looking forward for Photography 201 and more!

  34. This has been very eye opening and has allowed me to really take my photographic creativity to the next level. I bought a camera 2 years ago, but I’ve only been using the automatic options provided because I just couldn’t get interested enough in the manual settings etc. But watching this tutorial has made me realise how much more I can do with my camera when I know how to adjust it. What helped me in particular was the explanations and examples on aperture, shutter speed and iso. …Now on to the next section!

  35. Hi, i’m from Brazil and my english isn’t very good, but this is the most complete curse i ever see, also very easy to understand. Congratulation PHLEARN!

  36. This is just amazing. Before i’m a person know nothing about photography but now after this tutorial, i really really know how to use a “camera”. Despite i will not buy a DSLR in next month but Basics that you guide it is so helpful for me to adjust into my coming camera. Thanks You so much Aaron and of course to your team as well! You are truly excellent. Can’t wait until Photography 201 – 301 releases. Cheers!!!

  37. I Love Phlearn! A great tutorial for people getting started, and a great refresher that brings your back to the basics for more seasoned photographers.

  38. This whole Photography has been very helpful from start to finish. I compete in photography with PSA and I have some success but what I was doing to just kind of relying wonderful accidents and usually things never came out the way I imaged. That was so frustrating. But even after a short period of time of taking this course I’m starting to get more of what I envisioned. Thank you so much.

  39. SOOOOOOO goood!!! Thank you for sharing your knowledge!!

  40. Just finished the entire tutorial, Absolutely first class. The work that goes into a shoot is enormous more than I relealised. Have watched sections on exposure a couple of times off line to get the exposure triangle better into my head. Everything seem a lot clearer now than before. Excellent, keep phlearning Gregory Tutin Tasmania Australia

  41. Have bought the tutorial so I can watch on the big screen while following along. I am watching across the net first to get a full picture of photography. Have just finished Chapter 5. Absolutely fabulous. Aaron makes it so easy to understand Keep Phlearning Greg Tutin Tasmania Australia

  42. Bought your tutorial 101-301 and now the Photography 101. Such helpfull tutorials! Thanks for sharing your skils! Just in one word: Amazing!

  43. Just bought the tutorial, already on chapter 3. watching this with my wife and oldest daughter, both of which have an interest in photography, but never seem to understand what I am trying to teach them. They really like all the examples and seeing the different setting and the images they produce. one thing Aaron, you should take that graphic you made that shows the apertures, shutter speeds and ISO’s and have that made onto the back of a gray or white card, say one of those soft foldable ones and sell that on your store… I would buy one for each camera bag, it’s a great visual reference!

  44. Yes!! I’ve been hoping for so long that you guys would do a comprehensive tutorial for photography. Love this, and i hope there’s more to come. I also love how accessible your pro tutorials are now with the new subscription methods. Keep up the good work, Phlearn. You just keep getting better!

  45. Rockstar idea! Thank you for making it. I’m not a photographer but I am always trying to hire good ones. It sounds easy because there are so many in the world, but here in Hawaii…hmmm…how to say this nicely…. Let’s just say that reviewing the basics regularly is invaluable and the BEST place from which to launch innovative ideas. I’m trying to think of a way to start buying Photography 101 as a gift for photographers without it coming across as, “You suck! Start over!” I’m sure I’ll figure that out, but in the meantime, if someone were to say to me, “Everything I’ve learned, I’ve Phlearned,” I’d respond, “You’re Hired!”

  46. Incredible! You can tell that so much work, effort, and thought went into making this one of the best photography classes online. This is exactly what I wish I had several years ago when I started getting really serious about photography. I’m not done watching it, but I’ve already learned so much. Thanks Phlearn!

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