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The Three E's to Photography

Updated: Feb 19, 2020

I love the letter E. I don't know why but what it really comes down to is when I used to be a teacher I wanted to simplify my photography philosophy into three E's: Emotion, Exposure and Excellence.


Without Emotion, in my opinion a photo is useless. Everything is “E”Bout Emotion. If there isn’t an emotion being triggered in your audience, that they can connect to, we have failed as photographers. Emotion isn’t always warm and fuzzy. Emotion in this instance is anything that stimulates our viewer to respond in any way. Think of every social media platform having the ability to “love, like, or dislike” something, our culture has so much that depends on how we feel, and that is why Emotion must be synonymous with photography.

These are three items I use to aid in the emotion of my images:

Composition/Lighting: How are we Composing our image to get the greatest possible Response by using the lighting to highlight what we value.

Action: What is the moment in time, and why is it important to the photographer? What we capture must be important to us in order for it to be important to our audience.

Editing: Colors are so vital to emotion. Think of the color red, yellow and blue and ask yourself how do these make me feel.


Exposure controls what is coming into the camera’s sensor. It is the mathematical side of the camera, believe it or not there are specific equations to properly expose an image.

The three main components that are controlling the exposure are:

Aperture: Controls the amount coming in, think of it as a gate; Iris example. This is gauged by f-stop.

ISO: The sensitivity of the sensor, think of sunscreen and how there are different strengths.

Shutter Speed: The speed at which the image is captured.


I recommend putting a weight on your shoulders every time you take a photo. An image says just as much about the photographer as it does about the image being photographed.

Photography as I have experienced, requires excellence because the climate of today’s world and the access to cameras now more than ever, to really take a compelling photograph what must be different is You, the photographer.

Passion: Strive for excellence because you’re getting paid to take photos, it may not be that much or it may very well be but go at it with passion. There is not one thing a photographer needs more in order to work with others and clients than passion. Anyone can learn the tools of the trade but not everyone has passion!

Critical: This one is dangerous because we can sometimes criticize to the point of paralysis, but you must be willing to critique your work and do it harshly so you can figure out everything that you need to do in order to achieve excellence.

Desire: You have to want to do it, if you don’t have a desire there, it is really hard to fuel passion, and really difficult to constructively criticize. Resarch, explore, get your phone, or your camera, get out there and chase after an image only you in that moment will take!

Get out there and shoot!

Don't get hung up on the negative, just remember the three E's: Emotion, Exposure, and excellence.

Get your camera grab a friend and hit the road!

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