The Foundations of Photography: What Makes a Photographer, What Makes an Artist?

Anybody can be a great photographer if they have a sound understanding of what makes an artist.

The four most important foundations of all art are...

  • The Idea
  • The Execution of the Idea
  • How you curate your work
  • How you present your work

The competence of your art should never be questioned if you have a sound understanding of these four concepts.

Here is a graph showing the foundations of art in the context of photography. Most important concepts are at the bottom, less important considerations are at the top.

Just a Box. Anything can be a camera. This is not a joke.

What is a camera?

It is a dark chamber with a hole in the front, with material at the back to capture the impression of light.

Anybody can make a camera, everybody has one. You can make one out of a tin can, you can make one out of a trash can. You can even make one out of an apartment. Even your eyes are chambers with holes.


The function of a camera is to creatively control how light will hit the back. Factors that affect how the back receives information are as follows.

  1. the brightness of the subject you are capturing
  2. how big the hole is (aperture)
  3. how light is filtered in front of the hole
  4. the amount of time you leave the hole open for (shutter speed
  5. how far away the hole is from the back (focal length)
  6. how sensitive the back material is (ISO)
  7. how light is focused and channeled (lens)

These are the basic concepts for what a camera is and how one functions.

How to be a Film Photographer: A Mini Course (Introduction to Part One)

This is my first year out of art school. Still trying to get my grasp on the real world.

I am now 22.

Photography was my major at The Learning Connexion: School of Art and Creativity. I loved it, I fell down the rabbit hole. Three and a half years flew by so quickly. I began learning digital photography in my second year. I switched to film photography in my third year when I discovered the endless artistic merits of film. The third year made me a very proficient and disciplined artist.

After my course, I moved down to Christchurch, mainly to save myself. Wellington is a very expensive city and turns into a depressing limbo after University.

I'm a hybrid analog photographer. I tend to digitally archive my photos and also print them by hand. Best of both worlds.

Annually, I shoot an average of six rolls a month, but that number might increase. Spending six months away from the school darkroom got unnerving. My collection of unprocessed film was getting too large to take into a film lab so in December, after some thought, I decided to invest in a darkroom set up.

It is now April, everything has been functioning for two months and I am very content. I have found myself again.

Becoming a film photographer is something where you need to smartly invest. It doesn't cost a leg and a spare kidney like digital, but it does require some conscious thought about your purchases.

If you thought setting up your darkroom was an impossible feat, I will say this... Its okay.  Film still exists, it's a great choice, an enlightening creative medium. The internet is your friend and we are here to help you.

In part One, we will make a check list of the all things you need to seriously think about before you become a photographer. This will be published tomorrow on the blog.

Get ready to write things down.

Till then.