Homeschool Photography 101

The 2020-2021 school year is our year of art. Every school year we choose one thing to focus on and for this year it was art. When we first chose this as our focus for the year I immediately assumed my husband (who is the artist) would be doing the majority of the heavy lifting.

That was until Nana from Chalk Pastel reminded me that I am an artist and that photography was indeed a form of art. It was then that I realized maybe I did have something to contribute to our year of art.

The Homeschool Photography 101 Class was formed.

Homeschool Photography Class

We each got a new to us camera.

Let me preface this by saying that I have always shot on a Cannon camera so it was natural to me to help them learn on one as well.

Emily is shooting on a Canon PowerShot SX530. Kevin is shooting on a Canon T7i. I am shooting on a Canon 90d.

That being said I am a true believer in any camera (including a phone) is capable of jaw dropping photos. The secret is taking it out of the auto mode and putting it into manual mode.

homeschool photography

Shooting in Manual

Lesson number one was learning what all of the things on the camera meant. Things like aperture, shutter speed, and white balance can seem foreign if all you’ve ever done is shoot in auto.


This is always where I personally start. Asking myself: What do I want in focus? A lower aperture means a shallow depth of field (this results in a blurry background) a higher aperture means a deeper depth of field.

The aperture refers to the opening of the lens’ diaphragm which allows light in. It is also called an f-stop. The lower the f-stop, the higher the exposure. The higher the f-stop the lower the exposure.

Shutter Speed

The next thing I look at is shutter speed. Asking myself: How fast do I want the picture to snap? Things to consider are is the subject moving or still and whether or not you are holding your camera or have it on a tripod.

Shutter speed is the amount of time a camera shutter opens to expose light into the sensor. The longer is is open the more movement you will see in your image.

Traditionally, the same as the focal length is a good guide to a safe handheld shutter speed. For example with a 100mm lens on a full-frame camera, that means using a shutter speed that’s at least 1/100 to ensure that images are sharp.


The third thing I look at is ISO. Asking myself is there enough light? ISO is the sensitivity of the sensor in your camera which affects the exposure of your photos.

The lower the ISO the less light, the higher the ISO the more light. That being said with higher ISO comes more noise as well. Ideally, the lower the number the less noise in the photo which is most likely what you want.

White Balance

White balance is the last thing I look at. Mainly because it is the easiest to correct after the fact but let’s pretend I didn’t say that.

White balance helps in adjusting colors by removing unrealistic color casts for making it more natural. This just means it makes your colors right. Your whites should be white and your blacks should be black.

You can choose the type of lighting you are using to help ensure that this happens. For instance if you are in direct sun choose that option, if you are in a cloudy area choose that option.


A photograph’s exposure determines how light or dark an image will appear when it’s been captured by your camera.

The majority of cameras have an exposure meter on them. This will easily tell you if your photo is under or overexposed. It is a great tool for knowing that something in your setting is not quite right and to re-adjust.

I made a quick reference sheet for them to be able to see what these things represented. You can grab it as a free printable for yourself here.

I want to leave you with this: beauty is in the eye of the beholder and so is photography. Feel free to try different settings and have fun. If you don’t like it hit delete and try again.

If your kiddos would like to learn even more about photography this Outschool class looks like an awesome class to help learn more.

Related Posts: Resources

Photography is a passion of mine. I knew I wanted to teach it in our homeschool. Here is what we are learning in our homeschool photography class.