I chose this quote because, as a new photographer, the first thing you'll come across when searching the web for ways to learn is how vital the triangle is when it comes to learning how to take a photograph in any given situation properly.

While I don't want to discount the triangle, there is so much more to it than those simple three principles: iso, shutter, and aperture.

Not too long ago someone asked me for some beginner tips. This isn't unique. I actually get asked it quite a bit so I'm going to be doing some beginner steps blogs to hopefully help those new to photography.

When I photograph, I apply one particular thing to ensure my work will meet my client's needs and fulfill my creative expectations...what is my 360°?

What does that mean?

360° is full circle, a complete rotation. I've built this circle based on factors that are part of the foundation that will guide me to photograph in a manner that suits the needs of the client I am working for. Each time I go into a shoot, this is how I start.

I take the time to decide the key factors based on the location, light, genre, limits, and story. Then, my triangle is adjusted accordingly.

Here are some examples from my last event. I write it down because it makes me think through it and ensures my workflow stays within my contract's expected scope of work.

Location: You have to scout your location. If it's the first time you've been there, get there early, walk around, go high, go low, and get a feel for the facility and the spaces you can access.

  • Gym (size is long vs. wide)
  • No outdoor events
  • One half of gym used for competition.

Light: Light changes drastically regardless of whether natural or artificial. Learning how to shoot Kelvin should be one of your priorities. It helps keep consistency in your raw images when done correctly. (A Kelvin blog is coming soon!) Light also changes based on your position (especially relevant to natural light work), so spin around with your phone camera pointed at you and see how the light lays on your face. How are the shadows? Are there spotlights hitting certain spots?

  • Natural daylight from the east, minimal from the west, sun factor first three lanes
  • Nighttime spotlights (very limiting)
  • No OCF space for additional light

Genre: What type of photography are you doing? Sports, Business Event, Wedding? When you commit to a project, please ensure you have experience. The worst thing you can do is take on a client "thinking" you can do that job. No photographer is an expert in every genre. You can find your favorites when you start by asking to shoot with various photographers and then specialize in those you enjoy and believe you could create a sustainable business model with.

  • Functional fitness event
  • Variety of ages, adaptations

Limits: Every venue/location is going to have limits. Check with the organizer to identify parameters first and foremost, then figure out how you will shoot based on those limits. Especially in sports, there is a hierarchy of access allowed. Respect the rules. Follow them and learn to shoot around them.

  • Depth of competition floor (super wide angle restricted- angled wide shots vs. front on)
  • Lighting at night event
  • Event 1 # of rope climbs
  • Running event space
  • Outlier event

Story The biggest misconception when you are hired is that your job is one-dimensional. What are your client's expectations? Are they for web, social media, or print use? Are they exclusive to this one client, or are there multiple purposes of use? Does your client distribute content to inner organizations within the company?

  • Charity focus
  • Divisions - all relevant
  • Community support
  • Volunteer support
  • Sponsor/Partner logistics

Now that I've been given space to think about what I need to achieve and its logistics, I figure out the best triangle settings based on what I am shooting. When it comes to presets on your camera, please DO NOT use them. Learn the triangle and shoot manual.

Here are a few rules of thumb for the triangle. First, always review your first few shots in the camera and then adjust. Second, adjust as needed for different positions. Light may change from one side of a room to another.

Still Portraits: (NL is for natural light, and AL is for flash.)

  • NL: 125 shutter, 2.8 aperture for individuals and start with 5.6 for groups, then adjust iso as needed.
  • AL: 250 shutter, 4.0 aperture for individuals, 8 for groups, iso 400 and then adjust flash to the correct stop as needed.


  • NL: 800 shutter minimum to stop motion, 2.8 aperture, iso adjusted as needed. Most often, your shutter will need to increase in natural light, but I rarely recommend going above 2000. If you're still overexposed at that shutter, adjust your aperture.
  • AL (stadium, venue lighting) 500 minimum, 2.8 aperture, iso adjusted as needed. Rarely do I go below 500. I was shooting 640 shutter, 2.8 aperture, and 12600 iso for this event during the night. Professional camera bodies have that ability today, and it's tough to detect on social media and some websites.

Events: Weddings, Corporate, Etc. I prefer a bit higher of a shutter for events like this because hands are constantly moving, and bodies are generally moving around. It's a simple adjustment, so appendages aren't blurry but still allow for an image that is clean without grain you might see in sporting photos.

  • NL: 250 shutter, 2.8 aperture, iso adjusted as needed.
  • AL: 250 shutter, 2.8-5.6 aperture, iso adjusted according to flash.

For my business model, the pie makes sense. Of course, you can adapt your model as needed, but these pieces are all critical components to ensure I achieve what my clients expect and, most importantly, what I demand of myself.

I hope this insight helps those new to photography and some who may not be so new.

Remember, great photography is so much more than taking a photo.

Cover Photo: Griff II - Ginnie Coleman/For Drake Athletics