Herman A. “Germany” Schaefer (1877-1919), trying out the other side of the camera during the Washington Senators visit to play the New York Highlanders in April of 1911.

Welcome to the world of photography.

If you bought a film camera recently or enrolled in a photography class for beginners, you probably feel overwhelmed and a bit lost, especially trying to understand the technical aspects of things. It is a confusing world of mysterious words like ISO, apertures, f stops, shutter speeds, etc.

At the end of this book, we hope to have a roadmap to guide you through these exciting early days as a photographer, from understanding how to use your camera to making your own printed photographs in a darkroom.

We are passionate about photography. We believe in its power to communicate and build community. It can be a  window to the world and a mirror into one’s soul. It is a way to engage with your surroundings as much as a way to disengage.

Today, digital and phone cameras have simplified the process of creating images, making it easy to be a mediocre photographer.  It is for that very reason Photography is one of the most difficult mediums to become great at.

The best way to become great at anything is to understand what you need to know, how to achieve that, and why it matters.

Photography is a visual language that requires desire and discipline if one wants to master it.

As photographers and educators, we saw a need for a photography textbook that didn’t put you to sleep.  So here it is.


To begin with, let us start with the WHAT HOW WHY


WHAT is this book aboutA beginner’s guide to the process of black and white 35mm analog film photography. We explain the picture-taking process, film development, and darkroom printing.

HOW we guide youThrough a combination of text, easy-to-follow videos, interactive and hands-on activities, and fun facts.

WHY we put this book together

Because we want you to succeed

Because the world needs fewer mediocre pictures and more great ones.


As educators we know learning isn’t linear, so we created a book that isn’t meant to be read front to back or cover to cover. Jump around, and use it like an online cookbook. You know the type. Maybe you skip the personal stuff, or you just watch the video and skip the written recipe, or if you’re like me, you print out the recipe, get food all over it while cooking, then throw it out because it’s stained with food, only to search for it all over again when you want to make the same dish.

Ultimately we want you to learn to look and see with your eyes, heart, and soul.

But seeing is not enough, you need tools to show your friends, or the world what you see. This book will give you those tools.

If you haven’t fallen asleep yet, then we think you are going to find this book useful, and engaging.


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Photography: What, How, Why Copyright © 2023 by Maria Politarhos and Randy Matusow is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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