Photography Tips: What is Shutter Speed? || The Authentic Portrait

Let's get right into this:  shutter speed determines how long your camera's shutter opens and closes and thus, lets light in.

Your camera has a curtain (called a camera shutter) which opens and closes when you press the button.

You can leave this curtain open for full seconds, which we could consider "long" exposures and use for nighttime photography (make sure you use a tripod for these). Mostly we use fractions of a second though. For example, if you're not using a tripod, from about 1/125 you'll be able to get sharp photos while handholding your camera. Your shutter speed choice all depends on the light conditions you have at that moment. 

So, the brighter the light for your photos, the quicker you are going to have your shutter speed. The darker the light you have for your photos, the slower you're going to have your shutter speed. 

 1/250 sec at f / 2.0, ISO 640

1/250 sec at f / 2.0, ISO 640

 1/250 sec at f / 2.0, ISO 640

1/250 sec at f / 2.0, ISO 640

Slower shutter speeds for hand holding:

1/60

1/125

1/250

 1/1250 sec at f / 1.4, ISO 640

1/1250 sec at f / 1.4, ISO 640

 1/800 sec at f / 1.8, ISO 640

1/800 sec at f / 1.8, ISO 640

Quicker shutter speeds for hand holding:

1/500

1/1000

1/2000

Shutter speed is used along with aperture and ISO to take a photo on manual mode.  

This is just one of the solid, easy to implement tips and tricks for photography that I talk about in The Authentic Portrait: A Parent’s guide to Documenting Childhood, an ebook perfect for anyone who want to learn the basics of photography and improve their photos without spending hours and hours taking classes. Find out more here!

Try out some new shutter speeds and see what you think! Share your photos with me over on Instagram in #TheAuthenticPortrait series, a series for learning and growing in photography.  Don’t forget to tag your photos with #TheAuthenticPortrait!