What sort of skills appear in a skill tree for photography?


What this tree attempts to cover is the skills not covered already by the tree diagram in the original post. Look at that post to see some of the shared concepts between photography and videography. These are a number of skills and components exclusive to photography that doesn’t really relate to or have a crossover with videography.

If you like the idea of learning photography, you’re going to need a lot of skills but also a lot of gear. It can be an expensive hobby, both in time invested as well as money spent!

See the other skill trees here!

This was originally all going to be covered in one post but it was far too large to load so it has been split into individual posts.

The benefit of course being better load times for you, and a chance for me to briefly explain each tree.

See the other posts here;

Let me see – skill tree for photography

A quick explanation of the skill tree


Why are some items bold?

I’ve bolded the Keyboard Shortcuts boxes because to me this is like a necessity for everyone and anyone who wants to take this stuff seriously. Each of those programs, Lightroom and Photoshop, have enormous amounts of features and power.

All this is at your fingertips, and by no means do you need to be the master of these massively involved software programs. But you definitely don’t want to be floundering around with the mouse looking for something that can be quickly selected within half a second or less by a simple keystroke.

It will take time, but consider it an investment into yourself!

This tree covers the majority of the things that have occupied me over the past 12 months or so, but it doesn’t even begin to cover the details and specifics of actually going into Lightroom. To try and figure out your importing workflow, set your presets, learn about keywording or play with the endless editing options will take many hours.

Photoshop is the same, the sheer power available with that program is beyond my wildest dreams. A program so involved that I doubt I’ll ever be very good with it, but to know the basics to me is important. Learning the basic helps to understand photos better in general, and it helps you to think in new creative ways.

Try to consider the enormous power behind the programs, or your equivalent editing software, as a gift. Try to banish the idea that it is an overly complicated program designed purely to mock you and highlight your inadequacy (which is how I tend to feel).


But you’ve missed concept x, y, z!!

Sorry, but not really.

It’s not intended as a complete run down of photography principles as a whole. It is just a way to show an example of the things I have delved into on my journey of educating myself. I consider it a good overview showcasing the massive variety on offer, without ever getting 6 or 7 levels deep.

Remember also that the original post does have some things which are as relevant to videography as they are to photography. Things like iso, aperture, focal length and metering is the very beginning of the process and then when you get more specific you arrive at this branch of the tree.

Also keep in mind that I could have simply overlooked something amid the confusion of trying to write a mammoth post and the computer struggling to handle all the logic involved. It became a tedious process and I have no doubt that I have forgotten a bunch of things that I have had to practice in the field.

However this just helps to illustrate the enormity of skill paths on offer for those who want to be content creators. On top of this, each individual piece of gear requires a short getting-to-know-you period of its own, especially if you ever swap camera brands or try to change software editing program.

You could very well decide to specialise in a certain area like timelapse photography and commit massive time to your craft whereas someone else will focus on portraiture. I haven’t included portraiture here because I personally haven’t spent time learning about it, so you can only imagine the amount of things missing off this skill tree!

What’s the best way to learn these skills?

You’ll hear a lot of people that recommend you just “get out there and do it”.

I disagree.

I think having your camera is an important step, but there’s a lot of stuff you can learn before that happens. I read a lot of magazines and watched even more Youtube videos. Each has pros and cons.

I’d recommend the videos and definitely create your own playlists on Youtube with all of your favourite videos. I have playlists for;

  • Photography
  • Videography
  • FCPX
  • Photoshop
  • Lightroom
  • and many more!

Since we’re talking about photography I’ll direct you to the most helpful and underrated Youtube channel for learning photography;

Mike Smith

I’ve spoken about him in my post on the best youtube channels for learning photography and no, I don’t know him. I just find his videos to be the most well rounded products on the platform.

I’ll briefly list some reasons;

  • He doesn’t waffle on for no reason
  • He is a great teacher who speaks well and teaches at a a good pace
  • His production values are first rate
  • He credits others who have given him ideas or links to other videos he thinks will be helpful
  • He has videos for all of your photography questions


Getting out & About with your gear

Eventually once you’ve purchased some gear you’ll need to have a detailed look at it. I try to consider them as tools that you use to create a finished product.

As an electrician I worked with a lot of tools, they were kept in a tool belt or a tool bag. I knew where every single tool lived and when or why each tool needed to be used. Every tool with a purpose and every tool with a place.

I try to see the photography gear as the same. The camera is your toolbag. The functions of the camera are the tools, the custom buttons and function menus are the places for the tools that let you complete your job in a more efficient way.

You can learn all this at home if you’re not confident. Watch a video and follow along in front of your computer to get ideas and start the muscle memory process.


That applies to me just as much as it does to any beginner. I love knowing everything, but with all the functions of the camera you’ll adapt as you figure out your shooting style. So have a play, set some custom buttons and learn where they all are.

Eventually you’ll be out in the field having a crack and you will pick up your own habits and preferences will change.

Try to have fun as you go and don’t worry about what you don’t know.

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