The summer before my freshman year in high school, my grandfather handed me his YashicaMat 124G loaded with Tri-X and encouraged me to "go take some pictures." Prior to that moment, I had never really photographed anything "just because." I remember our family always having a camera of one type or another — Polaroids, 110s, and Instamatics. In the mid-1970s, my dad got a Miranda Sensorex 35mm camera, but it was mostly taken out to document events such as birthdays or camping trips — always more of a hammer than a paint brush.

The darkroom was where I really fell in love with photography — seeing an image fade up in a tray of developer was like alchemy. More than 30 years later, despite knowing the physics and chemistry behind it, and the fact that we have largely left the analog world behind for the digital one, making pictures is just as mystical to me now as it was more than three decades ago. Photography is both an art and a science and it's the only creative endeavor whose raw material is time. Think about it — pictures are made in hundredths or even thousandths of a second. The overall time to capture an entire lifetime of photographs could add up to only a few minutes.

Inspired both by my love of photography and as a response to five years of questions from listeners of my podcast On Taking Pictures, this book is a field guide for photographers and photo enthusiasts who want to deepen their understanding and appreciation of the concepts that drive the process of photography — from the Aperture that controls how much light passes through the lens to the Zone System used in understanding and controlling that light. In addition to defining more than 170 photographic terms, the book contains tips, answers to common photographic questions, exercises to help reinforce what you've learned, and insights from some of my favorite photographers on the craft of making images.

This project is my most ambitious to date and has allowed me to pull from my background in design, illustration, and art direction to create a unique resource that I hope will inspire you to start or go deeper on your own photographic journey.

About the author

Jeffery Saddoris is a podcast host, designer, mixed media artist, and photographer. He often refers to himself as a "serial conversationalist" and podcasting has become an increasingly important platform for his lifelong interest in learning, exploring, communicating, and sharing about art and artists – between more than 6 years talking weekly about photography on On Taking Pictures, and Process Driven, his ongoing podcast of long-form conversations about creativity and how the creative process manifests itself across a wide range of genres and disciplines. Jeffery lives in Maryland with his wife and stepdaughter. Connect with him at or on Twitter and Instagram @jefferysaddoris.