A lifelong photography enthusiast, Mark Decker enjoys spending as much time as possible behind the camera. Although Decker currently possesses a high level of knowledge regarding the components of a camera and the fundamentals of effective photography, he nevertheless spent many years learning the basics. Below you will find a handful of tips, courtesy of Mark Decker, to help beginners scale the photography learning curve. Determine the story of the photo: Before framing the photograph and determining exposure settings, you should take the time to think about the context of the photo and what story it will tell. Photographers of all skill and experience levels should always consider the purpose of the photograph before even beginning to set up for it. Whether you wish to capture an emotional moment or simply a point in history, the composition of the photograph has a tremendous effect on the overall impact. Identify the visual focal point: Before taking the photograph, you should determine the items within the photo most likely to draw the attention of the viewer. Once you have identified the focal point, you should orient your photo around it, which often involves placing it close to the center of the photograph. According to Mark Decker, you should also make an effort to locate competing focal points that may detract from the quality of the image. Pay attention to lighting: Depending on the type and amount of available light, you may want to adjust your shutter speed, ISO, and aperture settings somewhat significantly. According to Mark Decker, if you fail to account for the intensity and location of light sources, you may end up with a blurry or grainy final product.