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Straight from the horse's mouth!



In the early days of my career I shot loads of black and white photography for businesses needing photos for ads and advertorials in newspapers and trade press. 

Back in those days few such publications were in colour and if they were colour adverts carried a hefty surcharge. So most customers wanted nice contrasty black and white prints which I loved making myself in the darkroom.

Sometimes I'd shoot on colour film so they had an option should they need it long term, but would print in black and white for the initial publication.

Colour negatives don’t have much contrast and it took a lot of experimentation before I mastered ‘publication quality’ black and white hand prints. I loved my darkroom and the excitement of seeing the image come alive in the development tray under that red light was wonderful.

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In Full Focus

The short answer here is no. You don’t need photography qualifications to be a photographer.

However, there is a lot to learn about photography, from creative to technical aspects and many people choose to study these things in a classroom - usually with a formal qualification at the end. That’s absolutely fine, and there are many colleges and universities that have fantastic courses to help you do this. 

I’m mostly a self taught photographer, but I did attend some evening classes in the past. This was a great way to learn the basics and gain technical understanding. It was especially helpful when all the fandangled editing software took off. 

The internet wasn’t even a thing back then! (I know I'm such a dinosaur…) So webinar, online courses and even YouTube tutorials were non-existent.

But really I believe that the best classroom is on the road. It’s where I really learned the art of photography, with continual practice and experimentation.

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No course is 100% perfect for everyone. It’s more about choosing the right beginner photography course for you, rather than what’s the ‘best’ one out there. 

And it will require a bit of research...

I guess that’s why you’re here reading this blog, am I right?

Well then let’s get down to business in chatting about what you should be looking for in a beginners photography course.

Taking into account that I have over 25 years of experience in photography, and the fact I run my own courses, I feel like I’ve got a good idea of what makes a great course. 

I’ve been fortunate enough to work with photographers who have all levels of experience. They also have a variety of reasons for picking up a camera in the first place… whether that is because they want to make a career out of it, or just try a new hobby. 

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1165 0138What do you picture when you think of outdoor photography? 

Most people automatically conjure up images of landscapes, nature and wildlife, macro, travel and adventure. Well, make sure to include portraiture, fashion, editorial, sports, architecture and photojournalism in the mix. 

Honestly, any style of photography can become ‘outdoor photography’ if you just do it outdoors! It’s really just an umbrella term.

Going outside with your camera opens a world of creative possibilities. 

It’s also a brilliant way to build confidence as a photographer, learning new techniques and exploring compositions that you rarely can when surrounded by four walls and a roof.

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photography workshops 011

Which is the best choice for you? A photography course or a photography workshop? I offer workshops both in the UK and abroad plus a range of exciting courses you can do from home. 

Deciding which is the best learning opportunity for you depends on you ultimately. However in this blog I want to offer as much guidance as I can for you to make an informed decision. 

We’re going to look at the advantages and disadvantages of both options. Then we will consider the benefits of each option. It’s really critical that your experience is valuable and that you leave armed with an arsenal of tools to upskill your photography. Let’s see which would work best for you.

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lanzarote workshop 024The Lanzarote photography workshop is by far one of my absolute favourite destinations. The landscape offers so many creative opportunities and the attendees always find new things to photograph! 

Last year threw a bit of a spanner in the works for travelling and I have been so excited to start thinking about workshops again. They are such a big part of what I do and I want to share with you why they’re just a fantastic experience.

This blog is going to tell you everything you need to know about:

  • Lanzarote as a destination
  • What the photography workshop includes
  • The workshop experience and what past participants have to say

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soufleWhat makes photography more than just a few point-and-shoot moments? How do we grow into a hobby that has so many facets? 

Believe me, there are a multitude of ways to make photography far more complicated than it has to be. You can be a skilled photographer without understanding every possible new functionality that is available. 

The photography basics start with five core fundamentals:

  1. Shutter speed
  2. Aperture
  3. ISO
  4. White balance
  5. Focal length

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girl in lingereFashion photography is hot, it’s happening and it’s creative as hell.

I’ve been commissioned for fashion shoots in my time and I always find them so different from my normal style of shooting because they are so styled and planned. 

Artistic license is something we all enjoy and in a prepared shoot with a brief you may expect to be limited but you still hold all the cards with the lighting, angles and emotion of the images you produce. 

Of course these generally need to satisfy a client and not just your audience so be mindful of that!

In this blog we have a real treat for you! We are going to look at a fashion photographer’s profile plus we will go through 10 great tips for fashion photography.

Dave Kai-Piper is a phenomenally talented photographer and one I have been lucky enough to meet and spend some time with. 

Dave is a deeply creative man and one who has had worldwide success with his fashion photography. 

When I spent the morning with Dave I was surprised that he was photographing someone in direct sunlight but Dave likes to do things differently. He follows his vision and creates what he pre visualises in his head - it’s all part of the process!

To help in such bright conditions, Dave used a portable Camel flash to fill shadows on the model’s face whilst keeping them in place on her surroundings. Shadows give texture and drama to an image and they bring out the texture of background objects.

Pre-visualising an image is a crucial part of thinking like a photographer. You have to know what you want from an image in order to tell the camera what to do. 

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mike browne commissions 032Professional photography has meant that I get to have fun every day. My passion for photography is the foundation for my professional career which has been challenging and rewarding. 

My knowledge and experience means that I have been able to teach photography to beginners and enthusiasts for almost thirty years. 

In our Photography Locked Down group we have some exciting photographers whose work has been selected for competition short lists and publications nationwide which just shows individual growth in their aspirations to professional photography.

This is a more personal one for me because I didn’t turn 18 and confidently pursue a career as a professional photographer. I took a more abstract route and you can too.

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legs in stripy socks

Patterns - Look for patterns in your composition. Shapes or repetition can really add to the feel of a photograph and add some creative sparkle to it.

Change the viewpoint - Don’t just shoot horizons horizontally and people vertically! Switch it up. Lie on the ground and shoot up, shoot down, try from above - be as adventurous as possible with your viewpoint. You will bring home some really great shots!

Fill the frame when you compose a photo - Don’t be afraid to fill the frame with your subject, it adds intimacy and can completely change the feel of an image.

Use leading lines - Whether a natural line created by a river or row of trees or a man-made line of road or railway. Leading lines help add depth to your image and are instrumental in leading the eye into the further reaches of the photo.

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