Black and White Photos to Capture the Soul

In a colour-saturated world, the power of a black and white image is undeniable…


These are the sort of adjectives that spring to mind when you look at a well-executed black and white image, whether it’s a portrait of an individual, a still-life or an action shot. But what makes a particular monochrome image stand out from the crowd and how can you achieve this with your own photography?

Black and White Photography

Tricks of the Light

Photography is, if nothing else, the manipulation of light and shadow, black and white, darkness and illumination. All photographers can learn about this from the works of the Great Masters of the art world – chiaroscuro is the term used to describe the use of strong contrasts of the light in painting, photography and cinematography. Immerse yourself in the works of Rembrandt, El Greco and Caravaggio to gain an insight as to how effective this technique can be.

Understanding correctly how to use lighting in your photography can directly affect the mood of your picture – and its impact on your audience. So how do you go about achieving these different affects?

Continuous Lighting

Continuous Lighting B & W Portrait

With a reputation for over-heating and exploding, the use of continuous lighting was until recently not particularly popular. However, with the advent of more light-sensitive cameras and better fluorescent lighting, it’s now coming back into fashion. The benefit of using continuous lighting is simply to do with the quality of the light.

It’s clean and white and the nearest thing approximating natural daylight as is possible to recreate in the studio. In addition, the ability to control the source and direction of the light in your image allows photographers to create deep shadows and areas of soft natural light – making it the perfect choice for glamorous and romantic portraits and fashion shoots.

Once you’ve mastered the technique, you’ll be able to conjure up the glamour of old Hollywood within your own studio!

Multi-Dimensional Lighting

Multi Dimensional Lighting Portrait

Using multi-directional light sources in a portrait can achieve stunning ad-agency style results. Set up four or five different light sources trained at your subject and you’ll find that shadows soften to become unnoticeable and that the light will appear to literally wrap itself around your model.

The results can be both illuminating and flattering. The technique here is to start with the maximum amount of light possible and then to dial it down to achieve the desired effect. Skin will look smoother and small blemishes and wrinkles will all but disappear.

Natural Lighting

Natural Black and White Portrait

Whether you’re shooting outside in the daylight or using continuous lighting within the studio to create a daytime effect, naturally lit portrait photographs are generally the most desirable way to capture a beautiful ‘real-life’ image of your sitter.

Taking pictures out in the open, however, is a completely different ball game to working in the studio. You have one source of light and its position is fixed. On bright, sunny days it can be too harsh, while on a cloudy winter afternoon it’s never bright enough.

But if you can take advantage of natural light for your picture, you’ll find that the results will be worth the effort. When the sun’s too bright, use a shaded area in place of a diffuser to soften the glare. Clouds act as a natural diffuser, so an overcast day can give you beautifully softened images.

In doors, you can use sunlight bleeding through a window to great effect. Choose where you position your subject in relation to the window with care, and use a sheer if you need to soften the light.

Adding Depth and Drama

Dramatic Lighting Portrait

Remember chiaroscuro? The painters who mastered this technique were suddenly able to add not just dimension and depth of field to their compositions but they could also alter the mood and the emotional impact of their work.

As a photographer, this is where your artistry can come to the fore. Sure, you have to master the technicalities of photography to produce professional looking images, but to be really successful, you need to take it a step further.

Black and white images in particular allow you to play with the light and shade in a painterly fashion. For serious portraits and documentary photography, creating deep shadows can be used to provide commentary and context to your subject.

Australian photographer Bill Henson is particularly adept at creating mystery and foreboding with the use of light and shadow in his photographic portraits. When you look at his work, you can’t help but think of Rembrandt and Caravaggio.

Selling Stock Photography Is a MASSIVE Industry…

…And Will Continue To Be For Years To Come! Why?

Selling Stock Photography – A Mini Course

The criteria for producing stock photography is too high for most businesses to achieve in terms of time scale and equipment. No matter how good they make digital cameras, and no matter how many people use them, there is still a strict guideline to follow before submitting any work.

Normally companies are too busy taking care of their main core of business and simply don’t want to start taking their own photographs. That is where you come in!

Many agencies and businesses around the world do not have the time or resources to take their own quality stock photographs, whether for a local press release or a massive advertising campaign.

Photographs worthy of a stock library need to be immaculate! They need to be well taken, well exposed, clean, high resolution and most importantly, what the customer is looking for!

A great snapshot of your dog in the garden just won’t do, no matter how cute he looks. The resolution needs to be buffed up to around 50mb WITHOUT losing quality.

Selling Stock Photography

Amateurs or beginners. If your camera isn’t capable of this, don’t fret, there are agencies that will accept smaller sized images from anything over 6-8 mega pixel cameras, they are called “micro-stock agencies”, so there is hope for us all. No matter what your experience level, if you have photos on your hard drive, and have a basic “eye” for photography, you can start earning now with these smaller agencies. More…

Follow the links and by the end, you should be producing high quality photographs that will be accepted by most agencies. More importantly, you can start earning money!

  • What equipment will I need?
  • What do I take photos of?
  • How many photos do I need?
  • What is the required standard?
  • How can I get my photographs up to the required standard?
  • What agencies should I approach?
  • How much can I earn selling stock photography?
  • A 2007 update for the World of Stock Photography
  • A 2009 update for the World of Stock Photography
  • Selling Premium Stock Photography
  • Further Suggested Reading on How to Sell Stock Photos…

Learn Photography Online

NEW: If you want to know all there is to know about shooting and selling stock photography, this may well interest you!

We have now released a brand new private, social media membership section/training center to ATP and have put our entire 2 day, offline stock photography course online which includes all you need to know about selling your images including:

  • What to shoot
  • How to shoot it
  • What NOT to shoot (and waste your time)
  • Where to upload and how
  • Sample rejections and the reasons why
  • Sample images that have sold well with the actual earnings
  • How much you can earn
  • Includes over 3.5 hours of video tutorials!

There are also courses on using a DSLR training, an absolute beginners section and wedding photography (including the entire Wedding Photography Blueprint DVD’s) with a total of 16 hours of video tutorials and MUCH more. You won’t want to miss this…

Please Note: If you don’t want to commit to a membership site as detailed above, we have also released the content in a new eBook on selling stock photography but please bear in mind, this does not include the 3.5 hours of video. You can get more details using the link below:

How to Sell Stock Photos

Alternatively, as a taster, you can download our first video from the membership site for just $3. This is a 7 minute video describing what equipment is recommended for starting out on the road to shooting stock photography.

Better Digital Photography

15 Essential tips to Better Digital Photography

(Written 2007) – There’s a boom about to…well, BOOM! In fact, it has already been booming for some time now. As digital photography gathers momentum, technology bounds on and prices lower, more and more people are taking up photography a little more seriously than before.

Better Digital Photography - © ATP

Maybe digital photography is popular because the staff at the local lab don’t need to see your efforts while learning anymore. Maybe it’s because you can shoot a gazillion photos at no extra cost. (Please note: a gazillion is quite a lot and you would need a memory card the size of a bus – therefore it is not a word…yet)!

Whatever the reason for its popularity, digital photography, in my opinion, hasn’t even started yet. With the popularity of consumer DSLR’s such as the Nikon D90, D5100, D7000…, the Canon EOS Digital Rebel TLi or the 50D, 60D, 5D Mark II…all starting to fall to an affordable level, sales will inevitably increase rapidly.

The boom is expected to continue as companies like Canon and Nikon prepare to do further battle for your hard-earned cash.

With this boom of “professional style” camera ownership there comes a problem too.

It is all too easy to think that just because you have an all singing, all dancing DSLR, you are then a photographer who can maybe cope with a wedding or two.

There are many websites springing up giving advice on digital photography, but some have not a single photograph on them.

There is a lot more to photography than the equipment and there is a lot more to starting a photography business than that. These tips on better digital photography are aimed at the beginner, newbie or starter that wants to learn with a step by step approach, take things slowly but surely and eventually take better digital photography.

There is absolutely no reason why anybody cannot make a living at photography, but it takes time, dedication and determination (and a camera or two)! As a well known Nun once sang…”start at the very beginning!” That is where we shall start, by simply holding the camera.

Note: Each page leads to the next “Better Digital Photography” tip, so there is no need to keep back-pedaling to here. Use the links at the bottom of each page.

  1. Holding the SLR
  2. Keep both eyes open
  3. Follow the subject
  4. Compose yourself and the image
  5. See the light
  6. Changing of the lens
  7. Try a filter
  8. Play with the ISO settings
  9. Play with Depth of field
  10. Play with shutter speeds
  11. See in black and white
  12. Use a tripod
  13. Keep ’em peeled
  14. Points of view
  15. Break the rules

Once you have completed this mini-course, be sure to check out our super awesome members section where you have a totally huge abundance of extended training including DSLR tips, wedding photography, stock photography, starting a business and more…

Wedding Photo Tips for Amateurs

Thinking of Shooting a Wedding? Read This First…

The first of my wedding photo tips for amateurs is that if you are being paid for photographing a wedding, but unsure of what you are doing…don’t do it until you have researched everything thoroughly!

NEW: Our Wedding Photography Blueprint DVD’s have been completely revamped and updated for the multimedia era and now include a whopping 8 DVD’s! This “business in a box” now has everything you need to start up and run a successful wedding photography business.

Wedding Photography Blueprint DVD's

13 hours of classroom and location sessions, 2 hours of business training, 4 interviews, 5 eBooks…

You can either watch these through the standard DVD’s OR you can now watch the entire course online using your computer, Smartphone or Tablet any time, anywhere and in glorious high definition.

We even have a number of payment options to suit every budget to ensure you are able to get started in wedding photography right away!

Click Here for More Info


Wedding Photo Tips for Amateurs

Wedding Photo Tips for Amateurs

Seem a little harsh?

Let’s put it this way, wedding photography is probably the most demanding and stressful style of photography there is. Some professionals may argue that point but to expand on what I mean;

  • You get one chance at a wedding There is no re-shoot if you mess up!
  • The Bride and Groom are relying on you – In fact the whole family and most of the wedding party are relying on you.
  • You must be prepared – You must know the church, reception, the route to both and the names of the families off by heart.
  • Your equipment must not fail you – You must have back-up cameras, fully charged batteries, enough media (film or digital), and an assistant if you can.

Has that put you off? Mmmm the force is strong in this one

This section is not meant to put you off wedding photography, my wedding photo tips for amateurs (if that is what you are), are meant to do the opposite, to encourage you. However, it is important that you know all the facts before you commit to any job. Let me expand further on the points above!

Wedding Photo Tips for Amateurs – One Shot

This is it! You get one chance and one chance alone at this, the couple have probably prepared for over a year for “The happiest day of their life” . Weddings cost money and your time and photography skills are no exception, they are paying for a professional wedding photographer and that is what they should get.

Now don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to produce award-winning wedding photography every step of the way, like you see in magazines or in the portfolios of some of the greatest wedding photographers! By professional I mean courteous, polite, ON TIME , efficient and happy. Remember, this is a happy day for everyone.

You should consider taking out indemnity insurance against any eventuality that may arise, the couple are quite within their rights to sue if things go wrong.

Wedding Photo Tips for Amateurs – Reliable or Liable?

When the wedding couple asked you to photograph their wedding (even if it is just friends) they put their trust in you 100% . They will have enough to think about on the day and trust me, the photographer is furthest from their mind. Your photos will hopefully adorn their coffee table for a long, long time as something for them (and you) to be proud of.

But it’s not just the couple. I have on more than one occasion, had to put a wedding photography album, or DVD together for both sets of parents too, and even some guests. Of course, nowadays many people take cameras to weddings, but it is you that is ultimately responsible for recording the event, and you are getting paid for it usually.

Wedding Photo Tips for Amateurs – Are you ready?

How can I say this without sounding like an old school book? “Prior preparation prevents poor performance”! Oh well, I can’t, but it does make sense, especially with wedding photography.

If you haven’t bothered to meet most of the wedding party, done a practice run, visited the church and reception or found some nice, suitable areas for the “special” shots, then you are not ready. How embarrassing would it be to get the couples names wrong, or turn up late because you got lost? Your number one priority other than taking the photos, is to prepare for the day.

As I said before, the couple have probably prepared for a long time so the least you can do is the same. See the checklist at the middle of this page. You would do well to print it off for reference too.

Remember, the list is just a general guide for you to plan your day. Most weddings are shot “reportage” style these days and this list is now quite dated.

Wedding Photo Tips for Amateurs – You DO have a camera?

I read a lot of the photography forums on the web and one question about wedding photography that always crops up is “What equipment will I need?”. If you are asking that question, you are still a way off from being ready to photograph a wedding. Many people reply by saying it’s not the equipment but the photographer that makes the images! Whereas I agree with this to an extent, it doesn’t mean you can turn up to a wedding with a digital compact camera and a step ladder.

The minimum quality I would use is a 35mm SLR film camera or an 8 mega pixel Digital SLR, both of these are capable of producing up to A1 prints.

A selection of lenses ranging from ultra wide angle to medium telephoto for a start, and if possible with a large aperture of F2.8. At least one decent speedlight, preferably dedicated to your camera so you have less to think about. Oh, and I was serious about the stepladder earlier, sometimes it is needed for the really big group shots.

I remember once having to climb up a 4 stepladder to get all 130 people in. Doesnt sound that bad, but when both hands are operating the camera it gets quite hairy. (Quick tip: A huge shout from me and a 5 shot burst later, I do believe we goteverybody in the wedding party looking at the camera, including babies).

You must know your equipment inside out. You must understand how it works and how to make instant changes to cope with unforeseen circumstances. You must have a spare camera and batteries, and the batteries must be fully charged (it is easy to forget simple points like that, I have known, erm people who have had to stop at a garage on the way to the reception, to load up!)

Above all, once you are confident, have fun and enjoy the experience. Unfortunately, it comes with the territory of wedding photography, that you will at some point get in the way, and you may get some grief from the guests. As long as you are polite and as efficient as possible, the day should go smoothly.

Flash Photography Can Be a Bit Hit or Miss

Use Our Guide And Tips For Better Flash Photography

Good flash photography can open up a whole new world of creativity and add another string to your bow! For many people, your flash gun can be your best friend or your least used bit of kit! The aim of this section, is to show you how to use a flash gun more effectively and to give consistently better results.

As you can see from the example below, direct flash will give you harsh shadows, reflections of the flashlight on surfaces behind the subject and a “cool” look to the picture. Whereas, by simply bouncing the flash you lose the reflections and shadows and get a much more pleasing, warm and natural look.

Many people spend good money on the latest flashguns, with all the gizmos and buttons, thinking that is all they need and then realise it can take a bit more effort to get the desired results.

The main problem when shooting flash photography is the size of the actual flash tube in the head (or the lack of size to be more precise). By aiming directly at the subject you are simply asking for trouble so a little help is needed. As in the section below, you can if possible, bounce and tilt the head to reflect the light from another surface thereby diffusing the light. An alternative would be to tape some tissue or cloth over the end of the flash or buy a dedicated flash diffuser, again to diffuse the harsh light. Many speedlights now have a built in mini diffuser that you can flip out when required.

My main advice if using a shoe mounted flash gun on an SLR? Take it off the camera. You will significantly reduce the chance of redeye whilst at the same time produce a much more pleasing effect. Either hold it in your hand and bounce the light until you get the desired effect or use a bracket to attach it to the base of your camera and allows you to fire the flash backwards into a brolly for example.

Flash Photography Tips Flash Photography Tips
Direct Flash
Bounced Flash

You could even buy a long enough cable and look for an adaptor that will allow you to attach one or two flashguns to a tripod. This use of flash photography will be about as near to studio quality without actually having a studio. Basically, once you have one or two flashguns, play about with them and learn how the light actually works. Once you master it, you can get away without owning expensive studio lights for just about any occasion!

One of my favourite techniques for speedlight photography is to use two speedlights, off camera, with a set of Pocket Wizards. These are without doubt, the handiest piece of lighting kit I have used other than traditional studio lights. They can be fired via radio signals from incredible distances and still utilize your camera’s ETTL system allowing your speedlights to retain full auto capability.

The following links are just a short, simple guide to get you started, there are MANY different ways of using flashguns in your photography, and just as many TYPES of flashgun, the best advice is to practice, practice, practice!

Digital Camera Cleaning and Maintenance

Cleaning Lenses, Sensors, Mirrors…

Digital camera cleaning and maintenance is something many photographers (including myself) neglect to do with sometimes costly consequences.

Camera Cleaning and Maintenance

It is too easy to come home after a days shooting, whip out the memory card, have a play with your new images and forget all about maintenance of your kit.

If you are like me, anything new that I buy over time (car, motorbike, watch, glasses etc), get cleaned immaculately at least once a day. Then after a few weeks it falls to once a week or so and then just “on the odd occasion” or when they look really dirty.

Because photography is my livelihood, I have to physically make myself grab my camera bag, go and sit somewhere quiet and take a good half an hour to an hour after a shoot to clean every piece of equipment that I have used.

This kit has cost thousands and its cleanliness has a direct bearing on the quality of my images and the longevity of its use. Not only that but as I upgrade my equipment, I may want to sell on my old cameras at the best price.

These are the checks that I make;

Digital Camera Cleaning and Maintenance – Lenses

Obviously take great care when cleaning the glass, it is what makes the lenses so expensive and costly to repair or replace. Use only fine tissue paper and alcohol solutions that are designed for camera optics. Clean both the front and rear elements using a blower brush first to remove any dust particles.

The last thing you want to do is scrape even the smallest piece of dust across your lens.

I also use the bristles of a blower brush to clean in between the moving parts of the external barrel. This prevents a build up of dirt over time and maintains smooth operation whilst helping to prevent dust from entering the internal optics.

Make sure you clean the brush or replace it often too otherwise you simply end up smearing minute particles of grease and dirt onto the lens.

Digital Camera Cleaning and Maintenance – Camera Sensor

The most talked about and asked about issue with Digital SLR maintenance is the sensor and the accumulation of dust. If you are altogether unsure of how to go about it, wait until any sensor dust is at a point where it is unbearable (most specs are easily and quickly removed in editing), and then take it to be professionally cleaned.

Damaging a sensor is expensive…

If you intend to do it yourself, just be careful. Set the camera to manual with a 30 second exposure. You will need time to clean the sensor but using the bulb setting (“B”) could be a mistake.

If whilst cleaning the sensor, you accidentally close the shutter you are in danger of damaging the mirror, shutter, sensor or all three. Even if you use a remote release set to “B”, the batteries on the remote could give out and close the shutter prematurely.

With a fully charged battery in your camera and a 30 second delay, you know where you are.

Once the shutter is open, hold the camera up so that the sensor is facing down, and use the blower (without the brush) to blow any dust away from the sensor.

N.B. The camera is held this way to allow any dust to fall out of the camera and the brush is removed in case it touches the sensor and adds grease smears or dust to it rather than removing it.

If the sensor is really dirty, you are able to buy cleaning kits with swabs where you physically touch the sensor to “swipe” away dirt. Again, you need slight of hand and great care to do this so if unsure, seek professional help.

Digital Camera Cleaning and Maintenance – Mirror/focussing screen

Unless I can barely see through the viewfinder (exaggeration), I tend to leave the mirror and focussing screen alone apart from a quick blow/swipe with the blower brush. The only time I would give it more attention is if it were to run the risk of transferring dust to the sensor.

Dust on the mirror or screen has no effect on the final image so any dust you see on these through the viewfinder, won’t affect the photograph (although excessive dust on the screen “may” affect the accuracy of focussing).

Once again, be careful as the mirror in particular is extremely sensitive and easily scratched.

Digital Camera Cleaning and Maintenance – Outer casing

Even though it is mostly aesthetic, it is still important to try and keep the external workings clean. The dirt on the outside can easily make its way inside, particularly if you change lenses often with dirty hands.

I give it a quick once over with the blower brush first and then a quick rub with a lens cloth or dustcloth. I usually do the outer parts before the inner. This reduces the chance of dirt transferring itself inside.

Digital Camera Cleaning and Maintenance – Accessories

Most accessories have mechanical or electronic workings so it is just as important to keep these clean to help with their longevity. For example, the battery contacts in a speedlight or remote switch need a quick clean now and again just to prevent any build up of dirt or even rust.

A failing accessory can be as disastrous as a failing camera in certain situations, especially paid ones.

Digital Camera Cleaning and Maintenance – The Bag

This is something that many people wouldn’t consider but the quickest way for cameras, equipment and accessories to become dirty is if you have a dirty camera bag or holdall.

Dust, dirt, sand and even bits of Mother Nature (leaves, grit etc) are easily accumulated when out and about.

Remove all equipment once in a while and just Hoover/vacuum the bag thoroughly inside and out.

All of this seems a bit tedious but once I have done it I feel surprisingly good and happy with myself. I also know that when I go out shooting or turn up to a paid job, the equipment is in tip-top condition.

Film vs Digital

The Debate Goes On…And On…

Film vs Digital – If I was to drive from my home in the West Country of England all the way to Scotland I’d choose my comfortable, familiar 1.8 Hatchback. Imagine how surprised I’d be if I was stopped at Carlisle by a Traffic Warden who told me my car was unable to go any further, and that I’d need a 4 Litre SUV to continue the trip.

But that’s pretty much what a camera shop salesman tried to tell me last week. His theory was that the only way forward was with digital photography. I gave him my opinion, and after a while he agreed with me that I had a point.

My much loved Canon AE-1P is still going strong, still capable of producing quality pictures after all these years (I bought it in 1982). It’s never “gone out of date”. In fact, my twenty odd year old camera is almost as up to date as the newly arrived Canon EOS 350D. And that will continue for a few more years yet. Don’t believe me..? Every time a new film emulsion comes out I can load it and use it, updating the vital heart of my camera, and restoring my cutting edge performance.

So, am I a sad old dinosaur who hides in dusty corners of old photography shops, searching for a left handed double spigot external widget from 1965? No, I also have a Canon EOS 300 35mm film camera so I have auto focus and partial metering too. I lust after a Canon EOS 350D like a lot of other photographers, and one day I’ll have one. But for now and maybe for a few years more my old film camera still has a number of advantages over digital.

So what possible advantages does waiting a week or more for my Sensia andVelvia to be developed and posted back to me have over the instant images of digital?

Well, it’s really simple. In my price bracket, film resolution still has a vast edge over digital. And even an entry level Digital SLR with one lens costs more than my entire gadget bag of bodies and lenses that I’ve built up over a number of years. Another point to consider is that I have a hard copy of my photo session in the shape of the film I shoot.

like slide film, so I can see my pictures, evaluate them and select the best ones, that’s half the fun of photography, be it digital or film based! If I shot print film I’d even have a sheaf of pictures to show round the family. You can’t do that with digital pics without visiting a photo lab anyway. With film I’m not worried that an error will delete the contents of my camera’s chip (yes it has happened to a friend of mine), admittedly it was partly his fault but that didn’t get his pictures back.

How about Photoshop? That’s the biggest advantage of digital photography these days! Surely I don’t want to deny myself this valuable photographic tool? No I don’t! I take advantage of it all the way! I select my very best shots (or ones I need a little help with) – and get them scanned to a very high resolution by a local photo lab (and use Photoshop to do things undreamed of a few years ago in the darkroom). I can then get a good big print made to hang on the wall.

do have a digital, a great little compact. The 5Mp Canon S50 in my gadget bag alongside my Canon AE-1P and my Canon EOS 300 35mm film cameras. I think I have the best of all possible worlds! I can shoot digital, I can use Photoshop, and I can produce REALLY big poster size pictures for walls anywhere…can you? No, not without a Hasselblad 22Mp professional camera costing many thousands of pounds.

There is a possibility that I’ll still be using my old Canon long after some of the shiny new digital cameras are out of production. So my gadget bag will alwayshave a corner for my old film body and a lens or two even after I’ve got a top of the range Digital camera – just so long as I can still get the film that is.

Learning to See Creatively

An Article By Ken Caleno

Learning to see creatively

Developing a creative eye is about seeing things in a different way; a personal visual opinion rather than obvious point of view.

When we first use a camera we take pictures of all the obvious things around us, landmarks, people we know, family pets, Uncle George etc. This is all a very necessary part of learning photography and after repeatedly taking these pictures, boredom starts to creep in.

If we get bored enough, we tend to look further than the obvious for our photographic subjects, hopefully encouraging us to interpret these subjects in a different manner – but, as we so often see, some people continuously take boring pictures, until they become experts at doing so.

The problem is that we all have pre-conceived ideas about how something should look, and that is what we photograph, so if we want to be creative we must drop these pre-conceptions, and start looking at things from a small child’s “innocence”.

  • What would a worm see if it looked up?
  • Spend a day taking photos of everyday things from a height of 600mm to 800mm, how a small child would view them.
  • Isolate part of an overall scene, using the camera’s viewfinder.
  • Show things how they are not normally viewed.
  • Use light creatively, to show texture.
  • Give mood to, or produce silhouetted shapes.
  • Use telephoto lenses for landscapes, wide angle lenses for portraits.
  • Take photos into the sun.
  • Take pictures while jumping in the air.
  • Place horizons where you want them to be.

After a while creative vision becomes as natural as breathing, and when this occurs, you can concentrate on capturing the moment:

  • The peak of action.
  • A fleeting glance.
  • Certain lighting conditions.

Learn all the “Rules” of composition, and then see how many you can break while still communicating powerful images. Try not focusing on the point of interest, instead focus on shape, or form. Decide what you want to emphasise, what message you want to convey to the viewer.

A part of learning to see creatively is to look for pictures within pictures. Try looking at a scene through a 28mm wide-angle lens, then change to a 100mm telephoto lens and see how many different pictures you can isolate within that scene.

When you possess the ability to creatively “see”, you will never again have to worry about the problems encountered in photography or anything that may have to do with your camera equipment. But how will you know when you have reached the level of being an “A-1″ Lens-person, with the ability to see things from a photographic perspective?”

Practice, practice, practice and apply everything you have learnt from photography to your shooting sessions. As they say, practice makes perfect, and as I say:

Perfect Practice makes Perfect”.

And you must learn how to utilise all the techniques required until they have become second nature to you. You need to know how and when to utilise the required techniques of photography and camera, and lenses to create the images you want, finally providing the answers to those questions which you have kept asking yourself .

To know whether you are doing things right when learning to “see” creatively: Are you asking yourself the three basic questions before you embark on a shooting session or assignment?

Remember. They are:

  1. What is the main subject of the photograph?
  2. How do I highlight the main subject of the photograph?
  3. What do I leave out?

Beginning Digital Photography

So you have bought a DSLR (Digital SLR)…now what?

You are beginning digital photography and have just joined the world of the “keen amateur photographer” and bought yourself a new Digital SLR, but what do all those bits and buttons actually do?

Beginning Digital Photography - © ATP

Image Copyright All Things Photography

The way things were going with pricing and technology with regard to digital cameras, I saw a definite boom about to happen with regard to Digital SLR sales back in 2004. Now a good few years on I couldn’t have been more right!

For people who have previously owned film cameras or simple point and shoot digital cameras, and now as prices start to fall for the more exclusive semi professional DSLR’s, the opportunity to join the rest of us in the exciting world of the DSLR (Digital SLR) is more affordable than ever when beginning digital photography.

This new breed of cameras is quite simply amazing and I sometimes despair when I read reviews and forum comments that air their disappointment when a new camera just released hasn’t addressed the issue of “having to go to the menu” to make an alteration, for example.

When you are reading reviews about a certain digital SLR camera that you wish to buy, please take them with a pinch of salt.

The reviewers are there to delve full on into every possible avenue open for discussion and any of their personal gripes should not put you off.

If all cameras were released with everyone’s whims being catered for, the camera would simply have no room for a viewfinder or a lens because of the hundreds of buttons scattered everywhere. What you need to do, even if you may never use them, is to learn what action each individual button, gadget and gizmo actually does, just in case you happen to need it one day.

Taking a photograph with one of these new cameras can be much more involved than with any other camera in the past, but it is also so much more fun and enlightening! The amount of control that a DSLR can give you when taking your photos means that you can now let your creativity run wild and try new things that just weren’t possible with other cameras.

Some things for you to learn or consider when beginning digital photography are;

  1. How to hold the camera
  2. Using both eyes when shooting
  3. How to capture your subject
  4. Lighting
  5. Lenses
  6. Filters
  7. ISO or ASA settings
  8. Depth of Field
  9. Shutter Speeds
  10. Black and White photography
  11. Using a Tripod
  12. Keep your eyes peeled
  13. Camera viewpoint
  14. Break the rules

For my full run down of each of these subjects, please see our Better Digital Photography for beginners section at All Things Photography.

For an in-depth explanation of what all the buttons and bits actually do on a DSLR, go to;

The Digital SLR Explained

Once you feel ready, maybe you would like to check out our private members photography section where you will accelerate your learning super quick with over 16 hours of video tutorials and an online professional photographer ready to help.

All the best and welcome to this great thing that is called photography!

You and Your Comfort Zone

Take risks and challenges head on with your photography business

Expanding on a previous article on “starting out“, I want to tell you a quick story!

One thing I have learnt over the years and especially so with my photography business is to step out of my comfort zone once in a while. It is all too easy for anyone to amble along through life keeping the reigns tightly held back on your hobby, job or career and settle for the easy route whilst deep inside you have a passion for running your own photography business one day!

Life is too short…

Comfort Zone

What holds most people back is the fear of failure or messing up a paying clients’ images coupled with the notion and fear of not “making it” in the world of professional photography. I also read regularly about people “not being quite ready” just yet.

These fears are hard to overcome and there is not much I or anyone else can say to make you feel like the time is right…it is never right! After all it took Thomas Edison 10,000 failures to finally perfect the light bulb (although some credit has to go to Joseph Swan, a British inventor who actually invented the light bulb first).

Regardless, Edison did not stop at failure number one, two three or even 9,000…he kept going and that is the point. You may well “slightly” mess up your first wedding or portrait sitting.

You might get home after shooting the interior of a hotel only to realise that your rear LCD screen when checking images for exposure was on “bright” mode and all your images are underexposed by a few stops.

As long as you have yourself covered by either shooting the wedding for free or promising a re-shoot of a portrait or property shoot should anything go wrong (as well as explaining to the client beforehand that you are a novice), you can only improve and learn by your mistakes. This all starts with getting out of your comfort zone.

This can be quite scary and nerve racking as I myself found out once.

I have a ton of high definition video gear after buying it to shoot various promotional videos and stock videography (as well as family events) so I decided to try and put it to better use.

There has always been a bit of an ongoing feud between wedding photographers and videographers as each generally battles for prime position during a wedding so I decided to try and see it from the latter’s perspective, I would video an entire wedding…something I have never done “for real” before.

After putting up an ad offering to shoot a wedding for free on my website for just a week or so, I had a taker. A young army couple from Plymouth who would be getting married in the wonderful Citadel…a 350 year old British stronghold that is still in use today. It has a quaint little chapel within its grounds and this would be followed by a reception in the 150 year old Duke of Cornwall Hotel.

All I asked was that they pay my fuel prices, my time was theirs in exchange for the opportunity to practice on them….wow, what an experience and I now have a better understanding of what videographers have to go through!

All three venues (Citadel, hotel room on second floor for dinner/speeches and basement for party, dance and “casino”) were just a short drive from each other so not too bad but from the second I set off in the morning, the wedding gremlins starting playing up!

Plymouth is about 100 miles from Weymouth and soon as I set off, the heavens opened and didn’t close for the entire journey. The rain was lashing down and was forecast to stay for the day and even to get worse. Not only that, about 10 miles into the journey, the temperature gauge on my car shot through the roof and my heart sank.

This was an ongoing historic problem with the car’s electrics which I thought were fixed. What happened before was that the instruments would all fail and the car would eventually stall and not start again for hours.

I kept my head down and carried on for 90 miles.

I limped into the hotel car park 2 hours later, turned the engine off, tried to start it again and nothing…zip..nada! It was an hour before I was meant to be at the church and I was stuck with a boot load of gear (3 cameras, three tripods, video lights, sound equipment, 2 camera bags etc) in a dead car…walking was impossible.

Luckily, the photographer called me at that point to introduce himself and after I explained my predicament, he offered to collect me and take me to the church. An hour later(!) I was still waiting…he had been caught in the Easter traffic and had moved 3.5 miles in that one hour…

When he finally arrived, we made it to the church and I had a short while to place two static cameras at key points and lock them down, do a quick sound check and make sure all media cards were running with enough space for the ceremony.

I had the Sony PMW EX1set up near the door to capture the bride arriving as well as much of the ceremony from one angle, I had another Sony HD camera behind the Padre to film the couple during the ceremony with the congregation in the background and the Canon EOS 5D Mark II on a shoulder mount to capture anything else as I moved around.

The bride arrived on time, the ceremony went well and without a hitch and the photographer and myself worked very amicably together (being a wedding photographer myself, I knew the score and kept out of his way).

Then came the fun part.

We had to go through to the back of the church, out through a door into another section to witness the signing of the register. Then we had to make the most of the break in the weather and get up onto the battlements for some nice, portraits etc and then make our way back to the hotel before the bride and groom.

Now, for a photographer, this is simple (or at least it seems that way now). You usually have one camera on the go and everything else neatly stashed in a single bag. Me, I had 3 video cameras, 2 tripods, sound equipment all over the place, a case and a rucksack to contend with.

However, with a bit of cunning planning and forethought during my reccie visit, I managed not only to cope pretty well with the stress and logistics, I was actually ready to leave for the reception before the photographer.

Lugging all that gear from his car to the front of the hotel to grab the couple arriving and then head up two flights of stairs ready for the reception was another story though…I had to get everything set up with another sound check before they made it there…

Still, I got it done and had the cameras rolling ready for the line up and start of the reception. Then came the dance…

Whilst they finished their sweet/dessert, I had to once again pack everything away and make the trip back down two flights of stairs, out onto the main road, along a bit and down into the basement for the first dance and casino/bar.

Did that and finished up with the first dance by around 9.45pm and then had to call the local garage to come and get my car moving…I had a 100 miles to drive and was already knackered!

They got it started but within 5 miles on the M5, all lights (including headlights) faded and the instruments went crazy again…luckily, after hitting the windscreen wipers everything went back to normal. This screams “electrical fault” to me so a diagnostic is in order next week.

Got to bed at about 1am totally exhausted but exhilarated by the fact that I had done what I had set out to achieve/accomplish/try out/experiment with.

I have a new found respect and kudos for wedding videographers and promise not to give them any grief at future weddings…

The morale of this article is that I was so far out of my comfort zone it wasn’t funny and all without an assistant (mental note…get an assistant). Break through that fear barrier, get out there and just go for it.

I often get moments of inspiration and motivation in life that spur me on and something that happened soon after that wedding was no exception. A family member aged just 45 died whilst sitting at his computer…no stress, no signs of pain or struggle, he just “stopped”. Apparently he had a heart condition that no-one knew about.

As I said before, life is too short!

By filming this wedding, I proved to myself that I could do something radically different to what I am used to and the same goes for anyone…if you have a dream to do something and/or want to pursue any career you fancy, you can, there is nothing stopping you except YOU!