My Journey With Photography //

Flower Bed ~ April 2016

It was flowers that brought me to photography back in 2012 and since then I've gone through a steep learning curve in terms of taking pictures.  For those of you that have followed me since my Tumblr site, you'll recognise some of the progress I've made (you can have a good laugh at some of my early attempts here and here!).  These days, I'm so lucky to have some great photography buddies who I can turn to for help and advice on the best lens to get, which workshops to attend and friends where I can pick-up my camera and go off on mini photography adventures together.  These friends are incredibly patient, don't make me feel like a complete failure for not knowing all about the technical terms and have been the main source of my improved photos and I can't thank them enough (you know who you are!).  

So, I thought I'd share what's helped me to improve my photography from practically zero knowledge, to someone who can occasionally take a good pic and when I mean zero knowledge, I mean zero knowledge!!  Yes - I was the person who didn't know what 'format' meant and deleted all my photos from my life in London on a summer holiday in Italy.  Thankfully, my patient friend Paula accompanied me to a little photography shop in Amalfi, where despite my lack of Italian and clear incompetence with a camera, they managed to save my photos to a DVD and charged me a tiny sum to do it (probably the best 10 Euros I've ever spent!).  Safe to say, since then, I've never forgotten what 'format' means and I regularly save my photos to my computer!

So, this list is for anyone who's on the same journey as me (whatever stage you're at) from novice snapper to aspiring David Bailey.  Like everything in life, people learn differently and what helps some may not help others.  But in recording this (mainly for myself) I'm hoping that some of the tips may help you too.  Here goes!

Top Tips To Improve Your Photography

  1. Start with what you have and get out there and take pictures.  Don't go and buy really expensive gear to start with (invest as you go) and just get into the habit of looking and photographing.  Remember that saying - Practice makes perfect?  Well, it's true for improving your photography too!  When I started taking pictures on my City & Guilds Floristry course I used a basic Samsung point-and-shoot, I then progressed to a Fuji bridge camera, before meeting my friend Jen and getting my Canon EOS-M last summer.  I started with the kit lens (EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6) and in January this year, I progressed to a fancy 'nifty fifty'.  
  2. Feed your inspiration but not your self-doubt.  Look at photographs that you like and try to work out what it is you like about them.  Is it the composition, atmosphere, lighting, styling...?  I feed on visual candy with my favourite blogs, Pinterest, magazines (Oh Comely, Digital Camera...) and social media (mainly Instagram).  My favourite photographers are:
  3. Learn through doing.  You could spend hours reading your camera manual or photography books, but for me, I learn through doing and getting out regularly with my camera keeps my skills up and creativity fresh.  That said, I would recommend Canon EOS-M From Snapshots to Great Shots as a great book for people using EOS-M's.
  4. Invest in workshops that focus on the areas you want to learn more about.  To start with, I attended a Beginners Photography course at our Adult College.  This really helped to explain some of the basics and I was learning with others who were at a similar stage to me.  Last year, I learnt all about lighting principles at Myerscough College and this year, I'm focusing on portraits, attending a Fine Art Portraits workshop at Aspire Photography Training in September.
  5. Record your progress.  Fine somewhere to capture your progress with photography as this will really help with those frustrating days when you feel like you're not improving fast enough.  Being able to look back at where you started and where you are now is a real motivator.  You could start a blog, post to Instagram or start a shared Facebook page like me and Jen did.  


So, all of the above helped me.  These are my plans for improving my photography going forwards...

My Photography Goals (May 2016)

  • Attend Fine Art Portraits workshop at Aspire Photography Training on 1st September 2016.
  • Learn how to organise my photos and use Lightroom with this online course ~Photo Organisation with Lightroom.  {Registration opens 29th August and the 6-week course runs from the 26th September 2016}.
  • Make photography part of my everyday.  I know it's early to be talking about Christmas, but this December Daily project caught my eye and would be the perfect way to keep up with my photography during the month of least natural light.  It may also force me to slow down and focus on the present, in a month that's always fraught with busyness.
  • Save-up funds for my photography wishlist:
    • Canon EF 28mm 1.8 lens (I did have my eye on this, but it's way beyond what I can afford so, on the recommendation from one of my photo buddies, this seems a good alternative).
    • Reflector (needed for my Fine Art Portraits workshop in September).
    • Lens cleaning kit (not that expensive or exciting, but necessary).
    • A new camera bag to protect my collection of lenses.  This one looks stylish and practical!

If you have any top tips, workshop recommendations or favourite photographers you think I should check out please let me know in the comments.  I'd love to hear your words of wisdom!