• A moment for reflection

    Reflections catch photographers out, all the time.

    Your photo probably won’t be improved by having a reflection of you in it. There are lots of things you wouldn’t normally think about that can be reflective, like puddles, kettles, wheelbarrows, televisions and cars.

  • Avoiding Red Eye

    Red eye tends to occur with flash photography, when people are in dimly lit surroundings and their pupils have dilated to compensate for the absence of light.

    Therefore, if you’re shooting people inside a club (gangsta, bruv) or somewhere else dark, asking them to look a a bright light for a few moments before you take the picture, will reduce the likelihood of red eye.

  • Cleanliness is next to godliness

    You’ll never be a god of photography with a mucky lens.

    Keep it covered and Keep it Clean.

  • Dont flash, Robbie

    I am: taking bad photos

    Flash only works on subjects that are close to you.

    So, don’t use a flash on subjects that are further away than distance quoted in your camera's manual. This is especially true when there are no nearby walls or other surfaces to reflect some of the flash back to the subject. The photos will come out too dark.

    A classic example is at concerts. All those flash shots taken at one of Robbie’s gigs, might make him feel special, but none of them will come out.

  • Don't flash the Sun

    Turn off your flash at sunrise and sunset.

    Flash only works on subjects that are close to you. The Sun is about 491 billion feet1 too far away for your flash to be effective.

  • Edit yourself

    Shoot a lot. More than you need. Only keep the good photos. Get the great ones printed.

  • Fix your focus

    Auto focus cameras focus on the centre of the frame. If your subject is either side of this focus point, the camera will focus on whatever is in the centre… and your subject will be out of focus.

    Most cameras have a focus lock. To use it, point the camera at the subject while it is in the centre of the frame and press the shutter button halfway down. Keep the pressure on while you reframe the shot. When you’re happy with your composition, press the shutter button all the way down.

  • Focus. Focus. Focus.

    No amount of clever lighting, composition or choice of subject matter will make up for a shot being out of focus.

    If you are using auto focus, make sure that it is focusing on your subject matter and not something else in the background. If you’re using manual focus, and you wear glasses, make sure you're wearing them.

  • Fun at the Beach

    Cameras and sand mix about as well as, two things that mix really, really badly.

    If you’re going to the beach and want to take some pictures and have some fun yourself without worrying about whether your nice, posh, new DSLR is busy being ruined by sand and salt, buy a fun camera (or two). They’re cheap, tough and disposable and being film, are capable of producing surprisingly good photos.

  • Gently does it

    Mamma will have told you that jabbing or poking at, delicate, little buttons, won’t get you very far.

    The same goes for your camera.

    One of the best ways to improve your photos is to learn to press the shutter button, gently. Pressing it too hard or fast will cause camera movement, making the picture appear blurred or out of focus.

  • Level up

    From the games played once too often

    Hold your camera level.

    Wonky camera, Wonky Picture. And, there’s nothing more likely to make you feel like a right Willy Wonka, than a landscape with a wonky horizon.

    Horizons are supposed to be horizontal.

  • Look behind you

    I am: taking bad photos

    Always check that nothing in the background of your photo is going to ruin it.

    We’ve seen countless trees, door frames and telegraph poles growing out of the tops of people’s heads…

    Step to one side for a better shot.

  • Pain in the Glass

    To infinity and beyond

    Sometimes, like at the safari park, you’ll have no choice but to shoot through glass. This is a pain. To stand the best chance of getting a decent shot:

    • Clean the glass (but, only the most colossal numpty, would get out of the car in a safari park to do this)
    • Switch your camera’s focus to infinity mode (the funny little sideways eight thing)
    • Get the lens as close to the glass as you can.
    • Position you camera so the lens is absolutely parallel to the glass.

    Switching to infinity mode stops the focusing system from thinking the glass is the subject. Positioning the lens, close to and parallel with the glass, helps to reduce reflections.

  • Play time

    Experiment with your camera when it doesn’t matter… not at your Sister’s wedding.

  • It’s called portrait for a reason

    Shoot portraits in portrait.

    Turn the camera on its side when shooting people. The portrait format allows you to fill the frame with the person, rather than whatever it is they happen to be standing in front of.

  • Print Big

    Great photos deserve to be seen.

    Small print sizes, like 6x4 or 7x5, are fine for albums, but anything that you want to put in a frame or hang on the wall deserves to be bigger and better than that.

  • Take your camera

    Not so much a tip, as a statement of the bleeding obvious, but, if you don’t take your camera, you won’t get the shot.

    …and, in the digital world, don’t forget to (check and) take your batteries, too.

  • Up close and personal

    Get close to your subject. Don’t rely on zoom.

    Digital Zoom sucks. Optical zoom should be reserved for dangerous animals, landmines or anything else that could cause you to have a very bad day.

  • Well weathered

    Learn to watch the weather.

    “Good” light isn’t always and necessarily bright sunshine.

    But you need to know where the sun is, how strong the light is and to think about how this will affect your shot.

  • Zen and the Art of Photography: Lesson 1

    Select your shot quickly. Move slowly.