Our guide to photography
Jade O'Donoghue

Our guide to photography

First published date August 23 2013 Amended date June 24 2014

Whether you’re dreaming of becoming the next Testino, want to take better holiday photos or just want to be able to snap images on your iPhone without getting out of focus faces and blurred landscapes, there are photography courses for anyone who wants to explore life behind the lens.

With an emphasis on practical learning and experimentation, photography courses are fun, creative and often incredibly sociable since you’ll usually learn in a group. They come in many different formats, from workshops where you will take photos and evaluate each other’s work, to photography tours where you’ll be out and about with other shutterbugs capturing sights.


Creativity vs technical know-how

Expect to work your entire brain on a photography course – not only will be learning about the creative side of things, you’ll be mastering the buttons and switches on your camera too. You’ll look at things like shot composition and other photographers' work as you learn to engage your imagination to create interesting and original images, and you’ll learn how to create your own ‘look’ in your images. Then, technically, you’ll hone in on the features of your camera – whether it’s digital or not, trust us, there’s a lot to learn! Words like aperture, exposure, focus and depth of field will suddenly make sense and you’ll finally learn what that button with the lightening bolt beside it does.


Learn from all the angles

The range of photography courses out there is really quite something. There’s portrait photography for those who want to focus on taking images of people, landscape photography for anyone that loves a picturesque scene and even newer courses coming up in subjects like ‘iPhoneography’ where you will learn how to use mobile devices with in built cameras to their full potential. True photography devotees might even want to try a few of these in order to learn which area they are strongest in.


Getting into the industry

Once you’ve mastered your talent on a course, it’s time to job hunt. There’s a plethora of options for trained photographers but many jobs in this industry can be hard to get into. Some ambitious shutterbugs start working for very little money as a photographer’s assistant before working their way up the ladder whereas others prefer to start working for themselves at events like weddings or club nights. It’s worth building a good list of contacts by attending networking events during your course. Creating an online portfolio of work can be useful as well and you can use any images taken on your photography course to start this.

Knowing your stuff in photography can be really handy for other careers too where these skills can make good additions to your role. Think working in PR, marketing and events management.


Famous photographers

There are a lot of famous photographers whose footsteps you might want to follow in and finding inspiration can be really helpful since it will help you work on your own style. Rankin is a popular example. Born in Glasgow, he studied accounting in Brighton before turning his hand to photography. He’s worked mainly on fashion and celebrity shoots and mostly portrait photography, having shot everyone from the Spice Girls to Tony Blair. Mario Testino is another popular portrait photography idol. He’s a Peruvian photographer well known for shooting the royal family as well as working on big fashion campaigns such as Burberry and Gucci.

If nature and travel photography is more your thing, Annie Griffiths will provide the perfect inspiration. She takes photographs mostly for National Geographic and it is estimated that she has photographed over 100 different countries. However, if you see yourself as more of an artist then David Hockney’s your man. He’s a famous artist who has used photography in many of his great works. He was particularly well known for photography in the 80s when he took polaroids of a single subject and then put lots of them together to make one image.


Our top three photo apps

Instagram Instagram is all about photo editing and sharing. You can choose different filters for your images and post them to your profile for all your friends to see and ‘like’ if they choose to. We love it because everyone looks great in sepia!

Snapchat Snapchat is an instant photo sharing app where you can send images to a friend but after ten seconds they disappear. It’s had a lot of bad press from people saying it’s only used to send explicit images, but we’ve been in stitches pulling silly faces and surprising our friends with them.

PinterestPinterest isn’t exclusively for photos but it is definitely full of them. Add the ‘Pin’ tool to the task bar of your browser and any images you see online you can add to your virtual notice board for everyone to see. It’s a brilliant site for emerging photographers to show off their work and get it shared around.

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