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Top 5 – Routine

Routine. Daily Tasks. This is what we are looking at with this

Top 5 – Routine

Stephen Shore is known as one of the first photographers to capture everyday scenes. By doing this he is able to make us think about the world in a different way. We often take for granted our immediate surroundings. I have often discussed with friends how nice it would be to live beside a lake but really if you are beside or look at that scenery every day – do you forget what a magical place it is? It’s so easy to walk on the same road everyday and pass by the same scenery that we forget and don’t look.

That’s why when we travel we get inspired and shoot! But if we want then photography can give us a great opportunity to take the obvious things we already know, freeze it and make a deeper sense of seeing. We can create our own stories.

It is easy to excuse yourself to not photograph by saying you do not have enough time. By including your routine into you photography life, you can create some interesting and personal images allowing the viewer to get to know you.

That’s one way to get you to start that blog!

Here we go!

1. Bob Mazzers – Underground

Bob Mazzer 2Bob Mazzer 1Bob Mazzer 3

“Every day I travelled to King’s Cross and back. Coming home late at night, it was like a party and I felt like the tube was mine and I was there to take the pictures.” – Bob Mazzer. He used his own perspective over 40 years commuting to work and using a Leica M4 rangefinder camera.

Taking the tube in London (the city where LIoP is based) is common place for visitors and commuters and it’s a bit like Marmite you love it or hate it but Bob Mazzers captures the Underground with humour and humanity. The graininess and colour of his images are superb and he just gets some very special moments. With this extensive body of images he has curated a show where he exhibited in Howard Griffin Gallery London and you can find a carefully selected book of his work.

2. Rinko Kawauchi – Utatane


Rinko Kawauchi 2

Rinko Kawauchi is a Japanese photographer who really started to be known in 2001. It is not just her fantastic images of the everyday- but the way she is able to create juxtaposition in her books. She leads your on a wonderful journey in her books. One image running into the other. Beautfiul compositions captured by her Rolliflex- her camera of choice when she photographed Utatane. She has a softness in her images, pastel colours, a routine or things we may take for granted like a wasp dead upside down on a window sill. Such beauty in the image. An image of a sewing machine. Again the colours and softness just make it meditative and thing of beauty.

3. Niki Boon – Family life

Cousins at home

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Niki Boon is a former physiotherapist, mother and a self taught photographer She lives with her family in on a farm in New Zealand. She photographs in a hard contrast black and white -her family and their story living wild and free. This shows us the childhood freedoms and adventures that we all want to have had and beauty of photographing those who you love and are close to you. With time they don’t even notice you taking pictures. Her children are unschooled and they live without tv or gadgets. They truly are living in nature and she is capturing this rawness. The images are really stunning.

4. Jessica Todd Harper – Self Portraits

Jessica Todd Harper 1Jessica Todd Harper 2

She has been nominated by “O”Oprah and PDN plus shortlisted by NY Photo festival and won first place in the Lucie Award. You can see from her images that her inspiration has been taken from paintings and in her bio she as a young girl used to make sketches of Whistler and Vermeer for example. The environment is very important in her images along with psychological portraits.

5. Elinor Carucci – Relaxing

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“The camera is a way to get close, and to break free. It is a testimony to independence as well as a new way to relate to my family. My work is a documentation of closeness, as well as a need to establish a boundary, a certain distance between them and myself, in a detached and related way.”

Carucci uses the camera is such an amazing way to be in touch with her family, her emotions, to understand her life and her connection with people. She used it understand a crisis that was happening with her relationship with her husband which then allowed her to reconnect with her husband as through the images he was able to say so much without speaking. As a professional belly dancer for over ten years , she wanted to take images of herself dancing but also understand. She never stayed in one place for long but understood scenes and people that were intense. She collaborated with her husband who then photographed her dancing. She says she shows universal intimacy rather than intimacy.

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Use Mind Maps in Photography

Of course, we need to know how to master the technical side of our cameras.

Use Mind Maps in Photography

You need to be able to understand why you are using certain exposures to get the type of image you want – but, like learning to ride a bike, once you have mastered it you can then focus on the creative element.

Photography is one of those things that once you have a little, you want a lot, but with so many different photographers, so many styles, so many genres, so many books, so many cameras…. where do you begin? How do you build your OWN concepts and ideas?

We can use the classical mind map to help to break through the creative barrier – something which we do very successfully on our London Intermediate Photography Course. But what is this classical mind map? Well, it is essentially a structured way to brainstorm, with the idea being to select a basic theme and then to create multiple chains of association that we link back to the original theme. It’s fun!

To do it, follow these steps:
– Grab a big notepad
– You start with a basic term, for example “Portraiture”, as a first-generation word, writing it at the centre of a blank sheet of paper
– Then you write words that you freely associate with the basic terms (like studio, identity, candid, light etc) as second-generation words around it, connecting them with a line
– Now treat every word of the second generation like the first, which means you freely associate third-generation terms around each of the second-generation words.
– After the 4th or 5th generation you have dozens of interesting and creative ideas to give you a variation on the original theme “Portraiture”

This gives you a personal insight into what you like and your vision.

Interested in flexing your creative muscles and enrolling on a photography course in London? Then contact us today and speak with our friendly staff!

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Choosing The Right Shutter Speed For Your Photographs

Ok, so you know that little thing we often speak – the manual exposure mode on your camera (not the lens, that’s a whole other thing)

Choosing The Right Shutter Speed For Your Photographs

Well, there are three elements to it that allow you to take a picture. It is important to know what each of them do so you can control what your photograph will look like.

The three elements are ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed.

The exciting prospect is that there are endless amounts of combinations of these values that all result in a correctly exposed image.

But which combination is the best, I hear you ask?

The answer to this is, it depends on how you would like the image to look – as each of the elements control a different part of the image. Nevertheless, there are some rules that can help you in the beginning.

Today, we are looking at choosing the right Shutter Speed for your photograph.

So what does this Shutter Speed code name S/S control?

It controls the clarity of the image. Still lost… Thought so…

It controls the clarity of the image in relation to movement. Movement is key here. Do you want to visualize movement by blurring it or do you want everything frozen? Of course, it is all relative to how fast the moving subject is travelling – for example, a motorbike versus a bicycle.

Try this: start with a 1/60th of a second, press your shutter button and listen how fast or slow it sounds and work your way up and down the shutter speeds to get an understanding.

But that’s not all – longer shutter speeds are also letting in more light. The longest shutter speed available on your cameras are 30 seconds, and then we move onto Bulb, which gives us hours of exposure if needed (such as with night photography).

The longest shutter speed you might get away in daylight (UK daylight, I might add) is one second – and that would be in the shadowy areas. At night you can use 5 seconds, 30 seconds or longer.

A few more examples of slow Shutter Speeds that blur motion are:

– 1/8th of a second to blur a person walking in front of your camera

– 1/30th of a second to blur a moving motorbike or bicycle

Using fast Shutter Speeds allow you to freeze motion:

– 1/60th to freeze motion of a relatively static person

– 1/125th of a second would freeze the motion of a person walking

– 1/1000th of a second would do this for a sprinter

The faster or slower the shutter speed, the more or less light you are letting into the camera – and so you will need to compensate with your ISO and aperture, accordingly.

The system that we teach in our Beginners Photography Course takes our students through a few simple steps.

1. The first step is to set the ISO to the lowest value, which is usually ISO 100 (not very sensitive to light, so therefore not “letting in light”), avoiding a grainy image.

2. We now fix the chosen Shutter Speed and commit to that for the desired outcome.
Choose a fast Shutter Speed for freezing a subject and a slow Shutter Speed if you intend to show motion blur.

3. Then bring the light meter to zero using the Aperture.
Check through the view finder of the camera. There will be a minus and plus either side of the light meter, letting you know if you need to open up the aperture to let in more light or close it to reduce the amount of light.
If the light meter shows minus you need to open the aperture and select smaller F numbers, such as F5 or F3.5 until the light meter is set to zero.
If the light meter shows plus, you might have to close the aperture and select larger F numbers like F8, F11, F16 to let in less light. Again, close the aperture until the light meter is set to zero.

4. Only if you cannot get your light meter to zero using the aperture, you go back to the ISO to increase it .

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Top 5 Photographers – A Street

According to Wikipedia a street is a public thoroughfare (usually paved) in a built environment.

Top 5 Photographers – A Street

Street View in Google Maps allows you to see 360 view of many street location’s without being there. This gives you a good starting point in analysing a street but how do you make this street special or interesting?

Here are 5 very talented photographers that do just that.

1. Stephen Shore – Uncommon Places
Shore spent the 1970’s crossing America taking photographs that pioneered the two most important photographic expressions. A) the snapshot in diary form and B) the monumentalised landscape. He is one of first fine art photographers to work in colour.
Michael Fried said about Shore’s book that it’s a first – rate photo book and that can have something of a feel of a book of poems. You can go back to it and have the same intense experience. The book is structured chronologically. The project started as a visual diary where he photographed every person he met. So if he went to the cinema he photographed the person who he bought the ticket from, eating out, he photographed the waitress etc. The categories were then repeated. The people he met, the meals he ate, the beds he slept in. Art on the walls, store windows etc.
Shore discusses that he believes something special happens when there is a channel of attention between the viewer and the work- asking the viewer to step into the illusion of the picture and to give it attention rather than standing there and just letting it do its own thing to you.
“In 1972, I set out with a friend for Amarillo, Texas. I didn’t drive, so my first view of America was framed by the passenger’s window. It was a shock.’ Later that year, Shore set out again across America, this time alone, with an insatiable desire to capture and communicate precisely what he had seen within the frame of that window.”

2. Thomas Struth – Unconscious Places
Unconscious Places was published as a book on August 2012 and is a collection 230 street photographs. The photographs in Unconscious Places were taken in many different cities with varying characters
The “unconscious collective” represents a kind of energy generated from unexpected places around the city. Struth’s images are multilayered, mixing urban landscapes, street views and space appropriation by the public to show how buildings work in a living environment, change and develop through their inhabitants. While most of the streets photographed by Struth are devoid of human presence, or feature a few parked cars, the viewer notices that, for example, the streets of Shanghai are animated by the movements of passersby, seen as blurry figures in an otherwise sharp image.
Thomas Struth

3. Josef Koudelk – Landscapes
‘You know, people say, “Oh, Josef, he is the eternal outsider,” but on the contrary I try always to be an insider, both as a photographer and as a man. I am part of everything that is around me.’
In the last 10 years or so people have disappeared from his photographs altogether, and he now works obsessively on panoramic landscapes that often portray the devastation industrialisation has wreaked on the natural environment.
But one of the perks of being a world famous photographer is to have Leica make you a one-of-a-kind camera- to digital by creating a one-of-a-kind panoramic version.
He spoke of the challenge of shooting panoramas on 120 film, which can cost $200 for 20 rolls. “Digital photography helped me to go ahead with my work. It helped me not to be dependent on sponsors which for my panoramic pictures I would usually have to be, even if just to buy the film, develop it and make the contact sheets,” he said.
Josef Koudelk

4. Alex Webb
Alex Webb is a Magnum photographer who uses strong colours, light and emotion to capture beautifully complex images. In many of his photographs, they have a strong foreground, mid-ground, and background. He often fills the frame with so many subjects but they don’t overlap.
“My understanding – of course, I’m not a philosopher or a scientist – of an aspect of Goethe’s theory of colour is that he felt that colour came out of tension between light and dark. I think that is very appropriate when you think about the kind of colour that I shoot.” – Alex Webb

5. Todd Hido – Homes At Night
The image “Untitled #2312-a, 1999” from the series Houses at Night is one of the few images that doesn’t have a beam of light coming from it. From an interview with Hido he explains how all images are from your past and these series of images represents his life and what he was going through in the past. He favours the vertical format over the horizontal as he likes to get one house only as gives more of a feeling of isolation. His images are used on Raymond Carver’s books which he is very honoured.

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The Importance of Post-Production In Photography

“Post-Production” are two words that bring with them big debate in the photography world. How much post production do you practise?

The Importance of Post-Production In Photography

Is the image fake if you use post production? Are you a better photographer if everything is done inside the camera?

Let’s face it, post production is an integrated part of the creative process. Many who are starting out in photography don’t realise it, but post-production has been used since the beginning of photography. The old masters spent many hours and days in the darkroom to achieve the fantastic results that they are now known for. The difference being that today we might use local adjustments of shadow and highlights, whereas those masters would have employed traditional darkroom techniques such as dodging and burning.

Look at this great example of the amazing Richard Avedon’s photo, Notes to his Printer, where he marks areas to be dodged and burned in the darkroom printing process.

So what are we using instead of the darkroom? Lightroom and Photoshop, both Adobe. There is other software out there, but honestly, you will get exactly what you want from these two and they work hand in hand. Lightroom can be used on your mobile too.

Naturally, we as photographers aim to do as much as possible in-camera. We use our manual settings to the best of our ability, but there are times that we just cannot achieve what exactly we want or we are photographing in RAW (this is an unprocessed file unlike a JPEG where in camera adjustments are made), and so must make adjustments in post-production, later.

Warning! We have all done this. Post-production is sometimes all too exciting and you can change so much that you might feel like you are simply working your way down the menu and adjusting everything! Aghhhh

That is just not necessary, you will find your style even within post production…. eventually. Time and practice. You are developing your eye and don’t be surprised if you look back to images you worked on a year ago in dismay!

Even with Lightroom & Photoshop, LESS IS MORE!

The key is to use post-production to enhance the idea behind the photograph and to understand it as a creative tool. For example, reduce the contrast for an intimate series of portraits or increase the contrast if you want to catch the viewers eye with a spectacular shot.

This is time-consuming, of course, and adds an extra amount of work to the process. If you are working for a client, this needs to be budgeted in to the price. Every image needs to be checked and if necessary adjusted for brightness, contrast, saturation and colour. No matter if you work in the darkroom or not, you can use Photoshop or Lightroom for this.

There is a big crossover between the programs. Lightroom allows viewing, organising and the retouching of a large number of digital images, and its edits are non-destructive, while Photoshop allows you to manipulate in layers with a selection of tools, adjustments and filters. They can work together or separately, and at the London Institute of Photography we offer fantastic Photoshop and Lightroom courses that will allow you to achieve a professional level.

If you are using the programs together and photographing in RAW, you would start in Lightroom, organise your images, and then open in Photoshop where you can edit then save them back in Lightroom if you want to make a slideshow or a book, or in Photoshop if you are sending them to print. Some photographers only use Lightroom, others only use Photoshop, other consistently use both. We’ll make sure you know what works best for you.

Want to find out more about photography courses in London? Contact the London Institute of Photography today!

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Photography Course Tips: Use Your Speedlight Creatively

There are many different types of light – hard light (midday sun, no clouds), soft light (cloudy day), rim light (back light), different colours, different directions…

Photography Course Tips: Use Your Speedlight Creatively

Developing our understanding of all these kinds of light and how to control them, whether in the studio or out on location, is one of the most challenging and enjoyable aspects of photography.

Speedlights, or flash guns, are fantastic. They are lightweight, so can travel easily. They are relatively cheap. You can buy accessories such as soft boxes for them, and you can link up to 6 or more so that they fire at the same time. You can use them in the studio – although if you are photographing all day it is better to use studio lights – or you can use them on location.

Now, thankfully, you can manipulate speedlights, so they don’t have to be that hard direct, overexposed… can’t… get… the… flash …to…. work frustration that you might have with your popup flash.

The benefit of having a speedlight is that it can go on your camera and you can also have it off camera, create dramatic cinematography light by putting it in interesting positions.

Have a look at Heads by Philip-Lorca diCorcia, who is an American photographer whose work encompasses both documentary and staged photography.

These street portraits are taken in New York City’s Times Square. Each is an unstaged study of passers-by, which follows in the tradition of Paul Strand, Walker Evans, Harry Callahan and Robert Frank. DiCorcia uses flash guns detached from the camera to single out random characters, to make us think who they are, where they are going to, what their dreams are – all with the use of simple flash light.

DiCorcia’s Heads are so interesting, bringing street photography up to the present day. His photographs have been integral to contemporary dialogues on street photography, portraiture and the constructed v the spontaneous.

What speedlights do we use?

At LIoP, we use speedlights from Chinese manufacturer Yongnuo (we use the YN650 IV Kit); the new kid on the block and all the rave among photographers at the moment.

They are very affordable – about £120 for two flashes and the control unit represents incredible value for money.

Most importantly these speedlights are radio-triggered from the camera, which allows you to use them off-camera and position them freely to achieve spectacular effects. You can set up a key light for the face and a backlight for a dramatic, cinematic look.

Speedlight experiment

Start out without flash. Set your camera to manual exposure (M) on the dial and underexpose the ambient light by about 5 stops. This means that your aperture will probably be around F16 or 22, ISO 100, and shutter speed 1/200 or 1/250 – if you go any faster, i.e. 1/500, you will have big black lines in your images, because the shutter curtain will block out parts of the flashlight (look up the term flash sync).

Take a test shot. You should now see only very faint and dark details of the background.

Now position the two speedlights about 2 metres away from the subject – one about 1 metre next to the camera and the other one behind the subject.

Put the speedlights on manual and not E-TTL (reading your exposure on the camera). You can control the intensity of the flash on camera and experiment – often the random and unexpected results are the most exciting!

If you would like to practice these techniques with guidance from a master photographer, we teach using speedlights as part of our London Portrait Photography Course.

Image by Alison Clarke

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What If You Took A Photo Of Every Moment Of Your Life?

As trainers at the London Institute of Photography we are always asked about inspiration and where to find it.

What If You Took A Photo Of Every Moment Of Your Life?

It seems there is an overwhelming feeling that we need to travel or be in an exotic place in order to take interesting pictures.

There is also the suggestion that everything has been photographed before and that there is just too much competition out there.

Well, we as trainers acknowledge the wonderful work of photographers past and explain that it is not the equipment or the location that matter, but YOUR story, YOUR values, YOUR opinion and YOUR personality that makes us study the layers of your photography. Yes, it is true, anyone can take an image of a still-life or a portrait, but it is the way you read the light, connect with your subject, and the story you want to tell that is important.

Students sometimes suggest they have no time, nor the equipment, to get the images they want, and feel they can’t begin until they have all these things in place.

Again, this is not true. The digital age has brought about a quick turn-around of cameras and there is now so much choice, that it leaves one feeling dizzy trying to compare one piece of equipment versus another and know which one does what.

But we DO have time. We can photograph on the bus to work. We can photograph the café where we get our morning coffee. We can photograph a bridge, a shop, a spot we are attracted to, a self -portrait or a person we love. We have it all at our finger-tips.

So, what you took a photograph of every moment of your life?

What if you started to document every moment of what you might consider a mundane life? Rather than trying to change our external circumstances, it up to us as photographers to find photographic opportunities within the life we already live.

  • If you have a child or partner you love, make that child or partner part of your photographic project

  • If you have a long journey to work, take photos of it

  • If you are sad and miserable with your life, photograph your anguish

  • If you love your life, photograph how much you love life

  • If you have nobody else to photograph, photograph self-portraits in the mirror, of your shadow, or shoot yourself with your camera in timer mode on a tripod. For inspiration look at Diane Arbus.

Try not to be concerned with how many likes you may receive on social media but concentrate on what you love. What you feel is relevant to you and the viewer will engage with that. Your heart.

Why are you taking images and what are they of? Are they for social media and to gain as many followers and likes? Or are you interested in something more fundamental, something more important than that?

Something to think about:

The bigger your camera, possibly the less likely you are going to take it everywhere with you and then the fewer images you will take. Who really cares about “image quality’ anymore unless you are a commercial of fashion photographer who needs to blow their images to billboard size? 99% of viewers look at photos on a 5-inch smartphone screen and, honestly, how many of us really print all our images? The question is why do we need 40+ megapixels? Seemingly newspaper photographers are now photographing in Jpeg and submitting photos that are resized to 1500px wide. So, yes, you DO have the equipment.

To sum up:

You are what is important. Your opinion is what we want to see.

Document and take your camera with you everywhere and photograph what you find interesting – and not what you think others might want you to capture, or what you think you are expected to do.

To find out more about the courses at the London Institute of Photography, contact us today!

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Top 5: Best Photofestivals in Europe

One way of immersing yourself into rooms full of photography is to take a trip to one of the many photofestivals that are on throughout the world each year.

Top 5: Best Photofestivals in Europe

Here, though, we’ll be concentrating on 5 of the best in Europe.

Photofestivals are great for networking and for getting to know fellow photographers and other members of the industry. There is a community vibe where a city is taken over for a period of time and you learn new work or see old. Some now look to photofestivals as an opportunity to gain access to elusive editors and agents, to attend workshops and generally become part of a global network of photographers. You can book to have a portfolio review but need to book early to get the reviewers you want. Some festivals are annually others are bi-annual.

1. Rencontres d’Arles – France, Arles, July – Sept

Every year, the sleepy city of Arles in the south of France comes to life as its festival sweeps in for a three-month-long celebration of photography.

Hosted in multiple venues around Arles, the festival is dedicated to showcasing new photographers and new artwork. Founded in 1970, the Rencontres d’Arles festival is one of the oldest and most prestigious of photography events. The opening week, is most important as this is when commissioning editors and agents fly in from around the world to view exclusive shows and hunt for unpublished photo stories. In addition to the wealth of photography exhibitions on display, there’s the opportunity to network at the evening screenings of slideshows and presentations, held in the city’s spectacular Roman amphitheatre.

2. Visa pour l’Image – France, Perpignan, August – September

Visa pour l’Image is also spread across the city and is an international festival of photojournalism. It receives professional and amateur submissions. The festival has screenings, meetings and education weeks alongside its exhibitions. Each year it announcesa World Press Photo award win. Photographers such as Herb Ritts and Claude Gassian have participated in the festival. During the professional week from last week in August to September , 2016 in Perpignan, thousands of professional photojournalists are offered an opportunity to meet with their peers, talk about their work or their profession. During the festival the festival publishes an updated list of all the professionals who are in Perpignan

3. Photo Espana – Spain, Madrid, May – July

From May to July, participants can see a vast array of exhibitions that range from historical to art photography and photojournalism. With exhibitions in the main museums, halls and art galleries, as well as diverse activities   related to the chosen theme each year. Masterclasses by leading photographers are also offered, giving participants the opportunity to learn from those at the top of their game. It began in 1988. Over 600 exhibitions have been presented in museums, art centres and galleries, which have attracted more than half a million visitors each year.

4. Brighton Photofestival – GB, Brighton, October – Nov

Brighton Photo Biennial is the UK’s leading curated photography festival and promotes new thinking around photography through a commissioned programme of events and exhibitions. Previous curators of this somewhat edgy international festival have included Martin Parr and Jeremy Millar. The exhibitions, commissions and events focus on individuality, sub-cultures and communities, in contrast to standardisation, mass-representation and the gene

5. Unseen Photo Fair Amsterdam Annual – Netherlands, Amsterdam, 22-27 Sept 2017

An international showcase of new photography, focusing on undiscovered, unknown and unseen work, in Amsterdam’s huge Westergasfabriek. Last year it launched a premieres programme, which exhibits works that have never been displayed before in any other gallery, institution or fair. Unseen was founded in 2012 by Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam, office for cultural business development Platform A, and creative agency Vandejong.

Interested in photography? Contact us today for information on photography courses in London!

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Photography School Tips: How to choose a camera for beginners

Google search “Camera for beginners” and you are entering an earth-shattering, hair pulling, tech comparison dilemma.

Photography School Tips: How to choose a camera for beginners

All those hidden fears come alive! Isn’t this supposed to be a fun process? Yet with so much choice, with so many different brands, you are left feeling more confused than ever.

Well at the London Institute of Photography we frequently get asked what the best camera for a beginner, but our feeling is that engagement with the art form should come before obsession with the toys – don’t run before you can walk.

Equally, it is also very important to understand that different cameras are suited to different purposes. If you are thinking of becoming a street photographer or if you want to go unnoticed, a huge 3KG DSLR will not work as you’ll find it ultra-obtrusive and, guess what, people will either shy away or demand to know why are you are taking their photograph. For this type of photography, a small point and shoot like a Ricoh GRII will do the job nicely. However, if you arrive on an advertising shoot with a little Ricoh (I dare you), you will probably find that it ain’t going to cut the mustard. A DSLR with more megapixels or even a medium-format camera would be much better for this type of job.

But that said, here at LIoP, we would generally recommend Nikon and Canon, or Canon and Nikon. And, before you go down that age-old argument of which is best, they both produce outstanding images. But if you’re looking for another really useful tip on this matter, here’s a great one: see what your friends have so that you can swap lenses.

Why don’t you try popping into a shop and getting your hands on a camera before you make any purchase, and maybe even rent a couple of options over a weekend? This will give you the opportunity to really play around with it, perhaps try out a few of your friends’ lenses, see how the camera feels in your hands, and check out the results.

Of course, pay what you can afford, but a good starting point is around £500-£600 for a DSLR camera with a standard zoom lens, ie 18-55mm f3.5-5.6. OK, it is true that there is always something new coming out that in some way exceeds its predecessors, but every modern DSLR has enough resolution to shoot for the size of a billboard….. did anyone notice those iPhone billboard-sized images posted around London last year?

A good site to get an overview is www.dxomark.com. They seem to have a preference for Nikon, but from our experience Canon and Nikon are neck and neck.

But irrespective of that, the most important thing to remember is that whatever equipment you have available, it’s not Nikon or Canon but you the artist that will determine the success of your results.

For information on London photography courses, contact us today and we’ll be happy to answer all your questions!

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On Capturing Beauty in the Mundane

William Eggleston is a photographer who captured ‘the ugly’ on colour film in Memphis, northern Mississippi.

On Capturing Beauty in the Mundane

His images give us the everyday, the mundane. With his unusual viewpoints and by using that amazing palette, he truly expresses what an artist he is with a magnificent body of work.

Since the 1970s, Eggleston’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at prominent locations worldwide. After his first exhibition in 1976, he was heavily criticised. Colour photography was seen as not used by the professionals at that time.

Eggleston did in fact venture to Paris to try and capture street images but he couldn’t recreate what was already made thousands of times. So he went back to Memphis and practised his art there instead, capturing fascinating images out of mundane material.

The key thing to take from this is that there are always opportunities to find interesting subject matter, no matter where you are. It is not your, but how you perceive it. It is about your voice, and how you choose to express it. This is the beauty of photography.

Photographing the mundane makes you work harder. I think the fun and excitement of photography is that you never 100% know what the photograph is going to look like. The camera renders our three-dimensional reality into a two-dimensional plane.

Eudora Welty said of Eggleston:

“What we have here is a set of visions. Like a magician, William Eggleston has raised them out of light colour, smoke and an absence of people. Visions or not, he remains a photographer who never trifles with actuality: he works with actuality, and within it – the self-evident and persisting world confronted by us all. The human being, unseen, remains the reason these photographs of place carry such power to move and disturb us – and, by the end, somewhat hearten us.”

If you study Eggleson’s images, they are full of beautiful colours and light. He is renowned for his vivid, poetic and mysterious work. He uses a technique called dye transfer – this is where you take an ordinary film negative and separate it into three colours: blue, yellow and red. These are then put onto a matrix film, representing the colours of cyan, magenta and yellow spectrum, where they are exposed to light and transferred physically.

Many of his photographs have primarily warm tones in the background (like red, orange, or yellow) – yet it may be a very cold colour (blue, green or violet) that pops at you, and this is his subject of interest.

Want to get more out of your photography? Contact us today to find out more about our photography courses in London.

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Top 5 – Self-Portraits in Photography

As part of our series of  Top 5 articles we spared no effort to prepared a selection of photographers that used self portraiture in creative and groundbreaking ways:

Top 5 – Self-Portraits in Photography

Francesca Woodman
“It’s very relevant in our times to show her work. Now, we have the selfie, and people are quite obsessed with themselves – as was she. Of course, she used her body as a ‘canvas’. It’s about her, but also not about her.”

Francesca-Woodman-Untitled-Providence-Rhode-Island-1976Everyone agrees that Woodman’s work is too often evaluated in light of her suicide. She was ignored in life and celebrated in death. The adopted New Yorker, who had started her life in Colorado, had begun to suffer from depression, in part due to the failure of her work to attract attention and a failed relationship.

Woodman reverses the traditional terms of the arrangement: death, like photography, is simply a series of chemical reactions. By using long-exposure techniques, slow shutter speeds and surrealist compositions, Woodman explored her subjects and setups with an intensity of focus and a regard for nuance rarely seen in the self-portraiture of the time – or indeed today.

In the end, her camera captures not the girl but the long moment it looked at her.  Woodman found a way to transcend the basic aestheticism of her own form, questioning broader concepts of the self, gender, body image and identity.

Kimiko Yoshida
“Art is above all the experience of transformation,” explains Yoshida. “All that’s not me, that’s what interests me. To be there where I think I am not, to disappear where I think I am, that is what matters.”

kimiko-yoshida-f1674bc372979ffa27ac61977637a87aFor over a decade, Kimiko Yoshida has created photos of herself in which she wears elaborate costumes that reference a wide range of subjects, from haute couture to Western paintings.

By constantly changing what at first appears to be a self-portrait, Yoshida says, “I am basically saying that there is no such thing as a self-portrait,” she says. “Each of these photographs is actually a ceremony of disappearance. It is not an emphasis of identity, but the opposite – an erasure of identity.”

“Since I fled my homeland to escape the mortifying servitude and humiliating fate of Japanese women, I amplified through my art a feminist stance of protest against contemporary clichés of seduction, voluntary servitude of women, identity and the stereotypes of gender,” Yoshida says.

In speaking of her “monochrome” images, the artist herself is the one who dissolves into the background, the bright colours and bizarre clothing purposely taking centre stage in ways both familiar and uneasy.

Samuel Fosso
The photographer Samuel Fosso set up a studio in Bangui, in the Central African Republic, at the age of thirteen, after fleeing the civil war in Nigeria. “I started taking self-portraits simply to use up spare film; people wanted their photographs the next day, even if the roll wasn’t finished, and I didn’t like waste. The idea was to send some pictures to my mother in Nigeria, to show her I was all right. Then I saw the possibilities. I started trying different costumes, poses, backdrops…. I use a Hasselblad and an auto-timer. I need two or three rehearsals, usually”.

10_K20090405_4-1He had never intended to publish these images; it was only in 1994, after French photographer Bernard Deschamps happened upon Fosso’s work, that they reached the international art world. He can be classified somewhere between the early Jürgen Klauke and Cindy Sherman. They are historical documents of an African youth culture that was in full bloom at the time and engaged in a dialogue with international trends.

In the early years, he liked to pose in front of a black backdrop and use props that were at hand. In later, elaborately composed images such as his “African Spirits” series of 2008, Fosso slipped into historical roles like Malcolm X and Angela Davis.
He has won numerous awards and exhibited all around the world.

Cindy Sherman
Cindy Sherman born in USA started out as a painter, but changed to photography. “I was meticulously copying other art and then I realised I could just use a camera and put my time into an idea instead.”

cindy-sherman2014-07-18-CS6She dresses up for each of her images so much so that we would find it difficult to recognise her on the street if we were to stumble across her. “I think of becoming a different person. I look into a mirror next to the camera.… it’s trance-like. By staring into it I try to become that character through the lens … When I see what I want, my intuition takes over – both in the ‘acting’ and in the editing. Seeing that other person that’s up there, that’s what I want. It’s like magic.”

Her famous series Untitled Film Stills (1977–1980) consists of 69 images and each of the ‘roles’ appears to be played by the same blonde actress. She preferred to work from her home creating sets and works alone rather than the streets. She eventually completed the series in 1980, stopping, she has explained, when she ran out of clichés. In December 1995, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, acquired all sixty-nine black-and-white photographs in Sherman’s Untitled Film Stills series for an estimated $1 million.

Ryan James Caruthers

Caruthers started photography with his Dad’s film camera.  He loved it. He saw it as a positive escape and used himself as a subject as he had no one else to photograph for a couple of reasons, but mainly because he felt out of place in his High school because of his closeted sexuality but also because of his deformity with his body- he had a concaved chest.  His famous series is called Tryouts and it is where he points out the connection between masculinity and athleticism.  The images are compositionally similar to fashion images and he is alone in all the photographs. These are very beautiful, quiet, challenging self- portraits.


At the London Institute of Photography we love art, techinique and self exploration. If you’d like to know more about one of our London photography courses, feel free to contact us today and we’ll be happy to answer your questions.

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Check out the other Top 5 lists:
Portrait Photographers

Photography Documentaries
 1 + Part 2
Photography Books 

Instagram Photographers

Movies Featuring Photography
Still Life Photographers

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The Best Settings to Export your Images in Lightroom and Photoshop

Do you feel like pulling out your hair when someone asks you to export your images according to a certain format?

The Best Settings to Export your Images in Lightroom and Photoshop

So many different sizes, boxes and ways to do this… what does it all mean?

I hear your pain and there is a simple solution.

  1. Find out the specific purpose of your image. You don’t want a ‘weighty’ list of JPEGs heading to your website and likewise the printers won’t be able to get the best quality from low resolution images. You might have to save your image twice 1. For print and 2. For the internet.

  1. You would be forgiven for thinking ‘I’ll send out the biggest possible… they can worry about sizing on the other side!’ But this can lead to issues of using YOUR image for all sorts of purposes and you might never know who might be making a shilling or two from your photographs.

  1. Resizing your images and saving them as JPEG or Tiff which are the only two relevant file formats is always the last step – or you might run into reducing file quality.

  1. You could be trying to size your images till the cows come home with the software you are trying to use just not professional enough to give you options. Use a professional image editing software like Adobe Lightroom which can be downloaded on your phone, laptop etc. and/ or Adobe Photoshop.

Now for the Nitty Gritty:

A JPEG is a compressed file format and this is now the standard file format used for sending images via the internet. It is important to work on your RAW file as opening and re-saving a JPEG will reduce image quality.

Select sRGB as this is the standard colour space for the internet and ensures that the colours are reproducible on a variety of devices.

When you are saving your image as a JPEG you will be asked for Quality. This is the amount of Image compression. The higher the number, the better the image quality and the larger the file size. Did you know Lightroom has a sweet spot?-This is between 60-80.. Who knew?! And 8-10 for Photoshop. You can whack it up to 100 but that doesn’t actually increase image quality visibly but just increases the file size.

Tiff’s are a slightly different matter. Tiffs were the traditional file format for high-end delivery. JPEG has since caught up – but when file size doesn’t matter go Tiff.

If possible, select option LZW compression that is a lossless TIFF compression. This doesn’t reduce the image quality and instead of SRGB, select Adobe RGB colour space.

IMAGE SIZE: for images to be viewed on the screen (counts for 99% of all cases – yes, we have lost the art of printing our images) only pixel dimensions matter, the resolution in PPI (Pixels per inch) is irrelevant.

As with all technology we have high resolution screens that are just getting better and better. Save your images 2000px on the long edge, this gives the viewer a good impression of the quality of your images.

If you decide to Print.. oh yes baby! This has a whole other beautifulness to it.. PPI is very important – define the size in inches or cm and set the resolution to 300ppi.

Want to learn more about your photography? At the London Institute of Photography, we offer a range of photography courses in London – check them out today!

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Photography School Tips: How to hold the camera

“Of course, I know how to hold the camera… How difficult can it be?”

Photography School Tips: How to hold the camera

Well, like all things there is method in the madness and although we are going back to basics a little here, it will be worth it.

This is a crucial point when choosing a camera, and something we strongly encourage at our London photography courses…. Instead of just “So many colours, features, geeky gadgets”, have you considered holding a new camera in your hands, feeling the grip, and thinking about how well its size works for you?

Have you even noticed the grips on your camera or the way it is ‘carved’ out ? It has been built to be held and loved in a certain way.

In general, the left hand supports the weight of the camera and the right hand operates it. Sorry to all you lefties.

Your left hand can act as a platform, or dare I say tripod, palm facing up towards the lens. This is not just for you landscape folk but also for portraiture. This way, the right hand is relieved of the task of holding the weight of your camera, and so can operate the controls freely. This allows you to hold your camera straight: there’s nothing worse than unintentionally tilting up or down your camera. It also allows the thumb on the left hand to operate the lens.

Bracing your elbows close to your body helps reduce camera shake, also perk yourself up against something sturdy. That wall, tree, lamppost or bin never looked so good!

If nothing like this helps.. drop to the floor and place your camera on the ground with something under the lens to tilt it upwards. Your reward… spectacular perspectives and red kneecaps.

And just to end with one little extra photography school tip:

Ever wondered what that small wheel or lever next to the viewfinder is for? Mmmmm…  you did notice it…

While looking through the viewfinder adjust the wheel and you will see it will adapt to your eyesight to ensure less strain on your eyes as you keep fixed and focused on your subject.

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Emotional Ties to Images – Kill Your Darlings

Since the advent of digital photography, the way photographers work and capture images is very different to how they used to on a roll of film.

Emotional Ties to Images – Kill Your Darlings

Of course, now, we can keep our finger on the release button and fire as many times as we want and select the perfect photo.

But this doesn’t mean we can be clumsy in how we take pictures or that anyone can do it. We must still understand light and composition, and be able to spot an opportunity when it arises.

And, then, what about after we’ve grabbed the ‘perfect image’? How do we feel about it? Why is it so difficult if someone critiques our beloved photograph?

Sadly, there’s little escaping the emotional attached to our images.
We recall emotionally when we took it, the sounds, the smells, the connections which remain with us – the effort required. That is why when you look at someone else’s work it is much easier to weed out the problems.

A good exercise we teach at our London photography courses is to keep whittling down their images to have a concise body of work. Instead of having masses of images on a social media site, go back and delete. Then delete some more, and delete again.

This does not mean delete from your hard-drive, but just from that space. Do this on Instagram, for example, and you’ll soon find how rewarding a process it can be. Destruction is an act of creation – by taking pieces away from the whole, you’ll be adding greater value to those images that remain.

To effectively achieve this, you will have to remove your ego from the process – no easy task, but you are not your photographs. When people critique or criticise your photographs, they aren’t criticising you but criticising your photos, and they are able to do this by virtue of being removed from your process. They are objective. You must learn to be objective, also.

Here, consideration is key: consideration of your images when you are taking a photo. Consideration of your images when you are editing. Consideration of your images when you upload to social media or website. And finally, consideration of your images every three months to ensure they are edited for quality.

A way of starting to think about this issue more is to use film. This is more expensive and slows you down, so that instead of taking lots of images and simply choosing the best one, you will be forced to consider each step of the process far more carefully.

Another option is to stop chimping with your digital camera. What is chimping? This is an unhealthy addiction that runs rampant within the digital photography community. It is the act of looking at you LCD screen the second after you’ve taken an image. Chimping stops you while in the flow of connecting with your subject, and becomes a barrier to your feeling for whatever it is you are trying to capture, whether a person, animal, plant, object or situation.

Don’t delete from looking only on your small LCD screen on camera. Wait till you are on a larger screen and editing. You could be deleting a little gem.

It takes time and experience to get the images that you want. This is why it is good to go back and delete; your style and tastes might be changing. It is better to have just a few very strong images than a big number of average ones. Weak images will dilute the quality of your larger body of work.

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Top 5 – Photography Documentaries 2

Here is our second list of Top 5 Photography Documentaries, edited especially for you!

Top 5 – Photography Documentaries 2

Gregory Crewdson – Brief Encounters


Fine Art Photographer Gregory Crewdson’s images are staged to meticulous detail and are utterly stunning. Who wouldn’t want to understand his images from conception right through to the final editing stage and that is exactly what you get with Brief Encounters? Crewdson takes photographs the way a director makes a movie. He comes up with a concept and composes a scene on location – often with a crew of 40 people. “I don’t even like holding a camera,” he says. “I see myself as a picture maker, where I’m interested in the thing that’s happening in front of me.”

Crewdson’s pictures play with reality and fiction and, he says, are “very intimate, private moments, but they’re photographed in a very removed…distanced way.”

Helmut Newton – Helmut by June (1995)

“The way I photograph things is the way I see the world”- Helmut Newton.


This is a film written and directed by Helmut Newton’s wife June Newton. This memorising movie not only shows us the type of assignments Newton was involved in in the 90s, but the way he represents private lives. From the 1970s, June Newton worked as a photographer under the pseudonym Alice Springs (her hometown in Australia). There was only room for one Newton.

The Newtons lived in Paris for 27 years and then moved to Monte Carlo – escaping for the winter to Los Angeles for 3 months of the year. The majority of the footage for the documentary was shot by June in the 1990s using a video camera that she had originally purchased for her husband as a Christmas present. Helmut by June is shot in an intimate and candid fashion and the result is a fascinating portrayal of one of the most influential photographers of the twentieth century.

Daido Moriyama – In Pictures

“For me cities are enormous bodies of people’s desires” – Daido Moriyama


Always using a compact camera, he is able to capture and create his own home by connecting pieces of images from his imagination and from the things he saw as a child.

Moriyama is one of the most celebrated artists to emerge from the Japanese Provoke movement of the 1960s. In this film, Moriyama invites us into his studio and takes us on a walk around the atmospheric Shinjuku neighbourhood, his home from home in Tokyo. At 73, he still finds it exciting to walk around the city taking snapshots. He likes to capture the movement of people in the streets and backstreets of Japan. With numerous solo exhibitions under his belt Moriyama sees his prints not as pieces of art but as a single step in the process of making books. His true interest in photography is producing books.

We see him selecting images and turning them to black and white straight away, his love of monochrome will never die, he finds in it n eroticism that is unavailable in colour images. As he says himself: “For me, photography is not a means by which to create beautiful art, but a unique way of encountering genuine reality.”

Malick Sidibé : Dolce Vita Africana


In this 2008 documentary of portraits taken by Sidibé from the late 50s to the early 70s, there is a wide selection of images. Using his medium format camera, his desire is to capture happiness and to move away from what his generation knew and understood under years of military dictatorship. His Africa had only known poverty so he wanted to illustrate the carefree spirit of his portraits. These portraits are taken in the studio with makeshift backgrounds, connecting with the photographer the viewer, also. He laughs contagiously, drawing the viewer closer with the desire to learn more. This is not just an important documentary to understand his art but to understand places and cultures.

Alexey Titarenko – Artist Series


Ted Forbes is an exciting photographer/ filmmaker who started a fantastic channel on photography called The Art of Photography. One part of the channel is the Artist Series, a crowd-funded project where Forbes interviews major living photographers.

In this short but intense movie, we are introduced to Alexey Titarenko and his method of work. We can peek inside his studio and be spectators of his printing/editing process.

He studied music and discusses how classical music plays a very important role in his images. He speaks about his series ‘City of shadows’ (1992) and tells us that the music pushed him to go to particular places and allowed him to find a real subject matter to photograph.

He took certain photos because the music created a narrative – he suggests that listening to the music can help him see images. If the music was long and slow, he was compelled to make images with long exposures, expressing a sense of despair which he suggests is similar to life itself.

Interested in developing your photography skills? Or maybe you’d like a taster workshop? Get in contact with our staff today and find out more about our great London photography courses.


Follow us on Instagram for daily inspiration and behind the scenes!
Check out the other Top 5 lists:
Portrait Photographers

Photography Documentaries

Photography Books 

Instagram Photographers

Movies Featuring Photography
Still Life Photographers

Read more

How to Express Yourself as an Artist and Photographer

I want to share some lessons I have learned from the fantastic book by Ernst Billgren, one of Sweden’s leading artists, What is Art?

How to Express Yourself as an Artist and Photographer

To do this, let’s take a look at one of the questions and answers that make up this fascinating read.
Looking at question 104 – How to express yourself as an artist and photographer? He simply puts

  1. A short answer:

You have no choice!


  1. A Long answer:

How you think determines what you think. All art is a kind of self-portrait, or at least an impression of who you are, where you are, and when you are.
You may not be able to determine what you are thinking about, only how much.
You do not control the direction, only the speed. If you want to change how you work or how you think, you should change everything around yourself instead of changing yourself.

 I find that an interesting concept of changing everything around yourself rather than yourself. For example, time and information management.
Time is the ultimate resource that we have in this world – we can never buy time.

The less time you spend on the non-essentials, the more time you can spend on what is essential (creating your art through your photography). How good does it feel when you do a big clear out of your wardrobe or clean your hard-drive?
Having a tidy surroundings, gives way to having a tidy mind.
Be extremely guarded in terms of the kind of information, stimuli, people, and ideas you let into your mind.
An idea could be instead of trying to jam-pack and add more pressure on your life. Make a chart or write a list of your schedule and free up more time rather than trying to ‘add’ free time.

Where can you free up this time I hear you ask?

If you take public transport, maybe photograph a particular bridge, building or person you meet frequently en route.
If you have a long bus journey, listen to a photography podcast – The Art of Photography podcast is a fantastic podcast http://theartofphotography.tv
Ted Forbes is a photographer and filmmaker. He started producing The Art of Photography as a podcast in 2008 and the show has since grown into a popular YouTube channel and resource website providing a 360° view of photography to a global audience.

Instead of using social media to pass the time, look at photographs and books on photography. Analyse the composition, look at the light. Why do you like it or dislike it?

Set a time that every week you will commit to your art. It is so easy to fall behind unless we make it a priority.

Another point is to not censor yourself when it comes to photographing. Kill that little inner-critic.

I think as an artist and a photographer, one of the most difficult things is to make yourself vulnerable. Once you release your art into the world, you leafe yourself open to criticism, open to being judged, and open to being misinterpreted. Think about what Billgren suggests, Art is a Self-Portrait. This can be intimidating at first and you don’t immediately need to publish your work on social media. Work through your ideas first. Perhaps photograph a project for a number of weeks and months before showing your work to others. Firstly, believe in the work, understand where it is going, know your moral compass. You will become less fearful of criticism, positive or negative. You can stand up for your work.

I think the best artists and photographers are the ones who create work that is a reflection of who they are, how they see the world, and the amount of courage they put into their work in making themselves vulnerable.

At the end of the day, being an artist and a photographer is about following your own path, not letting self-criticism get in the way, treating photography as your passion, knowing who you are as a human being, and sharing your unique viewpoint with the rest of the world.

And To finish with Billgren, What is Art?

  1. Short Answer: A way of thinking.

  2. Long Answer: If you assume that we think through language, then art is a way of thinking about things that we lack any other language for.

Interested in developing your photography skills? Or maybe you’d like a taster workshop? Get in contact with our staff today and find out more about our great London photography courses.

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The Beauty of Creative Constraints in Photography

Too many times do I hear that students become overwhelmed with the amount of equipment that is out there.

The Beauty of Creative Constraints in Photography

They cannot find a style. They have 4/5 lenses in their bag; they are not sure what camera to use and why they are using it; they invest in all different types of lighting equipment, which sits there waiting to be used.

My advice is always less is more and use the idea of creative constraints. Firstly, have a feel of the camera body in your hand. Does it feel comfortable? Do you like the look of it? Does it inspire you to go out and photograph?

From time to time, we all have a look at what equipment we don’t have, eager to know what camera was used for a specific image and, granted, this is important to understand what effect different lenses can have on an image. We then need to find our style and there’s no better way to do this than to limit ourselves.

Technique 1:

Use only one focal length

See what other constraints you can create for yourself, like only shooting one type of subject matter, or focusing only on one project. Do this for a week or a month at a time, and you’ll be pushing yourself in a specific area that would have otherwise been left unexplored.

Technique 2:

Use only black and white

This creative constraint is a special one in that it allows you to explore the tonal qualities of light in a way that just isn’t possible with colour photography, while awarding you the opportunity of better understanding and appreciating the huge wealth of magnificent black and white photography that is already out there.

Technique 3:

Use only our Smart phone

But some people say: “Oh, but a smartphone isn’t a ‘real’ camera and it can’t do half the things of a real camera. It has terrible low ISO capability, you can’t print it big, and it isn’t as responsive as the real thing.”

But these limitations can actually help our creativity. If your smartphone has poor image quality, then it forces you to only shoot in good light. If your smartphone has a slow autofocus, you can focus on just shooting people who aren’t moving. If you feel you can’t capture light in the way you would wish, you have to focus on other aspects of photography – composition, a moment, an expression, a theme, a narrative.

Creative constraints force you to explore the techniques that are available to you.

Creative constraints are a wonderful way to develop your technique and understanding of the art of photography. If you’re interested in growing as a photographer, or perhaps you’d just like a taster workshop, contact our staff today.

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Benefits of Shooting with a Smartphone

Teaching photography, a question often arises and is very understandable is “What is the best camera to buy? Canon versus Nikon?

Benefits of Shooting with a Smartphone

How many megapixels etc. etc.?” My reply is always that it is not the equipment that is most important but the heart and voice.

Large format shooters in the past looked down on medium format shooters, and as they looked down on 35mm shooters, and as film shooters looked down on digital photographers, and full frame digital photographers looked down on crop sensor photographers, that looked down on compact cameras, that looked down on smartphones. Everyone can be a snob with cameras, there is no end. Chase Jarvis once wrote: “The best camera is the one you have on you.” To expand on that, I think the best camera is the one you just shoot a photo on. This means, a camera is only important insofar as it is a tool to capture a certain image, feeling, or emotion you have witnessed.

Of course, having manual mode and being able to control your camera is really essential, but what you want to say with your images is fundamental to why we capture them.

Smartphone photography, iPhoneography, mobile photography or whatever you want to call it; it’s clear that taking great pictures with a phone has become a thing now.

What does that mean, exactly? It means that people are creating works of art using their smartphones, and those pieces also go up in galleries or are made into prints. That’s the high end, of course, but there are plenty of Instagram photos out there that look fantastic.

If you own a smartphone made in the last couple of years, chances are it has a pretty good camera on it, too. So what are the benefits of photography with a phone?

  1. We all have one. It is always at hand – misplaced and a slight anxiety settles in.

You cannot beat the convenience of a mobile phone, always with you, and a great playback display unit in its own right.

  1. The majority of modern smartphones can easily connect to the internet.

Once connected you can share photographs from your phone within seconds, via text message, by attaching them to an email or by posting them to Facebook.

  1. Over the last few years, the trend has been for bigger smartphones with five- and six-inch screens – sometimes double the size to the two and three inches found on compact camera. These screens often – in the case of high-end smartphones – have a higher resolution as well.

This makes it easier to compose pictures and see fine detail, and ensures the playback experience with family and friends is more pleasant. Of course a smartphone isn’t going to have the same quality as a full frame, DSLR, or any other “real camera.” But at the end of the day, it isn’t image resolution that makes a good photograph. It is the quality of your images, in terms of the emotion, composition, and feeling that you give your viewers.

  1. You increase your rate of learning as you are constantly taking images and looking. Your camera is always with you to analyse your images, delete and retake.

  1. You have to focus on capturing good light.

No matter how expensive your camera is, you can’t fake capturing good light. Even if you have excellent Photoshop skills. Light can truly transform an ordinary image into an extraordinary one. Epic light evokes emotion, awe, suspense and drama. Try to focus on shooting sunrise or sunset, or just photographing people next to windows or open doorways.

  1. Keep post processing consistent.

The style of your images is important. A common mistake I see photographers make is that they have too much variety in their photos by using too many different presets or post-processing techniques. Would we love Henri Cartier-Bresson’s work as much if he shot with 20 different types of film in his lifetime? Probably not, we love the consistency of his low contrast black and white images (focused on good composition). We also still remember and love the consistency (and beauty) of Kodachrome colour film with Alex Webb and Steve McCurry.

That consistency allows us a better understanding of the concept behind those images, and to better appreciate the subtle shifts and differences that do occur between them.

It’s still fine to experiment with different “looks” in your photography. Just try to do it in different projects (like how a film director uses different equipment and film for different movies).

  1. If you make a memorable photograph, who gives a damn what camera you shot it on? Do you honestly care? Or are you worried that other people care? Do you feel insecure that if people “found out” you shot a photo on a smartphone, it would somehow devalue your photo?

For me, I actually respect photographers more when I see that they shot a certain photo on a smartphone. Why? They were able to make a beautiful image with such basic equipment.

Interested in taking a photography course in London? The London Institute of Photography has a range of courses from beginner to professional levels. Contact us today for more information.

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Top 5 – Still Life

We put together a list of 5 photographers that approach the subject of Still Life in completely new ways

Top 5 – Still Life

Ori Gersht – On Reflection

The underlying concept of Gersht’s work is opposits:
Attraction and repulsion, peace and terror, photographic image and objective reality – all revealing an uneasy beauty in destruction. In this case, On Reflection examines how painting and photography represent reality.

Gersht works with three of Jan Brueghel the Elder’s floral paintings from 1606. The important elements being a mirror, electrical charges and two large format digital cameras that capture the event, focusing on two different optical planes; one on the glass surface of the mirror and the other focusing three metres away on the vase of flowers reflected in the mirror. The image in the mirror (the illusion) is the part that is exploding, which is a continuing conversation from his earlier work in 2007, Blow UP, where the object itself was photographed as it shattered.


Dan Tobin Smith’s – Alphabetical

Dan Tobin Smith’s Alphabetical began as a commission by Creative Review Magazine for the front cover of their annual. The project now includes 16 letters and makes use of anamorphosis; ‘a deformed image that appears in its true shape when viewed in some “unconventional” way’.

Dan plays with scale, colour, space, light and perspective, combining these elements to create the visual illusion of a flat letter when viewed from a certain angle. Each letter is different and incorporates a different visual idea. Some primarily conceived for film, some sculpture, but always made as a photograph.


Carl Kleiner – Postures

This unique series of photographs are compositions tulips, simple metal wire props and masterful lighting. Kleiner has created a flow, a sadness, overflowing emotion that suggests that each pose, in its skill and elegance, is somehow a sad premonition of an ending. Capturing the beauty, the stillness and contradictory movement. Frozen on black or grey backgrounds, these images contain an indefinable grace – they are stunning portraits of flowers.

Film maker Penny Tu creates a wonderful creative black and white behind-the-scenes of these masterful compositions.



Metz+Racine, aka Barbara Metz and Eve Racine (photography and styling) met in 2000 at London College of Communication. While Metz+Racine focus on still-life photography, they also make videos and have won several awards and accolades for direction in filmmaking, including being shortlisted for Major Brand at the Berlin Fashion Film Festival.

Metz and Racine are special. Their eye for detail, styling and light create playful, beautiful still-life images. They are represented by D&V worldwide they have a wide range of luxury, fashion, commercial and editorial clients.


Lorenzo Vitturi – Dalston Anatomy

Lorenzo Vitturi in his 2013 project ‘Dalston Anatomy’ documents Ridley Road Market in East London.

He lived in this area in East London for over seven years and wanted to document the space before it developed and changed but he documented this Ridley Road with a twist and is one of leading contemporary photographers, who has changed the direction of space documention. His background is in cinema set design. Arranging found objects that he collected, he photographed them as fantastic sculptures. Sometimes the objects were left to rot or deconstructed and rearranged. He used materials from Dalston market to photograph against, and fragments of market conversation to inform his work.

Lorenzo Vitturi said: Dalston Anatomy is a visual ode to Dalston, as a unique place where different cultures merge together in a celebration of life, diversity and unstoppable energy. I felt compelled to capture this place at its rawest and most beautiful with all its flaws and smells before it too is transformed and disappears altogether, as time moves ever forward.


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Check out the other Top 5 lists:
Portrait Photographers

Photography Documentaries

Photography Documentaries 2
Photography Books 

Instagram Photographers

Movies Featuring Photography

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Photography School Tips: Try it out yourself

Everyone has their own preferences, what are yours?

Photography School Tips: Try it out yourself

No matter how many reviews of anything you research online (for a laptop, camera, lens, etc) your experiences and preferences will always be different from those of a random reviewer. This goes for your images too.

So for example, let’s say you’re interested in shooting with a film camera. Yes, you can read all the information online, ask tutors at LIOP, but you will never truly know the experience until you try it out for yourself.

This is because a camera, a lens will all feel different in different hands. Different photographers will look for different qualities according to what they are trying to achieve, their various technical strengths and weaknesses, their experience, their feel. Some will want lightweight, others will want fast auto focus, others will want the buttons in a particular place. At the end of the day it is about feeling it out for yourself. These cameras have so many megapixels that you will surely not go too far wrong. Once you have manual exposure that is all you need.

If you’ve never shot film, you will never truly understand how the experience is for you, until you actually try it for yourself.

Do you have an idea for a photography project? Don’t ask what others think about your idea. Just try shooting the project. Perhaps after you’ve tried shooting that project, you can show others the photos and ask for their opinion – but not before. Too many opinions can put you off your project or cause you to lose enthusiasm for it.

So, before making a purchase, find a showroom with plenty of different equipment to try out in in an area with plenty of space. For example, Wex Showrooms in Norwich has over 13,000 products from more than 300 manufacturers. Their 4,300 sq. foot showroom is one of the largest in the UK. With dedicated ‘Touch & Try’ displays from Canon, Nikon, Sony and more, you get plenty of opportunity to try things out for size, and take on board the helpful advice on offer. Alternatively, around the country there are Calumet stores that offer weekend rentals for price of one day – a great deal for anyone who’s trying to make up their mind on a particular piece of gear.

So instead of putting all your faith in the opinions and camera reviews of people you don’t know, just try things out for yourself, be prepared to experiment, have faith in your instincts, and base decisions on what’s right for you and your unique needs. That’s what we encourage at the London Institute of Photography, and who knows, the results could be unique, too.

Live a life of self-experimentation, and most importantly have fun.

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Develop Your Photography Style with a Process of Elimination

What is your photographic style? What kind of photographer do you want to be?

Develop Your Photography Style with a Process of Elimination

So many choices from street photography, portrait photography, fashion, beauty, commercial, stock, lifestyle, natural, posed, documentary, photojournalism, food, product, advertisement – the list goes on and on, and in each one of these categories there are sub-categories too!

It is common in the Industry to hear that you need to have a very clear theme throughout your portfolio so that your client knows what your style is and what they will get in the end. This is a challenge – everything in your portfolio may seem exciting but what you need to do is start eliminating.

For example, I knew when I was in school that I didn’t want to study maths or the sciences, but that I was interested in people and humanities. Yet when applying this same line of reasoning to their photography, a lot of people don’t know what favourite subject is. If you don’t know what your “style” is in photography, or what interests you, editing your portfolio can soon become a very painful process . Some photographers dislike photographing in black and white, others dislike pastels, others vivid colours. Some dislike noise in their images, while others love the grittiness and rawness that noise brings.

So study the art of photographer and discover what type of photographer you don’t want to become!

At the London Institute of Photography, we encourage you to study the masters, then:

  1. See when your heart misses a beat and you want to run out and photograph in a similar style. Only keep the books that inspire you and get rid of the rest.

  1. Try and discover what areas you dislike in photography and do the opposite.

  1. Avoid doing what makes you unhappy. If you find one type of photography stressful, even if it pays well, consider giving it up as it will drain your creative energy.

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Top 4 Discontentments within Photography TODAY

Our definition of photographer’s discontentment: restless aspiration for improvement.

Top 4 Discontentments within Photography TODAY

Whether you have just begun taking photographs or are an old-timer, discontentment tends to rear its ugly head from time to time.

Photography is an incredibly engaging activity but also a very lonely place, with much intense study of imagery, numbers and statistics.

We live in a fast-paced environment and photographers are eager for great results.

But what can this all lead to? Discontentment.

Here are our ‘Top Four’ reasons for discontentment that we come across time and time again.

  1. You feel your equipment isn’t good enough

Students invariably want to invest in the best equipment, but how? It is a difficult question to answer. What lens should you have, what camera body? Nikon, Canon, Fujifilm, Panasonic?

The answer I always give is, it depends two things: what job you are about to do and what feels right for you the individual. Take hold of the camera. How does it feel in your hand? Do you want a light pop-in-your-pocket camera or an interchangeable-lenses camera?

For example, if you are a wedding photographer, you will need a wide angle, a telephoto, a macro and a 50mm. But if you are a street photographer, you may want a wide-angle 28mm, 35mm or 50mm. Or maybe you are a landscape photographer, in which case you will want a wide angle but possibly also a telephoto lens.

It is about your voice, your language and, as I am sure you have heard, your style. I suggest that students rent a number of lenses. There are deals out there allowing you to rent equipment for a weekend for price of just one day. Go out, photograph, and look and see what focal length category you fall into.

  1. You think you don’t get enough social media attention

Don’t seek external affirmation seek internal affirmation. Often it will be the viewer’s mood will make the difference as to whether they can relate to your image or not. Viewers project their personal feelings onto you. So, as the photographer, you must be honest to the energy of the moment and subject matter. Firstly, this integrity will be present in the image and, secondly, you won’t care how many likes, or dislikes come your way. You will be content in yourself and your work.

  1. You compare your work to others

This is a tricky one. Oh it is so difficult to not look at your contemporaries and I would be lying if I said not everyone did it. It is natural but it can send you down a sticky spiral. Ever hear the saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side?” Everyone has to make choices based on their own personality and work towards their own goals. Try and keep your head down, work hard and create images. Learn from the masters.

  1. You don’t always feeling inspired

Chuck Close said “The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.”

It’s all in the process. Enjoy the process.

At the London Institute of Photography, you’ll learn the craft and the art.

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Should You Take a Photography Course or Learn By Yourself?

Photography, like every art form, is very personal and as you get better you will develop a style that is unique and true to who you are.

Should You Take a Photography Course or Learn By Yourself?

Ultimately that journey is yours to make, but on your way you might be wondering if you should go it alone or take a photography course.

When the idea of getting serious about photography first crept into my head I was living in a town where taking classes was not an option. I figured that with the wealth of resources available online, I could teach myself technique and composition.

The first step was to read my camera manual. I sat down with good intentions, but manuals aren’t exactly page turners and, within minutes, reading turned into skimming, until finally the booklet found itself back in its original packaging.

I wanted to learn bigger picture stuff like composition and lighting. If you search the internet you’ll find thousands of results ranging from online photography courses (some free), to enthusiast forums and YouTube channels dedicated to the subject. It’s all there. Literally all of it: composition, lighting, history, equipment; anything you could want to know.

I spent hours watching videos and reading forums and blogs until I had a series of go-to sites and instructors (people whose videos I found engaging and entertaining).

The next step (as everyone online course or in-class instructor will tell you) was to go out and take pictures. Take your camera everywhere; live and breathe photography and the rules will come. Of course if you’re as impatient as I am, and you expect results after having dedicated weeks of your life to YouTube, you might find that your photography won’t improve quite as drastically as you’d hoped for. In fact, you might have to re-watch a few of those instructional videos, then go back out and try again.

What I did thoroughly enjoy was seeing where other people – tourists mostly – were going wrong with their photos. I could now smugly explain terms like leading lines and rule of thirds. What I still could not do, however, was get my own photos right.

I regretted not being enrolled in a course with fellow photographers with whom I could engage and ask questions. I would go out with my camera, and a flood of questions would just rush through my mind, questions which I somehow was never able to recall long enough to search for the answers. By the time my tired feet found their way back to the sofa my mind had wandered to Netflix.

While my photos have improved, there’s no doubting the value of enrolling in a photography course, where I know someone can give me guidance, structure, insight specific to my ambitions and challenges, and – step by step – the confidence to achieve my creative visions and explore and stretch my limits. You can learn anything you set your mind to, but nothing online compares to intelligent conversation, interaction and supervision.

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Top Four Reasons to Learn Photography from an Expert

In today’s day and age, where almost any information you require is readily available on the internet, why would you physically attend a photography course or workshop?

Top Four Reasons to Learn Photography from an Expert

While you can definitely learn many techniques and technical tricks via Youtube or other sites, online tutorials usually stay there, online. It’s fun to watch, fun to learn, but do you really know how to apply creative lighting or macro stacking in a real-life situation? Enter a photography course, where you can receive professional advice and so much more.

Here are our top four reasons to rely on expert, in-person guidance to make you a better photographer.

Personal feedback

One thing you can never get through Youtube is personal interaction and feedback. It’s a one-way medium where someone explains a concept to you, and that’s where it stops. You cannot try it out, ask questions or get input on your performance.

When attending a course, you have a teacher that readily answers questions, expands on topics if there is an interest, and supervises you as you try out different techniques.

This leads to a much more interactive session, which sparks creativity and inspires you to take your craft to the next level. If there is a workshop, you will also immediately go out and practice what you learned, which helps you both understand the concept and retain the information you recently picked up.

Creative collaboration

Unless you are specifically taking a one-on-one course, you will have other students learning together with you. This creates a great dynamic where you get different points of views and angles on the same assignment; this is great for expanding your mind to other possibilities.

You also learn from others’ mistakes, as the course progresses. This can help you master the field or subject much faster, as you don’t have to experiment your way forward.

During a course you also get to know other photographers, which can be invaluable if you plan on working as a professional photographer. Networking is vital in any business, and having friends and acquaintances to enlist for projects in the future can be a great benefit.

Get access to professional equipment

Even if you are an avid photographer, it’s unlikely that you have a full studio setup at home. Taking a fashion photography course, for example, allows you to gain experience in a real studio without having to shell out several thousands of pounds for equipment. Reflectors, umbrellas, strobes and flashes are all essential to a studio setup, but quite expensive if you are just starting out.

There is also a possibility that you will get to try out shooting with pro cameras (such as full frame) and lenses, which can be a very interesting experience. If you are a hobby photographer, it’s unlikely that you will buy a camera for £4000, but having the experience of shooting with one can be very valuable.

Learning from a Master

Learning directly from someone who has many years of experience in the field is a huge advantage. You’ll have the opportunity to observe, and pick up the tips and tricks that are hard to put into words, as they come naturally to someone used to handling clients and equipment.

Working with a professional will also help you refine your distinct creative vision and style, and at the same time get inspired by the passion of your teacher.

Any course worth its salt will have great personal support, where the teacher can assist you with anything related to the course.

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Top 5 – Unconventional Landscape Photography

These 5 photographers elevate Landscape to a new level. They create meaning and add surreal elements that give depth to otherwise common scenes.

Top 5 – Unconventional Landscape Photography

Brendan Pattengale

Brendan Pattengale was born in Los Angeles and was always surrounded by art.
 He started interesting himself with colour very early and has worked his way to finding his own language and a very distinctive style.
We can clearly see how much colour matters in his latest series of Landscapes ‘The Colour of Love’.
They are not common views of mountains and lowlands. They take us into a parallel universe where we could meet Georgia O’Keeffee, they seem at times more like watercolours or pastel drawings than photographs.
They demand attention and careful observation and they give us a sense of what’s unexplored not only into photography but on a personal level, and invite us to travel and try and find these places in our own journey.


Myoung Ho Lee

“By creating a partial, temporary outdoor studio for each tree, Lee’s ‘portraits’ of trees play with ideas of scale and perception”
Simple in concept, complex in execution, he makes us look at a tree in its natural surroundings, but separates the tree artificially from nature by presenting it on an immense white ground, as one would see a painting or photograph on a billboard.

myoung ho lee trees

Arno Rafael Minkinnen
“What Happens Inside Your Mind, Can Happen Inside A Camera”

Arno is an unusual photographer. He takes self-portrait very seriously.
So why is he in this list dedicated to landscapes? Because his self-portraits are very unusual.
Looking at his pictures you cannot, at times, distinguish between body and land.
This is what fascinates us and makes us smile with delight, his photos are clever, carefully composed landscape self-portrait where you never see his face but body parts instead.
A hand caressing a mountain top, a foot stepping into a lake, a body ‘hiding’ among a group of trees… His perspective views are just fantastic works of deception and the result of carefully planned shoots.
He doesn’t retouch his photos and he threw himself the challenge of achieving a perfect shot ‘in camera’.
He also uses his work to remain young, as through intensive exercise and his goal of challenging himself over and over to complete new ideas he can keep his body and mind young.


Viviane Sassen

In one of her latest series called “Umbra” Viviane Sassen plays with coloured glass panels inserted directly into the landscape as well as using them to create reflections and refractions onto the sand.
It’s like watching Malevich’s paintings come alive in the Namibian desert.
The scene is quite surreal and challenges our eyes, the compositions are superbe and the reflections leave you questioning how they were achieved. They capture your attention and your eyes wonder around the frame trying to capture the essence of the photograph itself.


Richard Mosse

Richard Mosse has been awarded the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2014 for his installation “The Enclave” at the Venice Biennale 2013.
In 2012 Mosse set off to the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, together with a cinematographer and a composer (with a video project in mind), to document a war that was almost never spoken of but that had killed 5.4 million people since 1998.
 He decided to use a particular film (both for video and photographs), an infrared military surveillance film that registers the infrared light which is invisible to the human eye making the invisible visible.
The images are dominated by a strong shade of pink, which is not usually associated with war or violent images, and it creates a vast sense of confusion in the viewer, it is a surreal and disorientating experience.

richard mosse Congo Infrared

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Check out the other Top 5 lists:
Portrait Photographers
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Movies Featuring Photography

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Expensive Camera or a Great Lens: Which IS The Best Choice for a Photography Course?

There it sits on its retail throne, the brand new Nikon D5. Nikon’s flagship camera is the main display at Jessop’s, and just seeing it up close makes me drool a little.

Expensive Camera or a Great Lens: Which IS The Best Choice for a Photography Course?

With a full-frame sensor and a 12-frames-per-second continuous burst rate that would make any sports photographer weak at the knees, Nikon has a lot to boast about with its D4 replacement. In fact, this camera is leagues ahead of its predecessor. In the camera market, the competition is fierce between the supreme brand champions Cannon and Nikon.

As I walk over to the next window display, Nikon’s arch rival, the Canon D1 X Mark II also sits proudly on its retail box throne. The Canon flagship camera also boasts an impressive set of features, from on-sensor phase detection and television broadcasting capabilities, to an even higher burst rate of 16fps.

All very impressive, especially if, unlike me, you know how to actually use the features. Of course, a camera does not a photographer make – but a professional is able to get the most out of the best tools available for the job.

Both these cameras cost upwards of £5500, and that’s for the body alone. We haven’t even begun to talk about lenses.

My salary and photo skills don’t justify the price, unless I take a photography course, in which case I might be more tempted to make such an investment. What I do know is that the retail kings have made their way into my heart, and I can’t get the idea of owning one of those beasts out of my head. What if I bought one and just stuck my kit 18-55 on it?

Would all of those impressive specifications be worth it if I couldn’t afford a fancy lens? I have a chat with couple of the salesmen who are happy to engage in the conversation. They pull a little micro four-thirds off the counter and let me play around with it (I don’t feel safe holding the big boys in case I get slippery fingers). The first pictures I take are with the kit lens. Then after about 5 minutes the first salesman hands me an Olympus 75MM prime lens, and tells me that it’s the most beautiful lens they have.

The difference literally knocks me off my socks. OK, not literally, but you get the idea. The focus is instant; the detail incredible. Same camera, different lens. Also, it turns out my lens won’t even fit on those flagship models, because mine is designed for use with a cropped sensor and both the cameras are full-frame. I could fit the lens, sure, but the field of vision would be incredibly limited.

That evening I take my old Nikon D80 out of the cupboard where it’s been collecting dust for quite some time. I get to thinking, what if I spent the £5500 on an incredible lens instead: would it turn my old clunker into a dream machine?

The next day I head back to Jessop’s. Turns out my APS-C sensor isn’t sensitive enough to pick up on the low light capabilities of the Leica’s incredible F0.95 stop. Still, I’m told a fairly decent lens would definitely bring out the best in my camera.

It’s complicated, because certain lenses are best for certain cameras. Horses for courses. An entry-level DSLR with a cropped APS-C sensor should be paired with a lens designed to take advantage of the camera’s capabilities, but that isn’t to say that all crop senor lenses are cheap and low quality. There are plenty of primes with beautiful glass designed to let the maximum amount of light hit the smaller sensor.

So to draw some kind of conclusion (because the answer is to cheap body/good lens v expensive body/cheap lens is extremely complicated), it is fair to say the lens is more important than the body for a number of reasons. Even the best camera body can never produce a great image if it doesn’t have the brawn to back up the class glass. The other reason has to do with the digital marketplace. Competition among camera manufacturers is fierce, and every year they like to come out with better, newer tech to give hungry consumer savages like me more reason to empty out their wallet. That means that whatever body you buy, there’s going to be something better next year, or maybe even next month.

Lenses on the other hand are like wine; they only get better over time, unless of course they were lacking to begin with. A 1975 35mm F0.95 Voiglander is just as beautiful a lens now as it was when it first hit the shelves. What’s more important is to choose a brand you like – for your own reasons (that’s right fanboys and girls) – and stick to it, because lenses cost a hell of a lot more than the body. And the greater your collection, the more you can do with your photography. But before ANY of that: learn to take pictures and take them well. Go find a photography school and take some classes. I would love that Nikon, though – what a handsome beast it is.


Header photo: Cary Norton

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Unleash Your Creative Spark By Taking A Photography Course

Creativity, something that according to some artists is a characteristic you either have or not.

Unleash Your Creative Spark By Taking A Photography Course

The ability to express your innermost thoughts through art, whichever form it may take. A dancer expressing complex emotions, a writer inviting you into a whole new world, a photographer surprising you with a new angle of something mundane; they are all artists in their own way, and have found a way to convey emotions or new perspectives through their craft.

So what if you do not feel very creative? Perhaps you have a technical mind, and think that creativity is simply something for someone else?

On creativity

For many, having a creative outlet is not an option but a need; being able to release emotions instead of having them bottled up. A feeling may be something that can be hard to put into words, but through art anything is possible.

Stimulating one or more senses of another person can be a gratifying experience, both for your own wellbeing and others. But even if you only practice your art for your own enjoyment, it’s time well spent.

We all have the creative spark inside of us, it’s part of what makes us human. It may not be cultivated and recognised as such, but it’s there, and with some time and practice you can learn to bring it out.

Find the spark

So if you want to explore any latent creativity, you’ll need to find an art form that you enjoy. Start simple: take a photography course, dancing lessons or maybe a writing workshop. Explore different art forms to decide what makes your brain tick until you’re ready to go ahead and invest in the equipment or tools needed for more advanced practices.

Throughout it all, maintain an open mind and be prepared to try out something new before passing judgment.

Cultivate your creativity
Once you have found something that you do thoroughly enjoy, run with it. Get tools you may need, spend an hour everyday practicing and take more advanced courses. Find out what your peers are doing, get inspired by visiting websites and reading magazines dedicated to your field.

Set up a small project, with a definable goal, and work towards completing it within a reasonable time as you practice your skills. This can be anything from participating in a play to writing a short story. This will help you maintain momentum and hopefully give you a great sense of satisfaction when you successfully complete your goals. Over time you’ll be able to look back at you work and see your progress.

Get feedback

If you haven’t already, get feedback on your work from someone with experience in your chosen field. This does not mean that the other person is right and you are wrong, but if there are technical aspects you can improve on, this person will hopefully be able to point them out to you.

Take risks

Start taking risks with your art, and don’t be afraid to fail. Challenge yourself to be imaginative, brave and authentic, and continue to push yourself on a technical and creative level.

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5 Simple Ways To Improve Your Architectural Photography

One of the most common subjects in photography is to be found all around us: buildings.

5 Simple Ways To Improve Your Architectural Photography

When you have grabbed your camera and are heading out the door, there are always buildings, sculptures or bridges around and it’s not difficult to find something interesting. However, just snapping a photo of a skyscraper or old farmhouse is not something that creates a great photo; there are many factors to take into consideration, and we will go through some of them here.

  1. First of all you need to master the basics. Take a photography course to learn all there is about how to manipulate and capture light, which is the essence of what you do as a photographer. Understanding exposure, composition, focus and all other settings on your camera will be of great use when taking any photograph – and in architectural photography light and composition play an especially important role.

  2. Scout the location beforehand. If you have a subject building in mind, explore the surrounding area and make sure that you can find the best angle. Plan the shoot a few days in advance, so that you can time the best weather and light, depending on the feel you want in your photo. If the building houses a business, consider the opening, lunch and close-of-business hours to be able to plan for more or less people moving around the area, and also make sure that you have permission to set up your gear and take photos (especially true if it’s a government building).

  3. Allocate time for the photo shoot. Architectural photography is a field where patience really is a virtue. A great shot is planned and can take several days to accomplish when finding the best light and time to take the photo. Perhaps you need to stay at the site for several hours to catch the last rays of sun, or that storm coming in a few days will give a dramatic backdrop. When relying on natural light, be prepared to wait for the perfect moment, but also be prepared to anticipate it.

  4. Explore all angles. A photo taken looking up at the subject structure will be vastly different from a shot done from above or far away. There are times when compositional elements, such as lines and textures, are more pronounced when changing the direction the photo is taken from. Don’t be afraid to experiment and see all that a structure can offer.

  5. Switch to black and white. Our eyes are normally drawn to colour, and it’s common to explore those when picturing a building. The warm colour tones of a sunset reflected in the window, or the shifting colours of a polarised office window. But if it was lines, angles or textures that caught your eye, then it might be a better option to switch to black and white. This will give a greater contrast, which will accentuate the elements you wish to show.

By following these 5 tips you will be able to drastically improve any architectural photography, and who knows, perhaps your next shoot will be one that you can show off in your portfolio?

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Top 5 – Movies featuring Photography

We know very well that Cinema and Photography are deeply linked, the former wouldn’t exist without the second.

So we got inspired to put together a mix of movies celebrating analogue photography in all its glory.

Top 5 – Movies featuring Photography

‘Blowup’, 1966 (thriller/mystery)
Director: Michelangelo Antonioni

A mod London photographer seems to find something very suspicious in the shots he has taken of a mysterious beauty in a desolate park.
This intriguing movie is a cult classic from the 60s.


‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’, 2013 (adventure/comedy)
Director: Ben Stiller

Walter works at LIFE magazine as a negative assets manager. As the magazine is set to convert to online and his job is threatened, photojournalist Sean O’Connell sent Mitty his latest negatives, he believes negative #25 captures the “quintessence” of Life and that it should be used for the cover of the magazine’s final print issue.
The negative is missing and Walter embarks on a global journey that turns into an adventure more extraordinary than anything he could have ever imagined..


‘Rear Window’, 1954 (mystery/thriller)
Director: Alfred Hitchcock

A wheelchair-bound photographer spies on his neighbours from his apartment window.
One night during a thunderstorm Jeff hears a woman scream “Don’t!” and then the sound of breaking glass. He observes Thorwald (a traveling jewelry salesman with a bedridden wife) leaving his apartment. Thorwald makes repeated late-night trips carrying his sample case. The next morning Jeff notices that Thorwald’s wife is gone and becomes convinced that he killed her.


‘Carol’, 2015 (drama/romance)
Director: Todd Haynes

An aspiring photographer develops an intimate relationship with an older woman.
Trivia: Cinematographer Edward Lachman took direct inspiration from Saul Leiter (known for shooting through windows and using reflections) and Vivian Maier’s photographs.

Carol movie

‘Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus’, 2006 (drama/romance)
Director: Steven Shainberg

Turning her back on her wealthy, established family, Diane Arbus falls in love with Lionel Sweeney, an enigmatic mentor who introduces Arbus to the marginalized people who help her become one of the most revered photographers of the twentieth century.
A little trivia: promo portraits of the actors were taken by Mary Ellen Mark

fur screencap

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Check out the other Top 5 lists:
Portrait Photographers
Photography documentaries
Photography books 
Instagram Photographers

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Getting Over Writer’s Block in Photography

You don’t have to be a writer to suffer from writer’s block.

Getting Over Writer’s Block in Photography

That same feeling of being stuck and unable to produce can be experienced in any creative pursuit, whether you’re a painter, musician or photographer. As difficult as writer’s block can be to break through, there are certain actions that you can take that, as a photographer, will help you feel inspired once more.

Explore something new

Take a photography course covering an area you haven’t fully studied yet. Exploring a new subject, within a group of like-minded fellow photographers, will give you new things to discover and new perspectives with which to perceive them.

Change your scenery completely. If you normally take street photography, get out of the city and take some landscape photos. Or borrow a macro lens to intimately explore your closest surroundings without even having to move out of your living room. Switch things up and investigate something new.

Be selfish

Photograph for your own enjoyment and not others’. Many feel the pressure to create as a means to attain approval from friends or followers on social networks, and this pressure to produce great work all the time can be a major reason behind your writer’s block.

So stop uploading your photos for a month, and only photograph subjects for your own interest. Without that external pressure or stress, you can truly take pleasure in learning about your craft.

Be selfish, and don’t be afraid to focus on yourself instead of others.

Take a break/Increase to 11

Take a break for a few weeks and focus on other things, creative or otherwise. Perhaps your lack of creativity is because you have a lot of other things to consider in your life? Aim to remove distractions while on that break to make sure that you can focus on photography once you are ready to return.

The other option is to crank it up all the way to 11, taking at least 50 photos a day (or one roll if you are on film). By challenging yourself to take more photos, you have a goal and can power through your lack of creativity. You might also set yourself other goals, such as honing a different skill each month, or exploring a new theme every week.


Writer’s block is a tough nut to crack, but by blending various steps – such as taking a photography course or photography workshop, exploring new themes and techniques, being selfish, taking a break to freshen your perspective, and setting short-term goals and targets – you’ll soon be able to start getting the most out of your photography again.

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Developing your own Style happens in a Dark Room

When I was a child I dreaded road trips, we’d always stop in some godforsaken place and wait for hours while my dad took pictures of ugly things…

Developing your own Style happens in a Dark Room

I could never figure out why, but I imagined that one day when I had my own camera (and taken some photography courses) I’d definitely find prettier subjects to photograph like flowers and aeroplanes. In the meantime, my friends were going to Disneyland and I was stuck out in the middle of nowhere and bored. These days, my portfolio is full of pictures of ugly things (thanks Dad). Forlorn buildings, ruins, graveyards, places that once were. I can hear a ten-year-old me asking what happened to those flowers, and adult me explaining that those just aren’t as interesting to me now because they don’t tell a story. It’s the job of a photographer to take a second look; find out more – use your eyes and listen carefully.

In a time of social media shares, Instagram hits and incredible lenses built right into our mobile phones, there are a lot of people who like to consider themselves photographers after that lucky accident that turned out better than expected. True photography takes time, it takes patience, and it takes as much an understanding of yourself as what’s going on around you.

The camera you have sitting on your desk is so much more than a techy gadget with a megapixel count. It takes a life of experiences that you build on in order to figure out what it is you’re trying to say, and to find that creative style that conveys your message.

And while there is a place for technology in art, being a photographer isn’t measured by the number of megapixels crammed into your DSLR. A good photo breaks past its two dimensions to become a scene that strikes with your audience’s imagination. Photography gives us the incredible freedom to use reality as a canvas to talk about the things that are important to us, and to share our message of love, of pain, of fear, of visual beauty – and ugliness.

So why bother with all the trappings of the craft of photography if we can snap away with our phones or DSLRs and even make those images look pretty and professional with a smart app? Well, there is value to being able to snap away – as Chase Jarvis said, the best camera is the one you have with you. But while snapping the moment is a wonderful phenomenon of the digital age, to what degree does it allow you to manipulate, express and understand light?

With a love for the craft of photography comes a respect for our surroundings, a desire to learn about light, and a curiosity about what’s lurking in the shadows. And by developing that craft, we might make even the ugly beautiful.

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Professional Photography Course student feature – Caroline & Sahar

We are always amazed by the progress our students make after a couple of days spent on a course and this is particularly true for two of our current Professional Photography Course students, Caroline and Sahar.

Professional Photography Course student feature – Caroline & Sahar

The work and passion they’re putting into developing their photographic style is outstanding and worth dedicating this article to them.
This past week was theirs to further their skills into Portrait Photography and they did it masterfully! In only 4 days they learnt the key concepts of portraiture, new photography techniques and prepared a themed shoot with a model on the final day. Two different concepts, both shot in black and white, both with the fantastic Elizabeth Gibson as a model.

Sahar photographed Elizabeth in the studio, she chose a minimalistic approach with just one light that beautifully accentuated her features and body language.



Photos: Sahar Arrayeh (click on the images to enlarge)

Caroline has chosen to shoot outdoors, using our state-of-the-art Profoto Battery flash system that allows photographers to combine elements of studio with location photography. Using just an umbrella, she balanced the ambient light with flashlight to create these beautiful character portraits.




Photo: Caroline Andersson (click on the images to enlarge)

We want to congratulate our students for the magnificent work and our model Elizabeth Gibson for being so accommodating and inspiring.

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LIoP TALK: Alison Baskerville – Photojournalism

LIoP Talk is FREE! Alison Baskerville talks about her assignments in Afghanistan, Gaza, Mali and Somaliland and the impact of conflict on women’s lives in war zones.

LIoP TALK: Alison Baskerville – Photojournalism

The London Institute of Photography invites you to another LIoP TALK, this time the award winning Alison Baskerville will talk about her work as a professional documentary photographer and how she uses photography to bring connections to social issues.

Along with her work on the role of women in society she has also completed assignments in areas effected by conflict such as Afghanistan, Gaza, Mali and Somaliland. As a former member of the Armed Forces, Alison is still engaged in the aftermath of war and works either independently and her work has been published by the Times, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Mirror and BBC Online, her most recent being the young survivors of the 2015 earthquake in Nepal for Handicap International UK.

Watch a short documentary on her work here: Alison Baskerville – NBC Universal 100% Character Uncovered

See Alison’s work on her website: http://www.alisonbaskerville.co.uk/

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Bill Cunningham – A Fashion Photographer (1929 – 2016)

As the corner between 57th Street and 5th Avenue gets renamed Bill Cunningham’s Corner, we take a look back at the life of one of the most influential fashion photographers.

Bill Cunningham – A Fashion Photographer (1929 – 2016)

Born in 1929 from an Irish catholic family in Boston, his interest in Fashion can be traced back to his childhood when his parents took him to Church “I could never concentrate on Sunday church services because I’d be concentrating on women’s hats” he said. He went to Harvard but dropped out after only a few months. In ’48 he was drafted during the Korean War and was stationed in France, where he had his first exposure to French fashion.

When back in New York, Bill opened a workshop where he made hats under the name William J. and started taking photographs of the models wearing his pieces to catalogue his work.


He also worked for Chez Ninon, a couture salon that sold copies of designs by Chanel, and Dior (his clients included Marilyn Monroe and Jackie O).

His clients encouraged him to write and this is how his journalistic career started, at the Chicago Tribune. He subsequently started taking snapshots of women on the street and in 1978 was noticed by the New York Times for a shot of Greta Garbo, with that begun his column On the Street which he dedicated his life to.

“Money is the cheapest thing. Liberty is the most expensive.”

He never joined the chorus, never wanted to be rich, never went after the famous who wore the big brands but preferred to go to fundraisers and parties where women wore clothes they didn’t receive for free in some publicity attempt.
“I am not fond of photographing women who borrow dresses. I prefer parties where women spend their own money and wear their own dresses…. When you spend your own money, you make a different choice.”

For him fashion was out on the streets and that is where he spent his life, he loved young people and their courage to wear whatever they wanted and create something revolutionary.
He was the first to recognise street fashion as a form of expression and the first one in documenting movements that came from the street and spread to the fashion world and not vice versa.

Cunningham wasn’t a technical photographer, didn’t care about the latest camera model or the most expensive one. Some people might think his photos are not relevant, but we disagree – his work was a comprehensive study of beauty on people, it went beyond photography, he can be considered an anthropologist of creativity.


He was an authority in the fashion world, even though remaining humble, but using his influence wisely to divert the attention on important issues like the gay community rights covering AIDS benefits and pride parades.

Cunningham could be spotted in the distance with his distinguished way of dressing, not fancy nor expensive, but recognisable and unique. He wore a work man’s blue jacket (for its many pockets), black jeans and trainers and could be always seen riding his bike (one of the 29 bikes he owned, 28 of them got stolen or damaged in accidents).

He was responsible for observing fashion evolution through the years in a completely unique way.
Bill Cunningham was given the Legion d’Honneur by the French government in 2008,and was declared a Living Landmark in 2009 by the New York Landmarks Conservancy.

We highly recommend the 2010 documentary Bill Cunningham – New York , it not only shows the relentlessness of Cunningham’s devotion to his work and to fashion, but also the sheer joy with which he navigated through life.

The corner where Bill used to be seen more often, between 57th Street and 5th Avenue, has now been renamed after him.

Bill Corner via ICP

Suggested: Bill Cunningham podcast for The New York Times

Photo credits: New Yorker
Bill Cunningham Corner via ICP

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The new Flexible Professional Photography Course

The comprehensive photography training for students with family or work commitments.

The new Flexible Professional Photography Course

The Flexible Professional Photography Course is suitable for full-time employed and students with a busy life style and allows them to pick and chose the dates of their modules to suit their needs. The time available to complete the Flexible Professional Photography Course is 9 months.

All modules are available on weekdays, evenings and weekends and it is possible to study the Flexible Professional Photography Course entirely on weekends (if that’s what you’re looking for!).

You can check out our Calendar and start choosing your dates here.

All the modules of the Professional Photography Course are included in the Flexible option together with Guest Lecturers, Exhibition Visits (set dates) and Mentoring Sessions (students will have a series of dates to chose from and adapt to their schedule).

The Flexible Professional Photography course will cover all aspects of Photography starting from the basics and get you really solid ground to start building on your skills and creativity.

At the end of the course you will have a website, a printed portfolio of your work and you will be ready to start your career!


You can find prices and instalments options here:


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Photography is not about Gear and Gadgets, it’s about Art

“The best camera is the one you have with you” – Chase Jarvis

Photography is not about Gear and Gadgets, it’s about Art

Award winning photographer Chase Jarvis coined the above expression and used it for the title of his book, which was published in 2009. It consists of images taken solely with a cell phone camera, and was meant to show that the artistry of photography is not based on what type of camera you have, but on how you see the world. This is the case for most art forms; Michelangelo was not a spectacular painter because he had a £2000 paintbrush, it was because he could successfully express his thoughts and feeling on a canvas (or ceiling!). While having the right tools for the job will make your project easier, without mastering the more essential aspects of your chosen art form, achieving your ambitions simply won’t be possible.


Without light there is no photography. The capture and manipulation of light is at the essence of what a photographer does, and to be successful you need to have a highly developed understanding of how light works in relation to everything that you see. Is there enough light? How will the shade affect contrast? How different will the photo be if you wait 10 minutes? – questions that can be answered if you know the intricate, and sometimes fickle, properties of light.

All the settings and parts on your camera are made for the purpose of manipulating light: the trick is to let enough light in without allowing it to ruin your picture. Lenses and their settings control when and how much of the surrounding light hits the sensor; ISO, how much of that light gets used to create a photo; while flash creates a burst of more light when needed. Everything we see in our environment is made possible by light bouncing and reflecting back at us; even colour is a measure of how much, and at what wavelengths, that light is reflected.


For a photographic masterpiece there has to be something arranged in a way that is pleasing to the eye (or the opposite, if you want to picture chaos) – this is referred to as composition. A photographer composes the photo in much the same way as a talented composer creates a piece of music, combining various elements to generate a reaction of some kind in the audience, be it an emotional response or the triggering of a memory. Compare to a painting in an art gallery – the same rules apply, but instead of using a camera you use a paintbrush. Angles, colours, contrast, lines, objects: all of these elements may contribute to making an image more stimulating for the audience.

The Photographer

The lighting is perfect and components of the photo line up in the exact the way you want. There is only one thing missing: you. Within the arts, there is no escaping the artist; without him or her there would be no photo. How you see the world, and how you want to present it to your viewer – is how a photo gets made. Your unique style, what you find exciting, your mood and state of mind, and your physical location in relation to everything else in the world is what makes up the largest part of a great photo.

If you quickly snap a photo rather than stopping for a minute to carefully interpret what you find interesting, you will surely see a great difference in the quality of the picture.


You are what makes a truly great photo, not your camera. So fine-tune your most important piece of photography equipment: study, attend a carefully constructed photography course and spend as much time as you can practising – it’s the only way to reach your potential.

Photo: Edward Burtynsky

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Planning a Photo – Why it makes all the Difference

It’s said that the god of photography, Isosam, sculpted the Lake District specially so photographers could produce dramatic landscape images.

(Don’t look for other sources though, this article might be the only mention).

Planning a Photo – Why it makes all the Difference

You’ve made your way to Wastwater, England’s deepest lake to capture the drama and beauty of the surroundings. It’s summer, the kids are on holiday, so the whole family has come along. You’ll arrive at the B&B by about noon, stop for lunch and head on over to take what you expect will be award winning snaps.

As you say your goodbyes and grab your gear you feel a giddy excitement about capturing and sharing this natural refuge with the world. You’ve brought a tripod, an external flash, three or four lenses to capture different focal lengths, and a spare battery.

Hang on.

What’s this? A bunch of children are paddling around in the lake exactly where you were set to shoot. Maybe up ahead a little…


A family has set up their tents blocking the view. The place is far busier than you’d imagined. Patience, you think to yourself, maybe you’ll dip your feet in the lake until the right moment presents itself.

A couple of hours pass by and you start to get hungry again. You didn’t bring any food. Oh well you’ll just have to ignore those belly growls.

In your car you grab your tripod. Might as well choose a shooting location while you wait. A distant rumbling. Far off, a lightning bolt briefly lights up the incoming clouds. The mums call their kids out of the water.


It’s time to take action. You run back to the car to pick up the rest of your gear. You’ve brought two telephoto lenses and a 50mm prime. The camera is mounted, but you’re finding it difficult to get everything you want into the shot. Why didn’t you bring your 14mm wide angle?

The clouds are pushing in. A chilly breeze signals the approaching storm. As of right now, the sky’s dramatic intentions make the perfect contrast to the peaceful surrounds.

The camera has switched off! Where’s the battery? Did it get left in the B&B? You hesitate. If you go right now, run, you can get back on time to capture the storm clouds passing over the lake.

These sheep in the road are seriously about to become mince pies if they don’t move soon!

‘Honey, have you seen a spare battery?’

‘You left it beside your jacket dear.’

It’s a race back to the lake. As you run out of the car you start to feel little drops of water hitting your forehead and smudging your glasses. You’re not going to quit over a little water, not after you’ve come this far, waited this long and had to drive all the way to the B&B and back.

Wind is now sweeping across the water, creating short whisping waves. Now to locate that perfect spot you plotted out earlier.

Where is it?

The wind must have blown away the X you marked in the mud. You should have left a better marker. Oh well, no time. You place your tripod exactly where you’re standing, place your nose to the viewfinder and… rain. Torrential downpour.

Your camera’s not weather sealed.

Clumsily you grab all of your gear and run back to the car. The radio’s playing Beethoven’s 7th. What a perfect scene. Too bad you weren’t able to capture it.

Maybe next time pray to the god of photography before you go out to shoot, oh, and plan ahead.

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Be different! How B/W Photography can capture your Senses

In these times of Instagram and Facebook there are billions of photos being taken and posted online every day.

Be different! How B/W Photography can capture your Senses

Snapshots with oversaturated colour filters are very common in these types of photos, as we are drawn to bright colours like a moth to a flame. HDR is on the rise, which uses several exposures to give larger-than-life colour ranges, and picturesque images captured with this technique litter the internet to the point of their being mundane.

But is colour really the be-all and end-all of photography? There is a large portion of the photography community that thinks not. Many classic works from renowned photographers are without colour: striking landscapes, enigmatic portraits and evocative still lifes – all in black and white.

So why should you start exploring the dramatic world of black and white photography?


To capture an atmospheric contrast, black and white is wonderful. If you are a beginner, it’s also easier for an untrained eye to appreciate the striking textures and tones of black and white imagery than with the complexity of a colour mesh. Teach your eyes to avoid stark colours, and focus only on the pure contrast between light and dark.


Without colour you simplify the image you are trying to capture. This lets you focus on the essence of what you want to show through your photos, and can often make a picture even more powerful.

While learning the essentials of exposure, working with black and white photography is a great way to remove any distractions, to make sure you get it right – perfect for any homework if you are taking a beginner’s photography course.


A black and white photo is different from how we see the world. We have grown up with seeing our surroundings with the nuance that colour gives us, and showing the same surroundings without colour can make the subject look very different. We recognise what’s being pictured, but without the warmth of colour it deviates from the original scene in a way that grabs the viewer’s attention. Our eyes get drawn further and further into the picture as the brain tries to fill in the blanks.


If you are doing still-life photography, using black and white will instantly give your objects a sense of timelessness. We all associate black and white with something from a time long past, and this can be used to your advantage. Want that abandoned wagon wheel to instantly be recognised as something from early last century? Picture it in monochrome.


When removing the distraction of colour, texture becomes an integral part of your subject. Bring it out for your viewers with dramatic lighting and high contrast. The texture of waves, grassy fields or even a person’s skin all become more accentuated when you remove colour. Make a grizzled face, with wrinkles and all, really jump from the page by utilising black and white photography.

Photo: Holger Pooten

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Automatic vs Manual

As a photographer, beginner or professional, you are given a choice between shooting in automatic or shooting in manual.

Automatic vs Manual

Most professional photographers choose the manual setting for a number of reasons, but who’s to say it’s right or wrong? It’s actually all dependent on personal preference and the context within which you are shooting. So, why shoot in automatic? And for that matter, why shoot in manual?


First, if you are relatively new to photography, the automatic setting can provide you with a great opportunity for exploration. It doesn’t require as much thinking or mental focus. As a beginner, getting a good, interesting and artistic shot is most important. OK, so you’re not exploring the possibilities of colour and tone or depth of focus to the same degree as you would otherwise, but this means you can think more about composition – which is an equally important feature of any visual art.

Second, it can save you. Shooting in manual is a challenge and at times you’re just not sure you can get the right shot. Trying out the shot in automatic first will help you confirm what works and what doesn’t – and if you don’t get the shot right in manual mode, you still have the auto one available as backup.

Third, subjects are rarely ever still and it can take a bit of luck and a lot of skill to capture that beautiful shot of something spontaneous and fast. Automatic mode will help you capture a quick shot for which you have no time to spare – think wildlife and sport.


With manual mode, the bottom line is that it allows you to have all of the control. You control the aperture, shutter speed and ISO. You’re the one choosing the style and the images, and can start getting truly creative in how you manipulate light.

  • You can focus on whatever subject you choose, using varying depths of field to draw attention to what you feel is most important in your imagery.

  • Control not just the amount of light in your photo, but also how your camera receives that light. Here, you can reduce shutter speed to create a greater sense of movement, or adjust the aperture to help create effects like bokeh and lens flare.

  • Let loose on your creativity and million dollar ideas.

Photography isn’t just about shooting good-quality photos, it’s about how you perceive the world and express how you think and feel. Shooting in manual gives you the opportunity to get creative and capture images in the way you want them to be seen; something that shooting in automatic doesn’t give you the same freedom to do.

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Photography Course Basics – Common Compositional Errors

Snapping a photo is easy, just point your camera in the general direction of the subject and press the shutter release button. Voila!

Photography Course Basics – Common Compositional Errors 

You now have a photo that you can share to your friends and family. However, the likelihood that photo being memorable is slim to none. A true masterpiece is crafted, not just snapped. Next time you see something that you want to photograph, stop and think. What drew your eyes to the subject? Can you refine the idea of the photo (remove elements that do not add anything to the image)? Let’s go through a few of the different compositional errors that are common for beginners.

  • A photo with an unbalanced composition. One of the most fundamental composition rules is to arrange subjects and visual elements in balance within the frame. Imagine that each element of the photo (people, objects, details) is an item on a tray that you balance on one finger precisely in the middle. When you arrange these items try to keep the tray in balance and keep in mind that some items in your photo are “heavier” than others.

  • Not taking the background into consideration. Distracting elements in the background can ruin the image, so avoid anything that takes focus away from the subject. One prime example of this is branches and similar elements in the background of a portrait.

  • No foreground when taking a landscape photo. When you take a photo of a landscape, try to have something in the foreground. It could be rocks, bushes, trees or anything else you find. Position yourself to have those elements in the picture. Too much empty space should be avoided, which leaves us with the next point.

  • Subject too small in the photo. Before you have the confidence of a pro photographer it’s common to stay far away from the subject. Don’t take pictures like a stalker or the paparazzi, get up and close to whatever you’re capturing. This enhances the subject, and creates a clearer purpose by removing distracting elements and showing what you care about.

  • Facing the subject head on. It’s common to just stand there and take a photo of something interesting. But before you shoot, consider if the subject could be pictured from a more interesting angle. Shadows, unusual details and compositional effects can all benefit from a different angle or distance.

  • Not using “power of three”. Three objects are more pleasing to the eye than four. Unless you are going for perfect symmetry, always use an uneven number of objects in the photo. If you see four rusty screws on a table, it’s easy to just remove one for a more striking picture, but in nature you may have to do some legwork to get the right angle (it’s hard to move a tree!).

Interesting effects can be created by breaking the rules of composition, but it’s recommended to master the basics so you know when it’s appropriate to stray away from these techniques.

Sign up for a course with us to get more information about these concepts, as well as a complete understanding of everything regarding the techniques used to craft a masterful image!

Image: Ansel Adams

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Top 5 – Instagram Photographers

As Instagram unveiled its new logo just a few days back we thought about sharing another one of our precious Top5 lists filled with more photography goodness from around the Internet.

Top 5 – Instagram Photographers

Marta Greber (food)

A blogger living in Berlin, Marta has a great sense of composition. Her focus is on breakfast food: she cooks it, takes photos and then takes the time to eat it.
Her Instagram feed is packed full of deliciousness.


Vishal Marapon (geometry)

If you love geometry and colours this is the account you need to follow.
Vishal captures everyday places and moments that would otherwise go unnoticed..


Visual Memories (street)

We don’t know much about the author of the photos, but what we know is that captures fantastic moment, mainly in NY, with a hint of Saul Leiter and his love for umbrellas..


Allan Edward Hinton (travel)

This traveller knows how to make you jealous!
Take a trip ‘round the world just scrolling through his amazing photos..


Nadav Kander (portrait)

Last but not least, the most photography-comprehensive of our list: Nadav Kander.
He is one of our favourite photographers and his account is a mix of fashion, portrait, architecture, landscape and behind the scenes that you will get addicted to..

Nadav Kander

Follow us on Instagram for daily inspiration and behind the scenes!

Check out the other Top 5 lists:
Portrait Photographers
Photography documentaries you must watch
Photography books

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Patience Is Beyond Virtuous in Photography

The full moon is creating a spectacular white glow over the savannah. As the parade of elephants near, you take cover in the tall grass.

Patience Is Beyond Virtuous in Photography

You slow down your shutter speed to give your photo that extra sense of movement and light. The largest elephants are about to pass you by. Wait for it…. now! You take your shot, then another. From behind the leaders of the herd, a baby elephant suddenly emerges. Running to catch up to his elders the baby passes just inches by the grass where your lens is positioned. You’ll have to readjust shutter speed or your image will be lost to blur.

But, just as soon as the moment presented itself, the opportunity passes as the baby falls back into the herd and into the protection of the larger elephants.

While you’re very happy with the shots you took, waiting a moment longer could have produced a winner.

Photography captures a moment, and the beauty of say, wildlife or street photography, is that everyone of those moments presents an opportunity. As a photographer, deciding which of those moments to keep frozen in time is about telling the story through your eyes. Telling that story requires a lot of patience, sometimes minutes, sometimes days.

You might have an idea about what you want to photograph as you set up your tripod, but as your environment and subjects change, you might also change your mind about what you are trying to capture.

If you know what to expect you can set up and prepare your scene. If your subjects are skateboarders in a park, you can see where they’ll make their jumps and frame your composition accordingly. Expect a lot of blurry duds before getting the perfect shot.

Photography is about playing with light, mid afternoon sun can either create too strong a shadow or might make for a boring backdrop. But wait till about 5 or 6 o’clock when you get that golden glow. The sun will have moved behind your subjects, creating powerful silhouettes. Of course, if your skateboarding subjects aren’t friends who you’ve arranged to do a shoot with, they might be out of there before the right light hits – that’s the nature of the beast. Not every outing results in the perfect shot.

Prepare. Find out when the skaters (or elephants) usually come out. Bring an extra battery, find the most interesting angles and place markers. Get it all ready before your optimal light conditions or you’ll miss the shot when the moment arrives. And, importantly, be persistent. You might have to come back every day, but keep at it and your patience will pay off.

If a subject is worth photographing, it’s worth the time and energy you put into capturing it. Don’t just look at your screen, call it good enough and move on; depending on the scene, something could happen to make your image that much better, and you’ll want to be around when it comes. Waiting for the right moment can be what differentiates a great photograph from an Instagram snapshot.

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8 Technical Terms Every Beginner Should Know

A lot of photography is based on technical knowledge, education and practice. If you’re a beginner and wishing to pursue photography, take a look at these 8 technical terms that you need to know.

8 Technical Terms Every Beginner Should know

– Aperture

The aperture refers to the opening in the lens that light shines through when a photo is taken. A larger aperture lets more light in, whereas a smaller aperture keeps light out. Photography is all about light and how to manipulate it whether you are out of doors or inside a studio, so an understanding of how the aperture affects your photography is essential.

– Depth of field

The depth of field can range from narrow to infinite and is usually affected by the camera’s aperture setting. A large aperture is used for a narrow depth of field while a small aperture is required for focus over a large depth of field. It can be difficult calculating the depth of field, so experiment with your camera and a variety of settings.

– Exposure

Exposure is the amount of light absorbed by the sensor of a digital camera or the film of a film camera. If there is too much light hitting the ISO sensor for a long period of time, your photos will be overexposed and come out blurry with glares.


The ISO number is a measure of light sensitivity. A digital camera will allow you to change the ISO number in the menu by adjusting the sensitivity of the camera’s sensor. In a film camera, the ISO is changed by changing the film. The ISO number is also often referred to as the speed of the film, since its light sensitivity dictates the required length of exposure.

– Focus

Sharp focus depends on the lens position and the size of the aperture. An object that is clear is considered to be in focus and an object that is blurry is not. There are many ways to achieve sharp focus in your photography. For example, point and shoot cameras have autofocus, while focus in a manual camera relies on the photographer. Most professional cameras also have autofocus and this makes the process of snapping a photo much faster – useful if you have to react to an immediate situation.

– Shutter Speed

The shutter speed is the 3rd part of exposure. It refers to how long the shutter stays open to allow light through. Shutter speed can be very tricky because if your camera is set to a slow shutter speed, objects that move will be blurred. The shutter speed you choose will depend on your personal photography style, the conditions within which you are taking the photograph and the behaviour of the object.

– Lens

The lens is the most important part of the camera. Photography is about capturing light and manipulating it as it passes through the lens. An important factor to consider when choosing a lens is the length of the lens, or the focal length, because a shorter length allows for more light to hit the sensor than with a longer focal length. This means that with a shorter focal length you will normally be able to use a larger aperture.

– Flash

Flash can be an important, if not the only, source of light when shooting in areas with little to no light. A simple point and shoot camera’s flash is something you can’t work with too much because they come with a standard flash, but some can be manipulated in the settings menu. However, if you’re using a manual flash, it can be played with to get the lighting you wish to achieve.

There are many techniques and skills that go into being a professional photographer but as a beginner these are 8 essential terms and elements that you must know and learn. Keep checking our blog for more information and tips on photography.

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Basic Photography Course – How to Improve Macro Photography

Macro is the part of photography where you completely change the angle and go in close, real close, to the subject.

This enables the photographer to capture stunning details that normally may not be visible to the human eye within, for example, flower petals, insects or other everyday objects. Macro photography is an excellent way to achieve a completely new take on still life photography. Below we list some tips to take your macro photography to the next level.

Basic Photography Course – How to Improve Macro Photography

  • Use a tripod to stabilise the camera. This is especially true when it comes to subjects that don’t move, like a flower or lifeless object. When zooming in as much as you do in macro photography, any slight vibration may throw the focus off and make a blurry image. When photographing living things like insects or animals, it might be easier to do a handheld shot, though, as the little critters have a tendency to fly away if you are not fast enough.

  • Adjust the camera settings properly. When the focus range is measured in millimetres you generally want as much of the subject in focus as possible. Set aperture to f/16 or f/22 to increase the range of what’s in focus. You also want a fairly quick shutter speed (no slower than 1/125) and as low ISO as possible. If you notice that the available light is not enough, consider using a ring light or flash (but with a light diffuser such as a softbox).

  • Choose the right time to go out. Early morning or late afternoon is best for insects, as they are less active at these times. Frost and golden light can also create spectacular effects and, as an added benefit, it’s usually less windy at these times. Wind can be a problem as vegetation moves around, and movement is the bane of any macro photographer.

  • Use the live view of the camera for composition. When focusing hard on a tiny little fly it can be hard to see the bigger picture. Perhaps you are missing a fantastic compositional element just to your side, and watching through the live view can help with the tunnel vision that often occurs.

  • Use the background to your advantage. You will not see any details, it will be a blur due to the narrow focal range, but general shapes and colours will be visible. With unfocused objects there can also be an interesting bokeh effect.

Macro photography can be an incredibly stimulating field to focus on (pun intended), and will demonstrate unique visual detail that we rarely see otherwise. For more information check out our homepage, where we offer basic photography courses as well as specific courses for macro.

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Top 5 – Photography books

This week we put together a mix of famous must-haves in photography books with a couple of less iconic but equally fabulous titles that you might have not heard of.

Top 5 Photography Books

‘The Decisive Moment’ Henri Cartier-Bresson

This reissue of the original book from the 50s is just a must-have for any photographer.
Check out this video by Ted Forbes to see how the book came about, why they had a painter (Matisse) designing the cover of a photography book and see the inside..

‘SUMO’ Helmut Newton

The original edition of this worldwide publishing sensation now features in numerous important collections around the world, including New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
SUMO established new standards for the art monograph genre, and secured a prominent place in photo-book history.


‘Photography: The Whole Story’ Thames&Hudson

If you love photography and would like to know more, Photography: The Whole Story is a celebration of the most inspiring photographs that have come from this very modern medium. It covers every photographic genre, from early portraits and tableaux to the digital montages, split-second sports images and conceptual photographs of today.

‘Passengers’ Dagmar Keller/Martin Wittwer

The winner of the FotoBook Dummy Award 2012 contains striking photos of public transport passengers taken through frosted glass and bleak concrete bus stops in the snow. You will be transported in a parallel world where the lights are dimmed and there’s no other sound except the engine of the bus.

‘Pilgrimage’  Annie Leibovitz

This choice might not be the usual one when it comes to Annie Leibovitz.
But it shows another side of the world-famous photographer which you might not know.
This is the diary of a journey. In the spring of 2009, she set out on a two-year journey that took her to about two dozen historic sites in the United States and Britain.
No living celebrities are portrayed but historical ones are indirectly represented, from Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson to Eleanor Roosevelt and Robert Smithson.


Follow us on Facebook for daily Inspiration

Instagram is where we post backstage photos of our courses and subscribe to our Newsletter to receive updates on free talks and courses offers.

Check out the other Top 5 lists:
Portrait Photographers
Photography documentaries you must watch

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Student Feature – Zoë Law

In this brief interview our student Zoë Law shares her past and her projects for the future, which involve finishing a series of 30 portraits and a book with her daughter.

Student Feature – Zoë Law

Tell us a bit about yourself, how did you get into photography?

I was a Makeup Artist for 12 years in Fashion & Music. I had a fantastic career but it wasn’t practical with family life, I no longer relished the freedom of no routine(!)
I always had a passion for photography, and loved the iconic images of Richard Avedon, David Bailey and more recently Rankin. Having had a 4 year break from makeup I decided that I would love to focus all my energy on Photography, concentrating mainly on Studio Portraiture.

What is your preferred photographic genre and why?

I love portraiture, particularly black & white, purely based on my own fascination with human kind; why we are here and what is it really all about? I love the idea of becoming immortal when photographed. That for years to come those same images will have stories to tell. Living way beyond our years.

What is your current series about?

I am working on a series of studio portraits for Maggie’s Centre’s
The images are of the amazing people that use the Centres. They may have cancer, in recovery or in remission. They all have an incredible story to tell.
The images capture them with their loved ones and friends ( each sitter is welcome to bring along up to 2 guests). They are intimate, positive, happy portraits of people that are dealing with the more difficult aspects of LIFE.
The shoot days have become so popular (big production with hair/ makeup etc) that we now have a waiting list.
I intend to shoot up to 30 different people and their guests this year, shooting 3 sets of people a day.
Each person also receives a framed print of their chosen image.

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Which course at the London Institute of Photography did you join and how did it help you with the current series?

I studied Lightroom and Photoshop, which has helped me enormously with this current project. Not only with my own personal workflow but with subtle retouching techniques that I feel proud to say are pretty undetectable, to most! I now have complete control over my images which is hugely empowering.

Do you have plans for future projects?

I am working on a book with my daughter, she’s the photographer and I’m her assistant(!), she’s 9. It is a book of portraits of Dogs & Cats, which is in aid of the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.

I have lots of other ideas but just need to find the time to shoot them! This year is pretty tied up with these 2 larger projects and various other mini iconic shoots I have planned.

I feel like I’ve spent my working life building toward photography and feel blessed to be able to express myself finally in a way I can control.

See her full series here

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Save Money – Buy Used Cameras For Your Photography Course

Thinking of doing a photography course? You can find great second-hand gear as long as you know what to look for. Check out these tips on buying a used camera before making a purchase.

What to Check When Buying Used Cameras For Your Photography Course

Exterior of the camera body

One of the quickest ways to check if the usage of the camera has been rough is the outside of the body. Are there a lot of scratches? Do the knobs and buttons work as they should? Is there a lot of wear and tear?

Always do a careful investigation of the camera body – if something is loose it will not get better, all knobs should turn correctly and be mechanically sound. Also check the hot shoe (where the flash or other accessories go) to see if it’s worn. The same goes for the lens lock – it should be a tight fit and not loose. Protip: check the strap, if it shows wear and fading colours the seller might be dishonest about the age of the camera.

Shutter count

When buying used cameras, it’s a good idea to bring a laptop to be able to see more information about the photos than possible in the camera. One such piece of information is the shutter count. Just like the mileage on a car, the shutter count is an indicator of how much the camera has been used. Normally, less than 10,000 photos is considered low use while much above 50,000 is high use.

Take a photo in the native format of the camera (NEF, DNG) to include the so-called EXIF data in the photo. Once that is done, transfer it to your computer and use a tool like PhotoME or myshuttercount.com to retrieve that number from the photo. If the camera is being marketed as “barely used” and the shutter count is above 50,000 you know something isn’t adding up.

Check the sensor

Since you already transferred an image to your computer, open it and zoom in as much as you can. Pan over the image and look for dots and lines made from scratches on the glass or sensor. It can help to notice these things if you take a picture of a bright subject, such as blue sky or a white wall.

If specks or lines are visible in the image, be sure to investigate the lens and the sensor thoroughly. If it’s just dust it can be cleaned, but scratches indicate a more serious problem.

As with any other transaction the price is always a good indicator of something out of the ordinary. Deals that seem too good to be true usually are, and can be a sign of stolen goods, so always request the original receipt.

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Performing for the Camera – Tate Modern

This fantastic exhibition takes up a whole floor at Tate Modern and it is an immersive experience into performance and photography from different point of views.

Performing for the Camera – Tate Modern

The show starts exploring the subject of performance art as seen by photographers and consequently from us many years after they took place.

Starting from photographers documenting events by artists like Yves Klein or dance numbers by Merce Cunningham, the show changes its perspective, moving to other aspects of photography/subject relationship, becoming more intimate, ending up taking the point of view of the photographers on themselves in the form of self-portraits.

Crises_Shunk-Kender_MC-CB B2

Documenting Performance

The first part of the exhibition shows us the importance of the photographer’s presence during a performance, as without him there would be no record of it.
He chooses what to photograph and what not to as the performance unfolds before his eyes and takes lasting decision on how to portray the happening.


Our point of view is then changed as we are presented with some studio portraits (by Nadar).
In this section the photographer takes on the role of collaborator. The actors are dressing up to perform their roles in front of the camera. The performance is happening only because a camera is there to record it.
This theme is masterfully arranged in the red room containing photos by Eikoh Hosoe of dance performances by some of the most famous Japanese dancers (Kazuo Ono, Tatsumi Hijikata).



Moving on in the exhibition we are confronted with self-portraits.
With them photographers document personal evolution and often use disguises, take on other identities and explore psychologic and social issues like feminism and gender identity.
Starting from the beginning of the twentieth century with Marcel Duchamp (with self-portraits of his alter ego Rrose Sélavy) all the way through the 70s to 90s with Cindy Sherman and Samuel Fosso.

Performing Real Life

We get to end of the exhibition and how could it not focus on ‘real life’.
With the advent of camera phones and apps like Instagram and Facebook we are encouraged to share our lives online as if they were acted in front of an audience.
We have no way of knowing if these photos are genuine or fake, as Amalia Ulman proved with her performance ‘Excellences & Perfections’ with which she gained 90k followers on Instagram. She spent a month researching the whole thing. There was a beginning, a climax and an end.
She started taking selfies documenting her amazing lifestyle and acted out a fake life only to reveal it was a carefully planned performance at the end.
The Telegraph calls the work “one of the most original and outstanding artworks of the digital era.”

Other artists in the exhibition: Francesca Woodman, Yayoi Kusama, Martin Parr, Masahisa Fukase, Ai Weiwei.

Performing for the Camera at Tate Modern – 18 February – 12 June 2016

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Top 5 – Documentaries you must watch

Photography is a form of art that’s relatively young, born in 1822 quickly evolved and become the preferred way to document  life ‘in real time’.
We put together a list of the 5 Documentaries that every passionate photographer should watch and get inspired from.

Top 5 – Documentaries you must watch

1 – The Many Lives of William Klein

He is a pioneer, so different from the previous photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson which maintained distance from the subject.
“The irony was, William took his pictures using a camera he’d bought from Cartier-Bresson.”

2 – Finding Vivian Maier

A documentary on Vivian Maier, a nanny whose previously unknown 100,000 photographs, discovered after her death, earned her the reputation as one of the most accomplished street photographers.

3 – Contacts

This series of short documentaries (not more than 15min long) is a little gem created by ARTE France and narrated from the photographer’s perspective, giving you an insightful point of view into the artist’s creation process.

The series is composed of 3 Volumes:
1- Traditional Photojournalism
2- Contemporary Photography
3- Conceptual Photography
Here you can find a complete list of the episodes.

4- The Genius of Photography

This is a 4 episode documentary by BBC4 about the history of photography.
We thought it would be the perfect starting point to understand the medium completely and give you some ideas on how it can be used.


5- Sebastião Salgado

The life and work of photographer Sebastião Salgado, who has spent forty years documenting deprived societies in hidden corners of the world.
Directed by his son, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado and Wim Wenders.

Follow us on Facebook for daily inspiration.

Instagram is where we post backstage photos of our courses and subscribe to our Newsletter to receive updates on free talks and courses offers.

Check out the other Top 5 lists:
Portrait Photographers

Photography books

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Photography Course Basics – Do Megapixels Matter?

“You don’t take a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.”  – Ansel Adams

Photography Course Basics – Do Megapixels Matter?

A major selling point for new cameras and smartphones is a high megapixel count. The manufacturers and distributors of new devices want us to believe that the higher the count the better, justifying their higher prices. But do those pixels really add up? Do you ever need 20+ megapixels, and is the quality of the imagery any better as result?

As many photographers have said before, the camera does not take the photo, the photographer does. Before worrying about equipment you should always get the basics down by taking a photography course, and once you know how to craft a photo you can start looking into optimising your camera’s specifications.

What is a “megapixel”?

In digital photography there is a measure of resolution called “megapixel” (MP), a pixel is a small dot on the sensor of the camera that captures light and mega stands for a million, so a megapixel is a million pixels (resolution of 1000×1000 pixels).

Simplified, the camera sensor consists of a fixed amount of pixels, and the higher the number the higher the resolution. However, this does not always translate to a better picture as there is another factor: the size of the individual pixels themselves.

A common analogy is to compare individual pixels to buckets, each capturing a fixed amount of light. With a small bucket you will capture less light than with a large one, and this is exactly how pixels work. Bigger individual pixels = more light captured = higher-quality picture.

In most smartphones the sensor is about 4.8 x 3.6 mm, whereas a typical DSLR sensor will measure 22.3 x 14.9 mm. If both the phone and the camera are 5 MP, the difference in sensor size indicates a very significant difference in pixel size – so guess which one can captures more light (hint: it’s the DSLR).

So how many megapixels do you need?

Depending on what you are going to use your photos for, there is usually no need for anything more than 7 MP. Most social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) downsize the images you share so if that is your goal, you need about 1-3 MP. For large-scale prints of 28x35cm (11×14 inches) it would be safe to say that you don’t need more than 14 MP. For huge posters, 22 MP is usually enough, as you normally stand further away from the photo and won’t notice any loss in sharpness. For a quick reference you can use the following equation to estimate what resolution you need for a print:

(WIDTH in inches x 300) x (HEIGHT in inches x 300) / 1 million

So don’t pay over the odds because of a high megapixel count, and consider the sensor size v pixel count instead – although whatever equipment you have, you’ll still need a good eye and solid technical grounding.

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Student feature – Dinah Senior

When our students come to our courses they present themselves with their past experiences and they bring their stories with them.

Student feature – Dinah Senior

It is very important to know photographers’ past because it helps us understand their point of view and style.

We interviewed our student Dinah Senior on her series on the most celebrated Rumba group in the world.

Dinah, tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get into photography?

For the last fifteen years I have been a practitioner in the youth sector working with young people affected by serious violence and those living violent lifestyles. I started using candid and environmental portrait photography as an engagement tool in my work with disaffected young people and as a way of exploring their world and documenting their transformation over time.

What is your preferred photographic genre and why?

Documentary photography is my preferred genre because photography is about telling stories for me and about capturing the environmental and human elements that make up a story.

What is your current series about?

This series is about a Cuban group called Clave Y Guaguanco and is part of my ‘Cuban Perspectives‘ project that celebrates the work of contemporary artists, dancers and musicians in Havana. Clave Y Guaguanco was founded over fifty years ago in the Havana docks where they pounded out their Afro Cuban rhythms on old fish boxes and have gone on to become the most celebrated Rumba group in the world. In this series of images we see an authentic Rumba performance in the home of the group’s director Amado de Jesus Dedeu, surrounded by his friends and family.


Which course did you attend at LIoP and how did it help you with your current work?

I attended the Web Design for Photographers course with Holger Pooten and found it extremely useful. What I liked most about it was the emphasis on doing rather than talking, so that the basics of our websites were in place by the end of the two days. I am not a technical person but the course was well structured and expertly delivered, and most importantly has provided me with the knowledge and confidence to create my own site.

Do you have plans for future projects?

My plans for the future are to complete my website and to use it to promote my ‘Cuban Perspectives’ project with a view to getting my images exhibited and published. I have been very grateful for the encouragement and guidance I have received from the LIoP and am aware that I am learning a great deal and developing significantly as a photographer in the process.

See her series ‘Cuban Perspectives’ here

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Fashion Photography Course

Our Fashion Photography Course is the hands-on practice you need to start your fashion photography career.

Fashion Photography Course

In this 4-day long course you are going to experience a real fashion shoot.
In a supervised environment we will guide you through the key organisational elements to ensure a quality result and provide you with the tools to organise your own TFP shoot.

Here’s how the course is going to be structured:

1- The Studio
First thing you need to know: how to use lights, when and how many.
They are the most powerful instrument to convey your emotion and your concept.
You will start from scratch learning how they work and practicing different lighting setups.

2- The History
We will run through a brief history of fashion photography and show you how the most famous names in the industry used their setups to create different signature atmospheres.
Comparing contemporary photographers and styles you will be able to recreate them and get references to start building your concept for the final shoot.

3- The Concept
Your concept is your idea, it needs to be strong and it needs to be clear.
Luckily there is a way to explain it perfectly and convey it to your team: the mood board.
We will run through all the key points in building an effective mood board and its importance.

4- The Shoot
Have your camera ready… this course’s final assignment will be a photo shoot!
Put into practice everything you’ve learnt and work with models, hair/make-up artist, and stylist for a unique experience with quality results that you’ll be able to use as a base for your own fashion portfolio.

See dates and complete syllabus of the course here.

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Professional Photography Course

The Professional Photography Course provides students with mentoring, guidance, and emphasises personal work and artistic development.

Professional Photography Course

This professional-level photography course focuses on developing your knowledge and skills in areas that are most demanded by the professional market: acquisition of essential shooting techniques, image management, retouching, digital printing, developing an artistic identity and visual style, setting up a professional website, and creating a printed portfolio.
Taught by award winning advertising photographer and university lecturer Holger Pooten, it will stimulate your creativity and ultimately help you finding your voice.

All the Professional Photography Course students will attend 10 modules starting from the Foundations of Photography onto Portfolio Printing.

Also they will have access to exclusive features:

Exhibition Visits – During the exhibition visits we will examine concepts, context, style and presentation and draw inspirations and conclusions for our own work.

Guest Lectures – We will invite two established photographers from different ends of the professional spectrum as guest lecturers to learn about their work as well as their inspirations and what made them the photographers they are now. Q&A at the end.

Group Work Reviews – Will be held at the beginning, middle and end of the programme. We will discuss each student’s background and ambition, work in-depth on their portfolio and evaluate areas to develop after the programme.

Find out more about the complete program.

For any enquiry write to contact@liop.co.uk

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Top 5 Photographers – Portrait Edition

Once a month we will post about all the things that inspire us.

Top 5 Photographers – Portrait Edition

5 link lists that you can save, study, consult whenever you want and that we hope are going to make your world richer.

These lists  may contain book titles, video links, exhibitions reviews, quotes or just photographers that amaze us and make us think.
We are hoping to fuel your brain with new ideas and inspiration.

As we are always scouting the internet to keep up with the photography world, we bring to you the photographers that caught our eye and stimulated our thoughts.

Top 5 Photographers – Portrait edition:

Bertil Nilson 
“I collaborate closely with dancers and circus artists and draw inspiration from the body, nature, architecture and digital technology.”
His photographs of dancers and athletes will leave you speechless.


Jack Davison
is a London based portrait and documentary photographer.
His photos are full of emotion and infused with reality, rough and gentle, dark and full of atmosphere.


May Xiong
Her environmental portrait series are heavily influenced by a cinematic point of view.
Her way to edit colour always relate to the story she tells and makes it even more intense to observe.


Paul Jung
Popular editorial photographer with a distinctive minimal style.
His website is an experience on it’s own.


Laurent Kronental
The photographer documents the life of senior citizens living in the ‘Grand Ensemble’ (large housing projects from the 50’s/60’s) in Paris.


Follow us on Facebook for daily inspiration.

Instagram is where we post backstage photos of our courses and subscribe to our Newsletter to receive updates on free talks and courses offers.

Check out the other Top 5 lists:

Photography documentaries
Photography books

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Portfolio Building Courses

So, you have great work and are eager to show it to the world. Ultimately, we take photographs to share them with others, either for private, social or professional purposes.

Portfolio Building Courses

There are a million + 1 ways for you to do this but you need to make sure it is effective and professional; you need to know where to begin.

For this reason, we have developed a range of courses that guide you through the process of editing, selecting and presenting the right images and elevate your portfolio to the next level. Under the supervision of Holger Pooten you will gain precious insights to help you understand how to improve the way you showcase your work.

Portfolio & Website Review

We have become a reference point for anyone in need of advice and direction and to help photographers who want to get professional feedback on their images.

In this 1 hour session we will discuss your background and ambitions, you will receive input on how to develop and organise coherent series/sections in your portfolio and to train your eye to spot opportunities and areas to develop within your own work.

Living outside London? Check out our Online Portfolio & Website Review

Web Design for Photographers

You have your photos ready… now is the time to create your own website.What is the best template? What pictures shall you upload and how many? How about order, categories and URL name?

Starting from the basics, we will help you in converting your selection of photos into a sophisticated and professional website.

Last but not least you will learn the secrets of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

Portfolio Printing Course

We love digital but nothing beats a well made portfolio that smells of leather and fresh ink! If you would like to hold your own portfolio in your hands this course is the right one for you.

In this course you will learn to develop your signature style and as well as all the possibilities that printing a portfolio offers.

You will be taught how do create your own inkjet prints, colour management, the different kinds of paper, layouts and the varieties of printing processes.

For queries write to contact@liop.co.uk

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Saul Leiter Exhibition

A must-see exhibition for anyone who’s passion is photography (for lovers of colour and negative space in particular).

Saul Leiter Exhibition

On show at The Photographers’ Gallery (22 Jan – 3 Apr 2016) is a comprehensive body of work, not only photography but also paintings and sketchbooks.

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1923), Saul Leiter moved to New York in 1946 to become a painter.
He considered himself a painter first, even though he had a career in photography (he shot many covers for Harper’s Bazaar), painting was the one thing he did every day of his life and he always went back to it.

“It is not where it is or what it is that matters, but how you see it.”

Saul Leiter started photographing after attending a Henry Cartier-Bresson exhibition in 1947.
He went out, bought a Leica and started shooting black and white 35mm film.
In 1948 he began using colour.

Today, he is regarded as a pioneer for his revolutionary use of colour film but he stayed relatively unknown until the ’90s when the Greenberg Gallery held an exhibition about his black and white (1993) and colour photographs (1997).

The theme for his personal and editorial photography projects was always New York, the city that never sleeps. You can find the whole world in his shots, from stylish women crossing the street in their Chanel coats to postmen at work in a sea of advertising signs and snow.
A group of portraits in a single photograph taken through a glass window, or said window rendered abstract subject by the moisture.
He had recurrent subjects too: red umbrellas, car windows and negative space, a lot of negative space.


“I don’t have a philosophy, I have a camera”

His photos of NY resembled his paintings and the ‘canvas’ was precisely divided and the colours placed within the lines.
The details he captured with his camera are amazing and they denote a great eye for composition and speed to capture the ‘decisive moment’ and the surreal situations that come with it.

The middle section of the exhibition is dedicated to ‘Painted Photos of Nudes’ where he used to paint over photographs of naked women.
The result is quite intriguing, some of them leave the photograph uncovered and look almost like collages, some others are completely swallowed by the paint and become only a trace of a photographic portrait.


This exhibition is a great opportunity to discover a Master of Photography who didn’t get the recognition he deserved in life because he wasn’t interested in fame, and he only did what he loved.

Want to know more about Saul Leiter? Just read on:
A fantastic episode of The Art of Photography entirely dedicated to him – runs through Saul’s entire career.
In No Great Hurry: 13 Lessons in Life with Saul Leiter
“I hope that people who see this film enjoy their time with Saul as much as I have.” Tomas Leach, director, 2012

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A day of firsts

Dear Photographers, we come to you with the first photo from 91 Brick Lane.

A day of firsts

Yesterday was a fabulous sunny day in London, we thought it was time for us to share some glimpses of the new premises.
If you want more, you can follow us on Instagram for daily updates and backstage photos.

On the 23rd January it will even be the start of our first Beginners Photography Course.

This course is going to be 2 days long and it’s an introduction to the basic principles of photography, which can be extended and made complete with the Intermediate Photography Course (30 / 31 January) or simply combining level 1 and 2 by choosing the Complete Foundation Photography Course.

The aim of this course is to give the students a solid base to build upon and to feel comfortable using your camera as if it is an extension of your body.
At the end of the course you will be able to use the manual mode settings and to have perfected the menu so that you will be one step closer in finding your personal style.

Master your camera in Full Manual Mode: ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed.

Explore the full creative bandwidth of Focal Length and Focus.

Express your creativity through strong images.

With the aid of visual content such as slideshows (that will be given to the students to be consulted at home), we will run through every topic with practical assignments and consequent reviews.
We will tie everything together with photography history references and challenge you to think outside the box.

You can book the Beginners Course, or the Complete Foundation Course and click here to subscribe to our events on Facebook and you will be alerted on courses and special happenings.

For any enquiries about LIoP write to contact@liop.co.uk
For booking related questions: bookings@liop.co.uk

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Portfolio Reviews

Due to high demand we will offer 1 week of evening portfolio reviews in February.

Portfolio Reviews

A rare opportunity to have your selection of files, printed work or webpage reviewed by Holger Pooten, professional photographer and Head of the London Institute of Photography.

Each review is an individual 1-to-1 feedback session, held at our relaxed classroom location in Shoreditch, with coffee and tea.

Every Session will last 1 hour.

The constructive feedback will cover all aspects of your work as well as your background, ambitions and areas to develop.

Dates and time slots – February 2016:

Monday, 1st

7 – 8pm

8 – 9pm

Tuesday, 2nd

6 – 7pm

Friday, 5th

6 – 7pm

7 – 8pm

How to reserve your spot:

contact us at bookings@liop.co.uk stating which time slot you are interested in.

The price will be £50 per session.

Booking essential as spaces are limited.

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Website Launch

We’ve launched a brand new website! Take a look and let us know what you think.

Website Launch

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Brand New Premises

Today we picked up the keys for our brand-new premises at the Old Truman Brewery, Shoreditch, London. So exciting to see how everything is taking shape.

Brand New Premises

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