Last week I attended the Beginners Photography Course at the London Institute of Photography*. I’ve been blogging for 5 years and my photography has vastly improved in that time (I stopped using my phone camera for a start!) but I still wasn’t happy with the way my photos looked. I used my DSLR on the manual setting, but I basically mashed buttons until the settings were exactly how I wanted them to be and god forbid if anyone touched them! I knew that I needed to discover exactly what my camera was capable of and how I could make it work for me rather than pointing, clicking and hoping for the best.
Beginners Photography Course London Institute of Photography
The course takes place over 2 days in the old Truman Brewery building in Shoreditch and was run by the lovely and very talented Holger. You can see some of his work HERE.
The classes have a maximum of 8 participants but in my class I was 1 of 4: a nice mix of bloggers, those interested in a career in photography and those wanting to start a new hobby. The course was split between learning the theory and technical aspects of photography and then going out into Shoreditch to try out our newly acquired skills which was great as it really helped to cement all the information in my mind straight away.
The course started with the basic knowledge that helps you understand your camera. It sounds fairly obvious but getting to grips with the equipment really is the best way to improve your photography as you can understand your limitations and, more importantly, what your camera is capable of. Holger was great at tailoring the course to the individuals in the room – for example, it became clear that I needed a mixture of visual and practical learning to help me get my head around things. I was never good at just reading words on a screen – it just doesn’t sink in! We all had our cameras out and were playing with the settings as Holger explained things, so you really do learn as you go.
On the lunch break on our first day, Holger set us a challenge: wander around Shoreditch and try to find letters of the alphabet all around us: in architecture, nature, shadows… You can see my attempts below. It was tricky at first but it was really fun to be wandering around and looking at the world with a new perspective.
We covered so much information in the 2 days, but it never felt rushed or like we were skimming over anything. The course aims to provide you with the ability to master aperture, shutter speed, ISO, focal length and focus. These were all things I had heard banded about and thought I had a vague grasp on… I was so wrong! Holger was constantly making sure that the information was relevant to each of us: for example for me he would use still-life examples as he knew that was what I was mostly going to be interested in for my blog, but one of the other students was going to be shooting her mother’s wedding and so he was giving tips and tailored information for that kind of portrait and reportage style photography. This kind of personalisation to, and interest in, the students was so helpful and really made you feel that it was a collaborative learning experience, rather than a one-size-fits-all course.
You can read more about the course and what else is covered HERE. I am so, so glad that I went and I really can’t wait to get cracking with photos now that I have the confidence to stray from my pre-set camera settings! Also, if you sign up to their newsletter, you can get £50 off your first course!
Below you can see my attempts at motion shots (I still need some more practice!) and pretty still-life shots from the park near the venue. I’m really pleased with them!
*PR sample. For more information see the disclaimer at the top of the page.