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I've Got a New Camera - Why Can't I Take Great Pictures (or Why are My Phone Pictures Better)?

Back in the 1990’s I was mentored by Fay Godwin, at the time the foremost British landscape photographer. Among other things, she taught me one critical fact.

"To be a successful photographer, look at lots of exhibitions and books, and don't get hung up on cameras and technical things. Photography is about images"

You’ve probably been taking photos on your phone and thought, it’s about time I invested in a proper camera?

The new camera arrives, it has lots of buttons and menus and a thick manual in several languages. Having worked out where the data card goes, how to charge the battery and turn it on you are ready to take your first proper pictures. You set the controls to auto and shoot away.

When you have worked out how to download your pictures to your computer or tablet you think “Was it worth it, my phone pictures look better than this”. The new camera is relegated to gathering dust in the cupboard, and you stick with your phone!

This is a story I hear all too often, but it doesn’t have to be like this. Modern cameras are capable of taking amazing pictures, potentially far better than your smartphone, but to get the best results you need to invest time in learning how to get the best from them. This can be a simple or confusing process depending on how you approach it.

One answer is to read the manual from cover to cover (great if you have trouble sleeping) or to go onto YouTube and watch hours of videos (which often contradict each other), resulting in terminal confusion – Don't give up, I have a simple alternative.

Over the last 5 years I’ve successfully taught more than 200 students to take better pictures. Forget the technology (although you do need to learn bits along the way), photography is about the pictures, that’s all!

I believe that as photographers, or aspiring photographers we are all artists doing something potentially very special and very creative:

"When you pick up your camera you are making art, not just going through a technical process. Every time you press the shutter button, you are creating a unique image and capturing a moment in time that you saw in your mind, that can never be repeated. I believe that every image you make carries a piece of you with it"

So, what really makes a great picture? SEEING AND COMPOSITION (yes seeing, is a skill in its own right that you need to learn to be a good photographer). I see hundreds of technically perfect images let down by a poor choice of subject and poor composition!

Seeing and Composition. These are the first skills that I teach on my beginners courses, as this will make an immediate improvement to your pictures. I follow this by teaching you how to edit your pictures to get the best out of them. Then we move on to some of the more advanced techniques that will make your pictures even better.

I run regular online evening classes, designed to get you taking your best pictures ever.

On these courses I will teach you:

  • How to see a good image

  • Why composition is important and how to do it

  • Camera basics - What do the buttons and menus do and the 20% you need to understand

  • Editing your images (the camera won’t see the picture the way you did - trust me it's true)

  • Exposure - Aperture, shutter speed and ISO – what they are, what they do, and how they can help you take better pictures

  • Why does the camera have different modes and how to use them

  • Why you might (or might not) need extra lenses

Each week, I set a homework task so that you can put the evening’s lessons into practice and we review these pictures at the start of the next class so you get friendly and positive feedback on your progress.

At the end of the course, you should be confident using your camera to take awesome pictures and edit them for sharing online, sharing on social media and printing. You will also perhaps feel comfortable to move on to the next stage and join one of my Creative Photography groups.

All of the online course sessions are recorded so that you can refer to them in future or if you miss a session.

As an alternative to my courses, I offer one-to-one tuition, if that appeals more to you.

If you are interested, you can book my courses using the link below, or contact me on 07983 394550 or email

The next series of 10 week beginners courses start in the week commencing 4th September on Wednesday mornings or Thursday evenings

Click the Button to learn more and to book your place

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