3 mins

How you can take better photographs

After joining a one-day Take Better Travel Photos workshop, Emily Edwards discovered it's super-easy to take better shots on her future trips

How you can improve your photography skills on a one-day workshop (dreamstime)

If, like me, you want to learn new photography skills but find it all a bit daunting, then a one-day workshop is a good place to start. It was high-time I put my constant daydreaming of becoming a travel photographer into action, by joining a Take Better Travel Photos workshop in London.

As I walked towards the lecture room I wondered, 'Why have I decided to spend my sunny Saturday sitting in a classroom – especially when I could be outside actually taking pictures?”

Mulling this over, I walked into the classroom and was instantly inspired by the image on the screen and couldn’t wait to learn from the experts...

Meet the experts:

Jonathan Lorie is a professional travel photographer and writer. Jon was the editor of Traveller magazine for seven years and is now the director of the expert training agency Travellers' Tales. He teaches people both in the UK and abroad.

As well as being the editor of Outdoor Photographer magazine, Steve Watkins has travelled the world taking pictures for the bestselling BBC books series Unforgettable Things To Do Before You Die. His work has taken him to over 60 countries, across all seven continents.

Technical terms, composition and advice:

The morning session began with tips on how to create powerful photos. Steve talked through his images, explaining how he captured particular ones and why, giving a story behind each of them – it was fascinating. The carefully captured photos made me hungry to travel to the places in his shots. Judging by the enthusiastic 'ooohs' and 'aahs' every time a new image appeared on the screen, I wasn’t the only one impressed!

Both Jon and Steve also critiqued photos from those in the audience. It was great to see and learn from other amateur photographers’ images, making me think about my own and what I could improve if I were to take the shot again. The audiences’ photos were fantastic – proving it’s not just the professionals who can take a good shot.

Then we were set free into ‘Wild London’ for a photo shoot. While there are no cheetahs, towering mountains or exotic waterfalls to photograph, there are many impressive buildings, beautiful parks and interesting people.

Our task:

We were asked to practise the points from the morning session, by shooting one area – Landscape, Architecture or People – for at least one hour, aiming to bring back five good shots on one theme. While aimlessly walking around trying to decide on my subject I had Steve Watkin’s comments running through my head:

“Divide your frame into thirds; don’t put your subject in the middle of the frame.”

“Use lines, shapes and light to give depth to an image, creating interest."

“Look out for colour – red will draw in a person’s eye.”

Back in the classroom, discussing our shoot, it was great to hear how much everyone had learned from the morning session. The whole group was enthusiastic about trying something new.

In the afternoon we focused on the tricky bit: “Getting off Auto”. Aperture, ISO, shutter speed, 18% grey… confused? I was. Until Steve explained each one giving examples of different images to support the theory.

At the end of the session both Jon and Steve were open to questions, general discussion and sharing stories from their trips.

My day was packed full of tips, advice and inspiration – but now I want to learn more. Maybe I'll sign up to Wanderlust's photography trips abroad

For now, I'll keep imagining myself becoming a female Indiana Jones with a camera around my neck and keep practising the skills I’ve learned through this simple, easy and fun one-day photography course.

More views from the day:

“The content was, for me, perfect. More importantly the style was very confidence building, particularly for someone with very little technical  knowledge.”

Roger, June 2012 workshop

“I came out of the course feeling more confident in what I need to do  when out and about with the camera.”

Greg, June 2012 workshop

Wanderlust is hosting another Take Better Travel Photos workshop on 29 September in London. Find out more about the workshop here.

For advice delivered straight to your door pick up a copy of Issue 2 of Take Better Travel Photos magazine – PLUS you can save £1 on your copy by quoting WEB0812. Hurry, this offer ends 15 August!

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