The True Power Of Photography

Technologies are now available that allow people to take thousands of photographs in a single day. These technologies are seemingly a fantastic thing, however, those technologies give you the option of snapping away until you get the exact photograph that you are after, rather than working with film and limited photographs that you must make the most of. On a recent Photography Course In Bristol we looked at many examples of just how powerful photography can be.

Childhood memories can be the most emotive for many and photography has long been the only reminder of younger years for most. A look back at an image of you with long lost friends or relatives can often be priceless and it can be very fulfilling to look back and see how adoring family members were of you as a young child.

A great deal of the power of a photograph is emotion. Emotion is universal and ageless and often the loss of a loved parent or friend will affect you in the same way for the majority of your years. The parent or friend that you have lost is of course gone and the only way you can see them again is in the form of a photograph, the colours of the image will certainly over time fade but the photograph is used more to job your memory, you will certainly remember not only the time that the picture was taken but also the person in the picture, even simple things like body language and facial expression can provide you with a nostalgic warmth.

I think that the emotive appeal of photography will be lost in the future. Gone are the days that someone might keep a passport sized photograph of their wife or children in their wallet. Instead you might find them with a smart phone wallpaper of their family. A beaten old photograph holds a great deal more power than a digital and cold image displayed on a screen, in my opinion this is because that photograph is just a photograph, a smart phone has thousands of uses but a photograph is simply a print of an image that has been captured, the only reason it exists is to show that image and therefore there is no distraction to those that are looking at it.

Photography is a way of cataloguing events in your life, they can be used to record your child’s growth or to create a family album that you might look back on in the future, hopefully it won’t lose these uses over the years.

Modern ‘Art’

It seems that these days to make art you only need a warped imagination and a little bit of creative ability. There have been examples of very extreme forms of art in recent years, some that people might even find offensive.


A fine example of some modern art that someone might find offensive would be the work of Dr Gunther Von Hagens. The German anatomist is world renowned for his ability to transform a fleshy and very much real human corpse into a statue. To achieve this he uses a technique of his own creation, called ‘plastination’. Dr Von Hagens discovered that if he injected a liquid plastic solution into the muscles of a donors body he could harden and preserve the body to the point it could be used as a statue or piece of art.

While this technique will be very offensive to many, especially religious groups, the technique was initially developed in order to learn more about the anatomy of a real human body and only then was it developed to a touring exhibition. Since the launch of his exhibitions he has added the ability to take wafer thin cross sections of the treated bodies and also to treat animal corpses in much the same way.

Most of the debate surrounding this art is ethical and spiritual, however,  there has also been legal dispute. 11 years ago, in 2002, Dr Von Hagens performed an autopsy on live UK television, despite the fact he had been warned by officials that it would be considered a criminal activity.

In order to keep himself and his work out of reach of any protesters or activists it is said that the Doctor works in a secret and hidden location that is concealed by a moving partition or staircase.


Another example of a much less offensive modern art form but still very strange would be Roger Hiorns Dust Sculpture.

This exhibit featured a very dirty and dusty looking floor. The dust is in fact the atomised remains of a jet engine and was set out in a very particular way. This same exhibition featured a more controversial piece that consisted of cow brains, plastic and metal, fused together to form sculptures.

Damien Hirst also caused a stir when he chose to pickle a dead shark and put it on display. One of the more controversial British artists, Hirst was berated by some for simply taking the decision to pickle and display a dead animal as a piece of art, however, there are those in the art community and even in the general public that have this piece down as truly unforgettable.


The possibilities of modern art are being pushed forwards by technologies such as QR Barcodes and smartphones. These QR barcodes can be printed using a simple CAB label printer and then applied to a piece of art or close by to provide visitors with more information about the piece. It is also possible to have the barcode lead onto an animation or time lapse of the piece being created or something more practical like a website that the visitor might purchase a copy or print of the piece.




From Super To Classic

Classic cars have a massive following in the UK and there are shows and meets all throughout the year showcasing the best in the world of yesteryears motoring. I was invited down to a local firm that specialises in prom car hire West Midlands and got a chance to work with the fantastic cars they have on show there, from Aston Martins to a 1932 Rolls Royce.

Without an organised and semi-private shoot it is often hard to get a photograph of the entirety of a car without getting a shot of a couple of bystanders as well. These bystanders will surely reflect in the cars polished bodywork, meaning that they cannot simply be edited out.

Fortunately Classic cars are fantastic art forms and you only need to capture small areas of the car to capture the beauty of it’s design.

When photographing any car it is advantageous to take a wide lens to ensure that you can capture the right images with the right level of detail. You can also get an unparalleled level of depth from a wide lens.

Reflections of people can be a problem as I said, however, a polished body will also reflect a massive amount of sunlight and will take away from the saturation of the colours. A good quality Polarizing Filter will fix this issue and provide a much better quality picture.

As with getting shots of a modern car it is important to suit the feel of the car with the location, luckily for me I live just 4 miles from the UK’s largest area of woodland and this type of environment is absolutely fantastic for capturing the beauty of classic cars. On a shoestring budget natural light is also your best friend so if you are planning on shooting in woodland then you should ensure that you find an area with picturesque surroundings but will a lot of light coming through the trees.

If you are working with a new car that you haven’t worked with before then it is important to get to grips with the cars shapes and angles, know the upholstery and check out the dashboard. Many classic cars have iconic dials and fantastic vents as manufacturers.

The old school vents and angles are fantastic subjects, however, you won’t capture them with your camera fixed to your tripod! It’s time to go handheld. It might also be worth you setting your alarm as sunrise is a fantastic time for natural lighting, if you’re lucky enough to live somewhere sunny!

The only way to find the best angles and lighting for your car is to experiment with different styles. You don’t have to worry about film remember so snap away and get the best from your car.

Inanimate But So Full Of Life

Photography is a very versatile hobby or career and you can find yourself working will all manner of subjects ranging from other people to wildlife or inanimate objects.

Now there is only so much control you can have over two of these things, a person will not always do what you want, an animal will almost never do what you want. While it is possible to have a much greater level of control over an inanimate object, they can lack energy in shoots.

My favourite subject, the type of subject that I feel I have the most control over, is the vehicular kind. A car is, by it’s nature, under your control and will not do anything untoward that you do not tell it to or allow to happen.

I have always been a fan of cars, growing up I enjoyed learning the names of the cars I would see in the street and watching racing on the TV whenever I got chance. Cars are so full of character and life for something made up entirely of metals, polycarbonate and glass. I discovered this on a recent shoot for

While the car itself has a massive amount of character it is important to put the car in an environment that settles well with the natural feel of the car. Planning is absolutely vital in organising a shoot for a car, looking where the sun is at different points in the day can determine where the shoot takes place, it is also advisable to avoid getting rubbish bins in the background and things like that, while they can be edited out it is very difficult to remove the reflection of a bin or power line. Bright colours can be your worst enemy as if they are in the background of the image they can draw a massive amount of attention away from the car itself, bright colours can however be scaled back in the editing process.

Whether you want the car to be clean or not will depend on what sort of car it is, a Super-car or saloon should usually be cleaned and polished prior to a shoot, whereas, a 4×4 or off road truck might require a polish and then a few laps of a dirt track.

The lens can make or break a car shoot and depending on your location you may need different lens options. a wide open space will be best suited to a 70-200mm lens, however, this can be impractical. A normal lens of 17-55mm will allow you to stay sufficiently close to the car in a public area to ensure that the problem of people stepping into your frame is minimised.

There are other things to take into account such as the shutter speed chosen, however, if you can put the car in an environment that suits it’s style well then you are halfway there towards a great shoot.


How To Make The Most Of Your Shoot

Preparing for life as a photographer can often be very expensive. Each shoot, depending on your level of expertise, might require a shopping trip and some new props or clothing for your model.

Of course in the case that a model is showcasing clothing for a particular brand then they will of course provide said clothing, however, if you have an upcoming shoot and have something specific in mind then it’s probably best to invest!

Lingerie shoots are often a very expensive pursuit as the model will probably not have the look you want in her top draw and you might have to invest in some luxury lingerie or luxury bras. This is only worth doing if you think you can make some money from the pursuit or get interest from a particular group or industry of course.

Due to the cost that some shoots might incur it would be beneficial to cut the number of shoots needed to a minimum level, therefore, you need to get as many high quality images out of one as you can.

I assume you are familiar with your camera at this point, however, if you aren’t then it is important to familiarise yourself with all of the settings and limitations of your kit. This will cut the time wasted during shoots and will also allow you to experiment with different filters etc..

Plan your shoot! What angles or feel are you going for? Think about poses and look for particular features of your model that you might want to focus on. This will all be time saved before the shoot, even if a last minute change is necessary.

To keep a handle on costs you should only go for free locations and cheap intentions or themes. Natural lighting is also a photographers best friend so ditch that flash and make the most of the visual distinctions of the landscape!

If you are looking to target a specific industry then make sure you do enough research and as I said, create a plan to make your style clear.

Understand that every photographer has a bad day now and then. Sometimes the weather will go against you and you just won’t be able to find that specific angle you want but try not to become too disheartened by this.

You should be able to work with any budget, the model might not have clothing that fits exactly with what you are looking for but there are usually ways to work around budget.

Happy snapping!

Top Ten Model Photography Tips

The higher up the photography ladder you get the harder it can become to deal with your subject. When you are starting off it can be difficult to even find a subject! Read on for tips on finding a subject and then getting the best out of them.

1. First Impressions Count!

One of the most importing things is being able to quickly build a relationship with your subject (the model that you are working with). Confidence is key from introducing yourself to adding the finishing touches. Practice your photography with a family member or friend, someone you are comfortable with and this will allow you to laugh and joke with a very easy camera manner.

2. The Selection Process

Okay following step one it is important to find a model or subject. Social media is a fantastic way of finding models, Twitter and Facebook are fantastic tools for this. You can also post flyers around your local university or in a local newspaper.

3. Make Your Move

As a male photographer I used to find it quite difficult approaching female models. Some of the guys I have met started their photography life doing amateur glamour shoots and you can imagine how difficult it can then be to find a willing model. Always open the conversation politely explaining that you are just starting up as a photographer and find a neutral location to do the shoot as inviting them to your home might make the majority of people uncomfortable.

4.TF is king!

‘Time for’ shoots are a fantastic mutually beneficial form of getting a model for a photo shoot. Some models will give you their time and in return accept prints or a cd with the images on for their personal modelling portfolio. You might even offer a contribution to any travel costs, however, this should be decided between you and the model.

5. Stay Safe

There are plenty of stories out there about the dangers of the internet and the minority of predators that might use it. For the first meeting you should always choose a public area e.g. a park or beach. This is best for both you and the model and allows you to get some creative and fun shots to start off. A luxury b and b is also a great choice as you can do the shoot on the grounds of the building and enjoy a spot of lunch or a drink with your subject.

6. Practice what you preach!

Before I go on a shoot I like to practice the poses I want my models to hold for me, countless times I have seen photographers trying to mould the model into the shape they are after and it can end up looking so unnatural. As a 6’2 male this can look quite humourous and therefore makes the model feel more comfortable around me. If you don’t feel confident holding the pose yourself then you should prepare some example images before hand, from the internet or drawn.

7. Don’t go in all guns blazing!

Not many, if any, models will feel comfortable going nude for the first photo. You should focus on getting your angles right and finding the best poses before you think about even discussing the possibility of going semi or fully nude. If the model is uncomfortable then this will be easily transmitted through the images you take and therefore it is beneficial to both of you to do it on the models terms.

8. Share!

It is important to share the images you take with the model. While this can be quite time consuming it is only fair to show them a couple before continuing with the shoot. If the model is posing nude then it is even more important to show them the images when requested. If you can get the shoot right and get some great images then they will see how good they look and will feel comfortable, possibly even reveal more.

9. Get that signature!

A model release form is essential to both you and the model. This form will cover you both should either of you get an offer to publish the image. Even if you aren’t publishing yet it is important to cover the image for future use.

10. Follow up the shoot!

Many photographers lose the chance of working with a great model again by delaying getting the images over to them after the shoot. Even if you have a full time job around photography it is important to dedicate time to editing the images and getting them off to the model. If you can get them back the same or next day then you will likely get to work with them again. If you don’t feel comfortable editing images, there are hundreds of freelancers out there that can give you the look and feel you want in the pictures for a very fair price.