If there are two things that are really important for you to practise like crazy in 2016 they are: using natural light and building on your composition skills

 
 

Natural Light

I think you all know just how much I love shooting in natural light and I hope you all feel that you know about shooting in natural light and enjoyed using it in 2015. 

However, you might still be struggling to use natural light or to find it. Perhaps you struggle when it's too sunny. Or when it's Winter and it feels like it's never light! 

Over the past year have you been noticing the light more as the seasons change or as the day goes by? Do you now have a favourite month to photograph in? Did you catch some good golden hours in 2015? 

It would be great if you could leave a comment in the Facebook Group with any problems you've had with light in 2015, so I can help you improve your use of light in 2016. Don't worry how silly the problems might sound as I'm sure other people will struggle with the same or similar things. 

This year I am going to try and find a daylight bulb set-up that I like. I know I always say natural light is best but I also know that sometimes we really need some help with lighting. So, if you are really finding that your home/work place is too difficult to photograph in then watch this space!

 

Composition

I think my favourite thing about my iPhone is how much it has made me focus on composition. I have been taking photographs for over 30 years now but using my iPhone over the past 3 years has really improved my composition skills. And there is still more that I want to work on. 

I really love looking at other people's photographs on Instagram, Pinterest, in magazines and books to fill my head with ideas. Angles, styling, colour combinations, backgrounds, negative space and breathing room are all things that I look for. I also love going to galleries and looking at other types of art for inspiration. As well as interiors and garden designs. Ideas and inspiration for composing photographs are everywhere. 

This year make sure you make time for being inspired. Just soak it all in. Don't seek to copy, seek to build up a huge library in your mind from which your own interpretations and style will come. 

Gather images on a private Pinterest board but also cut things out of magazines, buy postcards in galleries and print out your own images and stick them all in your photography notebook. Then you can make notes about what you like and how you want to develop your own compositions.


Rule of thirds

Have you been using the Rule of Thirds in 2015? Have you got your grids turned on on your cameras and your phones? If you haven’t then please turn them on. If you don’t know how to just ask in the Facebook Group and I will help you. 

The grid really helps you to think about where to place your subject in your frame. Practise taking one thing and placing it where the grid lines meet. You can move it around the frame and take a set of images. Are there some places in the grid that you like better than others? 

You could print these images out and stick them in your notebook. You could also use this exercise like a warm-up before you do a photo shoot. It will really help you think about where your main subject is going to go. What is that you want people to see when they first look at your image? Where do you want the eyes to rest? 

 

Backgrounds

Have you enjoyed using different backgrounds over the past year? What are your favourite ones? Are you still searching for some? It would be lovely if you shared this in the Facebook Group, so we can all inspire each other with new ideas for 2016. 

Make sure that you are also always looking for backgrounds outdoors too. Old doors, lovely walls, favourite trees, colourful flower beds and gates are all wonderful backgrounds for portraits and other outdoor photography. I’m always on the look out for new places to put my children in front of!


Practise, practise, practise.

I will probably say this all weekend but regular practise really is the key. Taking plenty of photographs, reflecting on what you like about them and what you don't like. And then practising some more. Be self-critical but also remember to celebrate the stuff that you do like. Print out your favourite images as often as you can. Put them on your wall. Have them on your desk. Put them in your photography notebook. And then go and practise some more. 

See you over one the Facebook Group and back here for your last lesson of the day later. xo