Photography Lessons – can you paint a Monet?

You can buy a paintbrush and a canvas for £10 – but can you paint a Monet?

Examples of photographs taken for lessons
Examples of photographs taken for lessons

Copyright Cheshire Portrait Photography CPP220316








Christine came to me with a simple request – “I want to take some amazing photos of my kids, can you teach me how?” She pointed at her lovely new Canon 650D SLR, as if to say – “make it work, please, Peter..”.

“Yes, I can teach you”, I said, “But first we have to put the camera down”.

First lesson of photography – put the camera down and let’s talk about light.

Light. It’s all about the light. When we look at pictures, our brain is used to seeing the world with only one light source – the sun. Before I take a picture, I look, where’s the sun? Where’s the light coming from? Is it direct light, diffuse light? Where’s the person in relation to the light? The digital age is great, it’s given us instant access to photography through our smartphone, right here right now. But ‘owning a Nikon camera doesn’t make you a photographer – it makes you a Nikon camera owner’, as they say.

Budding photographers, read on…

  • I sat down with Christine to talk about light, and showed how a camera is designed to capture that light, with the 3 linked elements of sensor, shutter, aperture. We looked at how they interact. The camera started to make more sense and became less threatening.
  • We looked at how you can use the light from the sun to shape and tone an image; use of window as a lightbox (see the attached photo as an example), positioning, shade vs direct light, modelling the light. Colour or black & white.
  • We then looked at simple techniques of how to position your subject, how to blur the background, how to relax the subject; good locations and those to avoid. No need for fancy props, just your home and some creative thinking and tips.
  • Finally, as kids are usually fast, we looked at how to take great action photos and sports photos; for once, the camera setting can be extremely useful for these type of shots, so we looked at the correct settings for this.

We took the camera off the green ‘AUTO’ setting and practiced the theory with coaching and feedback from me, the digital screen giving us instant feedback as we tried out different techniques. I think I heard the 650D actually purring..

“The first million photographs are the hardest; then it gets a little easier” – Julian Calder’s first words in his 1980’s book ‘The 35mm photographer’s handbook’ – a book written in the days of film, when you had 36 chances to get the light right, and didn’t know until a few days later when the prints came back through the post.

  • Which, in essence, means that Christine’s photo lesson was the starting point – but here the fun starts, because she now sees the light differently, she can control it, tame the camera and use it as a valve, not a pump – open the photography floodgates, Christine, I can’t wait to see your amazing images of your kids real soon! Welcome to the amazing world of photography, combined with a bit of camera ownership…

Want to be a photographer, not a camera owner?

Photography Lessons with Cheshire Portrait Photography

Contact me to book your own personal 1:1 photography lesson. I offer a wide range of lessons, from beginner to advanced, photo technique to digital darkroom, SLR to Smartphone, starting from as little as £50. Great idea for a birthday or Christmas gift where I can provide a certificate with an envelope!).

Here are some of my lesson formats; all are 1:1 lessons at a convenient location, most usually my studio, but we can often meet on location, too.

  • Introduction to photography – 1:1 lesson – use of light, understanding digital cameras, photo techniques in an easy 1:1 coaching environment.
  • Smartphone photography – or how to increase your Facebook Likes that say, wow, great pic what camera do you use, must be expensive?
  • Intermediate photography – deeper look into photography techniques, wide angle vs telephoto, shutter vs aperture priority, histograms and other useful buttons…
  • Advanced photography – guide to specific genres of photography, e.g. wild-life, landscape, sports, etc.
  • Introduction to the digital darkroom – Adobe Lightroom introduction; how to use this amazing product to truly transform your photography, whether you have a small or large camera.
  • Advanced digital darkroom – Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop; getting under the hood; colour management, optimum workflows, layers, photo-editing, etc.
  • Working with flash – how to work with speedlights and why I always use flash for beach photos…
  • Your personalised bespoke lesson – I can tailor any lesson to meet your specific needs; contact me to have a chat.

How to contact me:

Facebook – search Cheshire Portrait Photography or Messenger me


…and I’ll get right back to you with my diary open, ready to book your 1:1 lesson.



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