What happened when we went to a photography class...?
I have always loved taking photos. And if my 50,000 + camera roll is anything to go by, I don’t shy from snapping away. It’s not that I have a need to record every single moment of my life (no restaurant food photos here!) but that I am a bit of a perfectionist and find myself taking ten or more photos of a single moment when one would normally suffice. I have had a DSLR camera since school, and have always thought I have had a fairly good grasp of composing photos and using my camera. But up until now I have been hesitant over anything technical. However many articles I’ve tried reading about apertures and shutter speed, the mechanics of cameras and how they work has never quite sunk in and has invariably made me nervous. For me, my phone camera or my camera’s fail-safe automatic mode was always too tempting.
But no more! The London Institute of Photography (LIoP) has extinguished my ignorance, fear, and ultimate worry that I’ll miss the moment by blindly fumbling trying to get the right settings. If you own a DSLR, or are thinking about investing one, and need some guidance on how to make the best of it (or which one to go for!), I could not recommend this course enough. LIoP have a selection of individual courses, as well as their complete Foundation Course and Professional courses, and their two-day Beginner’s Course is the ideal spring board for getting to grips with your photography. I was lucky enough to be invited to take part in the Beginner’s Course, as The Merit Club now has a very exciting partnership with them - a partnership which all Merit Club members can benefit from too with their special offer (find out more in the link below!)
What to Expect
This course was divided between the class-room and getting out and about around Brick Lane to practise. What did we cover? Let me give you some snapshots. It all comes back to LIGHT! Through a series of classroom presentations, our tutor Jenny Endom covered all manner of topics, from the difference between RAW and JPEG files, the inner mechanics of the camera, different camera models, focal lengths, different lenses and the effects they have, exposure, ISO, shutter speed, panning, and depth of field, metering, and looking at ways in which we can use the light meter to influence the way our photos look. We then had the chance to put our learnings into practice away from the classroom, with Jenny giving us different challenges as a group, and then taking photographs out and about on our own.
On the first day, Jenny gave us a brilliant introduction to the course, guiding us through the presentations, making us feel at ease, and answering all our questions. Our cameras always close to hand, we then began to experiment with different settings and possibilities. For instance, we got to grips with focus and autofocus lock, keeping an eye on our light meters to capture the exposure we were after and learning how to navigate our cameras as quickly and efficiently as possible through the viewfinder without pausing to look at the screens. Jenny was always on hand to give us some pointers - and catch us out if we were tempted to look at our setting’s screens! Jenny’s knowledge, genuine interest, energy and attentive approach spurred everyone on, making sure we were all up to speed and pushing our skills further.
On the second day, we delved deeper into the effects of shutter speed and adjusting our apertures. For this, for example, we stood as a team on the side of a busy road capturing the speed of bikes, vehicles and people going past and playing with freezing in motion. In our lunch break, we then had the chance to go off on our own and find different subjects, practising our new-found skills at changing the shutter speed. I loved it! At first, it felt quite strange wandering around with my camera and looking at streets I’ve walked down before from a completely different perspective. I was a little nervous, taking pictures of random strangers walking past like a sneaky paparazzi (who were not always as oblivious as I would have liked!). But, at the same time, it was completely liberating!
It was clear that the school had an intrinsic friendliness, while at the same time upholding impressive credentials and absolute professionalism. Holger Pooten, the Head of LIoP, has over 20 years of professional and 5 years of teaching experience; attributes which have evidently translated into the dynamic and technical nature of their courses. The flexibility of the courses have got to be a big bonus too, as they can offer a variety of schedules that are tailored to suit your needs and courses that suit all levels. I would definitely be keen to now try out the Intermediate Course and some of their other more specific courses. What appeals to me too is their openness and appreciation for all different styles, as I felt they would really encourage you to develop your own signature style as you progress further.
While my photos from the two-days may not be mind-blowing, I’m so excited to get my camera out again and take what I have learnt to the next level, with confidence and a new-found excitement for what I hope I can now achieve.
The Merit Club members can receive an amazing discount on all individual courses with LIoP, which you can find out more about through the link below.
Just one step
Words by Lottie Franklin