Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Ellen's Top Five Photography Tips - Guest Post

I recently came across a Blog by Ellen Arthur that I have been enjoying, called, aptly enough: The Arthurs.  Ellen likes to take photos, and I think she is good at it!  Already I feel like I can recognize her signature in some of my favourite photographs from her Blog.  Although Ellen's is a family-style Blog, she is interested in taking photographs professionally, so if you are interested in hiring a budding photographer who lives in Sydney, she might be perfect for you :)  

Ellen has kindly agreed to write a guest post for today, entitled:

Ellen's Top Five Photography Tips

I am a mother of two gorgeous kids and a wife to one hunky man. I am a stay at home Mum and more recently I have become an avid photographer, especially in the last few months, and I’ve been asked by the lovely Sandra to share my top 5 tips on photography with you today.
As the surge of popularity in photography has skyrocketed, so has the amount of information on Pinterest or Google. Type in photography into either of these sites and there is an endless supply of information about how to use DSLR cameras which I have found very useful but I have also learnt many things through taking a day course, asking around and most of all by simply doing it.
Now I want to preface that I am still new to the process, I still have a relatively basic DSLR camera with a basic lens but I continue to stumble my way along in the process and I feel like I have been able to capture some beautiful photos of weddings and family moments.
Here are 5 steps to better photos with your DSLR:

     1.     A lens’ F stops matter. This may totally boggle you like it did me. I remember buying my camera and lens and sending out a myriad of questions out into the World Wide Web. When you purchase a DSLR for taking great shots of your family the best advice I could give you is to not buy the kit lenses. Ok, you can buy the kit lenses but they will often lead to average photos. I bought a 50 mm F1.8 lens which is just over a hundred dollars and this is the ONLY lens I have ever used (so far until I can buy fancy ones). The lower the F stop number, the better your images will be. Have you seen those photos where the subject is in focus and everything in front or behind is out of focus? That is because they had a low F stop number (below 2.0 is best). This will also allow more light into the image in lower light settings.

    2.     Learn to use your manual settings. This will change your photos to light years better. I promise! I know this is daunting, but like I said, there are so many tutorials on how to do this on YouTube and Google. There are also DVDs out there and courses done by really great photographers or places like TAFE. Whatever you do, only do courses and take advice from those photographers whose work you admire. I have googled tutorials in the past only to find that their work isn't to my taste.

    3.     Practice, practice, practice!! I cannot stress this enough. Take photos every day, practice in different lighting situations. Don’t be afraid to do mini photo shoots with your family and friends. Play around with the many settings on your camera and learn how to take great photos before you start relying on post edit software. Don’t get me wrong, editing software can be an amazing tool but it is too often used in excess and I find that when I have not had to post edit the images I find a lot of self-satisfaction in that.

    4.     Research different styles and angles to use. Don’t be afraid to try different things or copy another photographer’s poses. If the image isn’t that great then delete it but please (and I really can’t stress this enough) do not compare yourself to other photographers or even other amateurs. There have been way too many times where I have found myself on an emotional roller coaster because I feel great about my images one moment and then I dip into a well of self doubt and feelings of wanting to give up because I will never be as good or as talented as others. We are all on a journey and whether you are taking photos of your little ones or hoping to make it into a career, allow yourself to take that journey from beginner to wherever you want to be without hating yourself for imperfections along the way. After having conversations with professional photogs, they tell me that sometimes they have to stop reading other blogs as they are comparing themselves too much and these are people who are producing really amazing images.

    5.     Lastly, have fun! This can be a really fulfilling and fun hobby for you but I also say this as when you are having fun then whoever it is that you are snapping will have fun and be at ease too. If you take it too seriously then people can close up and feel like they have to perform. I love lifestyle photography which is really candid shots of magical moments in a family’s life that can l often seem mundane to the natural eye. You will only get these images if you are happy and relaxed and do not give too much complex direction (especially to children). Plus they usually won’t take any direction haha.

I hope that this helps you and gives you the confidence to pick up that camera and get the stunning images that you want.

Do you like the photos?  I especially like the way Ellen uses light and dark, and captures moments that feel real..

Thank you Ellen!

Don't forget you can see more from Ellen here :)  


  1. Awesome tips, thankyou!! I am definitely one of those 'scared to use manual settings' people!! And I've never even heard of the F lens - so interesting!! Your shots are gorgeous! :)

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  2. Completely agree Ellen! I bought a 50mm 1.4 last year and use nothing else! Great tips :)

    1. That's helpful to know Lauren, thank you! :)

  3. Thanks for the great tips. I love how you capture life. Especially how you compose your photos. I guess its lots of practice for me :) Thanks again!

    1. I really like the composition of Ellen's shots too. She did tell us to practice a lot.. I wonder how much of Ellen's talent is natural and how much is learned! :)

  4. Great guest post Elle. I've learnt 5 new things today :)Now I really need to learn how to use more than the auto settings on our SLR!

    1. It was a good guest post, wasn't it? :) Nice to have you visiting, Amelia :)

  5. I like that not all of the tips were about complicated instructions but that 'have fun' featured as well! :)
    The only thing I use in the manual settings is the iso. I change that depending on the light but I would always forget which way to change the f stop and shutter speed so I don't bother. So yeah, lots of great shots missed there I'm sure! :P
    I have no idea what my lens is but I do know that I have a bigger lens in the box the camera came in that I've never gotten around to taking it out. .....I should do that.
    Thanks for the post and tips! I love the photos :)