Week 1: Wed, 6 Feb - Notes - Homework
Week 2: Wed, 20 Feb
Week 3: Wed, 13 Mar
Week 4: Wed, 10 Apr

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Week 1

Today we’re going to briefly look at photographic composition and how we can use it to guide the viewer through the photography.

We’ll then work on photographing different things at different scales.

I will update this page with any notes and observations that come up during the day.

Composition Notes

The placement or arrangement of visual elements or ingredients in a work of art.

The term composition means ‘putting together’, and can apply to any work of art that is arranged or put together using conscious thought.

Emphasis and Storytelling

Telling the viewer what’s important.

Guiding the eye.

Technical Tricks


  • Use a short depth of field (large aperture, low number eg f3.5) to highlight the subject from the background.
  • Whereas a large DoF (small aperture, high number eg f 16) says the fore, mid and background are all equal.


  • Show the difference in motion of different things by carefully slowing the shutter.
  • Freeze all motion by increasing the shutter speed.


  • Use light to ‘spot’ the subject.
  • Darken / Lighten the photo for emphasis.
  • Use shadows to frame the subject.

Aesthetic Tricks


  • Divide image into thirds and place objects of interest on the intersections.
  • Always put the horizon on the lower or upper horizontal line to give the photo balance.


  • Use opposing colours to contrast subject and background.

Shooting Tricks


  • Change the angle you’re shooting from.
  • Move away from ‘boring’ angles.


  • Don’t chase the subject.
  • Observe and anticipate what might happen.
  • Learn to read an environment.
  • See Cartier-Bresson’s Decisive Moment

Work the Scene

  • What you see with your eye might not make a good photo.
  • Try something, then iterate.
  • Change your approach until you’re thinking like a photograph.

Photographing Things

We’re going to practice photographing different things at different scales.

Throughout this I want you to think about the following:


  • Where is the light? Can the light or the subject be moved? What do the shadows do to the image?


  • How much of the image is in focus? Can I change this by altering the camera settings or by moving closer / further away? Does this improve the image?


  • What else is in the frame? How does the background inform the subject? Does it distract or make the image more interesting?


  • Try photographing the same subject from different angles and see how it changes how the photograph feels.

With those questions in mind, I’d like us to try the following scenes and subjects:

Group Shot

  • 3 or more people standing together looking at the camera. The standard press-release photo.

Action Shot

  • 2 or more people doing something. Try to make the photograph tell the story without a caption.


  • One person on their own. Can be their face, their whole body, or something else. Could be a formal ID photo or more artistic.


  • Go outside and photograph a building at least two stories high. Try and make it more interesting than Google Street View.

Large object

  • Find something about 2 metres tall or wide, like a table or cupboard, and photograph it in a variety of ways.

Medium object

  • Find something about 2 foot tall or wide, like a television or chair, and photograph it in a variety of ways.

Small object

  • This time find something the size of book.

Tiny object

  • Something as small as a coin or earring.

Week 1 Homework

I will assign this towards the end of the day once I’ve got a sense of what we need to practice.