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What is photography?

Among artistic practices such as painting or music, photography is a relatively "young" art.

Indeed, the history of photography dates back to the middle of the 19th century, when Nicéphore Nièpce (1765-1833), a French engineer, managed to freeze the first snapshot of history: View from the Window at Le Gras, in 1826.

To partake in photography literally means "to paint with light": the challenge is to optimize the natural light passing through the hole of a dark room (camera obscura), which is also called a pinhole image.

This technique - the basics of photography - has been known since Aristotle and Antiquity: we know that by projecting a beam of light into a camera obscura, we find an inverted optical reflection of reality by the pinhole process.

But inventors before the contemporary period still could not freeze the image on a flat surface to immortalize a moment or an observation.

The first half of the 19th century was a time of trial and error and technological improvements that would lead to what is today called black and white or colour photography.

View from the Window at Le Gras was obtained by spreading bitumen from Judea on a silver plate after a setting time of several days.

In 1829, N. Nièpce teamed up with Louis-Jacques Daguerre (1787-1851) to create the daguerreotype, the ancestor to the camera which helped to reduce the exposure time and get more clarity. With this equipment, the image was engraved on a mercury-laden metal plate.

These experiences marked the birth of the photo, and the multiple consecutive inventions were intended to reduce the exposure time - from several days to one day, from a day to a few minutes, to the instantaneous snapshots we can achieve with digital photography today -with reduced photo printing time and increased focus and the sharpness of the image.

The 20th century saw the appearance of the colour photo, thanks to the autochrome invented by the Lumière brothers.

Then, the computer age accentuated the transition from film photography with the development of negatives to digital photography and image editing on computers.

Digital cameras are revolutionizing photography because they allow users to use the pixel to take pictures instead of using expensive physicochemical processes that are not environmentally friendly and slow to develop.

Nowadays, any smartphone holder can learn photography, learn to frame and crop using the three thirds rule and self-teach themselves photography, to take: nature photos, cityscape photography, portrait photos, wedding photos, family photos, etc.

But playing with your DSLR, Polaroid, film camera or smartphone does not mean you'll be taking beautiful pictures.

How to Take Beautiful Pictures in London?

The city of London is a dream playground for learning photography: a city of art and history, London is an open-air museum that continues to expand its art galleries.


Not one corner of the UK capital hasn't been filmed, sung, painted, played in music and photographed.

So we could say that there is nothing more to photograph...

And yet, what is more fun than going out exploring on the streets of London to take an urban photo series, to create a portfolio to sell one's photos, film unusual situations or play with the depth of field? Every moment is, in fact, unique in London in real time.

Because to take a photo allows one, above all, to tell a story, to put society itself in the viewfinder.

Obviously, to take a successful photo requires mastering the technical aspects of one's camera.

To do this, you will first need to be familiar with the basic vocabulary of the photo: manual mode and automatic mode, framing, white balance, iris, shutter speed, focal length, shooting, photo blur technique, long exposure for night photos, autofocus, etc.

It is truly only by practising everywhere that one can improve technically in one's photography skills and develop your photographic eye and sensitivity.

Note that during a photo shooting session, the photographer can adjust four basic parameters to achieve a good frame and composition: the focal length, the aperture on the lens, the shutter speed and the sensitivity of the sensor on the camera.

The shutter obeys a curtain mechanism by covering the sensor when it is at rest. This curtain opens at a faster or slower speed depending on the penetration time of the desired amount of light.

The faster the shutter speed, the less light the sensor receives: in this way, the photographer will be able to freeze a moving subject or create motion blur.

When we speak of the aperture on the camera, we mean the action of making the diameter of the opening- or diaphragm- on the lens fluctuate, letting in more or less light.

As for the ISO sensitivity of the sensor, it is fundamental for nature/animal photography or indoor photography: the higher it is, the more it can photograph well without the flash.

Finally, the focal length represents the distance between the camera sensor housing and the optical centre of the lens. The shorter the focal length, the greater the viewing angle.

One often hears, in photos, that you have to optimize your depth of field: this is the area of sharpness of the image.

To adjust this, you need to work on the focal length used, the opening of the aperture, the position of the subject in relation to the background, the distance of the subject to the photographer and finally, the size of the sensor.

So, in order to do portrait photography, urban photography or landscape photography, you will not adjust your SLR camera in the same way.

What to Take Photos of in London?

Undoubtedly, becoming a photographer in London is a catalyst for new opportunities: a quality photo training helps to progress in this area and to ignite one's creativity.

In addition, it can also be a way to discover a talent for a new professional activity.

By learning tools and techniques from professional photographers, you will be able to mobilize the best tips and tricks to acquire your photographic creative eye, with help from the best photographers.

Photographing in the footsteps of the likes of David Hockney, Lewis Carroll or Cecil Beaton- a few kings of photography- will certainly require a lot of personal work.

However, it will also inspire you to see and visit London differently: if to take a black and white print of Big Ben is too cliché, walk instead along the Thames and Westminster Bridge at sunset, or visit the Notting Hill Houses, the Tower Bridge or Portobello Road, and more.

There is an infinity of things to do in London and to photograph.

In addition, you will soon realize that being a photographer is an exciting job.

In photography you are free to specialize and deepen the style of photos that suit you best:

Do light painting at night,

Practice your photo techniques (photo editing, computerized image processing, cooking photos, contrast photos, backlit, still life, etc.),

Become a photojournalist, graphic designer, fashion designer and photographer,

Become a photo teacher yourself and teach the basics to our students or give introductory photography classes to beginners,

Exhibit your best photos in London(photo exhibition events or on the internet),

Get some advice to help buy the best photo equipment to start, etc.

How can you give yourself the best chance to penetrate the very small market of professional photographers?

It is true that London, the Big Smoke, shelters over 8 million inhabitants in its urban areas (famous neighbourhoods such as Camden Town, Covent Garden, Westminster, Kensington, Kings Cross, Greenwich, Canary Wharf, Notting Hill, Chelsea and more).

While it is obviously possible to visit a photography school to discover the photographic art and history of photography, you can also learn photography through associations or online courses.

Our photography classes on Superprof in London

School classes are not necessarily easy to access or are sometimes too expensive.

This is why a great alternative is to take private photo lessons in your own home and neighbourhood where you can learn photographic skills, the history of photography and practice practical exercises to quickly evolve as a photographer.

Go out into the city with your teacher for hands-on learning and improvement (a photo session on framing for example) and then practice retouching the shots on Photoshop once you're back at home or the following class.

So how should you choose your private photography teacher in London?

Here are some selection criteria to help you decide:

The hourly rate (obviously)

Course content (beginner or advanced? styles of photography you are interested in?)

Where the class takes place: can they travel to your home, meet at a coffee shop etc?

The target audience of the teacher: any skill level? professional development or casual photographer?

On Superprof, we have dozens of professional photography teachers offering classes for around £20/hour.

Choosing a professional photographer will be guaranteed to help you improve your photo skills so that you can start taking beautiful, creative and artistic photos.

So don't hesitate and reach out to one of our Superprof photography teachers today and start snapping!

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