My first photography lesson


On Wednesday evening I had my first photography lesson with Mick Payton.  Mick has been a professional photographer for over 25 years and is one of the top erotic art photographers in Europe.  He provides great value, high quality tuition to budding photographers and models.  I first discovered Mick through a Groupon deal and after the great time I had in my first class I will definitely be going back for more lessons – and highly recommend his services to anyone else who wants to learn photography in a friendly, fun, relaxed environment!

Grass test shot, formed a perfect bell curve in my histogram 😀

The ‘basic’ course was the ideal starting point for me, I had only recently purchased my Nikon D3100 camera and really didn’t have a clue how to do any more than put it on ‘Auto’, point and click… now of course you can get some ‘okay’ pictures this way, but what’s the point in buying a decent camera if you don’t/can’t use it properly!?  I had bought this camera because I wanted to take better pictures – I don’t want or intend to become a ‘professional’ by any means.  I just want to take quality photographs!

The first challenge for me was familiarising myself with some manual settings on my camera before going to the class – I failed at the first hurdle!  The ‘user’ manual was not very helpful, to me it seemed to assume you already knew a bit about cameras 😦  So when I got to the class I still wasn’t really sure how to find the settings for using my camera manually, shutter speed and aperture setting (how useless am I!?).  Amazingly I had at least found the iso setting and how to access your histogram – and more importantly how to ‘read’ the histogram!

We had been told that the class would be very practical, but to bring a pen and notepad if we wanted to take notes – these were not needed at all!   After a few minutes chat we got straight into the practical work, adjusting our camera settings so the exposure indicator read ‘0’, to do this we needed to use something that was 18% grey to focus on – grass!?  Then followed lots of practise adjusting the settings for the iso, aperture and shutter speed, using readings off the histogram to get the exposure correct depending on the amount of light/shade you were taking photographs in.  I was so chuffed when I got the shot below which gave the kind of ‘in focus’ foreground, ‘out of focus’ background effect we were aiming for – I could never have done this before (and while it’s not ‘perfect’ it is ‘awesome’ to me, because I did it!)

I was very pleased with this shot!

Our practise continued outdoors before moving into the studio to learn how to use  lighting effects to enhance our work. All the time the delightful model ‘Pink’ was at hand to be posed – although all of us seemed rather nervous about asking/telling her what to do!  As a result she owns the copyright to must of the pictures taken, as the pictures are the models property unless you ‘the photographer’ have told her what to do!  I’ve had to pick carefully to include ‘my’ pictures here!

Pink - I asked her to look 'hurt'

I don’t want to give away too much detail about the lesson as you need to go along and experience it for yourself if you are interested! And even if you don’t need ‘basic’ lessons Mick also does intermediate and advanced classes and classes on specific genres – for example; glamour, weddings, sports, action and many more. Check out his website for more information and to book a class here.

Pink - 'cheeky smile'

I certainly learned much more with the practical ‘hands on’ approach than I would have done had we been sat around with someone ‘talking’ at us about these settings – ‘doing’ it is a much quicker, better way to get the hang of something, and in a way you will remember – without having to dig through copious notes that become a confusing jumble of words!

While I still have much to learn (I am still 100% a beginner in my eyes!)  it was really nice to have my fiancee comment that I actually sounded like I knew what I was talking about when I was telling him  what I had learned!

Many thanks to Mick and Pink, can’t wait for my next class! 😀

Pink - In the mirror

Pink - legs up the wall

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3 comments on “My first photography lesson

  1. This reminds me of the “Artist’s Way” class (based on the book by Julia Cameron) I took about 6 years ago. It was great as we had all sorts of creative people in there–photographers, writers, painters, film-makers, poets, textile artists & we had to go out of our comfort zone & do other forms of art that were not our particular strengths or mediums.

    I always hated art classes that I was required to take starting in high school. The instructor was actually an accomplished artist spending a year as a “visiting artist” at our boarding school & required so much of us & I was so inept. He had a one-man show in a gallery in San Francisco. Why the heck wasn’t he satisfied w/just that? Why did he have to across the Atlantic to abuse me?

    We had nude models & I could hardly draw a stick figure & we had to stand up & draw on huge easels. He was French; I’m amazed he didn’t require us to wear a beret. It should have been a privilege to have him as an instructor, but I wished I could have had one of those “If you can’t be a ‘real’ artist, teach.” And maybe do some paint-by-numbers projects. (Ever do those? I was quite accomplished at keeping inside the lines!)

    Some assignments were to draw an eye or a hand so enlarged that mine resembled some kind of insect or amoeba or aliens fresh off the UFO & all my paintings & drawings ended up being “abstract” (even my self portraits that we were required to do–large ones in charcoal each week–torture!) as they had no relation to anything in reality even if I was trying to do a still life.

    I did end up w/some interesting ones that my boyfriend (now husband) liked & framed. I loved the print-making where you cut out the block w/rather dangerous carving tools (no wine drinking while doing this), but to make the paint colors & roll the paint w/different pressure & lay the blocks out on the rice paper in different configurations was fantastic.

    The photography session was also exhilarating as it took no skill from me, just different ways to manipulate the film in the dark room or use different F-stops or put one photo on top of another so people could have 4 arms or the close-up of the ballet dancer’s graceful hand (since I couldn’t draw a hand for the life of me).

    I love the digital cameras nowadays & the ability to Photoshop & make “scrapbook” albums on-line so easily w/no messy gluing or scissors (I can’t cut paper very evenly, either).

    I think your model looked especially charismatic in the “Hurt”, “In the Mirror” & “Legs” photos. Kudos for both the photographer & the model!

    The “Artist’s Way” class helped me get out of “bad artist” judgment I have been carrying around all these years since high school. Now meeting every month (we continue to meet monthly even though the weekly class which lasted for a couple months ended years ago). We encourage each other, support each other, share our “work”, & revel in the joy of exploring creativity.

    I’ve learned to knit (& do drink wine while knitting some “total relaxation” projects in the evening when a couple extra stitches in a row or a purl instead of a knit here & there aren’t going to send me into fits). My screen name on a knitting site is “Loosely Stitched” as I have loosened up considerably since high school as to allowing myself to relax & JDI (Just Do It) instead of agonizing about what the results are going to be. Love the process & don’t be so invested in the results & the results actually tend to be better as being tense & anxious definitely reduce your creative juices!

    I’ve even made some mis-shapen pottery on the same level as what my kids did when they were 8-years-old & I’m 57-years-old. I may even get myself a beret! Keep up w/the joy of creativity!

    • Hi, thanks for your comment.

      I do love to be creative – I’ve always been like it since a young age, writing, drawing, making things with junk (my mom had to save every used toilet roll, cereal box and other ‘rubbish’ for my ‘projects’ lol) painting by numbers has been a favourite of mine for some time now (I like cityscapes, but you don’t get many of them unfortunately). I am really pleased to be able to be enjoying this great way to learn photography!

      Your tales of school art lessons remind me of my own hatred of the way we were taught art as well! Our art teacher was keen for us all to learn how to knit, I wasn’t any good at it (at the time I was also like ‘knitting is for grannies – I don’t want to do it, I just want to draw and paint’ so when I was happy to get a “wriggly edged ‘L’ shape” she hated me because it was meant to be a ‘perfect’ square. I never got a good grade off her all the time she was my tutor 😦 but as soon as I got another tutor who encouraged us to explore our own creativity rather than ‘force’ us to do what she liked my grades went up!

      I don’t have the greatest imagination, ideas for drawing/painting etc don’t just ‘come’ to me like they do for many artists, so I like the structure of painting by numbers as I can make it my own just by playing with the colours.

      Luckily I am a little more inspired with the photography – I have a few ideas of ‘shoots’ i would like to do at some point! So hopefully, with a few more lessons under my belt I will start to produce some nice work 🙂

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