Top 5 photography tips from professional photographers

From interviews with award-winning photographers to exciting photoshoots with flying liquids, our live photography shows are one of the most popular features on Visual Education.

After launching the site just a few years ago, it soon became apparent just how valuable our live photography talk shows in particular were for members. These interviews offer a unique opportunity to learn firsthand from some of the industry’s leading professionals and I’ve welcomed a number of world-renowned photographers to the studio since we launched them.

Each of these photographers have generously shared their knowledge and experience with our members, revealing everything from their techniques to hilarious tales of lions in bathrooms or celebrities slamming the door in their face. I’ve collated some of the best advice these professionals have shared for you to enjoy too.

Live photography talk shows
Talk shows offer a unique opportunity to learn from some of the industry's leading photographers.

The importance of planning

Sean Conboy (architectural photographer)
Sean Conboy photographer

Planning is an important part of the photographic process, whether you're shooting portraits or products, but for architectural photographer Sean Conboy, planning is particularly important. An area of photography that is particularly weather dependant, planning is vital for Sean if he is to make the most of his time shooting. The British photographer looks at every little detail, including where the sun will be at a particular time or what angle it will hit or enter a building and tries to plan ahead as much as possible.

“Be there in advance, have your shot planned, get everything set and wait for that magic moment,” he shared during his live interview.

“That right moment is going to get you your picture. It might only be 10 per cent better than someone else's picture, but it's still 10 per cent better.”

For more great tips and advice from Sean, including how to balance mixed lighting and what equipment to use, make sure to watch the full interview.

To see more of Sean's work, visit his website.

Architecture image by Sean Conboy
Image © Sean Conboy

Know the technical

Tom Oldham (celebrity portrait photographer)
Tom Oldham photographer

Award-winning portrait photographer Tom Oldham shared his top 5 portrait photography tips with us before joining me in the studio for his live interview, but one particular point came up again during the show. This simple piece of advice, which may seem obvious, is key to any good shoot.

“Know the technical so you can focus on the relationship,” Tom said.

Studio portrait using umbrellas

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In a field where building relationships (often in a very limited period of time) is so important, knowing your kit, how it works and how to get the best from it is essential. This will allow you set up quickly and help ensure the session runs smoothly, which means you’ll be free to focus on getting the best shot.

To find out more about Tom and his work, watch the full interview. He shares some great advice on how to get the best from your subjects, why putting yourself out there is so important and why personal work is valuable (all told with his special brand of humour).

You can also see more of Tom’s work on his website.

Portrait by Tom Oldham
Image © Tom Oldham

Stick to your own style

Daria Belikova (fashion photographer)
Daria Belikova photographer

Since taking her first photograph at the age of 15, fashion photographer Daria Belikova has had a dark, ethereal style throughout her imagery and it is this very style that makes her work so distinguishable.

Her tutors at the London College of Fashion were convinced it was just a ‘phase’, something she would grow out of, but Daria has in fact worked hard to stay true to herself and her style, something she feels every photographer should do.

“With photography, you put a little bit of your soul into it,” she said.

This sometimes results in some give and take when it comes to commercial work, but the young fashion photographer is not about to change her look.

Daria shares more great advice and insight into the competitive fashion industry in her live interview. You can watch the full replay here.

To see more of her work, visit her website.

Studio portrait using umbrellas

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Fashion image by Daria Belikova
Image © Daria Belikova

Consider your portfolio

Jonathan Knowles (product photographer)
Jonathan Knowles photographer

From the first moment you land on Jonathan Knowles's website, it's clear that his area of expertise is advertising and product photography. This very deliberate collection of images tells you exactly what Jonathan specialises in, and, by default, the kind of work he wants to do.

“Include work in your portfolio for which you'd like to be commissioned,” Jonathan advised.

For example, if you’re interested in product photography but specialise in liquids, make sure to include a variety of splash images. This allows potential clients to see your work, what you are good at as well as your style.

The award-winning photographer and creator of the famous O2 bubbles acknowledged that building up this sort of portfolio doesn't happen over night, so he advised that it was worth starting with smaller clients first, or even shooting for yourself.

To learn more about Jonathan, his work and techniques, watch the full interview. You can also visit his website to see more of his work.

Product image by Jonathan Knowles
Image © Jonathan Knowles

Take the viewer on a journey

Tim Flach (animal & fine art photographer)
Sean Conboy photographer

Renowned for his artistic studio portraits of animals, Tim Flach’s images are immediately recognisable. His eye-catching images, whether of birds in the studio or horses in the wild, have a distinctive stylisation that encourage us to reflect on how we connect to the natural world.

For Tim, one of the main objectives in his work is to take the viewer on a journey. To do this, he uses very deliberate post production techniques to guide the viewers eye.

Studio portrait using umbrellas

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“I borrow approaches to image management that have been around for a very long time,” he explained during his live show.

“It’s only tonal changes I’m making, but to say ‘only tonal changes’ is not giving it credit,” he said.

Tim explains more about how he guides the viewer’s eye through his images during his live talk show. He also shares stories from his travels and his advice for aspiring photographers. You can watch the full talk show here.

To view more of Tim’s work, visit his website.

Image by Tim Flach
Image © Tim Flach

For more great advice from other professional photographers and to see future guests, make sure to take a look at our live shows page. From pricing your work to building contacts in a new location, these shows offer a chance to learn from professional photographers who are at the top of their game.

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Recommended Content

In addition to the guests featured above, we've had many other incredible photographers join us in studio. Below is a selection of some of our other special guests for you to enjoy.

NOTE: You can find a complete archive of all our past and future live shows on our live shows page.

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