Student Stories – ‘Different ways of seeing – individual needs’


Melenie – Going digital

With a career in a visual industry, Melenie arrived with a love of 35mm camera technology and a complete indifference for her digital camera.  The complications of digital as she saw it outweighed the limited number of photos that can be taken with 35mm and indeed the non instant review of film.  So the task was for Melenie to feel comfortable with her DSLR camera controls particularly moving from her manual exposure approach to the shutter and aperture priority modes we advocate here. Photography for beginners requires careful consideration of eliminating camera shake and so shutter priority mode is what we recommend.  With her experience, Melenie was able to switch between the two modes during the week particularly excelling in people shots – the hardest task for any photographer. I’m hopeful we turned her ‘old school’ thinking on it head by the end of the photo holiday. You can read her review and see her reportage gallery here.



Stateside – The caddie role

Morris arrived from the US for an extended stay in Morocco and a photography tour with us. Keen to shoot all genres he was particularly interested in shooting people and with a good kit of lenses he had two secret weapons.  The first was a loupe purchased from one of New York’s vast photographic stores. This proved to be apt in instantly checking shots in bright sunny conditions and we used it throughout the tour.  It’s also useful for knowing if the shot is ‘in the bag’, a judgement borne out of experience and Morris was excellent in making that call. His second piece of kit was a flash unit with a diffuser. We’d never used one before and so it was interesting to test it out on some of our more patient photographic subjects.  The effect proved to be illuminating and I always recommend bringing a flash for the tours as some interior lighting is subdued.  Overall I had an excellent time playing the caddie role – advising Morris on his choice of lens and camera position.  Morris’s review and galleries can be seen here.



Nikki – Stepping up to the next level

Nikki had already been a couple of photo holidays with other providers and she was very adapt with her camera settings and compositional sense.  She asked if during the week in Essaouira she could go to the next level. Initially my thoughts are what exactly might that be. In the absence of any outstanding technical issues it’s about finding a new way to photograph and whilst individual photographers do interpret their surrounding differently, to develop a new way of seeing for one person is an interesting task. We decided for her to hit the heights with some decent reportage as she hadn’t really tackled this before and exploring a new genre is also about a bit of self development. Shooting strangers is all about the confidence to approach them as well as being able to shoot quickly and knowing the composition you want.  In all her galleries are excellent and you can view here reportage selection here. Nikki is now working towards the first level of distinction of the Royal Photographic Society.



Peter and Yvette – Absolute beginners

Winners of The Times (London) monthly photo competition, both Peter and Yvette were as keen as mustard to get to grips with understanding how cameras worked and indeed all aspects of photography.  Peter especially was not technical and didn’t own a camera so he hired one of ours for the course. The task with any beginner is to get them to understand both camera control; knowing where all the essential buttons and dials are and then instilling the essence of exposure control which is somewhat the trickier part as it requires fairly constant assessment of the lighting conditions around. In teaching photography for beginners, to make things easier I advocate shooting shutter priority for the week’s course which also eradicates camera shake to a large degree.  We also keep new things to learn fairly limited each day and build information gradually through the week. By the end, both Peter and Yvette’s galleries display some astute technical and compositional abilities which hopefully speaks for itself.



Sonjai – Big on flair

Sonjai is a well-traveled and sophisticated woman who had innate ability to recognise a good shot and get it. Some people just have it. She booked a shorter version of the High Atlas and desert dunes tour as a private individual and was excellent in her enthusiam for all genres. The total number of successful images she got during the 7 days is quite remarkable considering she had little experience with DSLR camera controls and exposure.  Still now I’m amazed by the quality of her shots.  In Sonjai’s case she is excellent with people but also she has the ability to understand framing – when to go wide or to go tighter really is something that’s intuitive or comes with experience.  So the task was getting her up the speed with her camera and exposure control and then reinforcing her essential checks and adjustments required through the shooting day. Sonjai’s review scrolling down, and galleries can be viewed here.



Leigh – Photo hungry expert

Leigh is an exceptional photographer.  He can certainly teach photography for beginners! Keeping abreast of his latest images via his FB page it’s clear to see that for any situation he can turn his hand to make an excellent photo.  Perhaps a foremost lover of landscapes his reportage photographs from his photography holiday are still the benchmark.  With his lens of choice he was able to master the composition with the minimum of technical fuss producing pin sharp photos.  For me it was a great pleasure to introduce Leigh to the best locations and watch the master at work – he sees countless opportunities all around him. Occasionally we receive very competent photographers and in that case my caddie role is somewhat reduced to an introduction service – the locations and people that best serve the photographers’ needs. You can view some of Leigh’s photographs from the week here.



You can see the breakdown of what we cover for the week’s photography for beginners holiday in Essaouira via the link here.