What I learnt on my Photo Essay Course


Photography is something that I struggle with and I often hand the camera over to my partner Dixie. I shy away from taking photos as he is much better at it than me. I decided it was time to take action so I enrolled with the University of Tasmania to do a Photo Essay Course.

I really enjoyed the course as it got me out of my comfort zone by capturing images that I wouldn’t normally shoot.

Here are some of the things I took away from doing the course.


There are several ways in which you can arrange a subject in your photo. Use leading lines, rule of thirds, fill the frame, use patterns and so much more. Photographer Steve McCurry  explains the 9 Photo Compositions beautiful and you can read about it here.

Take photos from several different angles

Experiment taking photos from different angles. Get up high, to the side, get in close or even down low. I was surprised that some of the photos I like the most were taken from an angles I may not have shot from before.

Be patient when taking photos of children

So many times I was crouched down waiting to take a photo of my children, waiting for the right moment and then I would give up. Of course the moment I put my camera down I would miss a beautiful moment like them holding hands while playing in the surf at the beach. Photographer Hollie MacKenzie has some tips on getting great candid photos of children which is really helpful.

Experiment every day

Pick up your camera everyday and experiment with subjects, light and camera settings. I will be the first to admit I took some really bad photos but over time I could see an improvement.

Take on a Photography Challenge

There are lots of groups you can join to get inspiration and photo ideas. Here are a few that I have discovered.

Chantelle from Fat Mum Slim has a photography challenge called A Photo a Day. Each month she reveals a list of words that inspire you to take a photo. You can share your images on facebook and instagram if you wish. It is interesting to see other peoples photos and how they interpret the words.

Jodi from Practising Simplicity has the 52 project. Take a portrait of your children, once a week, every week.

365grateful is taking a photo everyday of something you are grateful for.

Rebekah has the 10 on 10 project where bloggers share 10 photos on the 10th of each month. It is about finding life and beauty in the ordinary things of our day to day!

Critique your work

Look back at your images and see what worked. Did you like the lighting and composition? Also take time to look at why photos didn’t work. Was there too much clutter in the photo that distracted from the subject? Was the photo over exposed?

Taking the time to analyse your photos as this will help you improve. Also when you see an image that catches your eye take the time to see why the photo works.

Putting words with images

Words and images work best when they enhance one another. Don’t use a caption that states the obvious. Use words to express emotion, express what is difficult to say and let people know what is happening outside the frame.  It is best to keep your captions at one to three sentences.

My photo essays

So far I have done two photo essays, A day in the life of a camper and Our love of nature. It has been great fun putting them together and I hope to do more in the future.

So there you have it, that is what I learnt while I was doing the course. I hope that some of these tips have helped you with your photography or doing a photo essay.

Get the camera out and happy clicking!

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36 thoughts on “What I learnt on my Photo Essay Course

  1. I am so pleased you got a lot out of this! I did a photography course a few years ago where I learned more about composition and framing and changing my position too and I apply those skills even with my iPhone now. It makes a great difference and I can see that in your shots!! Thanks for linking up for #lifethisweek 3/52 Denyse


  2. Well done, sounds like you got a lot out of it. I’ve always loved taking photos, but I’m far from a ‘photographer’! Recently upgraded my camera so now want to do a course to learn how to use it all. No point having this big expensive camera and visiting all these amazing locations and not getting the best photos I can!


  3. Oh wow, I hadn’t even thought of half of these things as I’m a ‘point and shoot with my iPhone’ photographer. There’s so much to consider. I guess that’s how and why some people take amazing photographs so effortlessly. (They know what they’re doing and what to look for!)


  4. Photography is on my list for 2017 but I keep procrastinating! I do believe practice makes perfect but I doubt my creativity especially when I look at other photos on instagram for example. Thanks for the tips and I’ll be following them. Have a great day. #teamlovinlinky Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond.


  5. Although I’ve been away from the blogging community for some time, I have been enjoying your photographs on Instagram. You have shared some really great tips and it shows in your photography.


  6. I would love to do one of these courses when I have time. There is so much to learn in Photography and I’m still an amateur trying to learn more. I used to take my camera out and about all the time to experiment but I haven’t had time recently. I need to get back to it. Thanks for sharing what you learned from your course. 🙂 #TeamLovinLife


  7. I love to see someone enjoying photography because I love it! In late 2012 I did a 365 Grateful Project where I took a photo a day for a year of something I was grateful for. It sparked an interest in photography. I did a local course on how to use my DSLR on manual. But I wanted to learn more so I did an online course and got a Diploma in Professional Photography. I’d like to do even more study and would love to do a travelling photography workshop one day. Enjoy it – it’s such fun and always more to learn! #TeamLovinLife


  8. Thanks for those tips. Sometimes I snap and hope for the best, but other times I should mentally be checking things off so your list is a great help. I think photo essays are wonderful and I love seeing them in blogs, with enriching captions that set the mood. #teamlovinlife


    • This was a free course with the University of Tasmania and they said you can use your iphone. I only have a point and shoot camera but hopefully one day I will get a better one.


  9. Sounds like a great course and that you got loads out of it. I did a short course at evening class at my local community college and although my photos aren’t professional looking, they have improved (albeit slightly!) I love a good photo challenge, although I find it hard to keep up with them. Me and some bloggy friends do a 10 on 10 photo circle every month. Feel free to hop in and join us!


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