DEVELOPING as a Photographer

Many of the questions and messages I receive through this blog centre around ‘how do you improve as a photographer?’ and ‘How did you learn to take better photos?’. The answer is an awful lot of practice and I am nowhere near done! Below I’m going to talk you through my development in the last few years.

One of my first images I took when I was 16 and just started A-level photography. I had never studied photography before and fell in love with it during this project ‘traces’. Looking back I would never edit an image like this, now I most likely de-saturate the whole image.

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This is also part of my ‘traces’ project. I still like the composition of the photograph but would lower the saturation and contrast of it (I  had just started leaning photoshop!)

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I took this at 18 when I bought my first set of coloured flash filters. This was all about having fun and learning about the effects of flash. It’s taken me a while to realise that I much prefer slow shutter speeds using ambient light rather than flash.

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After watching a YouTube video called something like ‘How to do street photography’  I took my camera out , rather over-enthusiastically , to the streets of London and tried to apply literally everything I learnt.  As I was young I wasn’t aware of how people might feel about having their photos taken and was fearless, I am now more aware of people and how their portrayed.

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I still love the comedy of this shot. I took this during my second year at university.  I was completely against it with 3 essay deadlines coming up and very little time. I had been spending around 6 hours a day everyday in the library.   But on this morning I woke up a decided to dedicate a whole day to photography and just enjoy it. This was one of the first shots I took.

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One of the main lessons I learnt at university was the art of networking and making connections. This was in collaboration with a poet for his debut book.

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This image (also featured above) came in useful when I learnt how to create photograms in the darkroom.  I printed the image on acetate, overlaid random items and placed it on light sensitive paper.  Again I would lower the contrast but I like the combination of image and found items.

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Still one of my favourite ever shoots. I took my best friend, dressed with a snorkel,  along the London underground. The project was a conceptual tongue-in-cheek  project based on the fact the London Underground goes under the river Thames.

Although not a brilliant photograph it represents an opportunity gifted to me by collaboration. A friend and fellow photography student was photographing at an organic farm and asked me to go along for support. Having a camera allowed us to get a behind-the-scenes look at the hard work that goes into running a farm.

I will never claim to be fashion photographer as I have no clue when it comes to fashion but learning how to photograph in a studio is a skill every photographer should learn. You can apply the skills and knowledge of lights, soft boxes etc. out in the field. Light is incredibly important whether its harnessing the golden hour, creating shadow or drawing the viewers eye to the subject.

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It’s not all serious in the studio..

It’s true you should never stop learning when it comes to photography and it can help to have an end goal (landscape, portrait, street photographer etc.). But ENJOY getting there. I am not where I want to be photography-wise but it has opened up incredible opportunities I would never have experienced without photography;  from photographing the cycling Tour of Britain to exploring new cities and countries..

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post I’ve  really enjoyed putting it together. No matter how far you are into your photography journey its always worth looking back over your images and seeing how much you’ve improved.

You can find me on Instagram @madisonbeachphotos or over on my website.

Suburban Sunday Snaps

Last weekend I headed out with my trusty Pentax K1000 and some Portra film. I set out to capture what its like to spend a weekend filling your time when you live in the suburbs.

I’m now getting used to my fully-manual Pentax and adapting to low light conditions.  The camera is currently holding black and white ISO 400 film, I’m really looking forward to the results.

I’ve got an incredibly exciting (and scarily busy) few weeks coming up including moving to London, traveling to Iceland for the first time and a zine feature. I’ll keep you updated on all my photography and travel adventures.




Black and White Bikes of Europe

As a big fan of cycling I often find myself subconsciously photographing cycling culture as I travel. I love taking time out of travelling to rent a bike and see the country from the road, it allows you to go off the beaten track and in some cities it can be a great money saver. Here are a selection of my favourite cycling snapshots I took while travelling from Denmark to Switzerland (by train)..


24 hours in London

Spending the night at Juna’s student house with fellow school-friend Fran we planned how we would spend the next 24 hours; visiting Whitechapel Gallery and see as much of the new Tate Modern extension as possible, before inevitably hitting a wall of tiredness and consuming  way too much fast food.


Juna and her budget-saving light bulbs..

To get to the Whitechapel gallery we had to take two tubes. We ended up spending 45 minutes walking underground as the tube map didn’t quite depict the long journey between platforms.


Whitechapel Gallery

Arriving in the rain the free-entry gallery was buzzing with a mix of people. We were specifically there for the Guerrilla Girls Exhibition ‘Is it even worse in Europe?’. The focus of the exhibition was to question the diversity in European art organisations. The display featured questionnaires written by the Guerrilla Girls and filled out by the art organisations (well, the 1/4 that replied..). Much smaller than I was expecting the display still managed to get its point across with the hint of humour synonymous with Guerrilla  Girls. The gallery itself was very accessible, next-door to a tube station with a free cloakroom and a well-stocked gift shop.  It’s worth a visit if you spot an exhibition that appeals to you.


Next on our list was the new Tate Modern Extension. We took the tube to London Bridge and walked along the Southbank hunting for standout architecture, not hard to find beside the river..



The architecture hunt led us straight into the newly opened  Switch House, the Tate Modern extension creating 60% more exhibition space. The previous Tate Modern could be hit and miss but the work on display here often rendered me speechless. Having a mix of video installations, interactive displays and 3d-work means it has something to offer everyone.


The new staircase


Fran & Juna experimenting with the interactive light installation ‘Seance de shadow II (Bleu)’ by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster


Below is a photo from my favourite exhibit by Apichatpong Weerasethakul. It is an immersive video installation piece featuring multiple screens along with pillows allowing you to sit/lie and take it all in. The videos begin by providing what looks like a linear narrative based in a Thai town, it then bounces between fantasy and documentary. If there wasn’t another 7 floors to explore you could spend all day here.


Other displays included an exhibit using 3-D pieces to explore the relationship between objects & architecture and living cities, an artistic look into modern day cities. On a personal level some contemporary pieces have the ability to go over my head which is okay, but on the whole I was really impressed with the work I saw.


At the very top of the building is an open-air viewing platform, definitely not an option for those with a fear of heights. Luckily I love heights and I couldn’t believe the tower gave a full 360° view across central London.


Fran & Juna capturing their experience at the top

We had planned to potentially visit the British Museum but after a quick glance at our watches we had to admit defeat, rush hour would prevent us getting their before it shut. So with already aching feet we filled our stomachs and headed back to Juna’s.

Despite being a regular visitor to London I always forget that no matter how much time you have, two gallery/museum visits in a day is more than enough.  Especially if your visiting somewhere as vast as one of the Tate museums then one can often be enough, otherwise you can be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of art on show. Overall is was a brilliant day and a very cheap one as both the galleries were free.If your careful in London, the most expensive thing you can buy will be lunch and an underground pass.