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.

Combining Travelling with Creativity

Over the last year I have been lucky enough to experience many new cultures which I have always wanted to capture.  But it’s not always been easy juggling photography, filmmaking and experiencing a place for the first time.  I have written an article for a great new magazine, 99% Lifestyle, which is available to read on their website.

I hope you enjoy the article, comment below if you have any questions or what you’re getting up to over the weekend. I Hope you have a great Easter!

A short guide to what ISO you should use and why

Since starting this blog a lot of readers have shown interest in starting to shoot film and asked how they can improve their photography skills. Starting to shoot manual on your digital camera is a great way to improve and prepare for shooting film or just jump straight in. There are 3 main components when shooting manually; aperture (how much light is let in), shutter speed (how quick the shutter opens and closes) and ISO.

If you’ve never shot manual before then don’t worry you can get the hang of it, if you have then you can use the guide as a little refreshers course. I will be using 35mm film examples but the same applies to other film cameras and dslr’s.

ISO Guide

Simply the ISO, also refereed to as ASA, relates to how sensitive the film is to light. The lower the number the less sensitive the film (or camera) is to the light.

If you want to shoot a variety of subjects inside and out ISO 400 is a solid choice.

If you’re going to be shooting outside in bright sunshine or traveling in a hot country then ISO 200 will fit the bill. Low ISO films can also produce some great results at night using flash.

The lowest film I use is Portra ISO 160. The film works well for portraits and bringing out skin tones.  I would only use a low ISO if you know you’ll have sufficient light for the whole roll to avoid disappointment. If not go for a 200 or 400.

On the other end of the scale for low light conditions you can get ISO 1600, 3200 and 6400. But the higher the ISO number the more likely your image will have noise (visual distortion) but you can use this to your advantage. I recently shot a roll of Black & White Ilford 3200 film in Iceland. Its one of my favourite rolls I’ve shot this year.

The more you learn and experiment the more you can get out of your camera and/or film.But at the end of the day if your enjoying taking photos then you don’t have to change a thing.


New Video!

I have been very lucky and have had many adventures in the last 8 months including traveling around Iceland, Japan, Northern Italy and Wales. After a day of watching back all my footage I realised its time for a new showreel. Hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed putting it together!



Photographing with Purple Film

When I first started shooting film at 16 Lomography products were brilliant fun to use. But as I began to take photography more seriously and studied at university the inconsistency  became more of an annoyance and money sapper. Days before I headed of to Iceland I spotted the Lomochrome Purple 35mm film at my local photography shop. I made a quick impulse purchase of two films and packed them for my trip.

The film works best in bright conditions with a  lot of green in the frame. When we touched down in Iceland I realised I made the right choice. The northern part of the island was covered in snow but the other half? a beautiful, natural, deep Green. The contrasts created by the strong winter sun and volcanic land was going to be the best introduction back into Lomography.


I shot these on my Pentax K1000. Unfortunately I only had time to shoot one film and have already planned a trip to my favourite forest in Southern England to fill the frames and experiment with portraits. I’ll be posting these and others from my trip to my Instagram @madisonbeachphotos and website ( Let me know your thoughts on Lomography and any tips and tricks for getting the most out the film!

Back to Black & White in 35mm

I have been experimenting with colour film a lot lately, mainly Portra and Lomochrome purple. But a late-night purchase led to me buying some HP5 Ilford Black and White film (accidentally in bulk..). This was the first film I ever shot back in college when I was 16, I really enjoyed using this film again and experimenting with double exposures.



Photographing Iceland at Night

With such little sunlight hours, especially in the winter, Iceland provided the perfect opportunity to try out some light-sensitive film. Using my trusty Pentax filled with Ilford Black & White (3200 iso) film I set out to capture Icelandic life after dark.


I’m really impressed with how the film performed, especially in daylight as its built for darkness. When using film with an iso as high as 3200 its always going to have some noise, but I think this creates a fitting aesthetic. The Pentax also adapted well to the conditions, the cold didn’t affect it and the ‘bulb’ function worked well allowing me to capture the northern lights. I’ve got hundreds more photos to scan, edit and upload, follow me on Instagram to keep updated with my photography adventures @madisonbeachphotos