In a novel approach to mastering our sometimes disobedient cameras and lenses, this week saw an irreverent take on photography, titled “How to take bad pictures” from Darren Pullman. Darren, a judge for the SPA and member of the local Carshalton Camera Club walked us through the common pitfalls of photography.

It was refreshing to see that Darren Pullman AFIAP CPAGB (no less) clearly takes his fair share of not only good, but also bad and ugly photos. With his customary self-deprecation and irreverence, he showed us how following photography clichés can often lead to very frustratingly mediocre shots. Take a look at the list below and see how many you can tick – there were more than a few nods of recognition around the room as he showed us how to come a cropper:

1) Rely on autofocus – clearly the camera can read your mind and know exactly what to focus on?

2) Keep the subject of your shots bang in the middle of the frame;

3) Use the on-camera flash. People look better when they’re startled…

4) Take portrait shots on a wide-angled lens. It’s flattering…

5) Asymmetry is good… Apart from when you want to show symmetry

6) Keep a low ISO – we don’t want noise in the shot. Motion blur and camera shake is perfectly acceptable.

However, it wasn’t all doom and gloom! With each example he showed us how, with a little thought, each of these points could easily be overcome. The underlying message of the night was, for me, ‘Take a step back. Think about what’s in the shot.’

One further comment stood out later in the evening, as Darren explained that he didn’t always end up getting the shot he was initially looking for. Sometimes things just don’t work out as planned and you need to amend your plans. As long as there’s one decent shot at the end of the day, he deems the day a success. Whether you’ve taken 10 shots, or 1500 – you only need one shot that you’re proud of to make it all worthwhile.

Whether it gets you a 10 in the next competition or not is a different matter entirely…

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