Operation Take-Better-Pictures

As I’ve mentioned, I’m in the (rather slow) process of teaching myself photography. I really couldn’t be in a better place for it, what with all the saffron-clad monks, magenta flowers, emerald paddy fields and eh, white margaritas. Cambodia is indeed a feast for senses, and a feast for my shiny Canon SLR too.

So with the fact that I haven’t been snapping very purposefully – too many pictures of me drinking those margaritas – and the knowledge that I was spending too much time clicking on the Portrait and Landscape settings rather than the manual one, I figured I should get back on track with my self-education.

I did take a photography module in college, but wasn’t a big fan of the lecturer and seeing as the class was on a Wednesday morning (and Tuesday nights we’re particularly boozey in the SU bar) I pretty much did the bare minimum to get my grade. So this time I’ve been taking my cues from websites and my favourite photographers.

I’m lucky enough to include many mighty talented snappers among my friends (see Gary and Spence). One of my all-time favourite photographers just happens to be a lady I worked with at STELLAR HQ, Nathalie Marquez Courtney. In fact, we’re actually kind-of-but-not-really related.

Nathalie’s got a similar passion as me for the cuter things in life; buttons, ribbons, teapots, cupcakes, stationary, basically anything you might find on Etsy.

Her pictures are incredibly candid, always flooded with light, she can make a beer can look pretty and has blurring down to a fine art. So do I but that’s mainly due to my inability to hold the camera still.

Two themes she’s particularly awesome at shooting just happen to be a pair of my favourite things, food and travel. Whether it’s a taco or a building, she manages to make you want to swallow it whole. But what I love most about her style is how intricate her shots are, she only captures a tiny part of the picture, but in doing so, manages to show so much more detail.

So with this in mind, I set myself a little photo project. I want to stop snapping blindly like a tourist and start shooting the minutiae of life here. Capture the pretty features and gorgeous moments. So when I visited Wat Phnom in Phnom Penh two weeks ago, I figured it was the perfect place to start.

A predominantly Chinese-style Buddhist temple, it’s loaded with little details. From the man selling the birds outside – you pay to set one free but rumour has it, they’re trained to come back again – to the bundles of incense clustered everywhere and the tacky but-in-a-good-way adornments on the shrines; there’s plenty of photo-opps.

So here are some of my for-beginners pictures à la Nathalie, let me know what you think…


3 thoughts on “Operation Take-Better-Pictures

  1. I can’t believe I never commented on this! Left my reply on your FB link, like an eejit. Thank you so much again Claire for your lovely words, they’re some of the nicest things anyone has ever said about my shots 🙂

    I’m so glad you’re getting into photography and I know you will be awesome at it, your shots are already gorge, full of colour and lovely composition.
    I’m doing a nice e-course at the mo called Photo Meditations at the moment, which is really lovely and has taught me loads (http://www.susannahconway.com/e-courses/photo-meditations/). Also, I’d really recommend getting a 50mm lens as soon as you can (the 50mm 1.8 is super cheap and great, I had that first before graduating to the awesome 1.4) – it allows you to get great depth of field and literally put the focus where you want it.

    I’d be very happy to have nerdy Skype chats some time if you fancied it 🙂


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