Emily Gravett

The double winner is shortlisted again this year for her new book Tidy Your Instagram feed shows lots of doodles, do you find these help your process?
I doodle all the time. Usually people, words or even numbers, but also the characters I’m considering using or animals that interest me. Characters must have started as doodles.

How do you get personality into characters?

Part of doodling characters is learning their Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears. I coated plain paper with yoghurt and left it in their cage for ‘distressing’. I had a dog called Tip, who I tried to get to chew the corner of an illustration for my Wolves book, but he was too well behaved so I had to chew it myself.

In Tidy, Pete (the badger) ends up destroying personalities. I know how they would react in situations. My website has had a rebuild, and one of the features is Q&As for the characters. I realised how well I know them.

I heard your pets have been ‘hands-on’ in your illustration process…
The rats (now long deceased) were brilliant nibblers and useful during the making of the forest in his efforts to keep everything just so. Where did this idea spring from? Tidy started as a different idea about a badger, mole and hamster going on a treasure hunt, but I couldn’t make it work.

I started to think about what badgers eat (worms) and what would happen if he couldn’t get any worms, which made me ask why he couldn’t get any worms. I was driving home from the Hay Festival when I saw a woman hoovering a car park. It seemed excessively tidy, so I worked it into the book.

Your book is set in a forest. Do you have any top tips for drawing trees?
I didn’t have a clue how to tackle all those trees. I spent a lot of time staring at them, thinking about the seasons, and looking at how other people depict trees. I settled on a mish-mash of approaches. I painted the framework of the trunks and branches with a loosely held Japanese brush and watery ink, and then linocut the leaves.

What’s your studio like?

My studio is in my house in what should be the spare room. My partner made a spare bed that flips down from the chimney breast, and when it is folded up forms a magnetic board I can stick work to. My drawing area is in the bay window, and my computer tucked into an alcove. I have a row of drawers to store work in, and a whole wall of book shelves which I worry about filling.

What’s your favourite children’s book?

The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord. As a child I’d spend hours poring over the illustrations. I loved – and still do – being able to follow characters that aren’t mentioned in the text through the book.
The rhyming was exciting and comforting at the same time, and the countryside in the book felt familiar and safe.

What’s your tip for getting into illustration?

Everyone I’ve talked to has come a different route. But you must put yourself out there because I can guarantee that you won’t get picked up if no one sees your work.

See more of Emily’s art at www.emilygravett.com. Tidy is published by Two Hoots, £12.99, www.panmacmillan.com




Association of Illustrators portfolio consultant Fig Taylor talks to Sally Hales Tabout the issues surrounding the artform and offers advice on getting noticed

he history of illustration – as predominance of digital image-making, the defined as the decoration, story is starting to change. Illustrators with interpretation or visual traditional skills are again finding themselves explanation of a text, concept or in high esteem. Fig Taylor, portfolio process – is old as the history of consultant at the Association of Illustrators art itself, beginning in pre-history as our early (AOI), says: “Some digital artists are


ABOVE Helen Green, Time May Change Me, animation LEFT Phoebe Swan, Borough Market, lino print and Photoshop

digital platforms, spawning new genres as it goes. The rise of motion images is an avenue that looks set to grow. For example, Helen Green’s Time May Change Me GIF – a digital image file that supports animation – of David Bowie, which she created for the musician’s 68th birthday, went viral on the internet.

There’s also the continued rise of self-publishing and the use of illustration in >

ancestors told stories about themselves with symbols, ideograms and images. And, today, in the age of advertising with the digital revolution continuing apace, there is seemingly endless space, opportunity and need to tell stories with images.


The rise of digital technology has been a defining characteristic of the genre, with ever-improving software and hardware offering clear advantages to those working at speed on a brief. But whereas a few years ago traditional media artists feared the

reporting interest is falling in the work that looks obviously digital. And some clients specify they want traditional media, or the appearance of it, even if work is digital.”

Hand-drawn or painted images remain an important part of the process. For many, it’s still impossible to think of not starting with a pen or pencil, and the sketchbook remains the place where ideas are born. Digital and traditional media are learning to co-exist.


But technology isn’t going anywhere. Rather, it’s moving illustration off the page onto packaging, as brands look to move beyond corporate blandness and develop a visual personality. As for the content of images,

Fig notes that, although “quirky animals are forever with us”, there is an 1980s aesthetic emerging. “I see it at almost every art school I visit and in many portfolios at the AOI,” she says. “Some illustrators are oblivious, while others are mining the era for inspiration.”


Trends and technology are ever-changing, but one thing remains constant: an illustrator needs to find their own voice and style to stand out from the crowd. “Clients with an abundance of choice can become lazy,” says Fig. “They become disinclined to take risks. Most dislike what they view as a ‘jack of all trades’. Where variety is appreciated is in the illustrator’s style embracing a wide variety
of subject matter. As commissioners’ workloads increase, the need for work to be recognisable and consistent will become a global necessity.”

But while the kind of commissions available changes, career advice for aspiring and emerging artists is consistent. “Make sure you know why you want an agent and what you’d like that agent to do for you,” says Fig. And you will still need a killer portfolio, she says, that “states in short order who you

example, Instagram is a vital place for commissioners to find work and keep in touch with what is happening. Figs says artists need to “build and maintain a web-based presence and have a website and/or at least one web portfolio.”

And there’s also blogging, which opens up a window to creative practice and will engage other like-minded souls and commissioners.


are, how you work and how potential clients can make use of your skills.”

Where the digital realm has changed illustrators’ careers forever – regardless of whether they work in digital or traditional media – is the necessity of using the internet and social media to build a profile. For

But don’t let off-line slip either, entering competitions to raise your profile and finding other outlets, such as exhibitions and online shops, are still important avenues.

The AOI is the UK’s professional body for illustration. A consultation with Fig is
free with membership. www.theaoi.com

resident artist

How did you become resident artist at the Tower Room?

I’ve been an art tutor to Lady Cowdray for nearly seven years. She used to come to classes at my West London studio. When I moved to West Sussex three years ago, I was offered a studio at Cowdray House.

Can you tell us about the history of the studio?

It forms one end of the original Cowdray House, which was built in the early 16th century. It was one of the great Tudor houses of Britain – King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I were guests. For years the tower was unused. One day during one of my painting classes, Lady Cowdray suggested the possibility of converting it into a medieval artist’s studio, teaching materials and techniques practised during the Renaissance. Many of these techniques, such as painting in egg tempera, gilding, chiaroscuro oil painting methods as well as making paints from earth, rocks and plants, are no longer taught but I had been teaching these lost techniques at my London studio, as well as at the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts. It was an opportunity not to be missed. The Renaissance Art Studio is unique and represents a bridge between the craft
knowledge of the past and modern times.

Can you tell us about your painting techniques and philosophy?

I did an MA at the Royal Academy of Art in London. Afterwards I met Cecil Collins and worked as his apprentice. Through Cecil I learned of the significance of the artist’s gilding. The studio is equipped with beautiful oak easels from Paris and all the apparatus one would expect to find in a medieval artist’s studio. The Tower Room reminds one of participating in a tradition, which is ancient and timeless, as well as at the cutting edge of contemporary art.

You take workshops in the Tower Room – do you find it inspires people?

The space is an incredible inspiration for my pupils. At the start of the week they have a blank canvas and, by the end of day five, they have a wonderful painting. We think the surroundings in the Tower Room and the heritage site (known as the Ruins) have a huge influence on their work.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am working on several private portrait commissions, as well as a series of still life paintings based on the work of the master potter Joe Davda. I make all the paints I use myself from rocks, earth, plants and bones. My paintings are born out of a journey and, if successful, they embody the integrity of that journey. For me, the craft, journey and painting are one.

materials: how pigments come from the earth, rocks and plants. I learned about the ancient art of alchemy, hermetic tradition and how this philosophy lies at the heart of all craft. Cecil taught that creativity is a bridge, uniting inner realisation with the outer world of experience. Ever since I was a young boy, growing up in the bush in Australia, I have believed that art’s purpose is to reveal this invisible world of mystery into the visible world of matter.

How has working in this unique space informed your work and practice?

The studio is a sacred space; a conducive environment in which one is able to serve creativity. Working in the studio is like being in an alchemist’s laboratory; one is surrounded by apparatus for grinding semi-precious rocks for making pigments, plant products for preparing dyes that are then precipitated to make pigments, with glass mullers and grinding stones for making paints and gold leaf, and for



Recently, I’ve been involved in a debate about the value of turning work into greetings cards. I have been selling cards for years and, if done well, I think

they are great for business. The main concern raised is that people will buy them rather than the work. People have told me they are buying a card to frame and that’s fine: it’s great they like my work enough to hang it. More than balanced against this are the people who buy prints because of the greetings cards. They live with a card and find they can’t do without an original or are sent one and inspired to buy. Most people like to buy a little something from an artist and, if those who wouldn’t buy originals end up buying cards, the money soon mounts up.

I make a card-size printout to see if the work will reproduce favourably, and always prefer prints that have been received well on social media – it is a good test for sales. I make sure that I have top-class photographs of my work and use a professional printer who is used to


producing cards in short runs. Check quantities with the printer to get the best price for your order or maybe coordinate with other artists for a bulk deal. I buy envelopes and glassine bags separately and pack everything myself. After costings, I find that I can price slightly below the normal retail value and still make a good profit because people buy more cards when they are competitive priced.

Always put your contact details and a bit about yourself on the back of the cards, and take a box of them with you everywhere you go. I take cards along to classes and talks, as well as fairs and shows. Approach your local museum or gift shop, too, as they often sell cards by local artists, and also ask any gallery that shows your work.

If you are asked for a trade price for your cards, it needs to be about 50 per cent of the retail price if you are selling up front and, for sale or return, you will need to agree a percentage commission.


Now in her eighties, the Turner Prize-nominated Royal Academician who was made a CBE in 2011 – among other accolades – is, according to BBC broadcaster and art enthusiast Andrew

Marr, “probably the finest abstract painter alive in Britain.” Yet Gillian Ayres’ name isn’t part of the public consciousness in the same way as many of her contemporaries. But that may be about to change. A fresh critical eye is being cast over her 60-year career with a major retrospective at the National Museum Cardiff, an exhibition of paintings and woodcuts at Alan Cristea Gallery in London and a new monograph by art critic Martin Gayford. Gillian Ayres’ place in the history of British abstract art looks increasingly undisputed.

A serious colourist whose bold forms and joyful compositions burst with movement and energy, Gillian’s long career has revolved around her obsession with using paint to capture an emotional response. She has experimented with media, scale and abstraction, while following her own exploratory path. “Her motifs are there to carry colour-energies, not to represent anything, even when they may look like fronds, leaves or stars,” says Andrew. “They aren’t symbols. One of her strengths is that, for Gillian, a painting is a painting is a painting.” And the artist has long eschewed offering a commentary on her work, letting her greens, blues, pinks and oranges do the talking. And this singular approach may have contributed to her low profile, says Andrew. “She does most of her work far from London, on the border between Devon and Cornwall, and seems entirely uninterested in playing any of the art games used to promote contemporary painters,” he says. “She just gets on with it, and lets the works speak for themselves. As, increasingly loudly, they do.”

Born in Barnes in 1930 and educated at St Paul’s Girls’ School, Gillian showed early determination to take the road less travelled, insisting on studying art – something largely unheard of for polite young women of the time – at Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts. Yet, finding her


artistic instincts in conflict with the Euston Road School style of painters who

taught there, she dropped out before sitting her diploma, taking off for Cornwall to focus on her daring interplay of colour and explore new ways of working. And upping sticks and heading to some of the most remote parts of the UK – Wales, Cornwall and Devon – is a pattern that has repeated itself throughout her creative life.

During the 1950s, she applied oils and household paint with rags and brushes, creating works inspired by Tachisme painting and Abstract Expressionism, such as Tachiste Painting No.1. By the 1960s, she had made a name for herself on the art scene and was experimenting with light-filled, optimistic works in oils and acrylics that captured the hedonism of the decade.

When painting found itself out of fashion in the 1970s, Gillian – always out of kilter – was instead creating them on a larger and larger scale; whether it was discovering Van  Gogh as a schoolgirl or engaging with Abstract Expressionism, her style has always been something all her own. If it can be said to have roots, the paintings find their essence in the British landscape – the lure of the sea and the sky – which she has repeatedly sought out.

“She has always quietly and doggedly gone her own way,” says Andrew. “But I think the interest in the texture and thickness of paint, and in finding ways to describe landscapes in a non-literal way, relate to people like Peter Lanyon. She is certainly very un-American.”

Later into the 1970s and during the 1980s, Gillian began to use thick and heavy impasto to create paintings that were exhilaratingly charged with emotion. She went to live on the remote Lly^n Peninsula in North Wales in 1981, a move which seemed to herald this particularly fertile period, dubbed by Andrew as her ‘furious impasto’ stage.

It was around this time he first stumbled across her work. He tells us: “I think I first saw Gillian’s work at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in the early 1980s, just after

I’d arrived in London for the first time. I can remember an almost visceral thrill at the complexity of the thinking and the dense working; I bought a cheap commercial poster of one of the paintings and had it hanging in my flat for years.”

The ‘furious impasto’ paintings, which she produced into the 1990s, remain a career highlight, says the broadcaster, with the 1990 painting A Midsummer Night at the pinnacle

20 Artists & Illustrators

for its “complexity and remarkable energy”. It’s this fruitful phase that the Cardiff exhibition explores, featuring the artist’s greatest works from the 1950s to 1980s.

Andrew hopes this rare chance to see a large body of Gillian’s work in one place will redress another problem of her profile – the difficulty of seeing her work. As well as her desire to work away from the cut and thrust of the art world, the artist lost an important body of work in a warehouse fire and her early Tachist pictures are hard to find. “I wish more people knew where they could see her work,” says Andrew. “The very early wall paintings, which you can find at South Hampstead High School, are well worth a trek. She shows every summer, of course, at the RA. I sometimes stand and watch, and her work always seems to attract a cluster of gapers.”

But it’s Gillian’s life-long passion for paint that keeps Andrew enthralled with her work, as well as establishing her as one of Britain’s most important working artists. As an amateur painter, it is the process of mark-making, leading to image-making – which can bypass the brain and connect to something more primal – that truly inspires him. “She can organise a very complex and large space, throbbing with energy and always on the edge of chaos, yet holding itself together right at the end,” says the broadcaster. “It’s a plate-spinning display of confident élan, and if I was ever able to paint something a third as good as the least successful of her pictures, I would die a happy man.”

This confidence in colour and belief in the image forms what Andrew calls the artist’s ‘painterly intelligence’. “It’s worth trying to see some of the rare footage of Gillian actually painting,” he adds. “She stares and stares, and then

suddenly scoops up soft, recently mixed paint and pushes it onto the canvas with her hands. I think paint as a material object – part of the dirty, sloppy world that we all live in – matters very much to her and this is important in the chilly, glossy, digitalised world of today.” And if there’s one reason to value and celebrate the work of Gillian Ayres today, it’s this passionate commitment to colour and paint. Gillian Ayres is at the National Museum Cardiff until

3 September 2017 and Gillian Ayres: Paintings and Woodcuts is at Alan Cristea Gallery, London, until 22 April 2017. A monograph, Gillian Ayres, by Martin Gayford with introduction by Andrew Marr, is published in April by Art Books, £45. www.museum.wales/cardiff; www.alancristea.com; www.artbookspublishing.co.uk


“Mustard Field Study was never intended to be a painting in its own right,” says self-taught Portfolio Plus artist Angie Wright. “For me it was a sketch of a moment that had struck me while driving in rural France. A vivid blue sky making way to cloud, bright yellow mustard flowers swaying in a breeze and dark green shadows. It was the colours.”

For Angie, it’s the emotive power of colour that unites her acrylic abstract artworks. Inspired by LeRoy Neiman’s vibrant paintings – immortalised in popular culture at the end of the 1980s film Rocky III – Angie began to look to her palette for emotional impact. Initially she painted portraits, later moving to landscapes. Not entirely abstract, Mustard Field Study combines traditional landscape with her striking style.

Based in France, having lived in Spain and the Canary Islands as well as the UK, Angie has made the journey to full-time artist through her travels, distancing herself from her training in pure and applied biology and nursing. Her paintings start life in her bright home studio. Each piece is worked on from a range of positions – the large canvases can be laid on the floor, placed on a large fold-down bench and hung vertically on the wall. To create the splashes of yellow in Mustard Seed Study, Angie mixed paint – her favourites range from Liquitex and Fevicryl to Sennelier’s abstract acrylic – with medium and then poured, dripped and flicked from various heights. In contrast, the calm lines that make up the sky are applied in layers using a palette knife. This is a technique that spans her work, juxtaposing contrasting shades to create dynamism, and complementary colours for subtle effects.

Although she makes quick biro sketches of light sources and line at the scene, she also reflects on how she feels at the time of impact. These annotations influence her choice of colour, the way she applies line, the thickness of the paint and the intensity of the drip. Emotion becomes colour, and vice versa, bringing the viewer as close to her ‘moment’ as possible.


For the award-winning illustrator and artist, each artwork is an adventure into the unknown. “I admire those who can carefully plan and meticulously execute a painting,” he says. “But I think part of being an artist is understanding what makes you tick – and this is not how I work.”

David discovered his affinity for cut and paste and experimental methods as a graphic design student at London’s Central St Martins. “I like to stick things
down, paint over them – tinker with an image in a sort of trial-and-error manner to see what happens,” he adds.
“I have an idea of where I want to go, but I don’t know how I’m going to get there.”

As part of his studies, he created paintings and illustrations that confirmed his love for the purer aspects of image-making, which in turn led to an MA in illustration at the school and a successful career. His recent book design for the Folio Society’s Book of Ghost Stories was awarded the V&A Book Cover Design Award last year.

But his brooding mixed-media work Forest’s Edge forms part of series of personal paintings based on nature and landscapes, inspired by the north-east woodland he grew up near. Yet this paper cut and acrylic collage is not a rendering of specific place but, rather, a memory.

“I had an idea of creating a series of paintings based partly on the memories I have of these landscapes, which I have obscured and romanticised in my mind,” says David. “I enjoy creating landscapes from a more expressionistic angle, so it becomes quite a personal experience.”

The trees were first drawn onto card, cut out and painted. But David wanted a more ambiguous and moody feel for the painting, so worked into the image with acrylic paint. “Then I created another quite loose painting of the foreground area with the figures and combined them digitally,” he says. “At this stage, I decided I wanted to paint into it some more and so used a transfer process and transferred it to wood. I continued painting into the image using oils until I was happy with it.”

And the result is a clear illustration of the artist’s
talent for knowing just how and where to place the right materials to create hauntingly beautiful images.
David’s work can be found in the book Mix and Match: Exploring Contemporary Collage, published by Ginko Press, £40.99, on 25 May 2017. www.gingkopress.com;




This London-based photorealist artist uses paint to chart his obsessions. And since he first painted his record stack as a private musical memento to take with him when he moved to London, Ian’s work has grown to encompass other people’s passion projects, too. Today, he creates still lifes of book collections, such as Horniman Anthropology.

Moving to study at University of the Arts London and, later, Wimbledon College of Art, he “began to make a connection with museum collections in study rooms.” This painting is a personal response to the subject; an attempt to capture the spirit of the books and the person who collected them. “A lot of preparation goes into layout and composition,” says Ian. He studied them at the Horniman Museum, the former home of the eponymous collector. “I made an appointment and discussed the collection. Historical anthropology and travel books are a large part, due to Frederick Horniman’s occupation as a trader.”

He made a handful of small drawings and took photos, spending a day handling the books. “My goal was to

experiment with colour and lighting, and capture a handful of options on camera. The challenge was the balance between foreground, background and bookstack detail.”

Back in his studio, Horniman’s Anthropology was worked on two days a week and completed in a month. “I work over various underpainting layers as I go,” says Ian. “I begin with still life drawing and, using photographic reference, transfer the drawing to canvas. I like to map the work out in monochrome, sometimes with acrylic colours.” He painted the background blend before adding each book in turn, working quickly with small rigger sign-writing brushes, wet-on-wet. “A mahl stick keeps my hands out of the paint and I even use it to paint lines. I like Old Holland oil paint neutral tint or sepia extra rather than black, usually.”

And with his meticulous approach, Ian builds an image that connects us to the physical history of his subject – the painting is almost an invite to reach in and flick through the books’ crumpled pages, just as their previous owner did. Horniman’s Anthropology is available as a limited edition giclee print. www.ianrobinsonartist.com


Alphonse Mucha:
In Quest of Beauty
16 June to 29 October 2017
Starting his working life as a theatre scene painter, Alphonse Mucha became best known for his Art Nouveau poster designs. His big break came when he was commissioned to create a poster for the play Gismonda, starring the French actress Sarah Bernhardt. Although that work, and around 100 of his recognisable designs, are included in the exhibition, this touring show delves deeper to explore the theme of beauty –
a subject close to Mucha’s heart – through drawings, paintings, photographs and rare sculpture by the artist.
Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.

Michael Rothenstein: Sustained Invention

27 May to 3 September 2017
Printmaking, construction, graphics, reliefs and watercolour conveying the atmosphere of the Royal Academician’s studio as it was left in 1993.
Fry Art Gallery, Saffron Walden. www.fryartgallery.org

Modern Times: How the School of London changed British Art
Until 1 July 2017
Bold, representational painting from the group’s artists including Frank Auerbach and Lucian Freud. Swindon Museum and Art Gallery. www.swindonmuseumandartgallery.org.uk

British Art: Ancient Landscapes

Until 3 September 2017
The first show dedicated to views of pre-history spanning the 18th century to the present day. The Salisbury Museum. www.salisburymuseum.org.uk


Beyond Caravaggio

17 June to 24 September 2017
See works by the revolutionary artist alongside that of his followers.
Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh. www.nationalgalleries.org

Turner’s Rhine Journey

Until 30 July 2017
A recently discovered watercolour by JMW Turner is on show alongside a small selection works by the likes of John Constable, as well as prints. Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow. www.gla.ac.uk/hunterian

A Sense of Place: 20th-Century Scottish Painting

Until autumn 2017
Highlighting developments in painting, through work by the Glasgow Boys and Scottish Colourists. The McManus, Dundee. www.mcmanus.co.uk


Bacon to Doig: Modern Masterpieces
from a Private Collection
Until 31 January 2018
See some of the best 20th-century British artists. National Museum Cardiff. www.museum.wales/cardiff

Roger Cecil: Inside the Studio

Until 24 June 2017
An insight into the Welsh artist’s studio and

working methods, alongside his best artworks. MOMA, Machynlleth. www.moma.machynlleth.org.uk

RCA New Members

6 May to 10 June 2017
A show of Academicians elected to the RCA in 2016, including Susan Gathercole and the Elfyn Lewis. Royal Cambrian Academy, Conwy. www.rcaconwy.org


Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry
17 June to 17 September 2017
Gain an insight into the relationships between Vermeer and Dutch genre painters.

The National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin. www.nationalgallery.ie

Francisco Goya: The Disasters of War

Until 4 June 2017
Etchings and aquatints made from 1810-20 in reaction to Napoleon’s invasion of Spain. Ulster Museum, Belfast. www.nmni.com

Photography is a great way to bond with your children

Photography is a great way to bond with your children

Improve Your Photography With This Great Advice

Photography is a great way to bond with your children. Teaching them how to take pictures will help to build their self-esteem, and looking through the photographs you both took will help bring the two of you closer together. This article will give you some tips for making the most of teaching your children about photography.

Be mindful of the framing of your subject. What this means will vary by subject. For instance, if you are taking a picture of one person, getting a close shot where the subject fills the frame is your best bet, since details are important. On the other hand, a landscape shot might benefit from being further away, as you get the entire scene this way.

To create photographic images that resemble paintings, try having your photos printed onto matte or semi-gloss papers, then painting them by hand with photographic oils or pastels. These items can be picked up at most art supply stores and many camera shops. The most popular paints are made by Marshall’s and are created specifically for use on photographs.

Play around with shutter speeds

Play around with shutter speeds to determine which work best during what situations. You can capture both a fleeting image or a long time-lapse photograph. In general, fast shutter speed work best for action shots, whereas slow shutter speeds are ideal for shooting still-lifes, landscapes and other static images.

Make sure you’re holding your camera properly to get the best photograph. You want to make sure you have your arms tucked against your sides and one hand should be under the lens to support it. This will help reduce any movement and insure that you’re able to get good photos.

Make sure you have a focal point for your photograph. This should be the first thing that the viewer’s eye is drawn to. Whether it’s a flower, a person, or a bird, every shot you take should have a specific focal point. Don’t only think about what the focal point is, but figure out the best spot for it in the shot.

A great photography tip

A great photography tip is to keep your sensor as clean as possible. If your sensor is dirty, you’re going to end up with a dirty picture. Having a clean sensor can save you a lot of time by not having to clean up a photo in an image editing program.

Get professional equipment if you are serious about photography. Look for a digital camera with a dSLR feature. This allows you to get a better idea of the frame of your picture. What you preview actually looks like the picture you are taking. With a good sensor, you should be able to take much better pictures.

Once you have spotted the subject of your picture, make sure to take your shot right away. This is especially true if your subject is a living being, such as a child or animal. Since staying in one position for a long time is hard for animals and children, you want to make sure you get the pose you want.

Having the background slightly out of focus, when shooting a live subject, can really enhance your photograph. When everything in the picture is focused including the background, it will make the picture a bit busy and it will be hard for the viewers to specifically focus on the subject of the picture. Make sure you place the background further away than normal when you are shooting your subject.

As a photographer

As a photographer, it is important that you keep your batteries well charged so you never have to miss out on the opportunity to take a great picture. Digital cameras with LCD screens use a ton of power, so make sure they’re fully charged prior to use. Have an extra set of batteries on hand so as to always keep shooting.

On your smart phone (as long as it has a camera), keep a special inspiration album within your photos. Every day you may stumble upon some amazing, inspirational idea, moment or place. Snap photos of these locales and moments, and store them in this inspiration album. Next time you are looking to try something new with your photography, look back to your inspiration folder for some great brainstorming ideas!

Are you aware of the “magic hours” in photography? This time period refers to the times of day known as dusk and dawn. These magical times create very soft and warm lighting conditions. There is only 45 minutes around sunrise and sunset to add this beautiful light to your shots, so plan accordingly.

A great photography tip is to try out different lenses. A cool lens you can try is the fish eye lens. With the fish eye lens you end up with a lot of neat distortion around the center of the image. It can make your photographs much more interesting.

Purchase a DSLR

Purchase a DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex) camera if you want to take professional-looking photographs. When you are shopping for a camera, do not worry about how many megapixels the product has; instead, focus on the image sensor. Most professional photographers buy full-frame DSLR cameras, which take incredibly clear pictures of your subject matter.

Viewers should be able to clearly see the subject of each photo you take. Stay focused on your subject to keep your composure the best it can be. When you are beginning, keep in mind what you want to take a photo of and make sure it is at the center of the picture. Do not worry about the background at first. This is something you will learn more about as you progress.

To experiment with photography, be sure to play around with shutter speeds. A slower speed means the shutter is open longer and can capture motion. Photos of a waterfall with a slow shutter speed would make the water look like one continuous motion. Faster shutter speeds capture action and are frequently used in sports photography. A photo of a waterfall in this example would show every drop of water clearly.

As stated in the beginning of this article, photography is a great way to bond with your children and build their self-esteem. Taking pictures together creates memories that will last for a life time. Apply the tips from this article to make the most of your next picture taking adventure with your children.