Taking photographs is easy, right? After all, any idiot with a mobile phone can take a picture these days. But taking a good photograph…? That’s a little more difficult.
Earlier this year photographer Matt Bingham and his business partner Lee Bown launched a new company offering workshops in travel photography to anyone with a digital camera.
The pair were convinced that with just a brief instruction in the art of using a digital camera they could improve anybody’s photography – and help them to make a much better record of their travel experiences.
Red Cloud Photography Days uses a network of freelance photographers from all over the UK. Workshops have already been held in London, Nottingham and the South West.
Now Matt and Lee are selling places on their workshops through online retailers such as Lastminute.com and ActivitySuperstore.com as well as through their own website www.RedCloudDays.co.uk and the courses are proving even more popular than they envisaged.
Matt said: “We’ve all seen the holiday snaps with Dad’s head decapitated from his body. And then there’s the photo of the lovely white wall and a tiny row of heads at the bottom of it. Out of focus, poorly lit and overexposed photos fill albums up and down Britain.
“Everyone has a digital camera these days but very few people really know how to use them. The vast majority just set them to auto but with just one or two day’s instruction anyone can improve the quality of their photographs immeasurably.
“We knew there was a problem out there of people relying too heavily on technology and not ever bothering to learn how to really use their cameras. But we’ve been surprised by how much demand there is out there.”
Red Cloud Days offer one day travel photography workshops for beginners for just £115 and two day courses for £180 at locations across the UK. More specialised workshops are planned for 2010.
Matt said: “We teach people how to use light and not to rely on their camera’s flash but to utilise the natural light on their travels to capture sunsets and sunrises and to create beautiful images even when their isn’t much light available.
“We also teach them about composition and portraits and they learn how to photograph animals, both static and on the move, so it’s particularly useful to anyone planning a safari style holiday.”
Company director John Wakefield, from Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffs, went on a Red Cloud course after his wife booked him a place as a birthday gift.
John said: “I like my toys and gadgets and had bought myself a Canon EOS 40 digital camera which cost more than a grand. I wanted to learn how to use it properly instead of just pressing automatic.
“My wife booked me on a Red Cloud one day course which she found on the internet. When I checked it out it looked so good I upgraded to the two day option and I wasn’t disappointed.
“We were very well looked after and I learnt so much. We get away every weekend in our caravan and the shots I’m taking now compared to the ones I took just before the course and much, much better.
“Family and scenic shots have much better depth of field and much better exposure. Even snaps of the kids on the beach are so much better now. Without a shadow of a doubt the course has made a huge difference to my photography. Now I’m looking forward to taking more fantastic pictures.”
Dave Markham, from Newbury, has always felt he had an eye for taking a good picture. He went on a Red Cloud course to build his skills.
Dave said: “I wanted a course with practical learning as opposed to theory and the Red Cloud workshop fitted the bill.
"It was fantastic to spend two days with a professional photographer and I learned so much. I had a real blast taking pictures and having them critiqued. We were able to spend time getting out and using our cameras and it was amazing to have that instant feedback from a professional.
“I had always felt I had a good eye but that was probably more luck than judgement. After the course I had a much better understanding of what makes a good picture. I’d picked up quite a bit of technical knowledge as well as lots of first hand practical experience. It was quite remarkable how much learning they managed to pack into just two days and they somehow managed to keep it fun as well.”
After the course Dave wasted no time in getting out with his camera to use his new found skills.
He said: “I went along to a mountain bike event the next weekend purely to take photographs. I got so much more out of it than I would have done before the course and I was able to take some incredible shots.
“Afterwards I pasted them up on my Facebook page and I had some fantastic feedback. It was all very positive. I’m really enjoying my photography now and I feel I am right at the start of it. I love sports and am very interested in sports photography. Thanks to the Red Cloud course I’m now able to take better shots than ever before.”
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