October 28, 2015

For those creative souls who are always eyeing up cameras, from the DSLR to vintage Lomo and Helgas,but haven’t had any formal training in photography, look no further. Equip yourself with Henry Carroll’s ‘Read This If You Want To Take Great Photographs’ and you need never worry about white balance or F-stops again. Fashion blogger Ellie from The Elle Next Door got stuck in and reports back her new photography tips. Over to you, Ellie…

Photography is something that fascinates and inspires me; but I don’t really have a huge amount of technical knowledge about it. I can tell you that I love a blurry background and a shallow depth of field, but I’m not really sure which buttons I need to press to produce the desired effect. So, when the new Henry Carrol book ‘Read This If You Want To Take Great Photographs’ landed on my doorstep, I knew this was something I needed in my life. As well as being a superb Instagram prop – blogger problems #sorrynotsorry – I also came away with some incredible tips and tricks that I can’t wait to put into practice.


I am huge believer that composition can completely take your photography to the next level. The ‘rule of thirds’, for those who don’t know, is a technique where you split the photograph into thirds horizontally and vertically and position the subject in one of the corner thirds. It can make your photos look more professional, stylish, and a little less clumsy. Be careful to not go too close to the edges or centre square though, otherwise it can look a little unnatural and unbalanced.

Depth of field

In layman’s terms, ‘depth of field’ controls how much of the shot is in focus. A useful tip that I learned from the book is that a small ‘f-number’ (which controls depth of field) means a small area is in focus, and a large f-number means a large amount is in focus. So for a landscape shot where you want to get as much of the landscape in focus, you would use a large f-number. For product photography, where you might only want to focus on a product label and have the rest out of focus, you’d opt for a smaller f-number. You know those incredible outfit photos that have the blurry backgrounds? That’s what a shallow depth of field will give you.

White balance

For a blogger like me, ‘white balance’ is one of the biggest photographic challenges I’ve come up against. For example, you might be reviewing a restaurant with romantic candle lighting. This is great for a date, but can be awful for photography. Switching your white balance settings to the ‘indoor lighting’ or ‘tungsten’ mode (which is amazing for when the lighting is really yellow as it balances this out by adding blue tones) will completely counteract this. The inner control freak in me always adjusts the white balance depending on where I am. However, I have to agree with the book that for the most part, a DSLR’s auto white balance is fantastic for choosing the right colouring for the environment. It’s always handy to know how to do it yourself though, right?

So that concludes my top three tips from Henry Carroll’s lifesaver photography book. The best way to improve is simply to get out and put these tricks to practice. Happy snapping!