Starting out in photography

“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst” – Henri Cartier-Bresson

I’m often asked the same question: how do I get started in photography? Whether you’re completely new to photography, you’ve just bought your first camera, or you’re starting to think about stepping up your game, the answer is probably the same – just start taking photos!

Most of us get stuck on the first step, procrastinating and creating obstacles instead of creating photos. I’m going to touch on three of the most common challenges which hold us back from progressing and enjoying the art of photography.

1. Death by technology

“I can’t get started until I have the right camera, lens, editing software…”. When photography was first invented we didn’t have Adobe Creative Cloud or expensive DSLRs. Photography emerged through curious experimentation and lots of trial and error. It’s more important to spend time taking photos with your phone or an inexpensive camera, exploring what you enjoy capturing and how you approach it. Once you’ve found something you want to commit to capturing, the rest can come.

2. The fear

With social media platforms like Instagram playing such an important role in sharing photography, the fear of judgement and not being good enough is real for many of us. Like anything in life, if it makes you feel worse more often than it makes you feel good, don’t do it! Start with a private Instagram account and some trusted friends as followers, building on that slowly. This can be a safe and convenient way to get feedback and build your confidence – learn to make social media work for you.

3. What next?

So you’ve been taking pics with your phone or camera for a while now and you feel ready to learn more advanced techniques, but where do you begin? There is so much out there! For many of us the online world can feel overwhelming, and having a community of peers and some structured guidance is always a good idea. YouTube is incredible, particularly for those who are clear about the specific skills they want to learn. Taking a progressive online course on a platform like Skillshare, or attending an evening or weekend short course at further education colleges like City Lit or Morley College can be a great way to meet likeminded people, receive valuable feedback and grow in a supported way.

If you’re interested in starting, growing or advancing in photography, check out our outreach and community page and IGTV channel for a selection of new videos offering advice and tips on a range of useful topics.

Inspiring Your Practice: What Influences Your Work?

What influences your work?

Recently I’ve been lucky enough to begin exploring Alec Soth’s online Photographic Storytelling course through Magnum Learn. He has long been one of my favourite photographers because of his poetic approach to photography. I am learning so much from his teaching, and I think the chapter on influence and inspiration has had the biggest impact on me so far. In this chapter, Soth invites the reader to list five things outside of photography that have influenced their own creative work in some way. This could be a film, a song, a park near your childhood home or weird building that has stuck in your mind. Soth then asks us to write these down and see if we can find a connection between them.

This assignment sparked thoughts about obscure aspects of my past which have subconsciously ignited my creativity and influenced my way of seeing the world. For example, where I grew up had lots of alley ways and I used to run through them late at night, when I wasn’t supposed to - I was too lazy to walk the long way around! Themes around what’s hidden, forbidden and marginal have always fascinated me, and to an extent they continue to influence me creatively.

I would like to invite you to consider your own five influences outside of photography - what comes to mind?

We Can All be More Inclusive Photographers

Inclusive Photography In Practice

Inclusive practice isn’t something static that begins and ends with funding and an informed consent form. It’s a dynamic and evolving process, and all practitioners who are responsible for representing identities should regularly reflect and review how and why we represent people, places and communities. I truly believe that with our work comes great responsibility.

Society is currently going through a lot of introspection, and rightly so! All of us, regardless of our labels, need to consider what it really means to be an inclusive and ethical photographer. In order to help us consider this I have shared some questions below, which are taken from PhotoShelter’s excellent resource The Guide to Inclusive Photography.



1. Am I perpetuating stereotypical narratives with my work?

2. Have I considered how my perspective or privilege may affect how I approach photography?

3. When selecting photos from other countries and of at-risk populations, am I applying the same standards I would apply for photos of my own community?

4. How can I expand the types of people, places (…) from which I draw story ideas and angles?

5. How many award-winning photographs feature black and brown people from the global South? How many of the photographers winning the awards are from that demographic?


Being honest with ourselves when considering the questions above could be the first step to better understanding what it means to be an inclusive photographer.

The Power of Photography to Create Positive Change

Seeking inspiration from photography with a cause

The Photography Foundation supports our community and is committed to championing diverse voices and creating positive change in society through photography and training. First and foremost it’s important that we keep promoting the message of self-care and connection: you can’t give from an empty cup! All of the images on the news and social media can be triggering for many, myself included. It’s important that we take it slow and find our own individual way to navigate this time.

We all want to help make a difference, but sometimes this can feel a little overwhelming. For all of the photography lovers out there, perhaps all that is needed right now is to seek wisdom and inspiration from those who championed change through photography.

Ten incredibly diverse photographers & documentary resources:

  1. Zanele Muholi is a South African artist and visual activist working in photography. Zanele’s work focuses on race, gender and sexuality. There should be an exhibition of this work at the Tate Modern.
  2. Neil Kenlock documented the changing lives of Black Londoners during the 60s and 70s. There was an exhibition of his work at the Museum of London last year.
  3. Susheila Nasta wrote a book charting the Asian contribution to Britain through historical photographs - Asian Britain: A Photographic History - in pictures.
  4. Dorothea Lange is an American documentary photographer whose imagery of the depression era humanised the experiences of many during the great depression.
  5. You can explore photography which documents the Black British experience through a digital archive of some of the work at the V&A.
  6. Doris Derby is an American activist and photographer who photographed at the height of the civil rights era. You can find out more about her work in a Guardian article - ‘Through the lens of civil rights photographer Doris Derby – in pictures.’
  7. Mahtab Hussain's work invites people to re-think how they see young Asian men. His project ‘You Get Me’ depicts British Asian men not as a violent, homogeneous group, but rather as diverse and capable of being soft, thoughtful and vulnerable
  8. Daniel Jack Lyons' portraits of Mozambique’s vilified LGBT+ community are an act of artistic activism.
  9. Eddie Chambers' book Roots & Culture: Cultural Politics in Black Britain used news archive photography to examine how African-Caribbean immigrants in the UK fought racism to create a Black British identity.
  10. Eve Arnold was an American photojournalist and member of Magnum photo agency who documented Malcolm X and The Nation of Islam in 1961.

TPF Recommends: Photo Books

Photo Books: Top Ten

Here at The Photography Foundation we love photo books! Nothing beats handling something in print. Photo books are a treat; like a framed photograph on the wall, they are something to be treasured for a long time. I’ll be introducing ten photo books which present different styles of photography and hopefully offer something for everyone.



1. The Decisive Moment by Henri Cartier-Bresson

2. The New Black Vanguard: Photography between Art and Fashion by Antwaun Sargent

3. Sleeping By The Mississippi by Alec Soth

4. The Ballad of Sexual Dependency by Nan Goldin

5. The Americans by Robert Frank




6. Mali Twist by Malick Sidibe

7. Let us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee & Walker Evan

8. Postcard Home by Ingrid Pollard

9. Vanley Burke: A Retrospective by Vanley Burke

10. One Day Young by Jenny Lewis

Happy exploring!

TPF Recommends: Online Exhibitions

Get Inspired

One of the positive things to emerge from the challenging lockdown experience has been the wealth of accessible global online exhibitions. We have shared some which we think will be interesting to explore and seek inspiration from.


Tate Online Galleries

Elephant Magazine Picture Gallery

Sony World Photography Awards

Getty Images Gallery

Ain’t Bad Photography Articles

Barbican Exhibition Guide: Masculinities - Liberation Through Photography

Now sit back & get inspired!

TPF Recommends: Podcasts

Listen & Learn 

A key skill for any photographer to develop is the ability to listen and learn, and this post is all about the importance of taking the time to listen to yourself and to others. Visual people can be easily overloaded with images in this digital world, but listening to stories can give our minds a rest while keeping us inspired! Here are some interesting podcasts which will hopefully help you do just that.



GUAP Photography Podcasts On topics such as the importance of passion in your work, and how to turn your hobby into a paid opportunity.

The Photographers’ Gallery: Talking About Photography A variety of cultural conversations and artist talks covering a range of interesting topics.

Photo London can always be relied on to inspire us with a menu of delicious work & talks to linger over.

It’s Nice That: Photography Articles & Talks A good resource for creatives because of its holistic approach to creativity. Lots of support and guidance on offer!


Support in the Creative Industry

Sources of creative support

We are all going through waves of change and uncertainty right now, so receiving and offering support is more important than ever. Here are some ideas on how to do just that – hopefully they will spark some thoughts about what you need and what you can offer to others.

Mentoring for creative women inVisible Creatives has launched Mentor-at-Home, a speed-dating-style online mentorship programme.

Get a mentor! Arts Emergency helps marginalised young people overcome barriers to participation and success in the creative and cultural industries.

Join a collective or creative meet-up Rye Here Rye Now is a Peckham-based monthly meet up. They can be a great source of support & shared experience.

Don’t abandon all the ideas you have nurtured! This great article from Lecture in Progress gives some useful advice on how to do this.