Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

Photography Award – Freedom to Love

“No one should be afraid to walk down the street holding hands with the person they love” (B. Obama 2013)

Photographic Award by Accademia Apulia UK

With the support of The Royal Photographic Society, and under the patronage of Amnesty International, the European Commission and the British Council,

FREEDOM TO LOVE aims to raise awareness on the difficulties many people endure every day worldwide, as they try to express the most powerful and constructive human quality – love. The judges are looking for photographs that testify that love is universal. Participants are invited to submit images of love, communion and friendship that cross established social boundaries, be they racial, religious, gender, age, or any other identifiable boundary.

II. Artwork

1. Each applicant will need to submit a photographic essay, social reportage consisting of three themed digital images.

2. Images may be digitally enhanced for colour/contrast/brightness, but cannot be manipulated.

3. Applicants must warrant that the photographs they are submitting are their own work and that they own the copyright for them.

4. Each applicant will retain full copyright of their own work.

III. Fees

There are no fees to enter the competition.

IV. Participants

The Award is open to photographers of all nationalities worldwide. Only one entry per person. Illegible or incomplete entries will not be accepted. Please note that proof of transmission will not be accepted as proof of receipt.

Full details are available here


CBRE Urban Photographer of the Year 2014 – winning images

The theme of this year’s competition – Cities at Work – challenged photographers from around the world to capture the beauty and day-to-day reality of working life. The overall winner of the CBRE sponsored competition was German photographer Marius Vieth with his striking image ‘Masks of Society’

I found this in the Guardian, these images are all worth your time, go and have a look here


Overall winner – Urban Photographer of the Year
Mask of Society  Photograph: Marius Vieth


1pm: Beijing, China
Nappers  Photograph: Aron Suveg


Winner – Europe, Middle East and Africa region
Dancing in the Street  Photograph: Carlos da Costa Branco


7pm: Santiago de Compostela, Spain
An Exhibition Photograph: Manuel Paz-Castanal

These are all so good you have to go and look at the others here

this is a link to the organisers website

How to improve your pictures with Photoshop

You know you make good pictures but you also know they could be better, they don’t quite look as good as those you see on the web, we all suffer from this. There is an answer, post production or Photoshop to you and me.

Many people find PS confusing and difficult to use because they have never had the basics explained to them, once you understand the fundamentals of the program learning becomes so much easier. Sure you can buy a book but having a teacher show you exactly what you need to know in small packets of information, then giving you time to try it for yourself whilst having your teacher on hand to answer your questions and show you where you are going wrong is much easier than reading a book.

Our course details the most efficient way to learn, breaking down the various sections so at the end of 6 lessons you have control over how your pictures look. Have a look at this simple picture. The camera has underexposed the subject because of the bright rays of sunlight in the centre of the image, but by using a few simple PS tools we can bring back it’s sparkle and the magic of the original scene.




Which do you prefer? PS is not just about making a picture look better it can also be about removing or adding something to a picture to improve it. Have a look at these, can you spot the difference?




We have been teaching students how to improve their pictures using Photoshop for years, in fact all the way back to CS1 (that is a long time ago). Now we recommend most people get the Elements version it is really versatile, easy to use and we teach it on our Introduction to Photoshop course starting on the 22nd October. Come and join us and find out how much better your pictures can be.

We have a few places left on our Photoshop course starting on the 22nd October, it is 6 sessions, 2 hours each and the cost is £97. If you don’t have PS I would recommend the Elements versions 12 is still available and is only about £75, look here for details to buy

If you would like to join our course send us an email now and we will reserve you a place

52 Colorized Historical Photos That Give Us A New Look At the Past

I’m not sure there is any real justification for turning black and white images into colour, I mean what is wrong with black and white? Here are some from the site but go here to see all 52


People standing in line Louisville, Kentucky 1939


Marilyn Monroe


Winston Churchill 1941


Claude Monet in 1923


Samurai Training 1860


Charles Darwin

see more? 

It would seem there is quite an industry in turning black and white into colour, if you are interested here is another set of images

Leica Recreates 35 of the Most Iconic Photos Through History in Brilliant 100th Anniversary Ad

In this ad Leica claim ownership for inventing the idea of photography as displayed below and in the video….hubris springs to mind, watch out Leica

The award-winning ad agency behind the moving Leica ad “Soul” from last year have created another masterpiece. It’s called “Leica 100,” and it celebrates 100 years of Leica photography by paying tribute to 35 of the most iconic photographs of all time in an incredibly creative way.

Published by the Leica Gallery Sao Paolo and produced by agency F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi, the ad traces a path through some of the most memorable and powerful photographs ever captured, all the while making the case that, while not all were captured with a Leica, all owe something to the Leica.

Admittedly, this might not be a particularly popular assertion with somebody — the tagline of the video is that, while Leica didn’t invent photography, they invented photography — it’s hard to argue with the goosebump-inducing nature of this brilliant piece of advertising.

Below we’ve included a few screenshots of some of the most recognizable photos recreated in the video: See the video here





Robin Hammond – Named Winner of 3rd Annual Dr. Guislain “Breaking the Chains of Stigma” Award

Robin Hammond exhibited at Photography Oxford, the recently ended festival of photography in Oxford, so it is very good to report that he has received a substantial award for his photography of mentally ill people in nations such as the South Sudan, Liberia and Uganda documenting the struggles faced by patients with brain disorders in many developing nations. The resulting images, many of which are striking and unsettling, have been published in a photo book entitled, “CONDEMNED-Mental Health in African Countries in Crisis.”  The information about his award and the awarding organisation is here

The pictures from this project are disturbing but sensitive to the condition of the subjects, here is text from Robin’s website regarding the work

CONDEMNED – Mental Health in African Countries in Crisis

Where there is war, famine, displacement, it is the most vulnerable that suffer the greatest.

Abandoned by governments, forgotten by the aid community, neglected and abused by entire societies. Africans with mental illness in regions in crisis are resigned to the dark corners of churches, chained to rusted hospital beds, locked away to live behind the bars of filthy prisons.

Some have suffered trauma leading to illness. Others were born with mental disability. In countries where infrastructure has collapsed and mental health professionals have fled, treatment is often the same – a life in chains.

I started documenting the lives of the mentally ill in African countries in crisis in an attempt to raise awareness of their plight. I travelled to war ravaged areas of Congo, South Sudan, Mogadishu and Uganda. I spent time with the displaced in refugee camps in Somalia and Dadaab. In Nigeria I went to see the impacts of corruption on facilities for the mentally ill.

After 12 years of documenting human rights issues I’ve never come across a greater assault on human dignity. These people are unseen and therefore their suffering ignored. This project is being produced in the hope that no longer will ignorance be able to be used as an excuse for inaction.


Many Somalis will take their mentally ill relative to traditional or Khoranic healers for treatment. The 20 year long conflict has ensured the collapse of mental health services and leaves them few options. Mogadishu, Somalia


Severely mentally disabled men and women are shackled and locked away in Juba Central Prison for years on end. The new nation of South Sudan faces a tremendous challenge to build a modern country capable of caring for all of its citizens. Juba, Sudan


Abdi Rahman Shukri Ali, 26, has lived in a locked tin shack for two years. He stays with his family in Dadaab in Eastern Kenya, the world’s largest refugee camp, where Somalis fleeing conflict and famine have sought safety. Dadaab Refugee Camp, Kenya

See the rest of the project on Robin’s website here

The best camera is the one that’s with you

It has been said many times, and I suppose it is true as you definitely can’t take a picture without a camera, that is unless you use your phone. This article by Richard Gray@rugfoot on social media, extolls the virtues of using your phone as your camera. Richard does not come down completely on the side of phone cameras nor does he damn them as is so often the case from photographers. I am conflicted about phone cameras, I think it is wonderful that everyone now has a camera in their pocket all the time and that so many people now think making pictures is a good thing to do. I also think that the myriad of applied filters, the Instagram effect, is tired and tedious and does not make art or even better pictures. Instagram filters are the tomato ketchup or brown sauce of photography, if you have no taste splurge it on and it will be better. For me a photograph of value is considered both technically and visually, of course there is the magical grabbed moment but most photographers actually think about what they are doing when they take a picture and that process of consideration is what gives an image value. It is a debate that will continue until cameras no longer exist and all pictures are taken on phones only, or whatever we will have instead of phones, Google Glass anyone?

This article is worth reading, it makes points and arguments that are thought through and to the subject, I don’t necessarily agree with them all and maybe neither will you. Interestingly I found it on the Manfrotto website, they are known for their excellent professional tripods, I wonder what they will be making when cameras are obsolete.

One of the grand claims made for mobile photography by many people is that it has democratised photography. Previously an elite pastime for those who could afford expensive camera equipment, photography is now at the fingertips – quite literally – of everyone with access to a mobile phone camera.

?????????????????????????????????????Caption: Now everyone can be a photographer.

Mobile photography, or iphoneography as it was originally called, has existed as a photography movement since around 2008*, when people first discovered that the photos that their mobile phones (they had yet to become “smart”) took were actually, if not good, then at least not too bad. And even if their pixel count and the quality of their lenses did not compare to even the most basic point-and-shoot camera at that time, the fact that the mobile phone camera was the camera that everyone had with them meant that many pictures that just wouldn’t have been captured were now coming to light thanks to these new devices. If an interesting scene suddenly presents itself unexpectedly before your eyes, you reach for your mobile phone camera. The best camera is the one that’s with you, as they say. We’ve heard this so many times it’s become a cliché. But it’s important because it gave birth to a whole new sub-genre of street photography. By its very nature, street is candid and it has been given a new lease of life by the new intimate access that mobile devices give its practitioners. And many of these practitioners are only photographers because they found a smart phone camera in their hands. For many, this is the only camera they have ever had. “We are all photographers now” is another cliché we hear a lot around mobile. And although having a camera in your hand doesn’t make you a photographer, you do need one if you want to become a photographer.….READ MORE HERE

PhotoStartSheet – Best Photo Links – the one place where every link you will ever need is listed

You know how it is, you are trying to look something up, you start with google, sometimes it is there first time but so often you are sent down blind alleys by advertising that you didn’t realise was advertising. Well here is a page of links that really does cover everything you are likely to need, although I am a bit pissed off that under UK Workshops The Oxford School of Photography is not listed, they clearly haven’t done their homework completely. Any way this is a really excellent resource, book mark it and use it for everything you need about photography.

The Photographers Start page

I always like to include pictures on every post but there are no obvious contenders for this one as it is just about links to other photographic related sites so I have chosen this picture of Isambard Kingdom Brunel by the launching chains of the SS Great Eastern by Robert Howlett, 1857 because it has more links than any picture that I can think of


99 Common Photography Problems (and how to solve them)

From Digital Camera World.

You know how so many of these types of lists are full of useless information, well this one on the first page addresses questions I am regularly asked in class which means it is a really useful list. How about full frame sensor or cropped sensor, or micro four thirds or the same but without the micro bit or how many focussing points do you really need? All good questions. Go here for some answers


Intermediate Photography Course starts 21st October

We call it intermediate but it is the most advanced course we currently run but we always want to leave room for more….as they say. The next course starts 21st October

This course is designed for people who are interested in photography as a hobby or maybe a profession, it assumes that photography for you is not just a by product of an interest in say birds or flowers or walking in the countryside. We suggest that this course is for someone who is actually interested in photography, in other photographers and their pictures as well as making better pictures themselves.

“Intermediate Photography “The practical tasks you set us during the lesson and for homework greatly improved the way I took photos and the extended the range of subjects that I would normally take the photos of. Being able to see other people’s work and getting feedback from you and fellow photographers was a constructive way of developing my eye as a photographer. And finally, the course provided me with a reason and most importantly the confidence to approach an organisation and offer them my services as a photographer. Without that I don’t think I would’ve ever considered showing a total stranger some of my work and expect them to give me a job just based on that. So thank you Keith for a most inspirational course and my only complaint is that it was too short.”

We teach you how to become a better photographer by applying yourself to the process, by improving your sense of vision, by understanding how to see and evaluate so you pictures have more meaning, beauty and intent. We set assignments that will get you where you want to be and get you thinking about how and why you want to make pictures using a camera. We get students to work to themes or projects so that their assignment time is not aimless, this creates some wonderful images because they start concentrating on pictures they have thought about. Here is a short video of images from the last course

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 11.55.33


picture by Gunilla Treen                            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7LWNyg5Pww

Intermediate Photography “Firstly, just wanted to say I thoroughly enjoyed the class. It was just what I needed, in terms of being able to interact with other like-minded people and being shown different approaches to photography. It was a really worthwhile experience and I think I my abilities have definitely improved. At the very least I’ve seen alot of work by some amazing photographers which I may not have otherwise have known about!” Jess

If you want to improve your photography, want to make pictures beyond just records, want your pictures to say more than “I was here and this is what I saw, perhaps, I was here here and this is what I felt” then come and join us, the next start is the 21st October, full details here




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