Oxford School of Photography

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Category Archives: Photography Courses

10 Best Photography Courses In Oxford

This might be a bit of shameless self promotion but I do believe we offer the very best courses in photography in the Oxford area. We go from the basics of understanding your camera, DSLR or compact/bridge camera for beginners through the vital areas of composition, Photoshop, Lightroom and more subject-based courses such as portrait and travel photography  If you are interested in photography and want to get more from your camera then our courses will help you achieve your aim.


If someone asks you what you want as a present and you don’t know get a voucher and choose from our courses when you have worked out what you need

Here are some recent comments:

I attended Keith’s one day introduction to using an SLR. I thought the course was excellent. We went through all the basics at a good pace and had an opportunity to put some of the lessons into practice. Keith also covered some basic principles of photography that i hope to put into practice. I am confident that Keith has provided the break through that I needed. Keith also provided a very clear summary of the sessions and follow up links to relevant blogs etc. The session exceeded my expectations From Andrew

I took Keith’s basic course, Understanding Your DSLR, and was very impressed in every respect. Keith is a terrific instructor–very knowledgeable, articulate, organized, and attentive to student questions and issues.The course brought together students who were generally at a basic level, but the few who had had far more experience with the camera/photography appeared to get a lot out of the course as well. The atmosphere was relaxed, respectful, enjoyable, and amiable right at the outset, and students were comfortable asking questions at all levels. His many examples were carefully thought out and greatly helped students understand what he was describing. After each class, he emailed students many references and additional information to both underscore/reinforce what had been discussed in class and to expand on that information for future use. I know that I will greatly benefit from reviewing those references as I continue to use my camera in the future. I highly recommend Keith as an instructor, as well as the class, to anyone –novice or veteran user–who is interested in learning about the DSLR camera. I would definitely take his other courses but am now no longer living in the Oxford area. Anyone in the area interested in obtaining a solid background in the DSLR camera will be very pleased with his class. From Ann

If you want to see more reviews you can do so here

Here is a list of our courses


Paying it Forward: Stuart Franklin on teaching the next generation of photographers

Stuart was a member of the original Photogragraphers Workshop when we were based in St Marys Road Oxford. It was a darkroom and studio hire centre so anyone interested in making their own photographs could come and develop film and make prints. Stuart lived in Oxford at that time and would come to make prints, he is a very friendly and helpful man so I am not surprised as his role as a Magnum photographer he is teaching the next generation.

The urge to document their world photographically is a drive that has undoubtedly been felt by many Magnum photographers; and it’s a practice that Stuart Franklin explores in his 2016 book The Documentary Impulse, charting the motivation to visually tell stories and represent the world far back beyond the invention of the camera, all the way to cave painting. From pre-history onwards he explores a history of photographic representation in visual culture and many of the practical and ethical issues that form the backdrop to the current landscape of the industry. Through teaching, Franklin aims to help a new generation of photographers go beyond the practicalities of technique and understand their practice within the weight of this context. Here, Franklin discusses what there is to gain from a photography education, and explains how he experienced the ‘documentary impulse’ himself. You can read more here

Stuart Franklin Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China 26th May 1999. ©Stuart Franklin

On a personal level, how have you felt or experienced the ‘impulse’ in your own practice?
An impulse or obsession is almost crucial to a life in documentary. I have explored a number of ideas – still working on some today – with an irrational drive, where work that I’m pursuing, and the way I’m doing it, makes absolutely no economic sense. Most of my books evolve in that way: Footprint, The Time of Trees, Narcissus, La Città Dinamica – even The Documentary Impulse. I work on projects because I am impelled to do so.

“In visual storytelling coherence across a body of work is an essential part of authorship”

– Stuart Franklin

Read the full article here and find out about the course Stuart is running

Stuart Franklin is teaching on the Intensive Documentary Photography Course with London College of Communication and Magnum Photos. More information about this course, including details on how to apply can be found here.

Garden Photographer of The Year

IGOPTY is an annual competition to find the great images of plants and gardens from photographers around the world. If you have any interest in this area of photography then this web site and the associated exhibition is an absolute must for you. The images are universally beautiful and engaging; you ask yourself if it is this easy, it is photography in a garden, why can’t I do it. I guess it is about a great understanding of the use of your camera, huge amounts of patience, the desire to be there at the best moment and attention to detail. We can help with the camera bit with our courses on understanding your camera and with help on improving your composition and the use of software to make the most of your images we can help too. However the getting up before dawn to be in the right place at the right time that is up to you. To see the full gallery of winning and placed images go here to the IGOPTY site


Volker Michael – Finalist First Rays Jistrum, Friesland, The Netherlands


Rosanna Castrini – Commended The Ring Piedmont, Italy


Jianjun Huang – Commended Charming Dongjiang Guangdong Province, China


Lili Gao – Finalist Waiting Dandong City, Liaoning Province, China


Stefano Coltelli – Commended Plitvice Falls The Plitvice Lakes National Park, Plitvicka Jezera, Croatia

The winner is


This late autumn photo – from Snowdonia National Park in North Wales – has been crowned the overall winner of the 10th annual International Garden Photographer of the Year competition.

Taken by Lee Acaster, and entitled Left, this stark image won the Trees, Woods and Forests category – and then beat thousands of other entries to win the top spot.

Garden designer Chris Beardshaw – one of the competition judges – says the photo “perfectly encapsulates both the extremes of fortune and personality of these giants”.

While Clare Foggett – who edits The English Garden Magazine – says the image “draws the viewer in, to reveal the still surface of the lake behind. It demands closer inspection”.

If you wish you can see these and many more on the BBC website that has a major feature on the competition and winners


The exhibition is toured and here are dates

Venue Exhibition Photographs
November 1st 2016 – Feb 28th 2017 The Beth Chatto Gardens, Colchester, ENGLAND 9 Outdoor selection from Competition 9
January 14th – March 5th National Trust Sissinghurst Castle & Gardens, ENGLAND 9 Indoor exhibition, competition 9
January 21st – March 1st 2017 Willis Museum Gallery, Basingstoke, ENGLAND 9 Indoor exhibition, competition 9
Feb 4th – March 12th 2017 Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, London, ENGLAND 10 IGPOTY Annual launch ceremony – winners of Competition 10 [indoor exhibition] announced to the public.
March 24th – June 18th 2017 de Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam, NETHERLANDS 10 Outdoor selection from Competition 10
April 1st – June 4th 2017 RHS Garden Hyde Hall, Rettendon, ENGLAND 10 Outdoor selection from Competition 10
April 1st – November 15th 2017 The Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle, Merano, South Tyrol, ITALY 10 Outdoor exhibition, competition 10
April 1st – November 15th 2017 Gibraltar Botanic Gardens (The Alameda), GIBRALTAR 10 Outdoor exhibition, competition 10
August 28th – October 29th 2017 National Trust Sheringham Park, Norfolk, ENGLAND 10 Outdoor exhibition, competition 10

12 Creative Photography Project Ideas to Get you Motivated

I don’t know why this article on DPS is headed 12 Projects but it seems that all blog posts these days limit their advice to an arbitrary number. Anyway that is not the point, I agree with the basic premise of this article wholeheartedly. When I teach people who are beyond just getting to grips with their cameras I always recommend working to projects. This is one way of ensuring you have a reason to pick up your camera and go and shoot. It doesn’t rely upon serendipity of finding something interesting you already have something you are interested in. You have defined your project. For this reason I find the picture a day/week a bit unhelpful. I think deciding on a project which could be a specific place or idea or activity is always more productive and I see this in the results my students bring to my Intermediate Photography Course A great example of this is the work by one student, Darren Bicknell who embarked on a project to explore liquid and light, his results and progression was excellent as can be seen by these pictures

Darren Bicknell

light and liquid

Darren Bicknell

Light & Liquid 2

so this article makes a number of good points about projects you can set for yourself and ways to keep your creative juices flowing.

As with anything in life, it’s important to make a plan. This is a big step towards being successful. There are a number of projects you could attempt-

#1 – The 52-week project,  #2 – 365-day day projects,  #3 – One consistent theme

# 4 – Limited yourself to 24 photos,  #5 – A musical song or album, #6 -Use only one lens

Go here to see the rest of the suggestions in this article on DPS

Here are some more of Darren’s wonderful pictures

Darren Bicknell

Liquid & Light 3

Darren Bicknell

Liquid & Light 4

Darren Bicknell

Liquid & Light 5

Darren Bicknell

Liquid & Light 7

Darren Bicknell

Liquid & Light 8

All images ©Darren Bicknell

14 Practical Reasons Your Photos Are Not Quite As Good As You Want Them To Be

When I teach I spend a lot of time trying to help people make better pictures. That might seem obvious, that is what I am paid to do, but that doesn’t just mean teaching what apertures or ISO or focal length mean or how to shoot a portrait or the best way to capture a landscape. It means I try to change the way my students think about photography, their photography. I use many techniques to do this but the bottom line with all of them is the student has to practice. I explain that without paying attention to what they are doing it is unlikely they will be satisfied with their results, or at least not often enough. Many of the ways I encourage students to get better are contained in this article on Lightstalking, a very good blog that I would recommend you follow.


Composition in Photography

1. You Don’t Pay Attention to the Composition

2. You Don’t Know the Basics of Exposure

3. You Don’t Experiment With the Perspective

4. You Don’t Understand How Lighting Affects a Photograph

5. You Don’t Post-Process Your Photos

6. You Haven’t Taken Up a Photography Project

7. You Don’t Have a Well-Defined Subject in Your Photo

read what  has to say about these and the rest of the reasons here

If what you really need is help with these all our courses will get you going. If you just don’t understand your camera well enough try our

Understanding Your DSLR Camera Course

Composition In Photography – Seeing Pictures this will help you with so many of the visual aspects of your photography

Introduction To Photoshop will help you with post production and Understanding Lightroom will get you processing RAW files properly

Intermediate Photography is for those who have mastered their cameras and composition and want to go that extra step, it is a fascinating course

We have many other courses that will help you to become much better photographers, go here now for the full list

21 Settings, Techniques and Rules All New Camera Owners Should Know

From those very nice people at DPS we have a number of bits of advice that will help you if you are new to a DSLR. We run courses that cover all of these so if you prefer the personal touch have a look at our courses, here is a link We have a course this Sunday with places if you are keen to get started.

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 11.56.17

Some are very basic while others go a little deeper – but all have been selected from our archives specifically for beginners and new camera owners. Enjoy.

1. Digital Camera Modes Explained

2. Aperture and Shutter Priority Mode

3. Introduction to White Balance

6. How to Hold a Digital Camera

8. How to Use Focal Lock

See the full article with all 21 tips here

Better photo tips: 60 of the best

From Digital Camera World comes this leviathan of help, tips only just scratches at the surface of what you will find here.

Following on from our popular 77 photography techniques, tips and tricks for taking pictures of anything post, we’re bringing you this list of 60 incredibly useful bits of photography advice.

If you’re new to photography, this resource of surprising camera tips and time savers provides an invaluable shortcut to better photos and a smarter workflow. If you’re a more experienced photographer, there’s still plenty of technical and technique refreshers here.

We’ve separated the advice into three key sections, covering camera settings, composition and exposure, and general photography tips. If you find the advice useful or you want to share your own little-known photography trick, please leave a comment below…

Tip 01: Zoom first, focus last

Tip 02: Set the Neutral Picture Style for RAW

Tip 11: Avoid the smallest aperture on the lens

Tip 13: Your camera’s display is lying to you

just 4 of 60 and these are only about camera settings

Tip 36: Fill-flash in daylight

Tip 43: Research the position of the sun

Tip 42: Wear old clothes

OK you could just come on our courses, and you would get more than 60 tips, you would learn how to make great pictures. Here are a couple by John Wilhelm from an earlier post here to keep you going




want to see more of the 60….HERE


Photography Courses For 2015

well we have done it again, created a new course to get you making better pictures. It has the most unwieldy title because we couldn’t think of anything better, sorry.

Basics of Landscape, Travel, Flower and Black and White Digital Photography

The course is based on our observations that these are the main subject areas along with portraiture, (which is covered in our separate Portrait Photography course), that interest our students. Each session we look at one of the four subject areas.

This course is aimed at students who already have a good understanding of how to use their cameras. There will be no instruction on camera use therefore it might be worthwhile taking our Understanding Your DSLR course first if you tend to use the fully auto mode when photographing. All areas of photography rely on technical and visual skills and although there will be references to camera use and composition there will be no in depth discussion of these areas and if you do not understand basic compositional methods our Composition In Photography course would be a great asset to you. Get full details here


We now have our course schedule sorted out for the next term, here are the dates

Understanding Your DSLR Camera Evening Class £85 Start Dates: 26.01.2015;  11.03.2015

Understanding Your DSLR Camera Saturday Morning Class £85 Start Date: 07.03.2015

1 Day Understanding Your DSLR Camera £95 Dates:  01.02.2015; 01.03.2015; 29.03.2015

Intermediate Photography £97 Start Date 26.02.2015

Flash Photography £85 Start date 05.02.2015

Understanding Lightroom £85 Start Date 03.02.2015

Introduction to Photoshop and PS Elements £97 Start Date 25.02.2015

Composition In Photography – Seeing Pictures £85 Start Date 03.02.2015

Portrait Photography £85 Start Date 10.03.2015

Basics of Landscape, Travel, Flower and B&W Photography Start Date 09.03.2015  £85


8 reasons your photos still look like snapshots

When people come on our courses they sometimes think all they want to know is how to make their pictures look better. We slowly coax them into understanding that there is no magic button hidden on their camera that will suddenly improve their pictures. We explain that understanding their cameras, knowing how to use the controls to suit the specific requirements of their subject, and that not all subjects are the same so it is not one size fits all. We encourage practice, we suggest that, like learning to drive, it is hours of doing the same thing that gets them skilled in camera use, and that the same goes for their eye. I am occasionally confronted by people who say they take really nice pictures, ‘they have a good eye’, but they don’t know how to use their camera. I save myself from asking how they take ‘really nice pictures’. It is the whole, your vision, your knowledge, your understanding that makes great images. Our courses are aimed first at getting people to understand their cameras, then on teaching them how important composition is and that it can be learned as long as they are prepared to look and practise and finally how to explore more. This means to look at their subjects carefully, to explore them with their eyes and their cameras and then to think about what they are trying to say with their picture. In essence why are they taking the picture, knowing why helps to inform how.

This article on Digital Camera World touches on some of these ideas and if you are finding your pictures do not do what you want read it here. If you are inspired look at our courses and find the ones that will help you become a truly better photographer. We have been teaching photography since 1982, we do know.

here is some of the article

Photography can be a frustrating business when you’re a beginner. If you spend long enough browsing online photo sharing websites like 500px or Flickr, you may be both inspired and infuriated in equal measure. How do other photographers get their pictures to look so good? Why do my photos look like snaps while everyone else’s look like works of art? What camera trickery do they know that I don’t?

The good news is that you’re not alone: no photographer started creating magic the minute they picked up a camera. It can take months or years of work until you’re completely happy with the pictures you take. But there are some steps you can take today to stop your photos looking like snapshots. In their latest guest blog post the team at Photoventure offer some suggestions…

1. You’re not paying enough attention to the light

The quality and quantity of light will make or break a photo. If you’re not shooting in light that complements the subject or the look you’re after, then you’ll end up with a so-so snap.

We’re not suggesting you should take all your photographs during the ‘golden hours’ at the start and end of the day. You can have too much of a good thing, after all. No, shooting at dawn and dusk might be the classic advice for landscape photography, but it doesn’t suit every subject.

Some subjects work better with more directional, hard-edged light, while others are better photographed under softer, more diffuse light. The harsh, burning light you get in the middle of clear, sunny day is generally the least flattering, particularly if you’re creating portraits or close-up photos.

If the light’s not working, then try enhancing it: a diffuser or reflector can help you manipulate the existing lighting, while fill-flash will allow you to reveal detail in shadows that would otherwise be lost.


©KeithBarnes Visit our course website here

See the rest of this valuable article here


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