“Caught on Photograph” – Making pictures with soul!

Making pictures with soul- undoubtedly, that’s what all of us hanker after! This week we’ve had a house guest, friend, mentor and child – Daniel Simm who I’ve wanted for a long time to get involved with the blog and write me a post or two! Dan is a very reclusive photographer with a voracious appetite for technology. For a while now , he’s been vastly into film photography and today he’s writing about making quality pics, things to think about when framing a pic and questioning yourself about the story you wish to tell with it! This post is wholly about our joint love for photography and an extension of our conversations – mind you, we rarely agree! He’s the consummate perfectionist, I’m the free-wheeler who goes by the gut, very often to my own detriment! 🙂

Film Cameras
Film and Polaroid Cameras

“There’s something completely wonderful about having the ability to preserve the transient through a photograph, I guess I’m stating the obvious here! 🙂  In our vastly digitized world, we can take pictures whenever we like, for free.   Our low-cost access to huge amounts of data storage translates to us never having to worry about deleting any photos we take. It can be easy though, to take for granted that we’ll always have another shot left on our cameras.

Most of us reach a point when we’re left questioning whether we’ve been taking photographs just for the sake of it?  Do we find ourselves eager to fire off that shutter button with our camera set to paparazzi “machine-gun” mode?  Have you ever found yourself taking a hundred pictures in hope that one of them turns out right?  I have.
If, like me, you’ve ever wondered how we can shoot with a bit more soul, these I hope these tips help you!

1)  Slooooow down….Take your time
When we’re shooting, it can be easy to overlook some of the basics. So before pressing the shutter, take time out to ask ourselves a few questions:
– What is the light like – Too harsh? Too flat?
– Then move onto the composition – Have you ever thought you’d ‘got the shot’ only to get home and find out there’s a tree sprouting from someone’s head? I have!
– Does it tell the story you want it to tell?
– Does it stir emotion?
– Are you taking the photo for the sake of it?  Or perhaps it’s a hurried photo because it’s needed for a 365?
– Would you want to print this image?

Project IdeaIn day-to-day life, start looking at light. See how it looks. Try to imagine what your camera settings would be in your current light.  Take a look at your foreground and background and compare the contrast and light levels. Is the background darker than the foreground? Or vise-versa
Remember to check for for those tree branches on people heads. No one wants to look like a male deer!


photography, tips, tutorial, heart, soul, emotion, story, film, digital, storytelling, light, contrast, art

2) Find your goal.
Think about all of the things you want to show the world about your subject.
Maybe it’s to show the energy of city life, or the peaceful serenity of a landscape.  It can be easy to ‘surrender’ and shoot 500 images hoping that 1 of them will be what you want.  Instead, try to have your goal in mind, and prepare how you can incorporate that into your image.

If you’re shooting people, take your time to get to know them and draw them out. What is it that’s special about that person? What is their personality like?
Do they have beautiful eyes and a quiet personality?  Focus on that.
If it’s your children, perhaps it’s their dimple when they smile, the freckles on their nose, or maybe it’s their ‘concentrating face’ they pull when they’re doing their homework.  It might be their Dad helping with their homework.  Little things like these are a lovely photographic inheritance for your children when they grow up! Look for the little things you love.

I know that photographing your own children can at time be…well…difficult to say the least!  So once in a while, try being a documentary photographer, in other words, don’t interact with your subject, and don’t pose them. Be a fly on the wall. Let your children get used to your camera being around so that it becomes part of normal life.  But do this quietly, you don’t want to be constantly harassing them with phrases like “DON’T MOVE!” or “Can you pull that face again?”  The key is to be unnoticed.  You’ll be able to capture them being themselves in their home environment.

Project Idea:  Before your shoot, try writing down the things you want to highlight in your image. Then think about how you can incorporate that into your photograph.

Natural Light - Bronica SQ-A  Kodak Tri-x 400
Daniela @ The Sloop Inn – Natural Light on Kodak Film

3) Environment – (Part of the story, or background clutter?)
Before shooting, ask yourself if the environment is relative to your story.
If the environment is an important part of the story, then include it 🙂  If it’s not relevant, then exclude it from your composition.
For example, if you’re shooting a portrait of a blacksmith, you might want to include the tools and workshop as context.
(On a side note whilst speaking of environment and context, check out photographer James Mollison with his ‘Where Children Sleep’ project.   It’s a fantastic example of how background context alone tells a story).
If you want to photograph your child daydreaming as they look out their bedroom window, you probably wouldn’t want to include the carpet of toys and jigsaw pieces. Or maybe the toy covered carpet is part of the story of childhood! It’s your story, there is no right or wrong

Project Idea: Spend a few weeks taking 5 photos that tell a story.  It could be that you’ve taken a photograph solely of your child’s chocolate covered fingers after they’ve dived into some cake! It tells a story right?


Natural Light - Bronica SQ-A  Kodak Tri-x 400
Jaime – Wonderful chap from Haywards Heath, with his own tankard at the bar 🙂

4) Setting a limit.
Our cameras can take hundreds of photos before running low on space. It can be easy to fire off images willy-nilly without thought.
Pretend your camera only has 10 shots left to take before it runs out of space.  It’ll get you thinking before you press the shutter, “is this image going to be any good?”.

Project Idea:  Why not try shooting film as a project?
Who remembers their 36-shot disposable camera that you’d make last the entire duration of your holiday?
With film you’re generally restricted to either 12, or 36 shots per roll (depending on your film format).  It forces you to think about every aspect of your photograph because you don’t want to waste your shot.
You’ll find it completely refreshing, and it’ll also free you from using Photoshop Actions & Presets!

Note: You can pick up a film camera with a prime lens for around £10-15 in charity shops, and the results can be stunning! Keep your eyes peeled, they’re a whole new world to those of us who’ve become comfortable with digital photography!


Black and White street photography
Taken at ‘Le Pure Cafe’ in Paris – As featured in the movie “Before Sunset”

5) Experiment!
Don’t be afraid to go for a shot that’s a little experimental.  Try letting go of being technically correct, and let your vision and heart speak. You’ve learnt the rules of photography, now go and break them in your own special way!

Project Idea: Set yourself your own photography project that’s inspired from a personal experience, or something that moves you.  It can be anything! Making a family recipe, walking down a path that’s been special to you..capturing a special part of the day. You have some gorgeous light early morning and late evening!
And remember to shoot for yourself.  That’s really important. Give it your heart and soul.”

– Daniel Simm!

Dan has his own blog under construction at the moment, you can find him *here* !

It’s been a great Bank Holiday Weekend here as we got to explore a lot of photographic styles together with the family which led to some seriously good family fun! Though I was exposed to the camera as a child, I really learned through experience as an adult. Don’t let that learning curve block you, you’ll get where you want to be if you try. I personally never got aboard with the whole “rules-thing” myself 🙂

Happy Shooting from all of us here at The Intrepid Misadventurer HQ!  <That includes happy houseguests, hooligan children, daddy pig and waving-with-mucho-gusto me!> 🙂


If you like the writing and photographs you see on this blog, could you please *nominate* me for the Britmums Brilliance in Blogging Awards? I’ve been shortlisted in categories 1 and 8! :) Many thanks!! xx

You might also like a few articles written wholly by me to help make up your mind 😉 Please click on the inviting links below! :

Introverts-Powered by a Different Fuel!

Nostalgic Minimilism~That pretty much sums up homestyle for me!

“Arrivederci Roma!” – A Photo-essay.


This post can also be found here:

Mum Of One

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Super Busy Mum


  1. says

    Great post, I am really working on my photography but I am very guilty of the 100 shots for one good one! I like the idea of getting a film camera to help focus and prioritise the good shots.

  2. Intrepid Misadventurer says

    You’re not alone, I think it’s one of the fall-outs of digital photography! The other day, I cleared out half my hard drive because I’d filled it with such unusable junk 🙂 I think you can get into the ‘film camera’ mind with a little planning! It definitely shows in the quality of pics we end up with. Thanks for stopping by, Bex. x

  3. says

    Great advice… My boys are so small that I’m constantly on the run trying to capture them. I’m not fond of posed photos anyway…which is lucky! 😉

  4. says

    Great post and stunning photos. I would absolutely love to learn more about photography, it’s something I’ve been interested in for years whilst never having/finding time to devote to learning properly about xx

  5. Intrepid Misadventurer says

    Thanks Hannah..you really should give it a go! To be honest, mobile phone cameras are a good beginner course, I kid you not! Just get as creative and playful as possible. To be honest, there’s no method to my madness! I need the advice in this post as much as the next person who reads it 🙂 xx

  6. says

    What an amazing set of tips! I am 100% novice when it comes to my camera and I am totally guilty of just firing off a bunch of photos in the hope that 1 would be good enough. Half won’t be in focus and the rest might not be lit right! I the project ideas, to put the tips into context…definitely something to have a go at 🙂


  7. says

    Great tips and beautiful photos. To be honest, my biggest problem is totally forgetting to take any photos! I get caught up in events and only remember at the end that I meant to take photos. I really need to make time for it so I like your idea of setting goals for what you want to capture.

  8. says

    Stunning photos, and definitely some tips to think about. I’m guilty of snapping away, although I do try and think about composition beforehand – it’s more to try and get one image that won’t have a blurry hand movement or shut eyes/gormless open mouth, than wildly snapping. I use my smartphone or a point and shoot though, so less chance of error.

  9. says

    Truly striking stills-I grew up using film and at film school of course (I’m a director vpsarias.co.uk) shooting on 16mm and I was lucky to make a short on 35mm which screened worldwide before going on TV -in fact distributors are allowing it online soon! Something so breathtaking about film, so pure and it makes everything beautiful. I love how you’ve effortlessly caught the characters of your subjects, telling a story with every image. Thanks for linking up to #brilliantblogposts

  10. Daniel says

    Wow! Thank you for all your wonderful comments and compliments.
    I myself am guilty of a lot of these things too. In fact, my first problem is not picking up the camera enough, but I’ve no excuse now I guess!

    I’m really glad to hear we’ve inspired people to pick up the camera again, or to try film!

    What’s great is that you don’t necessarily have to understand photography or film to give it a go, there’s a website that can be found at : http://shop.lomography.com
    They sell plastic film cameras for about £30 and you can get some pretty funky effects. In fact, Instagram design their filter effects based on a lot of the cameras sold here, so you’ll be able to get the effects in their true ‘in-camera’ (and slightly unpredictable!) form.
    It’s a great way to get started in film as there’s no real knowledge necessary, just a desire to be creative 🙂

    I’m new to film myself actually, and I have much to learn. I’ve made plenty of mistakes so far, but it’s all part of the fun. Realising you’ve left the lens cap on though, is NOT fun! We can’t deny it, we all still do it at times 🙂

    Many thanks to you all for dropping by, and sharing your thoughts here x

  11. says

    Once again, a really thought provoking and inspiring post. My youngest and I are going to experiment with my old non-digital camera during the long summer holiday and see what we come up with. I don’t tend to take many pictures now and generally depend on my youngest to snap something on my phone. Hopeless case!

  12. says

    Good advice and some fab shots here. I just bought a Polaroid camera. Costs about £1 a shot so I am making them worthwhile! Kids think I am dynamo!

  13. says

    I love this post – just browsing the amazing photographs is enough but the tips are so useful. I’m not 100% confident with my own photography. My only tool is an iPhone but I’m surprised how even with just that, you can take some really great images. 🙂 (Popping over from the pin-it party)

  14. says

    This is such a well written post and really does give you something to think about. Plus, the idea of projects to practice your skills, genius!

  15. Intrepid Misadventurer says

    So glad that so many of you have liked and felt that these ideas resonate with your own thoughts about better photography! Dan and I are very pleased that some of you have given film photography some thought, it’s a beautiful journey :).
    We appreciate all the lovely comments, and the time you’ll have taken to do write and let us know how you feel..thank you!x

  16. says

    That first photo blew my mind. Fabulous. My photography skills are slipping and it is something that I am really trying to get back. With constant gloomy overcasts lately I’ve been denied natural light, which is something that you really need to make a good image, that…and a stationery subject which is NOT my toddler , lol!

    Great post hun, thanks so much for linking up! #MMWBH xx

  17. says

    This is a great post, since starting blogging I’ve started thinking more about how I take photos, and I try to improve them each time, but this post gives great food for thought. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  18. says

    Some good ideas here and I love the quality of some of these shots. I do miss my film camera, you may have spurred me on to buy film again!


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