First time photographers – tips from Student Focus winner Asef Ali Mohammad

By Jill @ WPO

Can you remember when you first picked up a camera?  What did you shoot and what advice would you have appreciated when you were beginning to hone your photographic skills?

When 13-year-old Connor J.T. Fury recently picked up a digital SLR camera for the first time he took some great pictures of his local area but was looking for advice on what the next steps might be in order to improve his images.

© Connor J.T. Fury

Connor very kindly allowed Asef Ali Mohammad, winner of the 2012 Student Focus Award, to critique his images and offer advice on the next steps in becoming a budding young photographer.

How to begin

Asef was a teenager when he first tired photography and saved to buy his first camera when he was 15.  Looking back, his tips for young photographers starting out are:

  • Have a passion for photography: shoot what you want, when you want and enjoy it
  • Keep picking up your camera.  Always have it with you to shoot what you see around you
  • Don’t worry too much about technique – these skills can be learnt later
  • Once back home look at everything you shoot.  Work out what you like and what you want to work on
  • Show your images to other people.  Ask family and friends what do they think of your images and their feedback so that you have something to work on
  • Begin to build a portfolio of your favourite images.  Make sure the images you choose have consistency and make sense when placed next to one another.  Again ask family and friends for advice
  • Find the style you like and want to establish.  Even early in your photographic career look at the work of other photographers who inspire you, what is it that you like about their style and experiment by photographing in the same way
  • Above all else, keep photography fun

Talking specifically about Connor’s images, which can be seen below, Asef says:

For a first attempt, the images have a brilliant sense of composition.  There are layers of thought and meaning to the photographs – Connor hasn’t just taken a point and click approach.

Connor J.T. Fury

I can already see that there is a mood to Connor’s work.  The technical side of photography can be learnt later but here there is an atmosphere to the picture which is shining through the images.  This is something that is instinctive and a great achievement for a first attempt.

There is a clear narrative in the picture which is vital for the viewer.  It is always good to know what you want to say with an image.

Connor J.T. Fury

Connor has very obviously chosen what he wants to focus on and there is little distraction in the image from what he wants the viewer to see.  The images very clearly show intention which is an important aspect of photography.  Every time a photographer takes an image he has to make many decisions – what to include in the frame, where to put the focus, etc – if he doesn’t make these choices focus can be lost and everything can go wrong.

Overall the images are really good for someone who is just starting out in photography and I hope Connor continues to shoot more.

© Asef Ali Mohammad
© Asef Ali Mohammad, UK, Winner, Student Focus, 2013 Sony World Photography Awards

The World Photography Organisation is always keen to support young people taking up photography as a hobby.  Therefore, if you also have a top tip/key piece of advice which you can share with young photographers like Connor tell us more below!