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Top photo tips with Steve Davey

Professional photographer and host of our Travel Photography Masterclasses Steve Davey shares four of the most important tips he has learned from years of experience: 

Tip 1: Get engaged for better portraits

"A good travel portrait is more than just a picture of what someone looks like: it will say something about someone's life, their character and maybe even their job! The way to achieve this is not to shoot surreptitiously from a distance with a telephoto lens, but to approach someone directly and engage with them. Some will claim that you get more natural and un-posed pictures if your subject does not know that you are taking their picture. I think that this way often means rushed and unsatisfactory pictures. I think that you get more natural portraits if you spend even a short amount of time with someone. This way they will react to you and to your character and you will be able to shoot a portrait which is both engaged, engaging and unique. It is also a lot more fun as you will get to meet and interact with the incredible people that you meet on your travels."

Tip 2: 
Don't be a fair-weather photographer

"Sometimes you can more dramatic shots if you photograph on poor weather days than if you just hide away in a hotel or a warm and dry bar! It might be that you can photograph the effects of a colossal rainstorm, or even the faces of people reacting to it. The other thing about rainy weather is that you never know when things might change. All you need is for a could to move - especially at sunset - and your rainy and overcast scene can be transformed in an instant, by being bathed in golden light. You might even see a brief rainbow. The light changed in Lalibela in Ethiopia for a few minutes, but was enough for me to take this photograph."

Tip 3: Directing movement in to the frame (which is how he captured this fantastic image of a polar bear with its prey)

"Although I am a great believer in breaking the rules, wherever possible, there are some rules which are simply worth following. One of these is that you should always try to direct any movement into, and not out of the frame. This will make your pictures look more balanced. This includes trying to make sure that any gaze (from people or animals) is directed into the frame. This is a simple matter of making sure that anything faces into the frame, so there is more space in front of them than behind. It is a great habit to get into! To make sure that your camera knows what you want it to focus on, move the active focus sensor so that it is over the subject of the picture. This will keep it sharp, as well as helping to avoid the subject creeping back to the centre of the frame!"

Tip 4:
How to exaggerate the rule of thirds to show scale

"Most photographers have heard of the rule of thirds, that states that you shouldn't place an object or a horizon in the middle of the frame, but should put it on one of the imaginary lines that would divide the picture into three equal parts. This is a good enough rule, and works with both horizontal and vertical thirds, but as with all rules, it should be broken at will!

Exaggerating the rule of thirds and placing the subject at the very edge of the frame need not just be a visual device. It can be a very effective way to show the scale of something. Fill the frame with the thing that you want show, which will maximise its size. Then place the scale object, person, vehicle or in this case a boat - at the very edge of the frame, so the large object looms over it."

This and many other tips will be covered in our Travel Photography Masterclasses, with workshops for all levels of camera users. Click here for more information on our new workshops for 2017 available for only £30 (including show entry) and a goody bag from CEWE Photobook.

Steve Davey is a photographer and writer, whose work has appeared all over the world. He is the author of Footprint Travel Photography - the leading guide to travelling with a camera. More information on