A boy and his Bengal cat in the garden in summer.

Why print when you can own the digitals? Here's why...

Here’s why print wins over digitals every time.

Really, it’s simple.

It’s all about our children.

In this digital age, we are in such a rush. Everything has to be instant. It has to happen NOW. It’s the reason we have cameras built into our phones, and it’s the reason we’re so addicted to social media. The addition of cameras to our mobiles means that these platforms can provide us with instant gratification. Within a few moments, you can snap something, post it and instantly start seeing likes roll in.

As a young woman, this was really important to me. Like many other young people, what I lacked in time, I made up for in self-doubt and confidence issues. Posting photos of myself out and about with friends and family meant that I could build an army of followers. Each of them liking and commenting on every image I posted. It made me feel loved, or popular at the very least. Apparently, that was something I needed back then.

I still can't quite believe I had confidence issues when I looked like this...

Girl dressed as Jasmine in a teal and purple genie outfit. Filipina drinking wine. Suffolk, UK.

Fast forward a decade (and a bit), and I am now a confident woman (mostly) with a world of experience under my belt. I was lucky enough to marry my best friend and have two incredible children with him. Our lives are chaotic and full of fun and love. However, the time issue is even worse now, and it seems to move even quicker.

Something I have found is that over the years, as my priorities have changed, my relationship with social media and photography have too. At this point, I can almost hear you saying “Yes, yes, but you ARE a photographer, so of COURSE, you’re going to say this.” I get it. But my decision to become a photographer came way after my love affair with social media and that “quick fix”. It came after I became a mother.

Using your phone is so much easier!

One thing that I am still guilty of now is taking quick pics on my phone and then forgetting about them. This is WHILE I am a professional photographer, so I really don’t have much of an excuse. But the truth is, it’s just so much more convenient and MUCH quicker for me to take photos on my phone. My phone is on me most of the time, I don’t have to think about lighting or settings. It’s instant.

But how is this affecting our children?

Imagery is one of the most potent forms of communication on the planet. It trumps language every time. You can literally go to any country in the world and show them a photo of somewhere or something and they will recognise all or part of that image. It goes deeper than colour or form or what the weather is like in that particular scene. Images can evoke emotion, feelings, darkness or light. If you tried to describe just a few of these things to them without showing them the picture, chances are, they won’t understand a word you’re saying.

Now imagine you have a world of pictures saved on your phone, and you want your child to find their favourite. What do you think they’ll choose? Do you think they’ll find one at all? Would they understand how? If they found something they loved, would they know why? Watch as these children try and access the photos their Mums have taken on their phones. Do you see why print wins over digitals here?

It’s so much more than being in the moment.

We’ve all seen the blog posts and articles that urge mums to stop taking the pictures and be IN the images. Your children think you’re beautiful and we owe it to them to make sure they have something to remember you by once you’re gone. Morbid? Maybe. But necessary? Definitely.
So once you have taken those pictures with your little ones, why on earth would you want to make them inaccessible to them? Your memories and experiences are your legacies to your children.

Make it a ‘thing’.

Have the photos on your wall or in an album, somewhere you can look at them whenever you want to. Make your kids pick a favourite or start a photo wall in their bedroom. My 9-year-old son loves collecting holiday snaps and photos of adventures he’s had with his grandparents. He has crudely stuck them to the wall with sticky tack, and the collection is growing. It’s his favourite thing, and we often sit and reminisce over them at bedtime.

We now make a point of printing a few off each time we have an adventure together, and now his little sister wants to start one too.

In comparison to the video above, watch now as the same children receive a package of printed photos of themselves with their families. See the instant joy? Again, here is why print wins over digitals every time, at least for me.

More importantly, there is another reason we must make sure our pictures are on display and studied regularly. No-one lives forever.
It’s a subject people tend to shy away from. Still, it happens to us all. It is vital that you have recorded those memories and can access them quickly and readily for when we want to remember those we’ve lost.

Many photographers (myself included) offer digitals. Again, in this age of instant gratification, it is a popular option and makes sense if you are genuinely going to have them printed. While printing your own throws up a whole collection of other issues, I’ll leave that for another blog.

For now, let’s think about that USB of digitals that you probably paid decent money for. Where is it? Do you even know? Is it kicking around with some dead batteries and unidentified keys in a drawer somewhere? If the answer is a resounding and somewhat guilty “yes”, then go dig it out and find a decent lab to get them printed. You won’t regret it, and neither will your children.

Applewood Hall alternative Norfolk and suffolk wedding photographer bride and groom

Kirsty & Matt

An Awesome Autumnal Norfolk Wedding

Applewood Hall - Saturday 5th October 2019

Kirsty and Matt got married at Norfolk wedding venue Applewood Hall, next to Banham Zoo. When I first met Kirsty and Matt it was at a wedding fair and something strangely beautiful happened. They came over, we talked, we instantly clicked. I knew as soon as I met them that we were the perfect fit for each other! I wasn’t wrong.

It was meant to be…

Kirsty and Matt got married on a beautiful Autumnal day surrounded by friends and family. Everything about the day was personal to them. It was perfectly quirky and showed both personalities. From the Harry Potter table centrepieces to the tiny rubber ducks and handmade chocolate duck chocolates, it was all about Kirsty and Matt. This was made even more special by the fact that Kirsty and Matt (but mainly Kirsty) had handmade or decorated everything you could see.

It’s EVERYTHING to be different.

The place names were ducks from Matt’s own collection of rubber ducks (it’s a thing apparently). The table centrepieces were handmade lamps made with Harry Potter figures (Kirsty’s love). All three of the wedding cakes were made by the talented bride-to-be and even the table plan was hand-written.

The day was full of love and laughter as friends and family filled the venue and its manicured gardens. The ceremony was beautiful with Matt’s SEVEN best men all standing next to him in support. The speeches were on point, references to the stag-do became reality when Baby Max (a teeny tiny baby figurine named after their son) was dropped by Kirsty into Matt’s pint. It meant he had to down it in one (stag-do rules) and he didn’t let us down.

There was a donut wall, a kids’ corner, THE most beautiful afternoon tea (OMG the CAKES <3) – oh, and a human pyramid. It really was, the most awesome day.

Applewood Hall alternative Norfolk and suffolk wedding photographer bride and groom

For a no obligation chat or to find out which is my favourite Norfolk wedding venue, please click here. To read a little about my wedding packages and my style of shooting, click here.

boy by water summer evening children's photographer in suffolk and Norfolk

Qualified with The Guild of Professional Photographers TWICE! Weddings & Children

I'm Qualified with The Guild!

Yesterday I was informed that I am now a Qualified member  of  The Guild of Professional Photographers.

As a wedding and family photographer, there is no greater honour than to be recognised by my peers and I am so happy to receive this news!

There was no way that I could submit a panel of images to show my work for both weddings and children’s portraits at the same time. The two are SO different. So I was informed that I had to submit not one, but two separate panels for judging.

Scroll down to find out more…

What does it mean to have “Qualified Status”?

The Guild’s ‘Qualified’ status is aligned to standards of competence that reflect a level where the customer should be delighted with the quality they receive, when employing the services of a skilled photographer. In other words ‘Qualified’ indicates professional ‘competence’.  It’s a level where the Guild is willing to recognise the photographer as an ambassador of the association. Those who achieve this should be proud.

And I really am.

Submitting a panel (let alone two), is a nerve-wracking task and requires a certain dedication to improve. It also requires the willingness to hear sometimes difficult but necessary critique in order to improve your work.

What does it involve?

I had to submit a total of 21 images per panel (so 42 in total for me) taken in the past 2 years and relevant to the area(s) I wanted qualification in.

All the submitted images had to be what I had taken for customers and I also had to provide proof of my Public Liability and Professional Insurance Certificates.

The images had to be presented digitally and I had to write a short purposeful brief for each panel.

The judging process involves three judges assessing each panel.

What does being a Qualified member of The Guild mean for me and my clients?

In a nutshell, this means that I am continuously striving to be my best for my clients and also for myself. I’m a perfectionist at heart, so having a structured assessment process like this is perfect for me. It means I can focus on improving my skills which in turn means a better product for my clients.

Not only that, but being part of The Guild is like being part of an extended family for me. Everyone is so encouraging and supportive and it really does help to have this kind of support when you are trying to better yourself.

I’m already planning to apply for the Craftsman level which is the next level up!

Wish me luck!

Contact me to discuss your wedding photography needs or to talk about booking a family session.

newlyweds bride and groom Norfolk wedding

Katie & Tristan

I knew the very first time I met this couple that their day would be totally chilled out and heaps of fun. The perfect Norfolk wedding…

The Wedding Venue

Katie & Tristan had a beautiful wedding ceremony at St. Mary & Margaret’s Church in Sprowston. Dean, the Vicar at this beautiful little church, was so laid back and accommodating, I felt at home as soon as I arrived. I totally see why they chose this place to tie the knot. I met Tristan and the boys outside the church where they were in great spirits, taking the mickey out of each other and mocking each others socks. This was especially funny because they were all wearing the same socks! Before long, a steady line of friends and family began to arrive and a beautiful buzz filled the air.

The Ceremony

Katie arrived at the church in a gorgeous vintage car along with her father Bob. Almost as if the heavens had waited, the rain began as they entered the church and stopped when they left. This was especially incredible as the sun broke out and made way for a beautiful afternoon.

The Reception Venue

Katie & Tristan chose Sprowston Manor to have their gathering and arrived in style in their vintage car. They had laid out some golf games for their guests and the atmosphere was vibrant and full of laughter.

I’m so honoured to have been made a part of this special day and thank Katie & Tristan for choosing me to immortalise it for them.

Here’s a little sneak peek of how the day went:

For details of our wedding packages, please click here. Fancy a chat? Click here.

signing the register Woodhall Manor Suffolk

Simon & Liz

Woodhall Manor, Woodbridge, Suffolk

Saturday 6 July 2019

The Venue…

Liz & Simon had their special day at Suffolk wedding venue Woodhall Manor, a beautiful, Elizabethan country house. The day was chilled and relaxed and full of love and laughter. Various members of the family milled about as we arrived and Grandma greeted me to show me the cake she had made. Uncle Richard proudly pointed out that the cake decorations were not real flowers but in fact intricate icing decorations. Even the peg people cake toppers why made by the couple’s friend at Gabe & Penny. The atmosphere was full of love and we instantly knew it would be a brilliant day.

The Details…

This wedding was planned so carefully and with so much love, that Liz & Simon were in everything you looked at. Liz handmade a lot of the decorations herself  so there was so much detail in everything. The table plan was a sparkling, silver picture of the UK. Each table was a location that meant something to them and the table numbers were collages of memories from that place. Liz’s wedding shoes were hand adorned with sparkles and gems by Liz herself, only the night before the wedding. Even the wedding favours were handmade jars of jam, made by Liz’s Uncle Richard. The dress was from Bridal Elegance in Eccles and the flowers were provided by Jade’s Flowers in Colchester.

The Ceremony…

The ceremony room was beautifully decorated and looked almost ethereal with the pastel flowers, the arch and all the twinkly lights. Liz was walked down the aisle by both her Dads. Simon’s nervous demeanour quickly gave way to joy when he saw his bride. It really was a beautiful ceremony.

The Speeches…

The dining hall was even more magical than the ceremony hall thanks to Liz and Simon’s attention to detail. The floral arrangements were beautiful and there were even more twinkly lights (my favourite)! Speeches were made by Liz’s Dad, Simon and Simons two best friends. Simon got away lucky with only a few references made to his near miss the week before. He had been hit by an F1 car while out working in Italy on the tracks. (This is TRUE – Simon is an F1 engineer and was out on the tracks in Italy when it happened. He’s one VERY lucky man)!

The speeches gave way to a special little treat organised for Simon by Liz. A singer/songwriter called Jamie who wrote a song just for them. It even featured their beloved cat and a last minute amendment to include the F1 incident.

The Reception…

The evening was so much fun! There was a magician, Jamie did a little starter set and the whole thing was rounded off by a DJ and a lot of incredible shape throwing.

All in all, the whole day was absolutely brilliant and I am so happy to have been made a part of it. Simon & Liz – you guys rock – how long can I string this out and get you back to see me?!!!


To find out more about our wedding packages, click here. To get in touch with us to talk through your special day, please click here!

first dance Woodhall Manor Suffolk

Lensbaby Composer Pro II Sweet 80 Optic Girl brown eyes orange dahlia blue dress beauty dish fine art children's portrait photography

Portraits With A Lensbaby

A Portrait Session

Using The Lensbaby Composer Pro with Sweet 80 Optic

I shot a full portrait session using a Lensbaby Composer Pro II with Sweet 80 Optic. Here’s how it went…

Helpful hearsay

For years I had only delivered work for clients, something which is imperative for paying the bills. But what I found was that years of shooting for someone else had really stunted my creativity.  Someone pointed out to me that I needed to shoot for me as well as my clients. They told me that it would help me stay at the top of my game and avoid losing my mojo. They weren’t wrong.

I’d heard from a fellow photographer that the Lensbaby system was brilliant for getting the creative juices flowing. Apparently they helped the photographer to see things that they would never have noticed before. The following video is a brilliant run down of some of the new products that Lensbaby are offering at the moment and really helped me decide which one to go for.

The One

The Composer Pro II with Sweet 80 Lens seemed to be the perfect choice for me.  As a wedding and portrait photographer, my 85mm prime lens is my current favourite and produces the least distortion. I wanted something similar which could provide me with more creative options in-camera. I found this option via Wex and paid £229 for the Composer Pro II housing and Sweet 80 Optic in total.


Let’s do it!

I organised a full portrait session in my cabin studio which, in hindsight, was probably a little ambitious. I’d never used the lens before, in fact, it arrived only a few hours before my subject arrived at my studio!

I’d spent the morning at The Southwold Flower Co. flower fields, and picked some incredible blooms to add a pop of colour. I had a few moments before my subject arrived to have a practice run.

It was much harder than I thought.

A happy by-product of experimentation

I actually really love this first image as it has a vintage, almost ethereal feel about it. It reminds me of some of the early photographs from the 1900s. Not completely in focus but full of character and a sense of mystery. While experimenting with the tilt function, I moved the sweet spot around. This was another challenge as it meant that it could be difficult to see where the focus point was falling. Especially hard if you are shooting at f/2.8 (which I’d attempted with this image and the reason it isn’t sharp).


The not so ‘Sweet Spot’

The first thing I noticed was that getting that ‘Sweet Spot’ of focus right was tough. You select your aperture on the outer ring and then bend your lens to move the sweet spot around. The smaller the number (wider you shoot), the harder it is to see that sweet spot as it diminishes significantly. As you are focusing manually, there is no correlation between your focus point and the sweet spot. It takes some practice to get used to this as you have to really watch where your focal point is.


What you see is what you get

The larger aperture you go for (up to f/16), the less light is seen in the viewfinder. As a professional photographer you know that the wider you shoot the more light is let in. But modern cameras and lenses don’t show you this as it happens. You would normally adjust your ISO and everything is still clear in the viewfinder.

Not in this case.

When shooting wide with a Lensbaby, you have to make sure you don’t flood the scene with too much light. If you do, your image will be blown. If you are shooting at f/16, you’ll struggle to see your subject as the light is restricted in the lens. This means that you have to physically increase the light in the area or increase your ISO. This will then be reflected in your viewfinder.


Experiment with depths of field

This one was closer to the mark with the focus being on the little girl’s face. I had to stop down to about f/11 to make sure the sweet spot was on her eyes. Because of this, I then had to increase the ISO and up the power on the studio light.

Lensbaby Composer Pro II Sweet Optic 80 Ethereal vintage children's portrait photography sage green silk dress purple flowers butterflies fine art Lensbaby


These three portraits came out really well and I’m super pleased with them. The first was at f/5.6 and I had to walk backwards to make sure the focus was on her eyes. I love how her quiff and the bottom of her hair and some of the butterfly go out of focus.

Hit & Miss

I’m really pleased with how these came out! The only thing is that her eyes are slightly out of focus on the portrait on the first and last images. I used f/4 and as this sweet spot is much smaller, thought I could step backwards and get it over her eyes. I’d failed to notice that the lens was slightly off-centre from a previous shot I’d taken where I’d taken using the tilt function. The portrait in the middle came out beautifully although I may crop in so the hand is lost out of the frame.

Playing it safe? Or getting it right?

I went with f/11, knowing it would make the sweet spot larger. This way I would have more chance of getting her face in focus. I also stepped as far back as my space would allow to maximise the chance of it being in focus.

If I’d had time to practice, I may have found a way to get to f/2.8 and the sweet spot in the right place. However I didn’t have that time and thought that I managed pretty well considering it was my first time! In any case, I’m really happy with how this turned out.


Lensbaby Composer Pro II Sweet 80 Optic girl brown eyes blue dress freckles orange dahlia fine art children's portrait photography

My absolute favourite

This one has my heart. I went with an aperture of f/8 and I WISH I had gone with f/11 or f/16 to get the orange dahlia completely in focus. It is still my favourite image of the afternoon though and I’m so pleased with the distortion from the flower and below. What it does to the sparkles on her collar and the texture of the velvet dress is lovely, all while keeping her eyes in pin-sharp focus.

Lensbaby Composer Pro II Sweet 80 Optic girl brown eyes blue dress freckles orange dahlia fine art children's portrait photography

The Wild One

This one was a real risk for me. I had asked my talented friend from Alfred Dubois Millinery to create the headdress and had used another incredible flower from The Southwold Flower Co. to set off the little birds we’d added at the last minute. I decided to go for it and shoot at f/4 and back up as far as I could go. You’ll notice that the sweet spot is over the eye closest to the camera and not quite over the other. To be honest, I’m not even worried about that because I am over the moon with the rest of it. When I asked for the headdress to be made, I hadn’t factored on this level of distortion so wasn’t prepared for it to be so out of focus. However, I really like how it’s turned out. The level of bokeh at the top and the bottom of the image really sets it off for me. How funny that it is nothing like the image I had in my head when we set it up!

Lensbaby Composer Pro II Sweet 80 Optic wild girl nature headdress giant yellow dahlia wild hair feral pretty fine art children's portrait photography

The verdict

So I may have been over-ambitious in my planning of a full portrait session. This much is true. But I think it worked!

This portrait session, shot with a Lensbaby Composer Pro II with the Sweet 80 Optic, went VERY well. The lens has so much creative versatility, I’m already planning to shoot on location with it. I WANT to put it on my camera and go on an adventure to see what it unearths. There is no question that I am going to have to use it a LOT to get to grips with how it works. But I am so excited to do just that. The whole reason I bought this lens in the first place is because I had lost my mojo. In a single session, it has reignited my passion for photography and made me want to get out there and shoot.

I would say that for that reason alone, it’s worth every penny.


Special thanks to Sarah & Mali Elbaz, The Southwold Flower Co., Alfred Dubois Millinery and Lensbaby. If you would like to book a portrait session, please click here. Thanks for reading and feel free to leave a comment or follow us on social media.

boy laughing in a field of wheat

Boyhood Unplugged

The Knights Family

I joined Sam, Chris & Ollie on the most beautiful family lifestyle session along the Suffolk coast. Their home is surrounded by an incredible palette of earthy tones, a different crop in every field and what seems to be their own private beach. For me, as a photographer, this is heaven on earth.

To add to the incredible luck of the Pinterest-worthy scenery, this family are my kind of people. Not only my namesake, their family values and belief system strongly match my own. While it has its place, technology is only part of their son’s lifestyle. With surroundings like this, Ollie is encouraged to go outside and play. To explore his world in the only way a six-year-old boy can. Watching these guys explore and play together was a real joy for me. It encouraged me to get my own children out and playing in the dirt and the grass.

Getting splinters and grazed knees should be a rite of passage for every child. It should be the norm, and not something that only happens when you’ve realised they’ve been on their iPads for too long. Unfortunately it is becoming a real issue where children form addictions to technology as toddlers. It then becomes so difficult to break this habit as they get older as they become so used to being baby-sat by these slabs of metal, they lose the ability to entertain themselves.

This is definitely not the case for Ollie. Sam & Chris have really made the most of the land around them and Ollie has benefited and will continue to benefit from this. Already full of beans and excited to get out there, Ollie reminds me of my own childhood – before tech took over.

Get your children outside. Find feathers, throw stones into the sea and have play-fights in the sand.

They are only this small once.

To find out more about our pricing for your own family lifestyle session, click here.

bride and groom leaning on luxury yacht wedding in Southwold river and harbour

Emma & Mike

Emma & Mike

Saturday 25th May 2019

bride and groom on a beautiful beach in the UK England, bride is laughing and has curly thick hair, groom is in blue suit

The Perfect Suffolk Wedding

This Suffolk wedding was so full of joy, laughter and emotion I could barely contain myself. I laughed and cried along with Emma & Mike through the ceremony and danced alongside them at the reception. From our first consultation, they told me they wanted a candid, relaxed wedding day and they requested their photography to match that.

wedding family piggyback racing

The details…

From the handpainted invitations featuring their very own fur baby to the miniature bottles of gin as favours, everything was so well thought out. The flowers were provided by the incredibly talented Lizzie Woolnough of The Southwold Wedding Co. and included Emma’s gorgeous floral crown. Emma also wore an incredible set from The Amber Shop in Southwold; an octopus necklace and ring. Both had an amber stone and were set in sterling silver. A beautiful gift from her future husband on the morning of their special day. The details were a true reflection of who Emma & Mike are because they wanted to be sure that the day was real. Nothing about this wedding was going to be traditional or anything that they didn’t want and I love them for that.

The venues…

The wedding ceremony was at The Swan Hotel in Southwold. Having recently been refurbished and updated, it’s new quirky take on decadence was the perfect place for Emma and Mike to get hitched. I still wonder whether their colour theme only matched with the decor by coincidence…

Afterwards, Emma and Mike had asked me to take a quick photo of them in The Nelson Pub before taking a couple on the beach. I don’t think I’ve ever turned down an invitation to the pub, so I was more than happy to oblige!

Once we’d had a little galavant by the sea, we took a trip down to the harbour where the happy couple had decked out the Southwold Sailing Club for the after party.

The food…

I feel like this needs its own section. The food was very simple. There were a few nibbles and bits out on a table in the club but most notably, they had a fish and chip trailer to cater for all their guests. Simple idea right? But OMG; it was the best idea EVER. Who doesn’t like fish and chips?! With a couple of vegetarian options too, this went down a storm among the guests.

beautiful wedding cake watercolour icing buttercream flowers blue pink and green

The cake…

I don’t feel like I can do this justice. Over the years I have photographed and tasted a LOT of wedding cakes but this one was really something. It was less a cake, and more a work of art. A watercolour, floral inspired piece of perfection not only incredible to look at, but also the most beautiful lemon sponge cake I have ever had the pleasure of scoffing. Made by the beautiful Beth Haxby Cakes.

The entertainment…

The entertainment was provided by some of the best local talent. Blues and skiffle band Owl & Wolves started the evening vibe with a perfectly unique, upbeat and stomping performance. Then Vix & The Kicks took over the proceedings and saw the evening into the night with their vibrant and energetic covers.

In a nutshell, this wedding really was one of the most unique, fun and genuinely beautiful days I’ve ever had the pleasure of shooting. It was such an honour to be part of it.

Here is a snippet of how that day went (music by Owl & Wolves). (Can we please do it all again?).

If you are planning your own amazing wedding, please click here for information on our packages, or contact me to find out more.

lifestyle session

The Aldous Family

lifestyle session

A Lifestyle Session is for Life!

A lifestyle session is one of the most important sessions I believe I do. In my opinion, not enough importance is given to these within the family and it’s my mission to change this. I, for one, am guilty of letting time fly by without giving it a second thought, and then I realise that I have zero pictures of me with my kids or my husband. Recently I noticed that I had not been in a family photo for over a year! So when families get in touch and ask me to document their little tribe, of course I jump at the chance.

Lifestyle Session: Meet the Aldous Family

I recently did a lifestyle session with the lovely Aldous family and their new baby, Daisy. We had such a lovely time shooting in their beautiful Suffolk home and baby brother Charlie got extra time to cuddle his new baby sister. The house was gorgeous and they are clearly smitten with their new addition. Frankly, who can blame them!

Charlie showed me his room and some of his favourite cuddly toys then had a great time jumping on his bed for photos. He told me his favourite thing is dinosaurs and showed me his favourite red nose too.

Steph and Chris also asked to have Daisy photographed on Steph’s wedding dress. I gently laid Daisy on the dress with some support underneath her and took the shot using natural daylight. The dress was beautiful and she looked so small amongst all that organza!

Many families contact me to take their photos and it is such an important thing to do. Photographs are imperative to your memory and you can pass them down for generations to come. Too many women avoid the camera at all costs. But what happens when you are gone? Your children will not have anything to remember you by and this is an absolute tragedy. This article outlines exactly how this can pan out for people when they avoid the camera for vanity’s sake.

If you are interested in booking a lifestyle session, take a look at our packages and contact us.

Clown fish family in anemone

How Do I Photograph Tropical Fish?

How Do I Photograph Tropical Fish?

Photographing tropical fish can be tricky, but is surprisingly rewarding! I took the opportunity to take my kids to the local aquarium and here are the results. How do you photograph tropical fish in their tanks? Read on for a few tips…

1. Use a medium ISO level.

Okay, okay…. so a lot of you are thinking, “What the actual eff is an ISO?!” Well if you have a DSLR camera, there will be an ISO setting that you can change. This is simply the sensitivity of the sensor to light. If you are shooting outside in full sunshine, you’ll want that puppy on about 100. If you are shooting indoors on a sunny day, you’ll probably get away with about 400. However, if you are shooting in a dimly lit aquarium with lots of glowing neon lights, you’re looking at a minimum of 1600.

Now, this is where things get a little tricky. If your camera isn’t advanced enough, an ISO setting this high will cause your images to look grainy, but if you lower the number, the images come out too dark. Also not ideal. Your best bet is to make sure that you place your focus points on the fish in the brightest looking tanks, lower your ISO number and focus on the fish inside the tank.

Sound like I’m talking in a different language? Grab your camera and practice it at home. Turn the lights off and take a photo of the TV. Notice that the picture will be perfectly exposed if you focus on the screen? Now do the same thing but focus on the frame of the TV, or on the darkness outside of the screen. Notice how suddenly the screen is super bright with no detail in it? That’s what I mean. Same principal applies to the tropical fish tank. (Top Tip: The TV needs to be switched ON for this experiment).

2. Avoid flash.

It may be tempting to switch on your auto flash during this visit, but I implore you not to. Due to the reflective nature of the scales you’ll be photographing, the flash will just light them up like a road safety vest. It will bleach out the natural, bright and beautiful colours of the fish that you are trying to photograph. Which kind of defeats the object. Always use the available (ambient) light that you have available to you in the aquarium. You will get much better results.

3. Use your lens hood.

If you have a DSLR, the lens it comes with will most likely have a lens hood. It is beneficial to use your hood, right up against the glass of the tank to block out any reflections. One of the biggest issues I had was tackling the new, swanky (I can think of another word), CURVED tanks and its crazy reflection problem. You’ll see that I didn’t quite manage to get rid of the streaks of light on some of the images. It’s no huge deal when shooting for myself, but if I was shooting commercially, this would need to be rectified.

You can actually buy rubber lens hoods for most of your lenses (if you have a DSLR) which will help you to close the gaps around the glass and will not scratch or damage the tank surface in any way. If you are using a regular point and shoot camera, this will be much more tricky. You could try getting as close as you can to the glass before taking your picture, and maybe shielding the worst of the reflections with your hand.

4. Respect your subjects.

This goes without saying, but please make sure you respect your subjects. Avoid hitting/tapping the glass both with your lens hood (remember the rubber ones), or indeed with your finger. This can alarm the fish and cause them great stress. As mentioned before, please also avoid using flash as this will have the same effect.

neon green jellyfish circle

5. Check your shutter speed.

As well as adjusting your ISO settings to let in the available light, you will also want to check your shutter speed. I found that I really couldn’t drop below 1/250 of a second without risking motion blur. The brighter tanks will be easier to shoot and will allow you to increase you shutter speed to one which will freeze the fish in motion (if that is what you wish to do).

So, how do you photograph tropical fish? It all sounds a little complicated, but in reality shooting in an aquarium is pretty straight-forward and can be incredibly rewarding. The colours and textures combined make for a potentially incredible image.

For information on beginner’s photography courses, please get in touch.