Don’t think about noise

When you’re shooting quickly and on the go you won’t have time to set up lights so when it’s dark simply push the ISO up on your camera and embrace the noise! By converting your image to black & white at the editing stage you can stylise your picture with the grain. This image was taken at ISO. The textured noise coming in through the background actually adds another element rather than existing as an unwanted flaw. 

Picking the right frame

Editing in itself is a true art form. At the end of the day there are no right or wrong answers only a difference of opinion. Often we have an emotional connection to our images that can be a good thing but can also blinker our ability to see. A good way to gauge which images are working well is to get a range of opinions. Sharing is useful for feedback but also sharing with people you trust, and whose opinion you value is vital. 

Go black & white

When it comes to telling a story with an image colour can often (not in every circumstance) be a hindrance and distraction. By switching to the monochrome medium the elements in the frame are easier to see and shape and lines leading the eye through become key. This image is about a village by the beach and a connecting road that is dominated by the sea and erosion. The sea defence plays a key part in keeping the village safe.

Spare batteries

Carry plenty of memory cards and spare batteries. If your camera has a double card slot use it as extra backup. To save battery power avoid ‘chimping’ – reviewing every picture immediately after shooting it. 

It’s all about the moment

Although we think the moment just happens (and to some degree it does) we can also predict what might happen when we start to people watch. This photograph was taken at Sea Change Festival last May in Devon and was taken by the photographer about a minute after spotting the girl in the crowd and watching her movements. 

Look for colour

Whilst black & white images are great in a documentary style as they can tell a story on the flip side of the coin colour can work well too. Look for subjects in bright clothing against dark or contrasting colours. In this case a young girl in a neon pink coat looks through a blue glass panel. The two colours work well together. 

Use text

Text can be a great aid to your documentary shot to help tell a story or add a quirky message. In this image musician Gruff Rhys throws aside a sign that says ‘Don’t follow signs’. The inclusion of the audience in front of the camera was also intentional to create that feeling and connection of the performance. 


When shooting moving subjects set your focus setting to the tracking feature to ensure they stay pin-sharp. Predicting where they might move into the frame and composing before they do will guarantee a winner!