Photograph taken on iPhone, processed with the Snapseed app, text created with the InstaQuote app.

Today I’d like to talk to you about using your mobile phone/devices or even an actual camera, to take photographs.

If you do not take photos, you will still hopefully find this interesting.

Why use photographs in your work?

  • Many studies suggest that as many as 40% of people are visual learners.
  • Photographs can accelerate understanding by illustration.
  • Photographs can help people to retrieve information from memory.
  • They break up text in presentations.
  • Using your own photographs means you don’t’ have to ask permission to use them!

According to Ofcom more people now have mobile phones than laptops and PCs, and 2017 is set to see mobile users take literally trillions of photographs. So, if we’re going to take photos with our devices, let’s look at how we might take better ones.

My 5 top tips for instantly better photographs

  1. Bend your knees. Photographs taken at eye level are usually more engaging. Bend your knees if you’re taking photographs of people who are sitting down or who are smaller than you. Get closer, or crop more tightly later when processing, to achieve a more intimate shot.


Eye level is often more engaging


Bend your knees rather than titling your camera

  1. Switch OFF your flash. If something is far away and it’s dark, your flash is useless. (Your flash is useless at concerts!). Classrooms are surrounded by windows and often have lights on, so you will rarely need a flash in that situation. Switch the flash back on if it’s too dark, obviously.


switch off your flash

  1. USE your camera and experiment with it. Look at what you have shot and remember what worked and what didn’t. Get used to deleting lots and lots of photos and keep just the good ones.

N.B. This point may draw criticism from many photographers. I’m not asking you to ‘spray and pray’ as it’s often referred to, nor am I advising you to spend the entire event taking photos, but DO use your camera more, and review what you shoot critically to make them better next time.

  1. Be aware of and use the rule of thirds. People don’t just need to be in the middle of your shot. Most portraits, landscapes, film, TV shots, and most paintings, comply with the rule of thirds, or deliberately break that rule.
middle  middlethirds


Nobody likes having their photo being taken, by the way. Be positive with your subject, and brave. Suggest that they turn their shoulder VERY slightly towards you as it makes it look less like a mug shot.

NB: It’s not always easy to see a scene in thirds (and it’s not a law to do that either), but once you see it, you will see it everywhere – have another look at the Mona Lisa, the Hay Wain or TV programmes like the news and imagine lines on the image, like the one above.


  1. Apps: It’s become rather trendy to announce that you didn’t use a filter on your photograph, but in reality professional photographers spend hours processing and editing their shots – just don’t over do it (OR really over do it!).

img_2812Too far?! (taken with a free app called Prismo)

It’s often a matter of taste, BTW. This shot was quickly processed with an amazing app called Snapseed. Do you like the one on the right more or less I wonder?


Lots to choose from today:

Create an educational meme using your device and apps (I used InstaQuote on the image at the top of the page) and make the quote pertinent to your work or inspirational, and email it to me With your permission I’ll post the best ones on this blog for everyone to see.


Take a photograph considering the 5 tips above, and email it to me and I will give you feedback on it. With your permission I’ll post the best ones on this blog for everyone to see.


Let us know how you might find photography useful in your work. Or give us an example of how you have used photography.


Find some recent statistics related to mobile phone and photography (using Google), and post it in the comments.


Let us all know of any photographic apps you have found that you like.




All photographers were rubbish at it when they started.

Put your camera down occasionally and enjoy the event/gig/your life.


90 thoughts on “Photography

  1. Sarah Allen February 9, 2017 / 9:48 am

    I have to admit to love taking way too many pictures on my phone of anything that catches my eye or captures a day/ event/ moment in time. I had a go at using some of the tips above to make an image using instagrams layout app of my work area and essentials (Coffee!) when I am working from home.

    In my work we use photographs a lot, to advertise properties/rooms/halls and also to document before and after check in/check out in our short stay facility and to document any damage/ issues.


  2. kostas February 9, 2017 / 9:58 am

    I do use a lot of videos and photos during my lectures. Students love them because they get a small break whilst message is getting across.


  3. Sarah Boateng February 9, 2017 / 10:06 am

    Had great fun playing with the InstaQuote App which I’ve never used before.


  4. catherine foottit February 9, 2017 / 10:11 am

    Love the Snapseed app! I made everyone look like indie pop stars 🙂


  5. Iain Brett February 9, 2017 / 2:32 pm

    I use photos taken to remind me of where posters and notices are I need to update (I’m on the library notices team).


  6. Tanya McFerran February 9, 2017 / 3:49 pm

    I will take a photo of group work feedback and share it with the rest of the group, with their permission. I also encourage my students to photograph their mentor details on their practice document and send it to me rather than having to type the details: it generally means I get a quicker response!


  7. Mike Humphrey February 9, 2017 / 10:49 pm

    During training I tend to use video more than still photography in an attempt to slow down fast sporting action for analysis. For matches, especially outdoor, still photos help with atmosp[here and flagging MVP / Man of the Match.


  8. Natalie February 10, 2017 / 10:11 am

    Being part of the presentation team within the library I sometimes have to take photos for posters we are going to use within the library. I will keep these tips in mind for the future in my work and own personal photos.


  9. Erika Sanchez February 10, 2017 / 11:19 am

    In my case I am a “visual” type of person. I am a strong believer that “a picture is worth a 1000 words” and therefore I always try to use more images than texts within my lectures and presentations or other material that I need to create. I often look for images within the Internet but I think I will start trying to create my own.


  10. Sara Donner-Langstone February 10, 2017 / 11:51 am

    as an administrator I do not take photos in my work. Instead I have done screen shots of new software programmes that I have to use for work. The screen shots remind me what fields need completing etc.


  11. wendy finch February 10, 2017 / 12:52 pm

    We have used photographs to illustrate our procedure manuals – they break up the words on the page/screen and make it easier to remember.


  12. Dai Tohzumi February 11, 2017 / 9:40 am

    As a shelving assistant at the University Library, I don’t take photos but do use photos and videos when I teach. I’ve found them very useful for students, particularly visual learners.


  13. Sarah Webb February 11, 2017 / 3:29 pm

    As part of the social media team in the university library I have used photographs to promote events and resources in the library. The tips in today’s blog will come in handy!


  14. Laura February 13, 2017 / 4:33 pm

    I sometimes take photos of evaluation work as its easier to ensure all the points are captured and the students can see them as they wrote them


  15. janeshelley February 14, 2017 / 3:49 pm

    Try to use images in teaching and learning sessions to help vary things as it can be helpful to provide examples in a visual way. Also students often find taking photos of their work / literature searches for example useful as a record of work done and as reminders of where they have searches, keywords, what to do later etc.


  16. Rachael Herne February 14, 2017 / 8:01 pm

    I don’t use photographs myself at work but we encourage our students to send us photographs (as they often don’t have a scanner) of documents via email so we can access them quicker and resolve any issues they may have.


  17. Patrick Selby February 21, 2017 / 9:50 am

    Downloaded Instaquote, very funny and easy to create meme’s and quotes.


  18. Maxine Hall February 24, 2017 / 4:33 pm

    Our Faculty holds regular student-related and public-facing events. Last night I took a photo at the event and instantly tweeted it. Not great quality (I need to learn how to use filters), but good for awareness raising.


  19. Que Mirza February 27, 2017 / 9:42 am

    I use Mextures and Enlight and find them quite productive and creative for photo editing.


  20. Philip Howlett March 1, 2017 / 12:19 pm

    I have used smart phones and even iPads to take pictures down microscopes, and am always amazed with how well they come out! I have even used a smart phone and binoculars for taking pictures of wildlife – though this wasn’t quite so effective and I won’t win any awards for these. Though perhaps if I used some of the apps for processing the images…


  21. Nicole March 1, 2017 / 4:18 pm

    As I am passionate about being creative, – I do take quite a lot of photo’s of all sorts of things. Plus I love inspiring quotes and inspiring others. So I’m looking forward to trying out the apps – Snapseed and InstaQuote


  22. Rebecca Lee March 5, 2017 / 2:17 pm

    We are currently doing a UX project in the library and have used photography to do a basic survey of the existing library signage.


  23. Lisa Clark March 8, 2017 / 3:19 pm

    email with photo sent


  24. edgar March 8, 2017 / 5:12 pm

    I very often use pictures during the presentations. They seem more attractive. After the course I started to use Snapseed app! Great app to change yourself :)))


  25. Karen Clarke March 9, 2017 / 10:55 am

    get students to use photos as often easier than scanners and quicker, also photograph students in group sessions activities (with permission) and forward to them via group email.


  26. Matt McConkey May 23, 2017 / 11:24 am

    Pretty handy in the library for taking a quick snap of a book classmark before going to find it. Also pretty handy for capturing notes into e.g. OneNote or Evernote, and using OCR you can even search the text.


  27. Nermin Minter May 24, 2017 / 12:32 pm

    We ran a User Experience Project in Cambridge Library (Find Your Way to the Library Treasures) and carried out a basic signage survey using photography.


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