Ten steps to improve your photography

Photographs hanging on pegs

Whether you take pictures purely for your own pleasure or have ambitions to build a career for yourself through photography, there comes a time when you have to stop snapping and start making pictures. Here, professional photographer, writer and lecturer Grant Scott explains how you can take your photography to the next level.

We all take more photographs than we have ever done or were able to in the past. We post images on social networks, share them with friends and use them as a form of visual shorthand to communicate where we are, what we are doing and often how we feel. Yet few of us would describe ourselves as photographers. Even fewer would describe themselves as professional photographers or understand what that job description means.

So how can you begin to understand what a professional photographer is or does? And start to move your own work into an area of professional photography?

The answer is actually very simple. You need to use photography to document your passions and explore the work of professional photographers who are already doing so.

Emma Boyns cooks all of the food she photographs

For example, if you enjoy cooking, look towards food photography. If you enjoy sports, look at the photographers documenting your favourite sport. If you enjoy styling and decorating your home, interiors photography could be the area for you.

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Loggers captured at work in Larry Fink's Opening the Sky

Loggers, Grisdale

During the 1970s, photographer Larry Fink documented the clubs of New York, camera and flashgun in hand, capturing what Max Kozloff described as "the 'me first' narcissism" of the time. In contrast, a new collection of work produced by Fink soon afterwards has just been published, showing the lives of loggers on the West Coast of the United States - and as you would expect, the images are a delight.

The project began in 1980 when the Seattle Art Museum contacted Fink with the offer of a grant to photograph anything he wanted in the state of Washington. At the time Fink was living on a farm, cutting wood for the fire having hauled it up the valley. He describes how this made him feel like a logger, so what then was more natural than to take his camera and document the "rugged breed of men who selectively pillaged the deep, virgin forest".

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North Vietnamese veterans stories

Pham Xuan Do (right), 77, buttoning his original uniform in the presence of retired captain Le Quang Kieu (left), 68, and retired lieutenant sergeant Hoang Ding Li (center), 73, at Friendship Village

The conflict in Vietnam ended 40 years ago, with chaotic scenes in Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh City, as the North Vietnamese Army closed in on the heart of power, its tanks ploughing through the gates of the South Vietnamese presidential palace on 30 April 1975.

On board one of the tanks was Pham Xuan Do, who is seen in the picture above proudly wearing his uniform from the time.

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Syrian refugees share 'safe space'

The photographers

The conflict in Syria that began in 2011 has made millions of refugees flee the country, many making their way to neighbouring Lebanon.

Officially there are about 1.1 million registered refugees in Lebanon - though the actual figure is believed to be far higher - many of them children.

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My Perspective competition winners

Misty street scene
Misty Minster by David Kenward

This photograph of York Minister by David Kenward has been revealed as the winner of this year's My Perspective competition, run by the UK Down's Syndrome Association (DSA).

The picture, titled Misty Minster, beat more than 250 other entries to the international contest.

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In the shadow of Magna Carta

Eco village

The 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta by King John at Runnymede, on the banks of the Thames, is on Monday, 15 June. Today, the site, between Windsor and Staines, is part of the National Trust - but bordering it, a group have set up what they call Runnymede Eco-Village.

The small community is based in woodland earmarked for housing, and eviction notices have been served. They call themselves Diggers, after a group of land activists who occupied St George's Hill in 1649.

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Gone fishing

Fishermen in Monte Argentario

Beatrice Di Caro has just completed a BA in photojournalism at the London College of Communication, her final project focusing on the lives of fishermen in Monte Argentario, an area in the south of Tuscany in Italy.

Her pictures portray the lives of the fishermen onshore and the work carried out on the piers, the routine tasks that are essential to the smooth running of days at sea.

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Tales from the launderette

Mr Salahuddin, launderette manager, checking a wash has been dried

Tales from the Launderette is a new personal project by Walthamstow-based photographer Katherine Green and on show as part of the E17 Art Trail in London.

The launderette was, at one time, a common sight on Britain's high streets, with more than 12,000 in operation during the 1980s, though today that number is down to 3,000 or so.

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Photo challenge: 12 by 12

Caravan

When looking for a way to challenge yourself photographically it can pay to scan the online photographic community in search of ideas, or events you can join.

One that is currently under way is the 12 by 12 challenge, a set of month-long photography challenges that aim to help develop your skills.

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Speakers' Corner: The home of free speech

The End is At Hand. Evangelical Christian with a placard at Speakers Corner, Hyde Park, London, 1978

Speakers' Corner in London is well known as the home of free speech, where anyone can get on their soapbox and make their voice heard. Whether anyone will listen is of course another matter. Photographer Philip Wolmuth has been documenting the corner in London's Hyde Park for 35 years, and has just published a book of the work. Here, Wolmuth writes about the changes he has seen during that time.

It was the passion, irreverence and air of apparent anarchy that immediately attracted me on my first visit to Speakers' Corner in 1977.

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