© Andy Beel FRPS December 2018. Appledore Lifeboat Slipway taken on the “What you need to do next is… workshop”

The ABC of CameraWork

The viewfinder workflow

Back in 2011, I came up with an easily remembered mnemonic called The ABC of CameraWork to help photographers purposefully and quickly deal with all the viewfinder issues before pressing the shutter release. 

Who benefits from The ABC of CameraWork?

This way of working is suitable for all photographers everywhere. The viewfinder workflow is relevant to all photographers using any medium, working in any artistic genre. It makes no difference if you are working in colour or black and white, photographing portraits in northern Libya or football on a wet Tuesday evening in November.

Paola at the Fountain Flamenco Dance Studio in Andalucia

The Art of Photographic Composition Workshop 
4 February to 8 February 2019 

A great value learning package with a 10% discount with the Code ABC10

For more information about the Art of Photo Composition Workshop please see here

“There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are”.

Ernst Haas – Photographer


What will my picture look like?

As photographers we all have completely different ways of working with our cameras, however, the intended end result is always a common theme. From the vast possibilities of subjects, the photographer selects a subject to present to the viewer. You are in the viewer’s eyes, you decide what to photograph, how, why, and when to press the shutter release.

The little matter of understanding how your picture will look artistically and technically before you press the shutter is always an issue for many photographers. This pre-visualisation of the artistic and technical is the subject of this series of articles.

A for Attraction

Groins at Westward Ho!  December 2018.

Left – The unpostprocessed raw file

Right – A straight mono version

As an accomplished photographer, what do you look for in a potential picture?

The first letter in my mnemonic of the ABC of the CameraWork is A for Attraction.

As a professional photographer, at the taking stage, I am looking for pictures that interest me at an intuitive level. If something interests me I will take the pictures, after 30 years I know my own vision and style. Just because I shoot some pictures does not mean that they will get used, if I am still attracted to or interested in the subject may be a year later that is the test whether the pictures were worth taking or not.

Attraction – understand the reason for taking the picture and share it with the viewer

The attraction is the essential reason for raising the camera to the eye, decide what is it about the potential subject that makes it remarkable or interesting or picture worthy? As a photographer, you have to know the answer to this question. If you are unsure what and why you are photographing something how will your viewer understand the subject in the same way as you?


“Good judgment comes from experience,

Experience comes from bad judgment”



In my book The ABC of CameraWork Manual – How to see photographically, there are many topics to think about when framing a successful composition. For this article on A for Attraction, we are going to talk about the subject dominance, subject contrast and picture templates.


Subject dominance

As a professional photography mentor, I get to see many people’s work and as you’d expect the range of quality presented mirrors the good, bad and indifferent. Much of my mentoring work deals with getting to the root of what is being photographed and how to make it dominate or stand out in the picture space.


This is a two-part process, firstly, in-camera by selecting the optimum: viewpoint, focal length, depth of field, composition and removing distractions. By getting it right in the camera the post-processing workflow becomes more straightforward. In Lightroom or Photoshop, every picture needs a subtle transformation to make the dominant subject gently stand out.

(c) Andy Beel FRPS 2017 Light on dark – The Sea of Steps Wells Cathedral at an Intro to Composition Workshop


“Chiaroscuro – Light on dark”

Subject Contrast – Light on dark

One of my picture templates is a light subject on a darker toned background. I principally work in black-and-white and have done for the past 30 years. A light subject on a dark background creates inherent picture contrast, monochrome is about contrast, not colour. It doesn’t matter whether the range of tonality within the picture is as taken or created later in the post-processing.

“Thank you, Andy, for an enjoyable and enlightening time. Your ‘ABC’ organises the fundamentals of good photographic practice and makes it accessible and memorable.  An excellent blueprint for advancement.”   Kevin Scott – Glastonbury

“I have the ABC manual and have read it. Most excellent.” Dave Straker – Abergavenny

If you work in colour the thinking becomes slightly more intricate. There is always a relationship between the foreground subject and the background. In terms of the colour harmony and balance, how do the hue, saturation and luminance of the picture elements work together to make a cohesive whole? It may a case of the right subject and a wrong background because of the colour relationship.


More info on A for Attraction


Picture Templates

Earlier I mentioned picture templates, every photographer has them and uses them knowingly or unknowingly. A picture template is your way of selecting a subject, composing and presenting a picture. If you were to do a review of all the pictures you have taken you will find there are repeated patterns in what works to you. Each repeated pattern is a picture template.

To improve your photography:

(1) you need to know what your current picture templates are by doing a review and

(2) seek to diversify and increase the number and range of templates you use.


For more info on Picture Templates


Printmaking with Fotospeed

For me, the natural end of the creative process is printmaking. A print is a permanent statement of your current vision, style, seeing or attraction and picture templates that are not demeaned by digital storage and presentation. If you want interested people to see your work as you fully intended it, show them prints under appropriate lighting. No one sees the attraction element of your picture as you meant it to be on a computer monitor even when it is calibrated.

I have been a Fotospeed Ambassador Photographer for over ten years and my favourite art papers are Fotospeed Platinum Baryta 300 and Fotospeed Platinum Etching Paper 285. Fotospeed offers the best customer support I have come across if you have a problem they have a solution.

Modern architecture – Rotterdam 2017

Camera club talks and demonstrations 

It’s never too early to book a speaker for next years season beginning in September 2019. Why not consider organising a lecture tour that reduces travel costs if you are located a long way from my base in Bristol? Share the cost with other clubs in your area. See what I offer here