Strange & Familiar by Martin Parr

Last weekend we went to check out the Strange and Familiar Faces of Britain exhibition at the Barbican, curated by Martin Parr. A massive show covering 2 full floors of the Barbican, we spent a good two hours looking at hundreds of works by different photographers from around the world.


There is a huge variety of work on show, ranging from the early photographers of the 1930’s such as Edith Tutor Hart, right up until the present day with works from Bruce Gilden. We particularly loved the candid street photography of Henri Cartier-Bresson, the striking portraits of Paul Strand and the detailed shop window displays by Jim Dow.


Other artists include; Hans Eijkelboom, Frank Habicht, Candida Höfer, Akihito Okamura, Raymond Depardon & Rineke Dijkstra. There are 200+ photographs being exhibited  throughout the show.


We really loved the show and if you can make it down to the Barbican before the 19th June we would highly recommend you do so! Some more information on the show & how to book tickets can be seen here –

Also, be sure to look around the amazing conservatory that is open on Sundays! It’s home to an abundance of topical plants, flowers and wildlife, with plenty of great photographic opportunities. The conservatory is free to visit on and open from 12.00 – 17.00 on Sunday’s only. –



Be sure to follow us on Instagram for more photos from the conservatory!


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2016 Sony World Photography Awards now open at Somerset House!

somerset house

Last chance to visit this year’s Sony World Photography Awards!

Somerset House presents an exhibition of 500 of the best contemporary photographers selected from all over the world. The winning and shortlisted photographs were selected from a global call-out which attracted over 230,000 entries. The competition acknowledges the work of professionals as well as, photography students, young photographers and amateurs.

Here are some of our favourites…

Picasso's Women

Cristina Vatielli- 2nd Place in the ‘Staged’ category for her series inspired by the women who influenced Picasso.

Salt Cleansing

Congratulations to 17 yr old Sepehr Jamshidi Fard, one of the winners of the Youth competition.


Maroesjka Lavigne is the winner of the Professional Landscape category with this image ‘Rhino’ from the series ‘Land of Nothingness’.


Professional Environment category winner Kevin Frayer with his image ‘Eagle hunters of Western China’.

To book tickets and for further info visit: Or get a sneak preview of the winning entries here.

Until Sunday 8th May 2016


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Check out Emily Stein’s new series of portraits ‘Hello I’m Nora’

nora 3

PCL tutor Emily Stein, who teaches on our Intense Foundation of Digital Photography, Digital Photography Crash Course and Portraiture Masterclass, launches a new series of portrait photographs of 73 year old beauty Nora, currently featured on These colourful pictures celebrate and embrace individual style, and represent a coming to terms with one’s looks and personal history.

For more examples of this vibrant and unconventional approach to portraiture visit

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Robert Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures

Look out for the release this month of a new film about American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe (1946- 1989). This is the first definitive, feature length portrait of the legendary and controversial artist since his death from AIDS in 1989. Robert Mapplethorpe is known for his large-scale black and white images, ranging from still-life to erotic portraits.


The film ‘Robert Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures’ is due for release in UK cinemas on 22nd April, and there are several opportunities to engage in Q&A with the Directors at Previews across London:

Wed 20 April – Art House Crouch End

Wed 20 April – Hackney Picturehouse

Thur 21 April – Curzon Bloomsbury

Watch the trailer here:

For further info:

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Congratulations to Gary Perlmutter, 2nd Runner up in London Photo Festival’s Street Photography Competition!

Congratulations to Photography Course London tutor Gary Perlmutter, who has been awarded 2nd Runner-up in London Photo Festival’s 2016 Street Photography Competition. Gary is one of 20 finalists selected from over 1000 entries to have his work exhibited at The Bridge Lounge and Dining Room in London, on display until 30th May 2016.

Gary Perlmutter



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Happy New Year!

Did you recently get a new DSLR camera? Here are a few useful tips to get you going.

When your DSLR is set in the fully manual mode it behaves very much like a compact camera. The quality of the pictures might be a bit better than what you achieved before but the main advantage of a DSLR is that you can take full control of your camera and the creative effects in your images.
There are two main settings on the camera that will control these effects – Aperture and Shutter Speed. These can be controlled independently in the cameras Manual (M) mode, or semi automatically using the Aperture priority mode (A/AV) or Shutter speed priority mode (S/TV).



The Aperture controls how much light is let in through the lens. It is the iris of the lens if you like. A large aperture lets in more light than a small, giving you a brighter image, or a brighter exposure as we call it. The other effect of a large aperture is a blurred background, or a shallow/short depth of field to use the correct terminology. The aperture is generally expressed as an F-number, e.g. F11. The lower the number – the larger the aperture. Confusing perhaps, but lets not get too technical at this point..

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Using the Aperture Creatively 

Controlling the depth of field is crucial in photography and is a massive part of your composition and creative feel of an image. The camera’s automatic mode tends to choose mid range apertures giving you an average setting and generally as a result, an average looking image. A great way to learn about depth of field is to try the two extremes, shallow/short and deep/long depth of field (D.O.F).

To explore a shallow D.O.F, portraiture is a good topic. Or you could photograph an object such as a plant or flower.

  • Set your camera to Aperture priority mode (A/Av) and choose a large aperture such at F2.8 or F5.6
  • Zoom in the lens (bringing you closer). Anything longer than 50mm should do it. The longer the lens, the more enhanced the effect will be.
  • Get close to the subject.

Make sure to do all three steps described or you might not achieve the best results.



A deep depth of field might not be as exciting to learn how to create but it is equally important as a shallow D.O.F. When doing landscape or architectural photography it is essential to have the whole scene in focus unless you are specifically trying to bring out an element in the image. Achieving this is easy when you know how to create a shallow depth of field – simply do the opposite.

  • Set your camera to Aperture Priority Mode (A/Av) and choose a small aperture such as F16 or F22.
  • Zoom out the lens to around 24-35mm. The wider the lens, the easier it is to achieve an image that is sharp from to back.
  • Focus on an object about 1/3 in of the total distance.
Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 17.53.09


The other element on the camera we have control over is the shutter speed. When working in aperture priority mode the camera will automatically set the shutter speed to control the exposure. When using shutter priority (S/Tv) the opposite is true, the camera will automatically set the aperture to control the exposure.

Using the Shutter speed creatively

Having creative control over the movement in your image is another crucial element of photography. Typically we either want to freeze or blur the movement. Shutter speed is measured in fractions of seconds. An example of a fast shutter speed could be 1/1000 or a thousand of a second, and a slow could be 1/10. I generally recommend to emphasise the intended effect. For example, if you intend to create motion blur, 1/60 might be enough to create some blur but the effect might not be very strong and the blur might be perceived as a mistake. In a case like that, experiment with a slower shutter speed. Do take care to avoid camera shake though! Using a tripod or resting the camera on something could dramatically improve the image when using a slow shutter.

To explore movement through shutter speed find an object that is constantly moving, ideally at the same or similar speed, such as splashing water in a fountain or traffic.

Photograph using a range of speeds going from the very fastest to about 1” (1 second). The potential problem here might be that you don’t have enough light to go extremely fast or too much light to get all the way down to 1”. You might need to conduct the experiment at different times of the day, or you could increase the ISO value to brighten the image and reduce it to darken the image.




Tip! To avoid camera shake when hand holding your camera try and use 1/60 or faster. If you have to shoot slower than that you generally need to use a tripod or rest the camera on top of something.

If you want to learn more about your camera from a professional photographer, check out all of our beginner DSLR courses here!

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Introducing Emily Stein

Check out the colourful portraits of PCL tutor, Emily Stein!

1814 copy

Emily Stein studied Fine Art before completing an MA in Photojournalism with London College of Communication. She now works as a professional photographer and a free-lance educator, and we our delighted that Emily Stein will be teaching several of our upcoming courses, including the Portraiture Masterclass, Intense Foundation of Digital Photography and our Digital Crash Course. For more information about these courses please visit

Emily is particularly known for the vibrancy of her work and sensitivity in capturing the expressions of youths.

Emily 1

Her charming series of portraits Pony Club was featured recently in It’s Nice That and her playful series Bubblegum featured in This is Paper. Emily has also been interviewed by HungerTV and previously contributed portrait photos to a regular column ‘Weekenders’  for the Guardian weekend magazine.


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Prints for Refugees – Charity Project led by PCL tutor Mark Sherratt

Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 16.00.56

Photography Course London Tutor Mark Sherratt has set up an amazing project called Prints for Refugees, with 100% of the proceeds going to the charity Doctors of the World UK. This wonderful charity has been working with refugees and vulnerable migrants in Europe for many years, providing them with essential medical care while advocating for their right to health.  They are present at every stage of their journey, from conflict zones to Greece and in Calais.

Prints range from £40 – £150 and are all sent out personally by the photographer straight to your door.

Photographers currently involved include Mark himself, Olly Burn, Andrew Urwin and David Ryle, with more being added every week!

Here’s a taster of some of the prints that are on offer:

Colorado Mark S
© Mark Sherratt – Colorado
Andrew Urwin
© Andrew Urwin – Highlands, Scotland
David Ryle - C.A.R.L
© David Ryle – C.A.R.L
Rarotonga Sheraton Olly Burn
© Olly Burn – Rarotonga Sheraton
Picture 001
© Toby Coulson – (Untitled 2)
Rohini Jonathan Cherr
© Jonathan Cherry – Rohini

Visit the Website here:

Donate to the Charity here: Doctors of the World 

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Meet our latest PCL competition winner!

Congratulations to Shane Thomas McMillan, winner of PCL’s Facebook competition ‘Hidden’!

Shane Thomas McMillan is a Berlin-based documentary filmmaker, writer, photographer, and educator from western Montana. From 2005 to 2010 he studied journalism, German and international development at the University of Montana. In 2007, he studied abroad at the University of Ghana, traveling and documenting the region extensively.

Shane now works as a freelance photojournalist and as creative lead on projects based around the topics of human rights, refugees, and cultural identity. From 2014 to 2015 Shane taught documentary photography and filmmaking at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. His work has been featured in the New York Times, the Guardian, The Christian Science Monitor, Indian Country Today, Slate, and PRI’s The World.

Below is the winning image, from Shane’s photography project, Queer Kampala:

Queer Kampala
Shane Thomas McMillan
Shane Mcmillan3Ugandan human rights activist Simon plans to stay in the country for as long as he can. “I have decided to fight from within,” he says. Despite the atmosphere for queers, he says his countrymen are a good people. “I am proud to be Ugandan, my roots are here.”

There are two ways to get by as queer in Uganda: live “loud and proud” or “​in the closet”.​

This series of images was created to offer a peek into the lives of that second group, people for whom being open with their sexual ​identity is not an option.

Just months before these photographs were made, ​the now-defunct Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2014 had been pushed through the African nation’s parliament by the administration of 30-year president Yoweri Museveni. Many local and international observers still believe the bill was simply a convenient distraction from several brewing political scandals; a half-hearted attempt to divert the stresses of ineffective development paired with rapid globalisation towards something other than the government. The act brought international headlines, plenty of scorn from the West, and even sanctions on some aid moneys.

Lost in the debate: the faces and voices of Uganda’s vibrant queer community. With help from local, national, and international human rights organizations this series was created to capture the stress and fear of living underground as a queer Ugandan. It was created in a sort of safe house in the outskirts of the Ugandan capital, Kampala. The house is managed by a human rights activist named Simon who is portrayed twice in this series draped in a Ugandan flag and peering over his desk into the camera. Summing up the situations of those he helped he said, “When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.”

Along with his winning image, Shane also entered a couple more photos from this series, which can be seen below:

“If we all rush away, the spirit will die,” says Daniel looking out of the barred windows of the safe house​. After being outed in a local paper the 32-year-old says he lost his job, his partner had to flee the country, and he had to go underground. Though he would rather stay in Uganda, Daniel says he is planning to leave the country as soon as he can. “It is not safe for me here anymore,” he says. Though the law has been nullified by the Ugandan Supreme Court, human rights activists say little will change, and that the law will very likely return.
A simple lunch is served at the safe house each day, but putting food on the table is no easy task: funding has been hard for the small organization. Big outside funders don’t yet trust fledgling underground organization enough to support it and local support is out of the question. For now, those staying in the home pay the bills with small jobs beyond the walls of the facility; something that could put them in danger of retribution from outsiders.

Check out more of Shane’s work here:

Shane has won 2 x 20×16 prints from MetroPrint and a portfolio review.

Many thanks to Metro Print for sponsoring our competition:




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Last week to see new play about Alexander McQueen!

McqueenA beautiful and haunting voyage into the visionary imagination and dark dream world of the late Alexander McQueen, fashion’s greatest contemporary artist.

McQueen is a new play by James Phillips (The Rubenstein Kiss, The White Whale and City Stories), directed by John Caird (Honorary Associate Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company) with production design by David Farley, choreography by Christopher Marney, video design by Tim Bird, lighting design by David Howe, sound design by John Leonard, wigs design by Linda McKnight.

At the Theatre Royal Haymarket until 14 Aug.

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