Lessons learned from a photography workshop with William Patino

My partner and I were on a long dreamt about road trip across Australia camping out of our car, and I was hitting a creative plateau with my photography at the worst possible time. The locations we were at held countless opportunities to shoot the beautiful Australian landscapes around us as we were minutes from the coastline at some incredible destinations, and craggy mountains at others. I was waking up before sunset almost every morning and setting up to capture the sunset every evening. However, more times than not I was unhappy with most of my results and it seemed like the more effort I put in, the harder it became for me to capture the beauty that surrounded me and I knew it was time for me to reassess my photographic and creative techniques.

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Cathedral Rocks near Kiama, NSW.

I’ve always admired the clean and pleasing look of William Patino, a local photographer from Wollongong, NSW, so I enlisted his help to get me back to a better creative state of mind and help me identify aspects of my shooting to improve the final image. I’ve always struggled with my composition, but knowing that was my weakness and being able to identify steps to improve it were two different side of the same coin. Through the four hour personal workshop, I was able to glean from William what it would take to improve my photography and get me out of my photographic plateau.

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Jelena napping at Point Perpendicular, part of the Naval Weapons Range which is open to the public during most weekends.

Let’s get back to the basics

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel and some of the best landscape photos use basic compositional guides such as the Rule of Thirds, leading lines, and framing elements; however, mastering those compositional elements can take a lifetime, so I needed to keep incorporating those elements into my photography in the most pleasing way. One useful tip I learned was to frame your shot to eliminate distractions or uninteresting items from the picture. Having enough space to give your main subject environmental perspective is good, but having too much space can detract from the prominence of the subject.

Capture what you feel

When I would arrive at a location I’d always try to capture a pretty picture with what was in front of me, and never let my emotions frame the shot. During the workshop, William pointed out that the first thing I should do when I approach my intended location, was to just look around and take the whole scene in, rather than dive straight into setting up the camera and hunting for the shot. I learned that by slowing down and observing not only what I saw, but also what I felt can help me capture the essence of a location more strongly.

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The Three Sisters located in Katoomba, Blue Mountains.

Persist for things that you love

In my eyes, William has broken through the barrier that most aspiring photographers hope to reach; becoming a professional photographer. When we were travelling to locations we discussed the decisions and process that allowed him to become a full time photographer, and one thing that stood out to me was that even though he was working a full time job, he still made time to capture the sunrise or any other landscape opportunities day in and day out. William really enjoyed the entire process and persisted in pursuing that passion until it eventually evolved into a lifestyle of capturing stunning photographs full time.

I went into this workshop not knowing what should expect, but I ended up walking way with more than help with my compositional or post processing techniques. I learned that I had all the tools to make great photos and hopefully become a full fledged photographer myself someday. I know that to be successful I will have to pay attention to the basic rules of composition, really experience my environment to better capture the essence of the location, and be persistent in my passion.

Images by Auyeung Photography