I arrived back in London late on Friday night after a day trip to Germany to promote the Bright.Bazaar book, but that didn’t stop me jumping out of bed on Saturday morning to head to Emily Quinton’s photography workshop at West Elm Market. (If you’ve yet to visit you can click here to take a tour of the new West Elm store in London.) While Emily’s photography style and subjects are rather different to mine, it was still incredibly inspiring to hear her explain her approach to taking better photographs. Emily did a fantastic job of switching from the basics to providing insight on more advanced areas of photography. Despite having taken countless snaps in the past year since I started to take photography more seriously, it was a useful process to actually stop and take the time to focus once again on the core ingredients that help formulate the perfect snapshot. I thought it might be useful to share 10 of the need-to-know basic (but oh-so-important) tips from the day:

1. Follow the light by looking for the brightest rooms in your home and then plan to shoot when the light is on your side.
2. Purchase inexpensive wrapping papers from a stationery store and tape them to the wall with washi tape for an instant background.
3. Always think about texture – painted wooden boards, old baking trays and fabric off-cuts work really well.
4. Try to remember the Rule of Thirds: nine times out of ten your photo will look better if you place your subject off-centre; splitting your frame into three equal parts will help with this.
5. Leave negative space so you can add text or to give visual emphasis elsewhere in the picture.
6. Think about how you can style your subjects to make your pictures look more natural and inspiring.
7. Order small some test prints (around 5p each) from SIMLAB so you can see how your shots look in print.
8. If you’re thinking about investing in a dSLR, don’t order the kit lens but get a 1.8 50 mm lens instead (Canon example).
9. Don’t be lazy! Move into your subject rather than using your zoom as the more flexible you are the better angles you will find to take your shots.
10. If you’re shooting indoors be sure to take your pictures with the lights off and use natural light instead.

Do you have any top photography tips you would like to share? Or perhaps there’s a specific detail you like about the pictures I’ve shared here?

// Photography and styling by Will Taylor


Will Taylor

Will lives in NYC and is an interior design author and content creator. He's been blogging about his love of design, style and travel since 2009. His #MakeYouSmileStyle approach to decorating and dressing has inspired over one million Instagram uploads to the hashtag from followers across the world.


  1. This is so useful, thank you for sharing with us! The Crush bowl looks very stylish.

    • @Jules – Thank you! Sure – I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark III but also with my iPhone, too. My last post on NYC was all shot with my phone, for example!

  2. One of the most important tips to get really pro is in my opinion the off-centered focus point.
    Did you learn anything about different angle shooting and the corresponding effects/impression they give? xx

    • @Gudy – I totally agree! Emily didn’t cover that in this session as it was more of a basic overview in the two hours because everyone in attendance had different level of skills. Personally, I like to shoot macro shots from a low level so that it gives the perspective of being at the same level/size as the subject, just as seen in the crush image above. x

  3. Great tips Emily & Will! One of my favorite tips is to use a reflection board to add extra light to the subject (especially when you shoot indoors). I often use a big white lid from a box, or a colored tea towel and keep it on the shadow side of the subject. Works like a charm 🙂

    • @Judith – That’s an excellent tip, Judith! Thanks for sharing. A few years ago painted a wooden board white and to this day I still use it to shoot props on because it reflects the natural light perfectly. PLus, it works as an interesting background, too!

  4. LOVE this post, Will. In some ways we need reminding of these things on a regular basis! 😉 Of course when I say we, I mean me he he

  5. Thanks for the advice! Some seriously great tips, really loving the negative space tip. I love adding font to photos but sometimes it just looks a bit to busy, this is perfect! Thanks again. x

    • @Toni – Anytime! I’m also a big fan of adding type to photos; the key is to think about placement of type before you hit ‘take’ so you don’t have to squeeze it in afterwards! x

  6. Great tips! Using wrapping paper as a background is a great idea!

    I often consider my depth of field when taking a picture. A shallow depth of field will create an off focus background which is a really great way to add in camera texture and a sort of romance to your photos. Just remember to keep your subject in focus as that’s where you want the eye to travel to.

    Take care x

  7. Entirely agree about shooting in natural light! I very rarely, if ever, shoot using a flash.

    My tip: If you’re investing in a DSLR (especially the more expensive ones…) invest in proper filters, if even just a simple clear glass one. I’ve seen filters take the damage that would have ordinarily been taken by a lens after a dropped camera. Not to mention they can help with some of the more intense lighting scenarios.

  8. Thanks for coming to my workshop Will! I love how you’ve presented my tips here.
    Happy shooting!

    PS – I bought one of those bowls too 😉 x

    • @Lisa – Thank you! And you can 100% take shots like this on an affordable camera, or even your phone. For example, I recently took all my pictures on a trip to NYC with my iPhone. 🙂

  9. Pingback: Food Photography Tips

  10. I loved your recommendations! really this blog is so welcoming, makes me feel so happy. You put a smile on our face. Thank you!

  11. Pingback: 10 essentiels à connaître – Un rêve un jour

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Hey, I'm Will

Welcome to Bright.Bazaar, my make-you-smile style corner of the internet. I’ve been sharing my love of beautiful design, feel-good homes, everyday style, inspiring travel and, pretty much everything in between, since 2009. As well as working as a content creator, I write interior design books and edit a bi-weekly e-newsletter called Smile Mail. I live in New York City with my heartmate and can often be found listening to Madonna’s Confessions album and dreaming up my next home renovation project.