A Day With Hannah Couzens

Introduction to Lighting by Hannah Couzens

A brief history of my humble beginnings as a photographer: I jumped straight into shooting anything and everything once my Fujifilm x100f was in my hands, be it streets, portraits, wildlife and of course scenery, with a little abstract and food on the side. I quickly learnt where my passions and weaknesses lay and from there I discovered where I wished to excel. Subsequently, I set out and looked for a variety of photographers known and unknown but all equally excellent at their craft in their own way. That way I could learn from them and practice what skills I felt I needed to be on a higher level of photoraphy.

This is where I found a well-known photographer named Hannah Couzens on Instagram. Hannah was posting stories with tricks and tips, exploring behind the scenes of what it’s like to be a photographer primarily in London, and sometimes all around the UK for portraits, courses and events. I did some research into her history as a photographer which was as impressive as can be. Following this, I jumped straight onto a lighting course.

The course was great, ideal for someone like myself. Hannah split the day into two parts, the first comprising of her imparting vital amounts of theory explanation but by no means overloading us with information. We had a break around 12:00 for lunch. The studio then became our playground where we were tasked to take the best pictures we could with the light provided. We were fortunate enough to have a beautiful model named Natasha as our muse. She was experienced with learners and very happy to pose for us while we relentlessly took photos, putting into practice what we had learnt - how she survives the constant flashes is beyond me! 

In an attempt to direct, I asked Natasha to try different expressions in the light or hold a pose that she was executing. It was a real relief to discover how professional Natasha was as I personally felt there was going to be quite a lot of pressure working with a model, but Natasha couldn’t have been a more perfect model for the course.

There were four of us on the course, varying in age and ability, which to be fair was probably a small class for Hannah, but I think 5-6 people in total is the perfect count with this kind of course as a student. Hannah explained what to look for and what to avoid. I experimented against what Hannah suggested a few times, trying different F numbers etc, and I was surprised that Hannah encouraged the experimentation. It was nice to see a teacher encouraging exploration for yourself just to see different results and in the end combining the two to make your own style.

Consequently, I would highly recommend this course. Whether you are vastly experienced but lacking light knowledge or a beginner who wants to garner such knowledge from a real photographer whose everyday obsession is her work and exploration of light in photography. Hannah has inspired and motivated me to take up more portrait work and stick to bettering my abilities in different areas of photography. Hannah was ideal for me as a teacher and I will definitely be looking for another course soon. 

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It was the 24th of Feb 2019 when I committed to exploring Istanbul with my friend, Faisal Iqbal. We desired a last-minute getaway and finally decided that Istanbul would be the destination of choice for us both. We noted the weather wasn’t predicted to be particularly great, but we resolved to remain undeterred and would endeavour to see as much of the wonderful city as we could, no matter what the elements threw at us.

We flew with Turkish Airlines who did a great job and stayed at Oba Hotel in central Istanbul, approximately a 5-minute walk from the Blue Mosque. Istanbul was an incredible city with deep rooted Ottoman culture. The people were polite and friendly, happy to help with directions and gracious enough to allow haggling when shopping which is always fun for someone like me.

This was my first trip away with my good friend, Faisal. It was nice to have someone with a sense of humour along for the ride. Solo travel will never cease to be special to me but having a companion there for even more laughs always adds to the experience!

Istanbul is definitely a destination for you if you wish to experience an eclectic mix of European and Islamic culture. The architecture is comparable to Rome in places and the atmosphere is warm and inviting in general. The history vast and saturates the city.

My only complaint was the volume of people. Therefore, I would suggest going to Istanbul during the off season to avoid the crowds and to allow yourself to be fully immersed in the experience of such a vibrant Middle Eastern city.