1. Q. I feel like a “bit of a fraud” because I have no qualifications.
  2. Q. Do you use pre-sets or actions on your photos?
  3. Q. In maternity photography, how do you set the pregnant lady at ease?
  4. Q. What would be your approach to capturing a full wedding?

Q1. I feel like a “bit of a fraud” because I have no qualifications. I only picked up a camera two years ago, however I have shot a few weddings for family and done portraits for people and am doing a photography diploma. Would you mind telling me your route into photography (i.e qualifications, experience)?    MF, Ballymena, Northern Ireland

A1. I think many creative people think like this, because their talent comes naturally to them, rather than is “learnt”. There are lots of successful people who have trained on the job, and learnt through sheer experience and many people start businesses simply because they are passionate about their product – they don’t need a degree in it. I wouldn’t suggest you go down that route if you’re thinking of going into brain surgery – but with photography, it is much more about relating to people, than understanding everything about your camera. And I’ve met plenty of “over qualified, highly trained” people who don’t take great photos!

I am self taught; I started out as a special needs teacher, and just discovered a love for photography along the way, picking up tips and asking questions, but mainly learning from experience – which is why I am sharing that experience with you all now, so you can learn from my mistakes!

You need to check out my blog: Is your lack of confidence holding you back? This tells you how I started – and it shows you that you don’t need any qualifications! I too felt a fraud – you will see that in the blog!

So just have the confidence to keep on doing a good job – you must be doing something right if people are booking you!

Annabel x

Q2. Do you use pre-sets or actions on your photos? I want to create that vintage look – and the bright colours that I see in a lot of photographers work – but there is so much on the Internet that I don’t know where to start – Beth O’Neil, Otley, UK

A2. I use Lightroom. They have made everything so easy by taking all the bits from Photoshop that photographers need and making a simple work flow.

You just hit a button to get a vintage look, in Lightroom presets on the left hand side – it’s called “Color creative – aged photo.” It’s dead easy. If you open an image in Lightroom, then just keep pressing the presets down the side, it will change the image and you can see which ones you like.

The bright colours are achieved by using the one called “punch”.

It’s a bit daunting at first, but really easy once you know how. I got frustrated trying to understand it all, so I went on a training day with Marko Nurminen a while back – it was brilliant! Check out his website and go on one of his courses, he will simplify everything for you and give you the bits you need.

And to make retouching easier – do most of your work in camera first – check out: Do you get the perfect image right in your camera?

I’d advise against trawling through the Internet, or going on complicated Photoshop courses – you will want to slit your wrists in five minutes! Trust me, buy Lightroom and speak to Marko!

Annabel x


Hi Annabel – I have Lightroom so will be brave and use it! Thank you very much – Beth

Yes, when I first bought it, I took one look at it, and ignored it for 18 months! It was Marko that persuaded me to try it again, and it was so easy once he showed me how! It’s just being shown a few simple things that help you understand it – trying to wade through a manual or boring tutorials just doesn’t work for us non-techies! – Annabel x

Q3. In maternity photography, how do you set the pregnant lady at ease? – Claire Barlow, Dubai

A3. In any shoot where the client is going to be half undressed, I always start by doing some normal shots in jeans or other clothes first – this helps the person see that you know what you are doing, and they relax into the shots, well before they start taking their clothes off. Tell them this is what you are doing – tell them you want to do some shots for them, as normal, and will move onto the half naked ones later, so they don’t need to worry.

Check out: How do you get people to relax in front of the camera? – this shows you a lot of the work I do before, so the client feels more relaxed and check out: The Naked Muse which contains several tips which will also work for pregnant women, nudes, and lingerie shoots.

Annabel x

Q4. What would be your approach to capturing a full wedding? I’ve read your “99 portraits book” 99 times! It gives an excellent example of how you approach a portrait session – but what about weddings? – JS, USA

A4. Unfortunately the new wedding book was never published. However, I did write one many years ago which is still very relevant.

“The Annabel Williams book of Wedding & Portrait Photography” (Rotovision) was written before digital cameras were mainstream, and it therefore uses images shot on film – however my system of planning and preparation is all still the same, and the images just as relevant. I don’t have any copies myself but it is still available on Amazon if you would like to check it – The Annabel Williams Book of Wedding and Portrait Photography.

Annabel x