My Journey to Vicki Knight’s Photographer’s Business Retreat!

May 6, 2016 | Blog

Five years ago I was asked during a dinner table game, a question: “What would be your dream job?” and straight away I answered … a photographer.

That got me thinking, why can’t I have my dream job and get paid for something I love to do! At that time natural life style photography was beginning to trend in the UK. So I put a search for outdoor family photography and there it was…. on the top of the list Vicki Knights Photography

Immediately I fell in love with her style of photography and how she came across: genuine, warm, friendly, talented (I could go on and on…) but above all a hard working and devoted mum.

Inspired by it all, I slowly started building my portfolio, improving my techniques and attending courses to hone my skills in post production.

Ok, so I hear you saying “ how did you make your journey to Vicki Knights retreat….”

You get to a point in your career, where everything is stable… clients are happy, you get enough work that keeps you busy (but not too busy!), get lots of likes and comments until one day … get a client who is not as pleased with their photos as you thought they were going to be!

At the time I was annoyed and started doubting my work but thinking back on it now, it was a new beginning! I contacted Vicki Knights for the first time seeking advice and she added me to a supportive lifestyle photographers group, who gave brilliant advice and shared experiences on every aspect of this industry.

I soon realised that I wasn’t the only one  facing these insecurities or dilemmas. The group has helped me build my confidence , be proud of my work and above all introduced me to so many talented photographers.

Ok so I’m finally getting to the retreat now…. when Vicki announced last year she was running a Business retreat for photographers, well of course I jumped to the chance and the 6 month countdown began!

The Delight Photography Business Retreat was at the charming Florence House in East Sussex. A gorgeous setting near the coast and surrounded by beautiful grounds. It was the perfect place to get inspired, reflect and photograph of course!

I was excited to meet Vicki but at the same time felt a bit nervous (having followed her for years I knew everything about her but yet she knew nothing about me). I didn’t need to be nervous, she was exactly how I had imagined (well taller than I expected)…simply wonderful!

The retreat itself was exactly what I was looking for, a totally comprehensive workshop on how to run a successful photography business. In addition I met 10 lovely female photographers who shared similar desires and passion for family photography.

Vicki’s wing woman Vicky Holmes co-hosted the retreat and took all behind the scenes images and the fantastic group shot below.

Over the 3 days we shared our experiences, ate tons of scrummy food (still remembering that sticky toffee pudding – yum) had lots of laughter and squeezed in some work of course! Watching Vicki in action was a great learning experience as it gave me an insight into how I would like to photograph in the future.

Not only did the course help me identify my brand, my style, my strapline but also improve my technique in shooting from a distance.

Here are my results from the two gorgeous shoots:

Thank you again Vicki Knights for this amazing opportunity, Vicky Holmes for being such a great laugh and to all the other lovely ladies for making my first retreat such a delightful experience.

I’m really excited about putting new actions into my business so watch this space!


Mona x

 by Follow these top 10 tips to take better photos on your mobile phone.



I know this may sound obvious, but you will be amazed by the amount of dirt and smudges you find on your lens build up from your pockets, handbags and kids.  So, get into the habit of cleaning your phone with a tissue or soft part of your clothes (do not wipe on your jeans or fingers!!).


The best way of achieving straighter images (especially for landscape) is by enabling the grid feature on your phone. This should be in your camera settings and nine equal boxes will appear when you switch your camera on. Use the 3×3 grid to align your images and hey presto no more leaning tower of Pisa!


Understanding light is one of the most important factors in any photos. It can transform the mood and atmosphere of the photo. Try to use natural light on your subject and avoid using built-in flash as they are usually unflattering or can be too harsh.


By zooming in too much the quality of your image decreases, and it appears more pixelated. To get better and sharper images try to get closer to your subject or use minimal zoom.


Ever wondered how professional portraits stand out? (Well, the “not so very hidden” secret is that we create a shallow depth of field by setting our aperture wide). You can achieve this look by using the portrait mode on your phone. The camera phone blurs the background and puts the focus on the subject. Best used for individual, couple’s portraits and even makes food look good but practice by varying the distance.


Light is key when taking good photos so understanding where your light is and how to position yourself/subject is important. Put your camera phone on selfie and do a full spin to see where the light is hitting you most flattering. You may also want to try backlight so when the light source is behind you, it creates a halo effect.


Phone cameras are normally set to automatic focus but sometimes the subject is not so obvious, or you may want to change the focus point. To adjust where you want your phone camera to focus, simply tap on the subject and a square icon will appear. This will shift your focus and sharpen your subject.


Rather than taking the same type of shot over and over again, try changing the perspective (go higher up or lower down). Another tip when photographing building or landmarks is to use the panoramic mode vertically (going up or down). This lets you take a series of photos and stitch them together into one wide or tall image.


Nobody likes blurry images, well unless you are creating a purpose blur! To minimise camera shake use both hands or lean on a surface, wall or even a friend’s shoulder to create stability. For low light conditions, time lapse and long exposure, purchasing a small tripod can be more helpful.


Taking a good photo on your mobile phone is just the first step and with a few tweaks you can turn your good photos into great photos! Most mobile phones now come with editing features such as exposure, contrast, white balance, crop, sharpness, and magic wand. If you want to further edit your images, there are editing apps such as Snapseed, Adobe Photoshop Express and Instagram offer further features as well as one tap filters. Try converting your image to black and white to create a certain mood!

I hope by following these top tips you will see a difference and start taking better photos on your mobile phone. Practising and experimenting is the best way to learn, so have a play on your phone and see what works for you but most importantly have fun!!

If you want to further develop and compose photos creatively then why not sign up to my adult mobile phone workshop. I will be running them at my home studio in North London, N20 from January 2024. Contact me for further details.


  1. Rima

    Love this inspirational piece, and the photographs are stunning x

    • Mona Naem

      Thanks Rima, I really enjoyed writing it.


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