What a clever title for a beginning photography class. Love it! I have had so many people ask me about the class I’m taking and so I figured the easiest way to explain it would be in detail here. Before I go too far, here’s a link to the class in case you want to check it out yourself… it’s at JessicaSprague.com.
I have had a Nikon D50 (similar to the D40 and D90) for 5 years and used it on Auto from day 1. I really enjoyed that camera and highly recommend it for beginners. Even for beginners who plan to improve their skills. Remember that if you want to move up in camera, you can always sell yours and upgrade, but I assure you, the pictures you get will be nice on one of these cameras. I have heard (and read) many photographers say that it’s not the camera that makes a good photograph, but the person HOLDING the camera. If you have a camera, especially a DSLR, you can learn to get pretty good images from what you have. No need to go out and spend tons of money before you learn. (Sorry, if you were hoping to use this class as an excuse to go out and buy the newest camera out there!) I don’t know anything about point-and-shoot cameras, so if you have one of those, I really don’t know if you can adjust all the settings you’ll want to once you start to learn. So, if you were thinking of taking this class and you have a DSLR, you are all set. (I did get a new camera in February and love it… a Nikon d300s…)
With that said, you may want to invest in a 50mm fixed focal length, 1.4 lens. Depending on the camera you have, they could cost a few hundred dollars. If you don’t have this lens, you can still take this class and do REALLY well, but before long you will learn what that lens can do for you that a normal zoom lens can’t do. I didn’t get my 50mm fixed until the class was half-way through and I was doing just fine. So, it’s not necessary, but if you can get one beforehand, I recommend it. (The teacher does, too.)
The class is 8 weeks long with a link to the class video posted each Monday. You watch the video, listen to an MP3 audio, and read the lesson’s PDF, that you can print and put in a notebook. The homework is required, but you don’t get graded or fussed at if you don’t turn in but my thoughts are, I’m paying for this class, I need to do EVERYTHING in my power to get as much as I can out of it. They also send a creative assignment on Tuesdays that is not required, but again, I do it because I really want to learn as much as I possible so I do all of the assignments.
The videos are about 15 minutes long. When the first one was over, I was disappointed. I looked around and thought, “Man, I paid $130 and that’s it?!?” but within 2 hours of playing with my camera I was BLOWN AWAY at what she had managed to teach me. I saved the MP3 to my iTunes and put it on my phone, and listened to it over and over while cooking dinner. I picked up even more information from that, and of course, printed out the PDF and read it. I felt confident that I was grasping what she was teaching each week.
On the third week we learned how to use our cameras on FULL MANUAL MODE! Yep, that has always intimidated me. I love that they had built in two weeks of practice for this lesson. I have one week left of this class and I’m tempted to take it again. I guess I don’t really NEED to since I have access to the information from now on, but the homework aspect makes me take the time to get out there and mess with my camera. I love it.
I don’t want to spoil all the fun for those of you who are going to take it so I’m not going to post my class assignments but I do have a parallel blog that I plan to be posting my favorites from my new knowledge. It’s called “Through My Lens.”
One note about the cost of the class… okay, two notes. First, I paid $129 and am in the “standard” version. There was an “extended” version for $179 but I didn’t get signed up in time to get a spot. I can assure you that the extra $50 would be worth every penny. The difference in the two classes is that the instructor, Candace Stringham, will comment on every assignment you post (required assignments, not the optional, creative ones). By “comment,” I mean, literally, record an audio file that is attached to your picture. So, she will tell you what you did right as well as give you tips on what to do better next time. Even though I didn’t have this opportunity I still have access to the Extended classes pictures and I listen to every audio file she posts. There are about 50 students in the extended class and so by the time I’ve listened to about 20 comments I can usually guess what she’s going to say. I love that I’m learning even more by hearing her comments on those pictures, I only wish MY images were being commented on. So, I HIGHLY recommend you try to get in to that version, but if not, be sure you take advantage of all those audio files. It will exponentially increase your learning. I said I had two comments… the second is that around the 4th week, I told Matt that I would have gladly paid $500 for what I had learned to that point. Amazing stuff. I never thought I would grasp aperture! I’ve read books, manuals, played with it, to no avail. In this class, for such a small fee, I’ve learned it. Certainly not mastered it but I know what it is and how I can use it. So, like all the great things I highly recommend (Financial Peace University, Once a Month Cooking, Shutterfly, Pampered Chef, Nikon) I don’t get anything for having recommended this to you. I don’t get a cut off of each person who signs up. But I love to share with others what works and what is beneficial.
I have a favorite photographer. Her name is Jessica Ceason. She took our family photos last year and I hope we can schedule another session with her soon. The greatest compliment I have received (and I DO hope to receive again) is when a picture I’ve taken reminds someone of Jessica’s work. No, I don’t want to copy her, but since I love the feel of the images she takes, I want to learn that style. She offers workshops sometimes and I can’t wait until the next one. If you have a few minutes, you should check out her blog…