{Free Beginner Photography Class} 6 Month Student Reviews

So I’m going to take a post just to brag on my Free Beginner Photography Class here at the halfway point of the class.  Plus I really want each of them to hear and really see how much they’ve grown over the past few months.  I’m really blessed by these 6 people who’ve participated almost weekly for the past half year and the seventh who just joined this weekend.

I’ll talk about each of these folks in alphabetical order.  You’ll see one of the first images they posted for January’s assignment, then read the mission statement they’ve crafted for the Storytelling with Images Series, and finally see a sampling of their most recent work with some words of encouragement for me.  Finally, we’ll have a little blurb about the itinerary for the next 6 months of this series.

Prepare to feast your eyes on the beauty this class is making.


micah at one month old, sooc

I want to capture raw emotional interactions between families and couples in a way that pulls away from the technicalities of a picture and pulls into one of the most important aspects of a memory: Love.

my boys
kelvin 6000

I want to capture raw emotional interactions between families and couples in a way that pulls away from the technicalities of a picture and pulls into one of the most important aspects of a memory: Love.

Amanda is a budding professional photographer that I’m privileged to know in real life. I’d met her in a few local photographer meetups before, but really got to know her in December when she hired me to do newborn photographs of Micah.  Let me tell you something about Amanda: when she jumps into something, she’s all in!  She’s spent more hours researching and practicing photography in the last month than I have spent in the past six months writing these posts. I was completely flattered that Amanda chose to jump into my beginner class at all!

Amanda, thank you for joining this class.  Your knowledge and thoughtful critique has blessed the others so much. Your biggest areas of growth are white balance and lighting coupled with the passion of finding your voice. I’m so excited to see you create and begin to work toward your mission statement with your art.  Keep challenging me as I teach and asking questions.  And if you find yourself passionate enough to teach on a particular topic, I’d be honored to have you as a guest poster in this series!


Inside Shot. ISO 1600

I want to capture the beauty of this earth and the love, emotion, and every day interactions of my family and those around me.

Beginners Photography Class {Rule of thirds}
Beginners Photography Class {Leading Lines}
Beginners Photography Class {Angles}


Amber is one of my truest beginners.  She only knew how to use auto mode when she jumped in at the beginning. The difference between her make-up image and the second image I’ve featured of her daughter Bri is incredible! The difference in lighting, intentional composition, emotion, angles… it’s huge!

Amber, you have grown so much through diligence and both giving and receiving critique.  Your faithfulness despite your hard season with a 3 year old and infant is truly paying off.  Your children will have beautifully recorded memories.  I want to encourage you to get these memories into albums.  Buy a template compatible with PSE and get on it.  But most of all, thank you for sending me little words of encouragement through both Facebook and email.  There were days when I pushed through writing a post when I really wanted to give up, all because I knew you were counting on it.  Your words have made a difference in my life.  Thank you.


Cliff House,  101

To capture beauty as the eye sees it, and as the imagination remembers it.

Old foundationPP,WR 006 copy
angles 064   Grand daughter reading Calvin and Hobbs
flowers WR 024 copy   Leading lines

Andrew is my Father-in-Law and his primary subject with a camera has always been primarily birds with a secondary emphasis on anything in the created world.  His desire to learn photography grew naturally from his passion for bird watching.

Andrew, I appreciate that you’ve joined this class.  Most of all I appreciate the time I know you’re investing in this class both reading the post and writing critique for others.  I know reading and writing are not things that come easily to you, but you’ve grown in both areas through this class.  Way to go!  I appreciate your honest critique whether you like an image or not.  I also appreciate your dedication in learning the craft even though it’s hard.


shutter assignment #1 ISO:100, shutter:1/15

I want to capture life in all its fullness and diversity. I want to encapsulate memories just as
they happened and capture the uniqueness of each individual.

Mission statement: I want to capture life in all its fullness and diversity. I want to encapsulate memories just as they happened and capture the uniqueness of each individual.

Triptych 2-ballerina and her tools
Triptych-1- a ballerina and her tools

Jessica is an in real life friend whose sweet husband surprised her with her SLR in February 🙂  She jumped in a little late and has caught up beautifully.  So, like Amber, Jessica is a true beginner in the fullest sense.  It seems every time I run into her around town, she has her camera strung over her should practicing while herding her four beautiful children.

Jessica, I’m loving watching your eye develop.  Your biggest addition to this class is the overwhelming humility with which you receive and give critique.  You’re eager to learn and grow and even I find that encouraging. As you’ve grown, I can see that you’re changing from a mom rushing to capture the moment to an intentional photographer mom with the patience to think about and compose a shot with intention.  I love seeing that growth and am excited to see where December will find you.


Crepuscular Rays

To capture everyday objects from a unique perspective and find the beauty in the mundane.

Spring Blossoms - Shade Mode
Street Lamp
Red door
Colors in Motion


Right from the beginning of this class I could see that Sarah has an eye for detail. How cool are those rays streaming through the clouds on her very first submitted image.  I find it amusing that her mission statement reveals this even more.

SarahBeth, I like the way you see the world.  I like how you find beauty in the mundane and cause me to stop and stare at it in wonder.  I need that so much in my season of life.  Thank you for your encouragement to keep at the writing and assistance over the past few months.  In the next six months, I’d love to see you push yourself to use the camera in places where you would ordinarily leave it at home: the theater, the movies, or just to document a mundane day.  I love your vision and can’t wait to see you flesh it out.


Lindy Hopping

 I want to capture and communicate the potential of what is now broken, and inspire others with ability to fix rather than throw away.
Or Isaiah 58:12 And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places; thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.

Immaculate Perception
The Building
The Thrill of Victory

Dance Floor

Teddy really might be teacher’s pet. Ha! :-p  Early on he noticed a weakness in my ability to both photograph and write for posts while my toddlers fought through the winter season sicknesses so, he volunteered himself  to take some of the images that I couldn’t at that time.  That gesture made sure that this class had quality content as well as quality imagery.  I’m so grateful. I also just love how this haunting last image totally fleshes out his mission statement.

Teddy, the first thing I’ve noticed about your imagery was that it was distinctive.  I couldn’t really put into words at the beginning of the class why, but now that I had a chance to get to know your engineer brain, the thing that really makes you stand out might just be your precision. Part of that is that your subjects are most often still life or landscape.  But even if you were able to photograph people on a regular basis, I imagine you critically looking at every aspect of the image you want to create and analyzing every last iota.  I’d love to see what you could do through fine art portraiture with that brain of yours (although I’m not sure it would appeal to you with your mission statement).  Thank you for being generous with your abilities and investing in me and this class.  But mostly, thank you for always raising the bar.  For jumping in and really critiquing whenever you had the chance to do so.  For pushing and encouraging me and others to continually critique and grow.  Your sort of like the class glue (in the most flattering way possible) 🙂



Welcome, Theresa!  Thanks for having the courage to jump in at the six month mark of the class and catching up.  We look forward to helping you grow!

Free Beginner Photography Class Itinerary

So here’s what I’ve planned to cover in the next six months.

  • 1 more post on lenses next week
  • 3-5 weeks learning to use manual mode
  • 1-2 posts on nailing focus in your images
  • 4-8 posts on lighting (natural available light only with some mention of using reflectors and when to use your on-camera flash)
  • 1 post on the difference between RAW and JPEG modes and when I recommend each
  • 1 post helping class members to choose a final class portfolio project
  • 1 overview post on the pros and cons of the most popular editing software
  • 4-5 posts on very basic edits  (brightness, contrast, levels/curves, healing/cloning, color/white balance adjustments, sharpening, and preparing for web)
  • 1 post where users of different editing software will apply the same basic edits to one image with screenshots for the visual learners (Hopefully, Amanda and Teddy will help me out here)
  • Remaining post days will have some step by step screen shot recipes for what I do to various images with editing software
  • 1 Final post presenting the year end portfolio projects from class members

If you guys feel like there’s anything I missed on this planning list or if there’s something you’d really like covered, then please tell me in the comments section of this post or drop me an email to let me know.