BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
John P. Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/8/2001
Contact John
John's Gallery

What a busines idea!

I know Kerry and others call me a cynic but, really! offers this great Q&A and questioners get a lot of good information. Depending on the significance of a thread - there comes another NEW Course offered by one of the site's resident photographers. Hmmm, any significance?

After many, long threads - we now can take a course on Wedding Photography and just today, Vik Orenstein offers a course on Studio Photography. [Of course, "nobody" noticed the seven or eight threads, of several hundred comments each, on that topic.]

Is a site for the members or, as I've thought for a long time, a cash cow for the resident professional photographers?

Now, I'm not saying these folks aren't good, that they don't take good pictures or offer good advice. I am saying members, especially those new to photography, need to carefully consider whether they need these course offerings at prices that, frankly, I believe are too steep.

Remember the old adage [and I'm old enough to remember] - "Then what can does, them what can't teach."

As digital cameras take over the marketplace, and more and more amateurs to advanced amateurs are able to make pretty good images without expending monies for film and processing, has the professional photographer's ability to earn a living selling photographs fallen off to the point that it's much more lucrative to teach photography?

As I noted in a number of threads, I took three years plus to complete NYIP Professional Photography Course, at a cost of $650. I was working hard, full time, sending kids to college and law school. The current NYIP price has been touted at up to $1,000 - but one BP Member said she'd bargained the cost back to about $650 just recently.

A complete photography course that includes digital, with a major section on wedding photography and an entire video on portrait [albeit wedding portraits] photography by Monte Zucker! Compare that cost to a four week program at $200-400. Wow! Did I say cash cow, or what?

I guess I am just too cynical!

To love this question, log in above
2/22/2006 1:01:23 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  It's those that can do, those that can teach. You took NYIP courses but didn't notice your local book store. Everybody has a choice. The people they get to teach the courses have to have been published before, so their living is being made in other areas.
You're asking is bp a site for it's members as if it's hired help. Free galleries and the critique section, yet many people have wanted the course teachers to critique instead of what you get in the Q&A. Maybe some want something out of the courses that they won't get out of the threads.

To love this comment, log in above
2/22/2006 1:40:34 PM

Kerry L. Walker   First, there is nothing wrong with being cynical. If more people were, Circle of Photograpers, et al, would be out of business. (Not a bad idea.)

As far as BP is concerned, I see it this way. The Q&A is free for any who want to partake, as is the contest. These items are offered free to entice folks to sign up for the courses, which is where the money is. (Sorta like advertising, ain't it?) The fact that they are now offering courses in things that many people are asking about is just a business trying to meet a demand. As to whether the courses are a good value, that is up to the buyer to decide.

To love this comment, log in above
2/22/2006 2:02:41 PM

John P. Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/8/2001
Contact John
John's Gallery
  Oh, Greg, you just didn't read a lot of my responses. If you had, you'd have known that I started building my photographic library 25 years ago. And, I said that NYIP really didn't teach me anything new, rather it helped me focus on that knowledge and forced me to put it to good use.

I don't think anyone should be deprived of an income. I just hope the newbies realize that a four week course at $200-400 is very expensive.

And, then, there's the issue: Who are some of these folks? Sure, I've heard of Bryan Peterson, Tony Sweet, Vik Orenstein. Never heard of . . . Jim Miotke 'til Never said he isn't a good photographer or that his idea of isn't a terrific money maker.

To love this comment, log in above
2/22/2006 2:33:33 PM

George Anderson   One thing I've noticed is that some of those who teach these types of courses, (not just BP) tend to follow a fairly rigid dogma on recommending the 'right' choices of equipment, etc. No one gets too far out of the modern mainstream, a few really push certain types of gear. That's a shame, I think, especially for fine art photographers. You see it in the questions asked here - "What kind of DSLR do I need", etc., often before the beginner even decides what on type of photography in which to specialize.

Taking courses for artistic influences and learning some technical tips is fine, but when it comes to buying gear, those who question authority and do some independent investigation will probably save more money and time over the long term.

Some learned folks here seem to recognize this. Some only half-humorous recommendations:

Greg Granger's course on "How to Easily Study Photography from Used Books for Pennies What Others Pay Hundreds to Learn"

Will Turner's course on "Disassembling and Assessing Key Weaknesses in Modern Electronic and Optical Imaging Gear"

George Anderson's course on "Alternative Film Cameras"

John Stanstedt's course on "Today's Photographic Publications: Where's the Beef?"

To love this comment, log in above
2/22/2006 2:49:30 PM

John P. Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/8/2001
Contact John
John's Gallery
  Greg -

Where can I find your course?

It's obvious that you, like me, read a number of the threads on

Love the hyperbole!


P.S. - As I might get some income, Ineed the last name spelled correctly on the check, you understand.

To love this comment, log in above
2/22/2006 2:57:50 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  Think grown ups can keep track of their money. The list of people who could teach a course that you haven't heard about is a very long one.

To love this comment, log in above
2/22/2006 3:05:19 PM

George Anderson   Whoops! My apologies for butchering John and Greg's last names, my only excuse is the last name is cutoff on the threads when posting a reply.

I think grownups should certainly be held responsible for spending their own money, but whether they can be educated to think critically is another story entirely. Providing that hint is my free contribution to educating others, for whatever it is worth...

To love this comment, log in above
2/22/2006 3:40:34 PM

Irene Troy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/27/2004
  I have not seen any posts on this topic from anyone who has taken classes here at BP, so I thought I’d throw in my two cents; I have now taken 3 BP classes and, guess what folks? From the point of view of a novice moving toward semi-pro, I am impressed and feel that I got more than my money’s worth in each class. As to the cost of these classes; having taken other online classes, not in photography, but in other areas; BP prices are not outlandish. As to that tired old saw: “those who can do; those who can’t teach” it was wrong then, it is wrong now – and it is ignorant! Sorry folks, but as someone who has taught, who works with troubled kids and who has spent much of a life time around education, I know that good teachers are hard to come by and that it takes a really in-depth knowledge, not only of your subject, but of how people learn to teach well.

As far as the people who teach the classes; my first class was with Bryan Peterson. I found the class very helpful and challenging. Some of what was covered I could have learned from his books; however, the opportunity to have my images critiqued by him and by other students was terrific. There were some things in his class that were not in his books and many things that probably vary from class-to-class as students ask questions.

My second class was with Kerry Drager and my 3rd was with Brenda Tharp. Both classes were amazing! Kerry is one of the most patient and precise people I have studied with. His critiques are very detailed and very helpful. His material was well thought out, detailed and very useful. Again, some of it is in his book, but, much of it was given in response to questions or situations that arose during class. Brenda is an amazing photographer who is also an amazing teacher. She challenged us to do better than many of us (well, at least I) thought we could. Again, some material is covered in her book and much is specific to class. Her critiques are very insightful, precise and helpful.

I am a skeptic – just ask my friends – and I was very nervous about spending this kind of money on an online class. However, I plan to take more BP classes in the future. I don’t see the argument that if BP staff sees many posts on, for example, wedding photography that they decide to offer a class on this topic. Frankly, to me, that sounds like good business. You gear your class selection to your perspective student/customer demands. Anyone can post here; ask for critiques; debate issues or anything else that meets the very broad guidelines of the site. No fee is charged for any of this. No one says you have to take a class. If you enter a contest, your entry is judged the same whether or not you ever take a class – just ask some contest winners and losers.

In case you are wondering, I am not a shill for BP! I have my issues with the site – don’t we all? But, I have found the classes to be well worth my time and money. To rephrase something Kerry said; the buyer determines the value of any product. If you take a class here (or anywhere) and you feel that you gained something that you needed to gain, then the class is worth the cost.

To love this comment, log in above
2/22/2006 5:05:44 PM

Sharon  Day
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/27/2004
Contact Sharon
Sharon 's Gallery
  "If you enter a contest, your entry is judged the same whether or not you ever take a class – just ask some contest winners and losers."

That's a fact!

To love this comment, log in above
2/22/2006 8:30:16 PM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/4/2004
  I have got to say thak you Irene!!

"As to that tired old saw: “those who can do; those who can’t teach” it was wrong then, it is wrong now – and it is ignorant!"
Well said.
Where would we be with out those who share so much with us? you can't get it all from a book of any type.
You need those who have real experiances to share and perfect our craft.
I have taught for years,just because a wonderful, wonderful Photographer,put up with me on his heals with a hundread and one questions,answered them all and then one more.and he didn't have to,wasn't getting paid,just filled his heart.
this silly statement has been said by a few here-I hope you remember it anytime you stop to teach a child anything or ask a question of someone you admire.
sorry, I so hate that statment,I had to put in my 2 cents.

I support this site for the fellowship and support it gives to so many photographers.
where would we be with out a place to vent , tease,laugh and learn from fellow photographers who's forte's may be different then ours?

To love this comment, log in above
2/23/2006 6:52:25 AM

John P. Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/8/2001
Contact John
John's Gallery

Glad you taught photography and not English. Check out your use of apostrophes in the last line of your comment.

I taught Environmental Law at the college level for more than ten years. Never got a bad comment about my courses. Guess I knew my stuff and could share it with students. Not too sure of my successes sharing with members of my camera club, though several folks have thanked me for my help.

Knowledge and demonstration of skill [say as a photographer]just doesn't guarantee anything. Most of us can point to a teacher [grade school, high school, college] who just couldn't cut it. Brilliant, knowledgable - but couldn't get through to the students. Or, maybe, not so knowledgable - like the First Grade teacher, who never took higher level math in high school or college, forced to teach Algebra for budgetary reasons within a school system. And, perhaps, that's part of the reason certain politicians have floated the idea of retesting/recertification of teachers.

As to this discussion, the ability to produce a great photograph doesn't assure that someone can teach another how to do it. I gues we'd all like to think it would. In some respects that may be because there's more of a need to "seeing photographically" than to snap the picture.

To love this comment, log in above
2/23/2006 7:38:30 AM


BetterPhoto Member
  Hi John,

I know that our many students will offer their own feedback on the value and merit of our courses. You can also view testimonials of any of our courses on each of their description pages.

However, I would like to clarify some other points you made in your initial comments:

Your quote: "Depending on the significance of a thread - there comes another NEW Course offered by one of the site's resident photographers. Hmmm, any significance?"

Jim White, our newest instructor, is not one of our resident photographers, (of our thousands of members, we have several with the name Jim White). Our newest instructor, Jim White is a professional photographer and owner of The Digital Workflow,a company specializing in color management and printing solutions. Jim was referred to us by Tony Sweet, one of our long time and much respected instructors.

Your quote: "After many, long threads - we now can take a course on Wedding Photography and just today, Vik Orenstein offers a course on Studio Photography."

Vik Orenstein has been teaching her Photographing Children and Studio Portrait Lighting courses since Spring of 2003. Vik is a professional photographer, author of many books and also owner of a 4 nationally recognized studios.

Our newer Digital Wedding Photography course with Paul Gero was years in the making. This course had been much requested by our students, but until we met Paul Gero we had not found the right instructor to teach it. For detailed information about Paul's photography background, you can visit his Premium Gallery:

I just wanted to take some time to clarify one of your points that our courses are "cash cows for our residential photographers." Our courses are taught by renowned photographers and published authors that we seek out to join our team.
And while I can appreciate cynicism, I hope you can appreciate that we have a mission statement that we uphold here at

Our Mission: To educate photographers of many skill levels to help them unleash their creativity, help them make new friends, and provide a way to easily share their photos.

Throughout our site, whether in the forum, articles, blogs, contest or courses, we strive to fulfill that mission.

Thank you for your time in reading my answer to this thread.


Heather Young
heather at

To love this comment, log in above
2/23/2006 7:45:27 AM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/4/2004
LOL,lol you are very right,niether I or most people on BP would argue "I am Not a English teacher" (ok,
I understand that completely, and as a dyslexic, I really do understand what it is to have a good teacher.
But at the same time it does not mean that a good teacher, can not master her craft as well.
I do very well what I teach and feel very acomplished as a teacher both in a studio, workshop and on line.
all I am saying is the statement is not a fair or accurate one.
But, I will say also, as a "art form"
you can teach how to use the tools and do the craft, but you can not instill talent.
and really John, I do understand what you are saying here.
wishing you a great day,

To love this comment, log in above
2/23/2006 7:57:25 AM

Kerry L. Walker   Debby, I thought you might be dyslexic. So is my son and he can't spell mush with a mouth full.

To whom it may concern: As a businessman, I must say that the courses here or something here had better be a cash cow or this site is GONE. After all, BP is a business and something has to generate the cash flow to keep it going.

Remember, even a cow doesn't give milk unless someone is doing the pull and squeeze. (My grandfather had a farm so I've been there, done that.)

To love this comment, log in above
2/23/2006 8:03:56 AM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/4/2004
  well said!!
for every good thing to stay,there has to be something supporting it.
Though I do my own things, I do alot here as well.
Because I do, I tell all Photographers about this site(shoot even photographers on other sites,lol well, this one is better;)
because as they come here for support and company of fellow photographers,
they may also come here and choose a web site , buy a book or take a course in ...
but the site does need support as Kerry is saying to exsist.
and pay these people for thier valuble time.

To love this comment, log in above
2/23/2006 8:15:20 AM

Teri A. Fiske
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/26/2005
  I personally had a good chuckle when I recieved an email from BP about classes offered, I thought to myself "Great marketing!".

John, I'm glad to hear that you never HEARD a complaint when you were teaching. I can say from experience that I may never have told my teachers to their face that their teaching style was terrible or that I didn't like them, but that doesn't mean I wasn't thinking it or discussing it with other students outside of class!

I have now taken 2 classes (both with Vik) through BP and am far better off for taking both of them! I compared the cost to those of a local "Community Darkroom" where I have also taken a few classes and found them comparable. To top it off, I feel I have learned more and had more interaction with Vik here on BP than in my face to face photography classes!

Finally, have you ever priced the seminars through the PPA? 1 class for 1 week: $650.00.

To love this comment, log in above
2/23/2006 8:33:17 AM

John P. Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/8/2001
Contact John
John's Gallery
  I've been a member since 2001 - so I don't think I can be accused of not liking the BP site. I've offered some images; I've offered some critiques.

I fully recognize that there are costs associated with running a fine web site and, we all agree [I think] that BP is great.

But, are the courses cash cows? Let's see: Suppose the cost is $200 [a typical average price.] Assume an average 20 members take the course [duration 4 weeks.] $4000 revenue.

Course can/may be repeated over a year. Say four times. $16,000 annual revenue.

How many courses? 16 short courses in current short listing; 41 listed in the complete list. If all 41 are filled four times a year, 41 X 16,000 = $656,000. Not too bad.

Assume 30 percent for the site: $196800
[Call $200,000.] That means $456,000 for the instructors or $11,121 per course. Can't estimate how many manhours are put in, but $11,000 is more than half-way to the figure the government says is the poverty level. That ain't too bad, at all.

Now, I'm not saying any of the instructors isn't well worth the fee. Nor am I saying that the courses aren't excellent. But, I do think [my opinion] that the courses are expensive.

As an owner of two of Bryan Peterson's books I can say both these works are terrific. Since I can read, and because I do go out and shoot as often as possible, I've learned a lot for about $40. Several other instructors offer courses on subjects they've written books on. Book on digital B&W printing $18.50 [at Amazon;] course price @200.00. Hmmmm!

To love this comment, log in above
2/23/2006 9:27:56 AM

Denyse Clark
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/2/2002
  Interesting conversation John :)

I've taken 3 classes here, and Jim's beginners class, and Bryan's Exposure class took me from having a camera & shooting snapshots in auto mode to using full manual and really starting to "get" it with photography. Maybe expensive, but totally worth it for me. Convenient classes online, printed copies to refer back to, great community in the forum, great personal attention from instructors.

Books overwhelm me- the classes simplified it.

The 3rd class I took, I dropped out after 4 weeks, some of the lessons I thought were more "here's a nice photo- go take one like it". But some of the lessons were too in depth & I simply wasn't ready. BUT now, a year later, I'm finding myself referring back to them.

It's alllll expensive out there, but I've enjoyed what BP has offered me. My only complaint is this: I emailed them about a discount on a 4th class I wanted to take, and they don't offer one and that disappointed me :(

I will probably take a local class at my community darkroom instead.

To love this comment, log in above
2/23/2006 9:40:32 AM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/4/2004
I don't think any one would say YOU don't appreciate BP.
You contribute a lot here.
and I do see your point-
but it doen't really matter the cost.Shoot I get fired on for $10.00 a CD,lol.
Someone is always going to question,being charged and how much they think it's worth.
but just because you brought all this up and it is something so many of us face either as spending the money or teaching the information,
here is my question to you: " You are a very talented and educated Man. Who has many years of hard earned experiance in Law.
How much would it cost for you to dedicate your time to teaching a class on Law 4 times a year?
What do you think,your experiance is worth when handing it to others?
and When you were teaching the class at collage level,did you ever feel under paid?
now this is just my own curiosity, this goes through my thoughts from time to time.
there are some people who don't appreciate getting the information for free, so from time to time I think about this, and now you are a perfect person to ask.
and Thank you for thinking about all this.

To love this comment, log in above
2/23/2006 9:54:41 AM

Craig m. Zacarelli
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/3/2005
  i took a class last summer with tony sweet, it was great, it was fun, it was pretty informative too. Mr' Sweet is a great photographer and a very good teacher. it was kinda pricey but what the heck, I needed it and now im better for it. Would I take another one? Im not sure, the prices are kinda steep for my budget and I would love a class but I dont see it in my immeadiate future yet. Hey, BP should give out classes for the winners in the contests.

To love this comment, log in above
2/23/2006 9:55:48 AM

John P. Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/8/2001
Contact John
John's Gallery
  Debbie -

I was asked to teach in a "new" program coming out of the Emergency Response Requirements for Hazardous Waste Sites by the NJ Institute of Technology. We created a 10 course certificate program to allow environmental professionals, not necessarily degreed, to learn and take on supervisory responsibilities at Superfund sites. After the first year I was asked to coordinate the program and, in addition to teaching, ran the show for 10 years.

As the program matured, our student's education levels shifted from high school graduates to degreed environmental professionals [all the way to the PhD level.]

I taught one or two courses per 14-week semester, 3 hours a class. I taught Environmental Law, we had courses in Chemistry, Industrial Hygiene, etc. The program was presented at three County Colleges in NJ in addition to NJIT.

All of the teachers were paid at the college's Adjunct Professors rate: $1,100/course. Since I lived more than 50 miles from several of the campuses at which I taught, that honorarium covered my travel costs.

If you think about it, Adjunct Professors do give of their knowledge and expertise essentially for free. And, we did it for the needs of the students, the requirements of the companies needing qualified personnel, and the good of the State. And, for the instructors I helped recruit to the program and myself, we loved sharing our knowledge.

I'm wasn't being altruistic and I had a ball!

To love this comment, log in above
2/23/2006 10:34:39 AM

Deborah Liperote
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/8/2006
  Yep... I decided to get in on all the fun with this one. First of all... Kerry, as already stated, is right. BP needs cash flow somehow to keep the site going. I am totally a novice photographer aspiring to greater things so what do you suggest that I do John to progress? You tell me the most inexpensive way to get better and I will do it!!! I have the books but sometimes you just really do need someone to translates what it is saying. EX: Bryan Pettersons Book "Understanding Exposure" pg. 39 talks about distance settings and I didn't know what in the world he was saying until I read the threads on that very topic. Infact, Kerry W.(2/21/05) it was your specific comment that totally cleared the issue up for me! Thanks Alot! I am very appreciative of the free advice we all get here but I do realize that somehow money has to be raised to keep this site going. Again I ask... What other option do you suggest John and I will do it.To everone including John, thank you for teaching me so much. I have gone to Debby's Gallery and Kerry's gallery and many others, many times to learn from all of you. You are all teaching me. So I most certainly have to disagree with John in the whole "those who can't do..." comment. Because you people can seriously do and you have all been wonderful teachers. And I haven't even spent a dime on this site, yet! I am considering taking one of the courses offered. But I'll wait to hear from John first to see what he suggests.

To love this comment, log in above
2/23/2006 10:40:59 AM

John P. Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/8/2001
Contact John
John's Gallery
  There are a number of threads on this issue, Deborah. In my view, the simple answer is Practice... Practice... Practice.

Here's a simple idea [and, remember you didn't say what kind of camera you use:] Assuming you have an SLR with one or more lenses - install your normal 50 mm lens [or the basic zoom that may have been been part of the origianl purchase (e.g. 35-80 mm.] Then get out and shoot.

Learn the nuances of that lens - and preferably it's the fixed focus 50 mm. Shoot close to home, go to a park, shoot at a high school sporting event.

Shoot in the morning, shoot in the afternoon, shoot in the evening.

Vary your subjects: homes, sculptures, trees, people. Use different exposures [that is, vary the aperture and shutter speed] taking several photos of the same subject.

Vary the distance from your subject. Vary the angle. Take vertical pictures as well as horizontal shots.

All of the above is designed to increase your familiarity with your camera and THAT lens, and let you learn what your "system" can do under different conditions.

Don't change the lens until you are comfortable with using it in a variety of situations.

If you use digital, your "film costs" will be none existent. If you use a film camera, you;ll want to be judicious.

Try to write down exposure information as you shoot. Make notes on what you did and why. Note weather conditions, light, time of day.

Then, examine the pictures you took and review them with regard to the notes you make. Be ruthless in your self criticism. Once you understand a given picture, that is - what you "made" with respect to what you tried to do, THROW IT AWAY IF IT'S NO GOOD! But, you'll have learned from that mistake.

You must be your own harshest critic. There have been many threads asking for comments on pictures. Too often folks don't offer the constructive criticism being sought. Just look at the first grouping in The Forum - why, it's called "Friendly Praise!"

You must make the call. And, you will know good images from bad. Besides, how many times have you shown a picture you thought was GREAT only to have that person say it's just OK. That person may have been trying to spare your feelings.

When you're comfortable with that normal, change it for a wide angle. Do the same thing. Shoot and shoot. Vary exposure. Experiment. Keep notes. Assess your work. Be ruthless.

Then, if you have one, move to your telephoto and do the same thing.

The most important thing is to stick to one lens at a time while you're involved in this exercise. [Of course, if a family outing comes up, forget the exercise - BUT TRY TO USE WHAT YOU'VE LEARNED ABOUT ANY OF YOUR LENSES TO THAT POINT.]

When you're ready, you can try different films [if you have a film camera.] You can try using different filters. For me, the hardest thing of all is using a flash. [I can describe fill flash after all these years, I just haven't been able to make an acceptable fill-flash picture.] And, yes, I should practice what I've preached.

If you do what I've suggested [and, do refer to Bryan's book (all of his books are great)because you will come to understand what he's written] you will take better pictures.

Find and join a Camera Club. Listen and learn from more experienced members. Observe its Competitions and, when you're ready, enter them. Pay close attention to the Judge's comments. Competition is one of the best ways to learn what to do to improve your images - not from an exposure perspective perhaps, but from a composition viewpoint. And, importantly, Judges will be assessing your images more objectively [even though judging is subjective] because there will competition criteria.

If you gotten to this point, Deborah, you should chomping at the bit and ready to grab your camera and start. So, I won't hold you back.

Go have a good shoot!

To love this comment, log in above
2/23/2006 11:38:05 AM

Kerry L. Walker   Deborah, watch out about getting advice from me. It might be worth what you paid for it! lol

I must admit that I have enjoyed this thread. John has posted an opinion to begin this thread and others have either agreed or disagreed with him but no one has been rude in any way. It is nice to see that.

If the teachers (and the site) are making what John speculates they are, good for them. If someone thinks the course is not worth the price, good for them. That is capitalism at its best.

John, I know you enjoyed disseminating the knowledge you had in the course you mentioned but I still think you got ripped. However, my hat is off to you for your service.

To love this comment, log in above
2/23/2006 11:45:39 AM

Kerry L. Walker   John was typing his last response while I was still typing mine but I would like to add that his advice is excellent! Read and practice what you read and you will improve.

To love this comment, log in above
2/23/2006 11:55:23 AM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/4/2004
  Sorry John,
I had to duck out for a bit.
Thank you for that very thoughtful answer.
I beleive after catching up here, I agree with Kerry,I am sure you were worth much,much more then you were paid.And it was commendable of you to do so anyway-a true teacher.
Deborah, Yes I will say also John gave you great advise.
I remember running around taking seveal shots of the same dang thing,recording each in a little book I carried in my camera bag.
But, while others thought it silly it was a lot of fun and very educational.
I also had fun with some of the better Photography magizines.
If you look in the better ones a lot of times they will have pictures an dnext to them are the setting they used.Take those and try them yourself. and see what happens. Now that can be a lot of fun!
this has been a very good discussion,John. Thanks.
but back to work.

To love this comment, log in above
2/23/2006 12:08:34 PM

Deborah Liperote
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/8/2006
  Thanks John. See what I mean. You can do and teach. Thanks for your suggestions and I will be doing those exercises. I have a canonpowershot s60 and have been waiting for the expected canon announcement. I was going to purchase the 20d but now I am on back order for the 30d. I have 2 friends that let me borrow theirs canon rebel and canon 20d so I am alternating the use of them and learning, learning, learning. Hey I looked at the nyip online program. Do you recomend it. It's what you did. Right? I know shutter speed, ISO, and aperture and what they do. But knowing the combos and the different affects like the back of my hand, I do not.I am getting there though(self taught w/books). Or after the $650 you spent on the course do you ultimately feel that practice is the whole concept, give or take?

To love this comment, log in above
2/23/2006 12:53:39 PM

John P. Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/8/2001
Contact John
John's Gallery
  As I said earlier in this thread, I had an extensive library of photo books and had book knowledge. I took the course as I was thinking ahead to retirement and wanted to be ready to possibly earn some money shooting pictures. That's not easy.

The course, as constituted when I took it, was totally geared to film. Several years later a "section" on digital was added and, now, I believe there is a separate digital course.

The reading materials complemented the books I owned. The prepared audio tapes were interesting and, from my perspective, almost better than the videos I viewed. But, wow, did those videos ever demonstrate the instructors' points.

The best part was being forced to make pictures to satisfy particular topics or requirements. [I'm sure that's what's done in the BP short course.] I remember burning up several rolls of film before I got a picture on one topic I wanted to submit for critique.

I was a little disturbed by the "light" criticism I got for my first submission. SO, I asked him to be very tough - and he was. No punches pulled! But, that's what I paid for.

To complete the projects, I had to use all the information stored [in books, tapes and even my brain.] Today, years after completion of the course, I use that information and the rules that were discussed. If you were to viewed my images before and after the course, you'd agree with me that there's a world of improvement. And, my work continues to improve.

I recommend the NYIP, at least as I took it. I can only presume the qulaity of the current program hasn't slipped.

Your being on the 30D waiting list is great. Maybe I'll be able to buy the 20D I want at a cost I can justify to my wife.

To love this comment, log in above
2/23/2006 1:07:36 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  -I'm wasn't being altruistic and I had a ball!-

everybody check your own use of apostrophes.
$200 or $20, the more people that sign up, the more money they make. So how much of an estimated total there is, you can't fault them for consistantly filling the classes. And this is the first instance I've seen that refered to anybody making money that didn't reach the poverty level as you're making too much.
But it does make me think of the reaction that people give when the subject of how much people charge for weddings comes up. Give a man a fish vs. teach him to fish, do pictures for him(or her) for a few thousand vs. teach a cours for a couple hundred. Also interesting to bring in the quote "...those that can't teach" when he said that he taught in the example stated before. And another about that quote, everybody check yourself and see if you should be teaching photography.

To love this comment, log in above
2/23/2006 1:16:16 PM

Denyse Clark
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/2/2002
  Gregory- it did make me think of the previous threads where we battled about pro wedding photographers vs. the newbies & the costs involved...

Yeah, bottom line, it is "expensive", but everyone has a choice in how they spend their money, and they have to evaluate what it's worth to them personally. I love BP and certainly don't worry about how many millions :) they are making. What would I do without these threads, the vast research & information that's here, the contest, my website that I love (again, there are cheaper ones out there, I like the service I get from BP). You pay for trust and comfort too, it's a fact I see everyday in my office job. (we're not always the cheapest bid, but if the client has a good relationship with us, we'll get the job anyways in many cases)

To love this comment, log in above
2/23/2006 2:50:07 PM

John G. Clifford Jr
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/18/2005
  I've never taken a class at BP, although I have purchased a few books, for myself and as gifts for others. The books were certainly 'as-advertised' and worth the price.

However, if Jim, Kerry, et al are making $1k a month from the classes... or $10k, or $100k... so what? Did you know that Sting makes $800 a DAY from the royalties off of just ONE of his songs that was written 20 years ago? Does that make Sting a greedy person, or mean that he is making too much money? Who are you to decide?

That is the beauty of capitalism, and the market in action. John, you may not feel that the classes are "worth it." Fine. I personally won't pay to go to any professional sporting events (although I will go if I get free tickets), because I think the experience isn't worth $50 or more to me. I'd rather buy something else for that $50.

What does a dinner for two out on the town cost? $50 to $100 bucks easily? After a day or so, what do you have left?

People make a choice all of the time: is my money worth more than what someone wants to sell me? People who choose to buy the courses here believe that the value of the courses is worth more than the money it costs. People (like you) believe otherwise. That's fine. That's the marketplace in action.

I guess what irritates me about this thread is how some people take it upon themselves to decide how much others should make. I ran a retail business for almost a decade, and I got a belly-full of the people who decided what I should or shouldn't make... and who complained mightily when I shut my business down because they liked me... just not enough to want me to make a decent living. Oh, sure, they liked the fact that I carried a half-million in inventory so they could look, and touch, and feel... but they wanted to save a few dollars and buy the item they chose from a mail-order vendor. And then, they had the nerve to ask ME to support the product, or teach them how to use it for free. This customer attitude is what is ringing the death knell for most retail businesses in America. Soon we'll be a nation of Wal-Marts... and we only have ourselves to blame.

The neat thing about BP is that you pay only what you want to get what you want. Jim Miotke had the vision, the drive, and the courage to create a business, and who are you, or anyone, to say what he and his employees should make? Have you ever run a business? Have you ever had the responsibility of making payroll? Of knowing that you'll be paid last (if at all)? Of offering great customer service and giving lots of free advice... and having a customer take that advice and then go to a no-service outlet to save a couple of percentage points?

I think Kerry, Heather, and Jim are too polite to say so... but if someone who was using my gallery service for free came along and posted a diatribe on my forum against my business saying I charged too much, and pushed a competitor's products instead, I'd cancel his account.

That's just rude.

To love this comment, log in above
2/28/2006 12:01:44 AM

Craig m. Zacarelli
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/3/2005
  I guess the bottom line is: The site needs to generate $$ to stay alive, The Instructors need to make a living (we all know how difficult it is to make$$$ to live on doing photography) and the classes are great. So, If you want to take a class and can afford it, why not do it then? If you cant afford it, then either save the $$ for it or get over it... maybe instead of running out to buy the "next" big thing in cameras, or that pro lens you dont need, go take a course instead! I will take another one some day, I really enjoyed the last one I took but right now, I need the $$ for other things so the classes will take the back seat for a year or so.

To love this comment, log in above
2/28/2006 9:27:08 AM

Log in to respond or ask your own question.