Gary and Harold were talking about my photography adventures, and Harold
mentioned that your were taking an increased interest in it and asked
if I'd fill you in on what I'm doing.
I've taken a whole host of classes from BetterPhoto.com. The concept
is that you take scheduled web-based classes with people from all over
the world. There might be anywhere from 3 to 20 people in a class.
Each class has it's own "intranet" that not only allows you to upload
photos, pick up lessons, etc., but you can also see the other
students' images, make comments, ask questions... in short... it's a
real classroom. The students are generally very active in the Q&A and
also critiques of each other's photos. The instructors are absolutely
first rate. I have taken more than a dozen classes and, while I have
my favorite instructors, I have never been disappointed in any of my
instructors. They are conscientious, timely with their critiques,
very constructive and just plain wonderful. These are elite
photographers who enjoy teaching. Jim Miotke who is the founder and
CEO of the company is terrific and always looking for ways to expand
and inspire new photographers as well as those who are more
experienced. Many of the students take advantage of photo safaris
sponsored by the instructors, buy their books and DVDs, etc. It's
pretty effective for everyone involved.
The courses come in 8-week and 4-week formats. You get your lessons
on Wednesdays and have at least a week to complete the assignment.
Instructors are very forgiving of the vagaries of our (and their)
schedules and don't mind if you're late with an assignment. They do
their best to accommodate the classes even when they are out in remote
areas doing their "photo safaris". Many of them go "above and beyond"
in providing you with extra tips, articles, etc. The courses run
about $200-$360... the lower number for the 4 week. If you end up
taking a lot of courses, they reward you with discounts on future
courses, something I have exploited shamelessly.
The level of expertise expected in the courses is clearly indicated in
the course list and descriptions, along with a list of whatever
equipment or software you should have to take the course. But, I have
participated at all levels, even those in which I am well over my
head. People are generous in that way.
The work of the other students is a huge part of the appeal... you
can learn from everyone and many of the students are spectacularly
talented. It's breathtaking...
So, if you're really getting into taking pictures, especially
portraits of your grandchildren... there are a number of courses that
will play exactly into your interests. I've taken one portrait
course, from Ibarionex Perello, and it turned me from an apprehensive
person who was afraid to ask strangers for a chance to take their
photo to an increasingly enthusiastic "candid" portrait person. You
can see some of what I'm doing on janice-lecocq-photography.com, my
BetterPhoto.com web site. (They provide you with a variety of web
site options where you can display your work and provide access to
friends and family as well as your fellow students. It's fun.)
So... I think that by now you have gotten the idea that I am an
enthusiast. There are some other web-based photo class options. I've
looked at them, but I've been so happy with BP that I haven't been
tempted to switch. They keep coming up with new courses and the
existing list is still longer than the list of courses I've taken.
Hope this helps, Elaine.
Let me know if I can provide any other information.
Janice M. LeCocq