foundations of composition

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april 10, 2017
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may 15, 2017
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Study Along seats available!

Learn the fundamentals of composition in this new four week course. We will examine some of the basic rules of composition and apply them with weekly assignments designed to help you begin to think critically about your images. You will learn how to use basic compositional considerations such as the rule of thirds, perspective, leading lines, depth, and framing to create visually interesting and strong images. Weekly discussions will help students understand how minor changes in the composition of an image can affect the mood of the image as well as the viewer’s perception. This course also includes several videos on composition and creating stronger images.
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“This past month I’ve felt inspired, pushed out of my comfort zone and have literally been seeing shapes, leading lines and framing opportunities everywhere!!! I feel so much more confident in my ability to understand what
makes an image compelling!”

Commitment
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4 weeks

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daily shooting encouraged

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4 hours of work per week

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this course has prerequisites

Prerequisites

All students need to have a solid understanding of exposure. We recommend the 102 course, Mastering Manual Exposure, if you need a refresher.

Instructor

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This textbook-model course offers students a dynamic learning environment due to the collaborative nature of the materials. Each run will consist of one instructor (Lisa Benemelis or Kristy Dooley) although the course PDF and videos will draw upon examples from both (as well as several other instructors) to illustrate specific points.

Categories

Shooting
Beginner and Intermediate

• A Weekly PDF covering different techniques to make your compositions stronger
• Several videos clarifying the compositional techniques covered in the materials
• Instructor-Led Online Q&A for Each Lesson
• Personal Critiques of Weekly Assignments by Instructor

Full Participation students engage in an interactive online classroom experience that includes instructor-led group discussions and detailed, personalized guidance for the duration of the workshop. Full participation students receive instructor critiques of the posted assignment each week and have lifetime access to a Workshop Alumni forum for continued peer discussion after the course concludes.

Study Along students will have access to all materials and will be able to view all content and conversation in the main workshop forum and receive access to their own private subforum for peer study groups and image shares. Study along students will not be able to ask the instructor questions or request instructor feedback on their assignments.

Welcome & Preassignment

Week One

Reading: an introduction to composition
Assignment: one subject with different compositions; evaluation

Week Two

Reading: creating depth within the frame
Assignment: effective framing

Week Three

Reading: lines, colors, shapes, patterns and symmetry
Assignment: using lines to strengthen the composition

Week Four

Reading: perspective
Assignment: taking control of your perspective

The CPS workshop is a 100% online classroom experience. Once you sign up, you have access to a course forum that is open 24 hours a day so that you can learn and join discussions on your own schedule.

Each week students receive a set of course materials– these materials generally include a PDF and/or videos. Throughout the week, the instructor is present in the forum every day to answer questions and offer encouragement. Students receive an assignment each week that pertains to the topics covered in the course materials and class discussion throughout the week.

Full Participation students engage in an interactive online classroom experience that includes instructor-led group discussions and detailed, personalized guidance for the duration of the workshop. Full participation students post their assignments in the forum and receive instructor critiques.

Study Along students have access to all materials and are able to view all content and conversation in the main workshop forum. They also receive access to their own private Study Along subforum for peer study groups and image shares. Study along students will not be able to ask the instructor questions or request instructor feedback on their assignments, but they can follow along with instructor critiques of the Full Participation assignments.

Whether you are a Full Participation student or a Study Along student, the course materials are yours to keep.



26 Comments

  • Yasmin Khayal says:

    This was a great course and a must for any budding or experienced photographer. Lisa explains the concepts very well and gives really detailed and helpful feedback on the assignments. You begin to look for what you learned everywhere and attempt to become a more conscious photographer. The TAs were very helpful and provided extra critique during the daily share threads. Take it as full participation; the feedback is invaluable!

  • Wendy May says:

    This workshop was exactly what I needed to help me with the many questions I had regarding composition. The workshop provided simple, straightforward and easy to follow teaching presented attractively in both pdf and video format. Lisa was very hands on providing advice and help in the FP forums, plus there was additional helpful tips and advice provided by the TA’s who were also very hands on throughout the course. I find myself looking for shapes and lines everywhere now and can see loads of previously missed opportunities which I am ready for now! As well as learning from the course materials, I found the student assignments and feedback invaluable. Also loved the TA / AH’s weekly assignment contributions which likewise helped to cement the week’s teaching. I am so chuffed to have this excellent composition teaching material to review when needed. The workshop material is truly a valuable addition to any photographer’s library and money well spent. Thank you CM.

  • Lisa Fraudin says:

    I can’t say enough good things about FOC. This is the course that woke me up to observing life around me in a whole new way. I found myself finding “attractive” moments that previously I would have missed. And I started to learn the secrets that change snapshots into “real” photographs. I’m not your typical CM member-my children are young adults and I don’t have little ones to take pictures of, yet I was amazed at the things I found to photograph when I started to learn what creates an attractive composition. I started carrying my camera with me & found opportunities everywhere-even on crazy busy days. I committed to shooting daily & made myself submit my efforts even if my best for that day felt like something I wasn’t proud of. There was really a lot of information shared & the interaction with classmates was really beneficial as well! The daily feedback (for my work as well as my classmates) was amazing & I learned so much (even from my duds!). And now I’m getting the full benefit of the pixels my camera advertised-my crops are much less drastic-LOL! I would HIGHLY recommend full participation if you can do it. I personally finished the class with Lisa Benemelis & I can’t emphasize how generous she was with her time & how skilled she was at critiquing everyone in such a kind way. She gave me the perfect challenge of ideas to move forward without ever feeling beaten down. I know the other instructors (Allison McSorley & Kristy Dooley are also as kind & committed to the learning.) They together create an atmosphere that is also fun-for an entire month. If you want to learn how to “see” more creatively when you look through your viewfinder, take this class! It’s been a gift to me that keeps on giving!

  • Val says:

    This class was such a wonderful, wonderful experience! I not only learned a lot, but also felt so inspired during the four weeks that the course ran! What I found most valuable was the tremendous amount of thoughtful and detailed feedback that I received from the instructors, TAs, alumni helpers and fellow classmates. And not just on the end-of-the-week assignment, but on the (invaluable) daily shooting shares as well as the mid-week check-in shares. The fabulous quality and amount of feedback that you will receive in this class really warrants full participation – I promise that you will not regret it! The constant feedback and interaction with instructors, TAs, alumni helpers and classmates gives this class such depth. You should not hesitate – sign up now!

  • Melissa says:

    Great class and highly recommend taking it as Full Participation. The direct feedback from experienced photographers is invaluable. Sometimes you know something is not right, but you can’t put your finger on it. That’s where their knowledge comes to play and will help you to start shooting more mindfully. This is a daily shooting class. I don’t think you would grow as much if you didn’t shoot every day. Even if you don’t have a good day, still post something and learn from your mistakes. The feedback is thoughtful and detailed, not intimidating. The instructor, TAs and AHs all post their images for examples of the assignment, which helps you get an idea of what you need to be thinking about. You are free to ask them any questions about anything you’re struggling with. Everyone is at a different level, so to get the feedback that pertains to you is so helpful. The class is a little time consuming because you do shoot daily and have the PDF to read, but it’s worth it. I would say to give yourself about 2-3 hrs a day if you do FP. You will want to post your images and read the CC for others to learn new things. There is no doubt that you will improve by taking this workshop!

  • Jen says:

    I loved this class! I am a newbie to photography and have lots to learn. This class was a wonderful place to start learning what makes a photograph visually appealing and a stronger image. The feedback was excellent and very specific to your photo. My photos have improved greatly by the end of the 4 weeks. I liked that this class offered daily critiques because it encouraged me to practice every day. The TAs were awesome as well as the AH who critiqued your daily work. I loved seeing other people’s photos to learn from their critiques too. I would recommend this class for sure!

  • Nancy says:

    I just finished this course, and I am so sorry to see it end! This was my first workshop with CM and I am so glad that I took FOC. Lisa and all the TA’s were great to work with. I learned so much from all of them, in such a comfortable atmosphere! The critiques were honest and informative. Daily shooting was encouraged, but not required. I am so glad that I did shoot everyday. I really think that it helped my progress through this course. I already find self taking pictures differently than I used to. I see leading lines and triangles everywhere now!! I highly recommend this!!

  • Leah says:

    I cannot praise this workshop and its instructors enough. Foundations of Composition (FOC) is a game changing course. What’s wonderful about it is that it really isn’t just a beginner “100 Level” course. I’ve taken many CM workshops (I’ve just hit double-digits to give you some perspective), all full-participation; And this is truly the best or one of the best I have ever taken. The instructors and course structure are the strengths of this workshop. Emma Wood was our lead instructor this run (February 2014) and I cannot praise her enough. Emma is an all-around lovely lady with amazing talent she generously uses to inspire students in the course. The materials do a deep-dive into composition on all levels and the course structure is such that you are shooting, critiquing others, and actively participating every day for a full month. It was basically a composition bootcamp. I now find myself selecting my crop overlay tool in Lightroom, but switching it off immediately because my photos are perfectly composed–no cropping needed! The other instructors/TAs our run were Lisa Benemelis and Allison McSorley. These ladies, their feedback, and support were simply amazing. I cannot endorse this workshop enough and think it really is a “MUST TAKE” for photographers at all levels.

  • Joyce says:

    What an eye opening class! The instructors & TAs were exceptional in giving very detailed critiques and answering all questions and the material was abundant (not overwhelming but very thorough). I’m trying to incorporate what I learned when I shoot now and I see myself looking for leading lines, diagonals and repetitive shapes. I don’t shoot a lot of portraits but instead shoot landscapes, nature and animals and this class has really helped me when framing my subjects. All of my classmates were also very helpful in critiquing and giving feedback which really made the class that much more interesting. I hated it when the class ended but we have formed a Facebook group and a bunch of us are still communicating and taking pictures. You won’t be sorry at all if you take this class and it is worth every penny!

  • julia_3 says:

    I completed the first run of this workshop and before signing up I was a little unsure if I would gain anything from this course, having already covered some basic composition in other classes, how silly of me – I couldn’t have been more wrong! I LOVED this course and gained so much from it, I see things everywhere now that I didn’t see before and learnt so much. Even though I was incredibly time poor with the lead up to heading away for the Christmas holidays, I loved every minute of this workshop. Allison, Lisa and Emma were so amazing in their detailed feedback and at times edited images to show you what they were thinking. I needed this course and didn’t even realise how much! The first run was so much fun, we had a fantastic group of ladies, but I think it was the commitment from Allison, Lisa and Emma that really made this workshop hum. I would not hesitate to suggest this workshop, you will love it!

  • clauck says:

    What a great workshop this was! I’m sad that it had to end! I typically spend a fair amount of time reading workshop reviews and viewing alumni picture shares before signing up for a workshop. Since this was the first run I didn’t have that option but knew with these instructors that I wouldn’t be disappointed! Allison, Lisa and Emma did a fabulous job and I never would have known it was a first run! The material was well organized, clear and filled with images that not only demonstrated the concepts being covered but inspired me to pick up my camera! The feedback was thorough and honest. I learned so much from reading through the critiques of my images and those of my wonderful classmates. Daily shooting made such a difference. I found that some concepts seemed easy to understand when reading but proved to be a bit more difficult with a camera in my hands! There’s so much more to composition than leading lines and rule of thirds-who knew! :) I highly recommend this class!

  • Katy says:

    Favorite class to date! Wow. What a fun month we’ve just had …

    I went into this class thinking I knew what we would be covering, only we would cover it in more detail. How wrong I was! What I ‘knew’ barely scratched the surface. What an eye opening, thought provoking and FUN class.

    Allison, Lisa and Emma, have put so much into this workshop and all three made themselves available to us daily to answer questions and provide thorough feedback. Quite a task, given how active our group was … we may have been a little chatty. :giggle

    Course materials were thorough, with just enough information, and accompanying images, to cement the concepts discussed. This is not a heavy reading class at all, and with daily shooting strongly suggested, I appreciated that. I was able to read the weekly PDFs quickly, and pick up my camera to get started. The PDFs may have been brief, and to the point, but they ALWAYS had me reaching for my camera as soon as I was done … so I found the materials brief (around 20 pages on average), to the point, and inspiring.

    The feedback from instructors was very considered, detailed and specific. All three would take the time to ‘draw’ on our images, or pull them into Photoshop and make some adjustments, to highlight successes and to demonstrate how we could improve upon, and strengthen, a composition.

    I am now seeing things very differently … as others have already mentioned, I am seeing shapes, leading lines and framing opportunities everywhere – and driving my family bonkers in the process. :giggle I have also grown to like some perspectives that I would never have tried before … I realise that I’ve been a straight up ‘eye level’ shooter until taking this class.

    Thank you so much to Allison, Lisa and Emma for such a wonderful workshop – and to my fabulous classmates too. :lv: I look forward to continuing with putting these concepts into practice and making deliberate composition decisions before I press the shutter. Amazing class and a wonderful way to finish up my first year at CM. Highly recommend this class – you will NOT be disappointed!

  • Kelly says:

    I just finished the first run of this course. I have had so much fun this month being challenged and pushed out of my comfort zone into a place where I feel much more confident about my images. The instructors were fabulous and so encouraging. I felt the material was extremely accessible to someone who is still in the beginning stages of their photography journey and the course was set up to gain feedback extensively along the way. The course involves daily shooting and practice, which was so helpful! I could not have grown as much without that element and the awesome feedback from the amazing instructors and all my peers in the FP group. It really is such an awesome course!

  • Sarah says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this class. It was quite a lot of work and I saw a commensurate amount of growth, not only in my own photography but in all my FP classmates’ as well. Even though I’d read many books on composition and studied other photographers’ work, the instruction and guidance from Allison and the TA’s as well as their carefully chosen assignments really helped me focus on composing a pleasing image right in the camera and gave excellent suggestions on how to further give them impact during post processing. It’s a solid foundations class that will be of use to the newest photographer or someone who has been comfortable with their camera for a long time. The critiques were well thought out and you can tell each teacher spent several minutes looking at each image before giving feedback. I know this will continue to help me improve my photography even after the class ends, as I continue to internalize and have opportunities to practice each of the techniques that were presented. I see shapes and lines where I could not visualize them before. Take this class if you need to learn to be more deliberate about what’s in your frame before you click the shutter. Also, Allison is just the sweetest – a most encouraging mentor with a great heart and it shines through in every word.

  • Melina says:

    I just had the pleasure of completing the first run of Foundations of Composition!! What a stimulating, challenging and game-changing experience!! The material was thorough, multi layered and creatively empowering!! Allison hit the ground running as this rounds leading instructor and, along with Emma and Lisa, offered detailed, thoughtful, specific feedback daily! This past month I’ve felt inspired, pushed out of my comfort zone and have literally been seeing shapes, leading lines and framing opportunities everywhere!!! I feel so much more confident in my ability to understand what makes an image compelling! Run and sign up for round 2!!!!! <3

  • jesspr says:

    It was such such such a pleasure to take this class! I can’t even express how much I have learned and how much it has helped me grow. To be honest, I was a little nervous to take a “first run” course. I was worried the material might have been rushed or the course would need tweaking. But because CMU (generally) and the instructors (specifically) have such stellar reputations and amazing talent, I took (what I thought) was a risk and signed up. I am SO SO SO glad I did!! The materials were so detailed and contained such great examples that really helped to cement the concepts. The feedback was so detailed and instructive. I learned so much from reading what the instructors wrote on my assignments and also from the feedback left on everyone else’s assignments. There was truly a wealth of information in there!! Allison, Emma and Lisa were also so quick to answer questions on the Q&A threads and in our daily share threads. I’m amazed at how much knowledge they were willing to share and that they all found the time – especially given how active the forum was!!! I think anyone beginning their journey would greatly benefit from this class and even more seasoned photographers too. There was a lot to learn – much much more than rule of thirds!!

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