mastering natural light indoors

with megan cieloha

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october 5, 2015
current run
november 16, 2015
next run
february 22, 2016

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Full Participation sold out.
Study Along seats available!

Mastering Natural Light Indoors will empower photographers who have a solid grasp of working with their cameras in manual mode to learn how to see and utilize indoor light. It will give participants the ability to become comfortable working with available light indoors and enable them to make lighting choices that best support their artistic vision. By focusing on the study of light, photographers will begin to see the world in a new way and create a toolbox of strategies for maximizing the use of any indoor lighting situation they might run across. Understanding of light is foundational in photography and the excitement of learning to see and story tell with light is often a turning point for those who strive to create meaningful images. Join us and fall in love with the possibilities, and beauty, of light!
“I learned new techniques and terms about lighting but more importantly finally feel like I can shoot images in more than just the one bright room I have in my house!”

4 weeks


daily shooting encouraged


6-8 hours of work per week


this course has prerequisites


Participants should be comfortable shooting in manual mode and have a solid grasp of working with the exposure triangle (aperture, shutter speed, ISO.) A DSLR and a fixed aperture lens are required. Comfort performing a basic clean edit in your processing program of choice is strongly encouraged.



Megan Cieloha is a self-taught photographer who focuses on lifestyle and fine art photography. Living in Sicily with her husband and 3 young boys for the past year has given her a new love for light and life in the Mediterranean region. Megan’s portfolio is availablehere>.

The following photographers also participate in discussions and provide assignment critiques as teaching assistants: Kristin Dokoza, Elicia Graves and Heather Lazark

A number of course alumni are invited to engage in discussion, share insight with students, and provide feedback and encouragement throughout the course.


200-level (Intermediate)

Course Syllabus

Welcome & Preassignment

Lesson One:

Reading: Types and Attributes of Light- Identifying and learning to see various types of light
Assignment: Application of the direction and/or size of light

Lesson Two:

Reading: Considerations of Subject Placement- Positioning of the subject with relation to the light source
Assignment: Refining light use to control light and shadow play

Lesson Three:

Reading: Controlling Light- Modifying and molding available light
Assignment: Taking control of the light: adding, subtracting or otherwise manipulating

Lesson Four:

Reading: Identifying “Good” Light- Approaching light use with intent
Assignment: Culmination of the course in an image that shows growth

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 and TA 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.


  • Lisa says:

    Can I say straight up that this was a MUST-DO workshop for me and has completely changed the way I look at a scene and my subject. I enrolled full-participation. In my self-study I would often read the words ‘look for the light’ and ‘shoot intentionally’ but not until this workshop did I really understand those words. And when I did understand, I was lifted out of a shooting rut with a new appreciation for vital elements needed to make a photograph sing BEFORE you press the shutter. There was lots of joy here at that discovery.
    In MNLI Megan shares her explanations and techniques for understanding and using light indoors, expertly packaged in her PDFs along with a host of her wonderful images as examples. She is masterful at capturing beautifully evocative moments where content and light are in harmony and she guided us in our own discovery of finding and using light this way within our own homes. A seriously amazing discovery for me!
    I loved learning how to identify types of light and how to use them in a way to enhance the story you want to tell. I loved learning how using light well gives the subject dimension and life. I loved learning that we can, in fact, use ANY indoor light source, and how to manipulate what light we have to get the effect we want! I’m still practicing with all of this, of course, but what I’ve achieved so far has been both exciting and liberating and, for me, required Megan’s teaching to reach that understanding. It’s a more fruitful way to for me to learn.

    I’m sure our entire class would agree just how awesomely thorough Megan’s critiques and answers to our questions were. She’s generous, encouraging and a details girl and I LOVE THAT about her. I know MNLI has been a game changer for many students as it has been for me and I just can’t recommend this workshop highly enough. FANTASTIC class!

  • Evangeline says:

    At the end of this course I became so enthralled with the variety of light in my house, and the beautiful shadow play I can get out of it, I honestly have no interest in shooting outside anymore. :) Megan and her AHs are amaze-balls, and this course is a game-changer. Take it, take it as a Full Participant, practice every day, and post your photos– even the ones that make you cringe. Megan’s critique and advice are GOLD. And she delivers them in a way that makes you go, “Ah, NOW I get it!”

  • Elisabeth M says:

    I took this class in Nov 2014 as a Study Along student. My run had very, very few SA students and I felt that my work really suffered from a lack of feedback. I would suggest in the future that if fewer than 10 SA students sign up, they alert the class so that they could choose to either do FP or not take the class.

    Megan’s materials definitely helped me see light differently. They really challenged me to find and use light more creatively and to turn off the lights in my house and really hunt for creative light. Her images were inspirational and she definitely put tons of effort into giving critiques and suggestions to the FP members with editing, lighting, and composition suggestions (from what I could tell as a SA student). This class didn’t seem like a great value as a SA student since Megan’s teaching was so valuable in the “1:1” setting.

    I would have liked more videos with pullbacks and different techniques. Maybe I got totally spoiled but I took the Intro to Speedlite class in early 2014 and the amount of materials was amazing. It felt like you really got great value even as a SA student. I’d like to see videos on how to take a difficult lighting situation and work with it or how to modify/adjust light to better suit your needs.

  • Melissa says:

    This was one of my all-time favorite CMU courses! I am looking at light in such a different way now. It was wonderful to embrace lighting situations that I used to avoid such as hard light, low-light, and artificial light. Megan was available daily for questions and the alumni helpers were available for daily critiques on your images. This course has really opened up opportunities for shooting indoors and I no longer want to run outside to take advantage of the light!

  • Melina says:

    I knew coming into this class from all the rave reviews and very enthusiastic feedback that Megan was a wizard in finding and using indoor light beautifully. By taking this class I have gained so much more confidence in creatively using every corner and window of my house…along with some wonderful alternative light sources! Furthermore, Megan’s feedback is thorough, detailed, specific and very meticulously composed. She looks at lighting foremost, but then also speaks to the composition and processing of the image. She always eloquently explains her thought process, making sense of choices I had instinctually made but did not understand, and giving wonderful suggestions for improvement. The feedback in this course is so valuable, that I would greatly recommend signing up FP!

  • Jamie Bates says:

    Four weeks of class and I have a new set of eyes. I am seeing light entirely differently, and instead of my prior strategy (nose to the light) I now have an arsenal of techniques for purposeful light use. This was my first workshop, and the big question for me was whether the FP cost was worth it, so if you are wondering- I do highly recommend FP for this class. Megan’s critiques are meticulous and insightful. She is a true expert on light use and she is available to answer any questions at any time as you go through the course. The support, encouragement and feedback of the AHs and TAs was also very helpful. The individual attention available at FP also makes this 200 level course valuable to photographers at different levels of experience. Wherever you are at, Megan will push you to reach further- my wonderful classmates ranged from advanced beginner all the way up to cmpro, and I could see each of us at times struggling, stretching, and ultimately growing as we worked through the course. Light is what photography is all about. It feels great to be able to have the tools I need to harness it and achieve the look and feel I am trying to express through my photographs.

  • Erin Wood says:

    If you are thinking about taking this course, run, don’t walk to your computer and snatch it up Full Participation. I took this course FP in the dead of winter. I was in a major rut before this course and, now, I feel renewed and so ready to handle any lighting situation. The biggest bonus to this course is learning to see the light in your own home. I now am confident that I can create a portrait of my children in any room of my house. The possibilities are endless! Megan is such an inspiring teacher and her course is detailed and very thought provoking. Megan is very active on the class forum and her critique is priceless. I not only learned about lighting, but I feel like I grew in areas such as processing and composition just from Megan’s critiques. This was my first full participation class and I never want to do study along again. Just being able to access the Q and A forum and read through Megan’s detailed critique of my work was well worth the $150 extra. Sign up! You won’t regret it!

  • Brittany says:

    This course is a game changer and I cannot recommend it enough. I took it Full Participation so I cannot comment on SA but I will say that I cannot imagine taking this course without the amazing daily feedback. This course requires dedication and hard work but is so very worth committing yourself.

    In a matter of four weeks, my photography has changed more than it has in the past year. I have grown by leaps and bounds. I feel like a different person with my camera in hand. I find myself assessing light everywhere I go. While it primarily applies to shooting indoors, the information that is learned can be applied anywhere.

    Megan is an incredible instructor and I will forever be thankful for her detailed feedback, encouragement and kindness. Light is her passion and it shows. If this course is on your list somewhere…. bump it up to the top. :)

  • Gladys Hedaya says:

    If you can take the class as full participation, I highly recommend it. I took it as a study along because I had taken many different workshops and breakouts this year and I figured I’d save some money. The whole study along experience was not worth the price. For an extra $150 I am sure I could have benefitted 100x more with forum participation, critiques, etc. as a full participation student.
    As a study along, I might as well purchased a book on lighting for 20 dollars instead. I realized after that the whole point of taking a workshop is to share and benefit from the students and teachers instead of standing out like a bystander as a study along :(

  • This is a fantastic class to take right before winter. It kept the ‘winter rut’ at bay… I learned to see and notice beautiful areas in my home (which Megan shows you how to do). I ended up loving indoor light so much that it was hard for me to get back outside ;) There’s something so rich a beautiful about using naturally occurring light in your home — real or artificial!

  • Megan Dill says:

    This class was such an eye-opener for me. I upgraded my study-along seat to full-participation shortly before the class started, since I wanted to benefit from the instructor critique. Thankfully, there were still a couple of slots left! Doing so was a great decision. I learned so much from the inspiring course materials, the daily peer evaluation, the teaching assistants, and Megan herself. She was always quick to answer questions, and her critiques were thorough, gentle, and empowering.

    Taking Megan’s workshop is one of my best photography investments to date, and has given me the tools to effectively harness light indoors to best support my vision. I can’t recommend this class enough!

  • Carrie L. says:

    I took this workshop as an study along student and loved every minute. I learned new techniques and terms about lighting but more importantly finally feel like I can shoot images in more than just the one bright room I have in my house! I wonder if some of the other reviewers participated in the forums, because there’s lots more information there in addition to the lessons, though it is a lot to keep up with. I wish I could have taken this as a full student to receive Megan’s critique, but I still learned so much by reading the suggestions and critique she gave to others in the class. Thank you, Megan!

  • Dinah says:

    I took this class as a SA, and while there was good information in the class I do have a few things I didn’t care for. Personally, I wish the same photos were not reused each week in the pdfs. I also wish the information was broken up differently, possibly work on one type of light each week instead of all types of light from the start. With the current setup at one point when reading the week 2 pdf I stopped thinking I had accidentally opened week 1’s pdf. That is how similar the weekly pdfs are. I do think the class does a good job at teaching you to recognize the different types of light in your home, which is helpful. Personally, I felt this class would have been an amazing in a breakout format, but for the cost of a full workshop I felt it was a bit lacking in depth and variety.

    • Kate says:

      I’m going to preface this by saying that I took this class this past spring, so I don’t know if the material has been updated since. I agree completely with what Dinah has said. I believe this information would be great as a breakout, but for the amount of material, I thought it wasn’t worth the price of the class, even as a SA. Week 3 I found especially lacking in information. While Megan provided a lot of images as examples, actual text and substance was greatly lacking. I finished that week’s material’s without much inspiration or true direction for what to shoot. I also wish there had been some extra videos to show either a shoot or how she edits an image. This workshop provided no extras, and for the price of the workshop, I felt like it should. That being said, I do think Megan did a good job answering questions and being very helpful throughout the workshop. I enjoyed the material presented, but do wish there had been more of it as I felt the overall amount of information was not as great as it could have been. I also wanted to mention that I feel like, in general, the information in this workshop lends itself well to more solemn, moody images, just so those who are wondering are aware.

  • Jen says:

    Any chance I could still get a full participation spot in the April class? Pretty please!! ;-) I have a short break with clients, and I would love to take this course. I feel like it would be the push I need to elevate my work to the next level!

  • This class is just incredible! Megan’s CC along with the CC from Elle, Megan or Lacey is completely invaluable and Megan is a wonderful teacher. I found myself really pushing my creative boundaries with the workshop and was forced to use artificial light, WHAT?!?! You can shoot in that? Answer: YES and PLEASE do. Some of my favorite images have come from this workshop and they are of my boys and husband so I am forever grateful. The technical aspect of learning light here is just amazing and photography is all about light! Because of this workshop I have also fallen in love with shadows, reflections and silhouettes. I find myself looking at the light so much more, wherever I am!

  • Esther Judd says:

    I loved this class so much! There is so much information to learn in this class about types of light and direction of light and modifiers. Megan’s PDFs were so well laid out with lots of examples to show you what she is talking about. It was amazing to have the feedback on my images from Megan and the TAs Alison McSorley, Lacey Meyers, and Megan Dill and several MNLI alums. And my fellow classmates were so supportive, ti really elevated the quality of the class for everybody. I look at light differently now. I even watch TV differently, seeing light and shadows everywhere ;). If there is one CM workshop you want to take, it should be this one.

  • Meredith Shaikh says:

    With no hesitation, I can say this class has completely changed me and my photography for the better, and I’m not sure I’ll ever see the world the same again! Megan is a fabulous teacher – caring, honest, thoughtful, dedicated and talented. Her critiques are so detailed you honestly learn something from! Thanks to Megan and this class, I finally feel I have the tools to get out there and try new things and new ideas every time I shoot, and for the first time I have a clear vision of the type of photography that really appeals to me and where I want to go. Now I’m a much more relaxed shooter, more confident, and less attached to (or stressed out by) the results. I see light completely differently, seek out opportunities to manipulate the light, and LOVE shooting indoors (gasp!). NL201 is really so, so good, and there is absolutely something here for everyone regardless of where they are on their journey. I can’t recommend it highly enough!!!

  • Holly says:

    Any chance that this class could be offered in later January or in February? Pleeeeeeeeeezzzzz and thank you? ;)

  • Kristen R says:

    Don’t walk, RUN to take this class! Megan is incredible with her materials, her responsiveness to questions, and her insightful and thorough critiques! This workshop will change the way you see and use light not only but indoors, but really in every way. I feel much more confident in my ability to use light after this class. The interactions among my classmates was amazing and inspiring, and the TAs participation and critiques were fabulous as well. I cannot recommend this class enough!

  • Elicia says:

    This class was amazing and just what I needed to push me creatively. Megan is a very effective teacher and not only does she have a thorough understanding of light but she is extremely creative with her use of light. The material is stunning and thought provoking and the critiques are very thorough and beneficial. I highly encourage you to take this class as full participation if you can. Your classmates will push you and you will be amazed at your growth in four weeks time. I find myself greatly preferring to shoot indoors after taking this class.

  • Helena says:

    This class completely has changed the way that I view and look at light indoors. It is truly an eye-opening experience! Without Megan’s in depth instructions, CC and involvement in this class, my world would still be flatly lit. You will never say there isn’t enough light after taking this class. NL 201 is truly a must-take in the CMU world.

  • Allison McSorley says:

    I credit this class with completely changing the way I shoot indoors. Megan is a wonderfully active instructor who provides in depth guidance and thoughtful CC in a very timely manner. The course materials, assignments and PDFs are well organized and clearly demonstrate how knowledgeable she is about using all types of indoor light. This class encourages you to shoot in low- and limited-light situations with amazing results. You will not be disappointed with this workshop. In fact, you will leave this class with a new found appreciation for light and the incredible impact it can have on your photos.

  • Kristin Dokoza says:

    I loved how this class taught me to embrace all kinds of indoor lighting situations! Megan is a great teacher — she was supportive, encouraging, and gave extremely thorough CC. This class was a wonderful creative push, and I could not be happier with the images I have (that are getting printed and framed) from this class! I highly recommend this class to anyone, you will be looking at light in a whole new way.

  • Pam says:

    Truly, you will learn to utilize indoor light in an alternative, creative, dramatic way. Many shy away from taking photos indoors for lack of light, but this course will give you options. Megan is a fantastic, patient teacher with a genuine interest in your learning. In a rut? Take this workshop, you will be challenged, in a good way.

  • elana says:

    take this class! i wasn’t sure when i signed up what i would be able to learn about natural light indoors but by the first day i was already amazed but what megan had taught me.

    the lessons, the critiques and the helpful responses to all questions really helped me grow and learn about light, photography and how they work together. do not miss this class!

  • Nina says:

    This was my first workshop and it really blew my socks off! It pushed me really hard and I learnt so much. Each week I was getting to a point that I would ask ‘how do I?….’ and it would be assigment for the following week. Brilliantly put together and very inspiring. I have some photos of my kids i will cherish forever and also went straight into a client session and used all I had learnt. I would 100% reccommed this course you will not be dissapointed.

  • Lexie says:

    If you are thinking about taking this class, sign up NOW!! You will not regret it!! Megan is an amazing instructor. The information she presents is very well thought out and very well presented. She gives tons of examples and really leads you to SEE the light in your own environment. After this class, I am seeing all kinds of possibilities for lighting situations in my house that I never would have considered before!!! So, don’t even think twice, just sign up now! :)

  • Claire Lane says:

    Hello my name is Claire and I am addicted to flat light……Ha! Not any more!! I have learned to embrace the shadows through this class and really add some dimension and interest to my pictures. I don’t really get along with too much high drama in my images and this class has really helped me to use the light to my advantage to suit my style of shooting – but just make it more interesting. I was challenged and pushed out of my comfort zone which always pushes me to do my best work, I’m thrilled with some of the images I got. Megan and the other TAs were amazing, fostering a fantastically supportive atmosphere and giving fabulous and detailed CC each week. If you possibly can do it – I promise you won’t regret it! :-)

  • Genesis says:

    This class is spectacular, I can’t say enough about it! I really learned to see the light and created images I would have never thought I could create prior to taking this class. Megan is a very thorough, encouraging, and patient instructor and gives very thoughtful critiques and answers to the questions posed. She has a fabulous crew of TAs and alumni helpers who enrich the class even more. It is a challenging class, but in the end you will never look at light the same. I highly recommend this class!

  • Lara says:

    I loved this class! Megan is an awesome instructor! Before this class, I was not very confident taking pictures indoors. But with the lessons in this course, I began to see so many places in my own home that have incredible lighting! The critiques from Megan and all of the other teaching assistants are so thorough & helpful. Megan’s lessons give great examples of different types of light & how to find it. I definitely recommend the full participation so you can get the critiques & also for the support & encouragement from your classmates!

  • I loved this class!! To have an instructor like Megan that is so focused on helping you and the class as much as possible is what makes NL 201 outstanding. Megan’s lessons and examples are very thorough and really make you stop and examine before shooting; you will see indoor light in a whole new way. The critiques you get are amazing and it helps so much just to be able to read through all of her critiques because there is so much knowledge there, things I would never have thought of. During the course of 4 weeks, I have walked away with many favorite images. I can’t say enough wonderful things about Megan’s class and her TA’s. This class should be on everyone’s list. :)

  • Courtney says:

    This class will teach you that no matter what type of light you have in your house you can rock it!! I live in a small base house and thought I had terrible indoor lighting. Megan’s tutorials and examples helped me to see that I could capture some fantastic images in my house. She pushed us to shoot in areas of our house I would never have taken my camera into before. Megan gives amazingly detailed critiques which will help you grow even more! I highly recommend full participation so you can ask the questions and get the wonderful critiques from Megan and the TA’s. Stop reading the reviews….go sign up! You won’t regret it!!!

  • Heidi says:

    I am so happy that I registered for this workshop! Many of my favorite pictures to date were taken during this four-week workshop. The lessons and assignments were inspirational and pushed my photography journey in a new direction. The material was really detailed with lots of great examples and Megan and the TAs gave such thoughtful, thought-provoking and helpful feedback to everyone in the class. Students are encouraged to find light in previously unexplored places in their house. I now have the confidence to shoot in all different types of indoor lighting situations. Considering that it is winter most of the year where I live, knowing how to take beautiful pictures indoors is such a gift.

  • Beth S. says:

    This is the first full participation class that I have taken and I must say that I am completely impressed. Megan does a wonderful job presenting the material and giving examples that you can easily follow to understand the lessons. Prior to this workshop I was wondering what I was going to photograph during the wintertime, especially in the evenings. As the weeks go by, you realize that there is light available in almost every room in your home, you just have to find the right way to use it. The class is quite challenging, but in a good way. Megan pushes you to find the light and manipulate it to give you beautiful images. I absolutely loved the class. I feel that I can now take pictures in my home that I love. Thanks so much to Megan and all the TA’s for being so helpful and thorough in the CC’s. I am so glad I took this class!

  • Sarah Vaughn says:

    I feel so lucky to have been able to take this class with Megan as my teacher. Before the class I loved outdoor photography, but never felt that same magic with my indoor photos. But Megan has truly shown me the light — indoor light — and I am now hooked on taking images at home. Her thorough lessons show you how to use indoor light in so many ways, whether you want to create striking images using dramatic light or bright airy shots of your kids playing at home. She covers it all, and then some. One warning — if you take her class you may not be able to watch your kids playing in their room without analyzing the light and itching to rearrange some furniture.

  • Elle says:

    This class is amazing!!! Megan is a fabulous teacher, and the content covered is both detailed, and inspiring. No matter where you are at in your photography journey, this class will push you creatively and challenge you to see light in different ways… I cannot recommend this class enough!

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