Photoshop for Beginners

with marissa gifford

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February 5, 2018
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March 19, 2018
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Study Along seats available!

This workflow course is perfect for those who are starting out in Photoshop or for those who want to fill in gaps in their foundational knowledge. It is the ideal course for someone wanting to familiarize themselves with the concepts of layers, layer masks, and when you’d want to use which methods. Over the course of this workshop, students will become intimately acquainted with these tools and be able to develop their own workflow for editing their images start to finish – by hand – in Photoshop. In this 4 week workshop you’ll learn the basics of Adobe Bridge and ACR, shortcuts to speed up your workflow, how to correct exposure and white balance, how to manipulate the light and tones in your image, convert an image to black and white, polish up a frame by removing or diminishing objects, extend your image’s canvas when necessary, smooth your subject’s skin, work with templates, create a watermark, and prepare your images for print or web use. Marissa will walk you through each concept with a written PDF as well as provide video demonstrations how to accomplish each task and allow you to confidently use the tools Photoshop has to offer.

In addition to practicing on their own images, students will also receive a weekly folder of practice images from the PDF/Videos so they can edit alongside Marissa’s videos to become more comfortable with the new concepts. In addition to the weekly assignments, we have an optional brainteaser exercise each Wednesday to help students think analytically about the changes that have been made to the image and how you’d go about replicating those changes based on the tools we’ve covered up to that point. This pushes students to use critical thinking skills and push themselves outside their comfort zone – all in a welcoming, safe environment.

By the end of our time together, students will be able to visualize their end result and know exactly which tools to reach for in order to achieve that vision.



4 weeks


Minimal shooting required


4+ hours required per week


this course has prerequisites


Students will need either Photoshop CS6 or CC (Creative Cloud).



Marissa Gifford is a professional photographer based in Vancouver, WA (Portland, OR metro area). She specializes in natural light family, high school senior, and boudoir photography. Her work emphasizes interactions and emotions, and she loves bright colors and the interplay of light and shadows. Her personal work is best reflected in her love of street and travel photography. She is an avid traveler who loves to document her adventures – both with and without her family – and learn about new cultures and languages. She loves to capture the unique quirks of a place and the people that make it special. Marissa is also part of the instructor team for Mastering Manual Exposure here at Click Photo School and enjoys helping others on their unique photography journeys. She has been featured in Click Magazine multiple times and her portfolio can be found here. Her travel work can be found here and here.




• 1 Pre-assignment Printable Lesson & Video Download to orient you to Adobe Bridge, Photoshop Layers, Keyboard Shortcuts and Setting Up your Workspace
• 4 weekly Printable Lesson Downloads
• Numerous Video Downloads detailing and demonstrating the concepts outlined in the weekly PDFs
• Weekly folder of practice images from the PDFs/Videos for students to edit alongside me in the videos
• Wednesday Brainteaser image downloads to critically analyze an edit and use the tools they’ve learned about to recreate the edit shown
• Instructor-led weekly Q&A for each lesson
• Personal Video Critiques for each lesson’s weekly assignment 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.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: ACR

Reading: Week 1 is all about Adobe Camera Raw, where students will become familiar with the different possibilities and approaches to manipulating their images in this editing platform. We will work through the various panels to understand how they work together and how the adjustments affect the image as a whole, as well as selectively with the use of the adjustment brush.

Assignment: Edit 2 images in ACR, include SOOC and Final Edit for instructor feedback.

Week Two: Layers, Light and Shadows

Reading: During week 2 we will dig deep into the foundational building blocks of Photoshop – layers. Pixel layers, adjustment layers, blank layers – when and why to use each. We also cover the ever-helpful blend modes: which to use and why you’d want to use them. We will cover exposure adjustments, contrast, highlight/shadow recovery, saturation vs vibrance, dodging & burning, matte processing, vignettes, and black & white conversions. We will also cover how to apply each of these changes selectively, allowing you to wield precise control over your images via the use of layer masks and the brush tool.

Assignment: Use these techniques to correct and/or enhance 2 images. Include SOOC and Final Edits for instructor feedback.

Week Three: Color Correcting and Creative Toning

Reading: Building upon our knowledge of layers, we will cover the various ways to control the color in your images. From correcting white balance to eliminating color casts, to getting creative with color toning and enhancing directional light in your images. We will learn how to manipulate the colors in an image to fit your creative vision – things like enhancing/faking fall foliage or achieving those light, airy greens that are so appealing – and how to use color theory and color symbolism to make purposeful toning choices.

Assignment: Use toning techniques to correct and/or enhance 2 images. Include SOOC and Final Edits for instructor feedback.

Week Four: Finishing Touches

Reading: Week 4 is all about finishing touches. We cover a lot of ground this week and build upon the foundational knowledge of layers that we’ve learned up to this point. We will learn about skin healing and smoothing, using the cloning/spot healing brush/patch tools to tidy up the frame, stretching a canvas & using the marquee tool to eliminate objects in the frame and refine composition, adding/removing grain, sharpening your images, and batch saving and resizing. We finish the week by learning to use the text tool, creating a watermark, and working with templates.

Assignment: Use finishing touches to polish up 2 images, including before/after images as reference and submit 1 populated template for instructor feedback.

The CMU 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, instructors and TAs are 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 each week.

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.


  • Svetlana Dimitrova says:

    I am amazed by Marissa and her class. I can’t believe how much I learned in such short time. I have never used PS before and only decided to take this class after taking LR Fundamentals and seeing how much easier cloning is in PS. I am so so glad I took it. Thank you Marissa for being such a great teacher and sparking a love for Photoshop in me! I love love love everything I learned from you and I am so happy to be able to apply it to my images.

  • Melissa McCann says:

    I just completed Photoshop for Beginners. It was a great class. Truthfully I never get too excited when I sign up for a processing class because there is so much technical stuff to learn. I have to say that this class was different from other processing classes I have taken. Marissa is hands down a terrific teacher. Her materials and videos are fabulous. Photoshop is not an easy thing to learn but I found that things began to sink in and credit this to Marissa. Her videos are amazing and her critiques extremely thoughtful. She is super active during the week as well and my questions were answered so quickly. If you are thinking about learning PS – this is the class to take. You won’t regret it.

  • Heather-Nicole says:

    I recently took Marissa’s Photoshop class and loved it! I’ve been wanting to take learn PS for so long, but have always been intimidated. I know how to use Lightroom pretty well, but PS just seemed SO overwhelming. Marissa is an experienced and knowledgeable instructor who really understands how to break down something as seemingly complicated as PS into manageable chunks. She provides thorough explanations and demonstrations in well organized and easy to follow PDFs and videos. Her answers to your questions as well as her critiques are both thoughtful and informative. I really enjoyed my time spent in her class and felt well prepared when I took my next photoshop class Unlocking the Magic of PS.

    • I’m so glad you loved the workshop, Heather-Nicole! I loved having you in class and all your great questions and active participation! You did wonderfully and I’m sure you rocked your second PS class with your solid foundation in place. <3

  • Benita Clarke says:

    I can’t believe how much I learned in Photoshop for Beginners! The information progressed logically from week to week and each consecutive week built upon skills from the previous ones. The PDFs and videos were clear and easy to follow, and Marissa even provided photos from the weekly PDFs for us to practice with. She very promptly and thoroughly answered questions so nobody felt confused or left behind, our Q&A forum was super active! The Wednesday Brainteasers were extremely fun and helpful because Marissa gave us final edited versions of some of her pictures, then provided the original SOOC photos so we could analyze what she did to achieve the look, and try to do so too. The video feedback on our weekly submissions was amazing. Marissa always let us know what we did right for a particular edit, then let us know how to improve by giving suggestions and demonstrating specific techniques on our SOOC images. Her approach was to help us achieve our vision, and after this class I feel more confident about achieving mine. Thanks Marissa, for such an amazing class experience.

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, Benita! I loved having you in class and I looked forward to your assignments every week! <3 I am so happy to hear that you enjoyed the workshop so much and enjoyed the Wednesday Brainteasers and PDF images to practice with. You did wonderfully and I'm thrilled to hear you're feeling so confident in PS now! <3

  • Elizabeth says:

    I went from being a person who was so overwhelmed by Photoshop that every time I opened it I just closed it again. To understanding pixel layers and adjustment layers. The various uses for them, when and how to use them. Many different ways to ‎tone colours. How to stretch canvas, remove distractions and I even was able to make a CM signature!! The information the Marissa proved in the pdfs and videos was straight forward and concise. I have printed off the pdfs and have them in a binder at my desk. I know I will use this information regularly. I took it FP and it was totally worth it. Marissa answered every question we all had, never was a question too small and sometimes she had to re-explain things to me a few times so I could truly understand it, but did so in a way that made me feel comfortable to keep asking . I am so excited to keep practicing and gaining more confidence in PS.

    • I’m so happy that you are feeling so confident in PS now, Elizabeth! Your hard work has definitely paid off and you should be so proud of yourself! It was an absolute pleasure to have you in class again and I was so grateful for your active participation. I can’t wait to follow your journey and see where you go from here! <3

  • Marissa is incredible and has a gift for teaching! I learned how to use my camera with her in MME & I came back for PS because she’s just that awesome. Marissa will make you feel welcome and works hard to engage with all of her students! Her critiques are warm and helpful, especially if you are unsure of how the techniques look in your own work. I am walking away from this class with a strong foundation in Photoshop and the knowledge to edit from start to finish. Before taking this class, I had used PS a few times but it took me way too long to do small edits and I was intimidated and frustrated. I am now 100% confident in using and troubleshooting problems in PS! A couple things we learned will be extremely helpful as we go into the fall seasons, like gradients and painting foliage! Everyone walks away with a class favorite, but absolute love is a gradient layer. I add this to a lot of my work now! As a bonus, the day after the class ended, I swapped a head and saved a gorgeous family photo! I’ve already got my eye on her actions!

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, Aimee! I loved having you in class – 2 times now! – and I’m so impressed by how quickly you’ve made all these new techniques your own and assimilated them into your style. I can’t wait to see how all your gorgeous fall photos turn out now that you have all these fun new tools at your disposal! And yay for swapping heads! It’s such a useful technique, right? :D

  • Kerie Griggs says:

    This course was phenomenal! I have worked in PS for over a year now but am mostly self-taught. This class was exactly what I needed to connect the how’s with the why’s. The concepts were taught in such a logical way. I appreciated Marissa’s teaching style so much. Everything was so clear and organized. While the PDFs you get with the class are beautiful and full of great information, the real gems are the editing videos. Marissa provides lots of examples of each concept that we were learning. She doesn’t advocate any particular style of editing but she does tell you how she edits and why. I am so much more confident in my knowledge and skills in PS after this course. Thank you Marissa for really caring about each of us and helping us to grow!

    • Marissa Gifford says:

      Thank you so much, Kerie! I absolutely loved having you in class and I’m honored to have played a small role in your photography journey. I can’t wait to see where you go from here!

  • Wendy says:

    What a great class to take the fear out of Photoshop! Although I think I needed a pre-beginner class, Marissa made it feel easy to learn. The “hand tool” is hands down the best thing to happen to my photography! I love it.
    Thank you Marissa!

    • Marissa Gifford says:

      You did wonderfully in class, Wendy! Thank you for joining me there and I’m so happy to hear that you’re enjoying that hand tool – it’s a favorite of mine as well! :)

  • Stephen Bontempo says:

    Photoshop for Beginners was everything I hoped for and more. I am an enthusiast finally making time to capture more and more images. Over time, I managed to teach myself some basic editing in Lightroom, but never opened PS, it was just too intimidating. I knew so much more was possible, but didn’t understand the basics and attempting to teach myself PS was just not going to work. I looked around for a while and thought I needed to find a 40-hour, week long classroom setting. I was skeptical of an online class, but based on the course description and the 4-week format, I decided to give CM Photoshop for Beginners a try and I’m glad I did! Marissa is an excellent instructor and seems to make a genuine connection with each individual student, understanding where they are and what they want/need from this course. I truly believe this connection with Marissa is the magic of this course. Her knowledge and preparation, and her passion for photography are immediately evident, but her genuine interest in each and every student, no matter where they are on their journey into photography, makes this course shine. Just wait until you watch your first video critique, you will “get it” and be on your way to learning PS.

    PS for Beginners has a great combination of technical and creative aspects, starting with the basics, but quickly progressing in a logical and understandable sequence. I never felt uncomfortable or left behind as Marissa guided us through this course. Oh, and don’t be fooled by the course title, while it is perfect for beginners, at the end of 4 weeks, you will have learned more than you thought possible. And, you get to keep all the fabulous instructional videos and video critiques of your images. You will leave this course with images you are proud of!

    Don’t be intimidated! If you are thinking of learning Photoshop, start here!

    • Marissa Gifford says:

      Thank you so much for your wonderful review, Steve! It was an absolute pleasure having you in class. I’m so happy you signed up for my workshop and couldn’t be more thrilled to hear you enjoyed it so much.

  • Brittnay Douglas says:

    Photoshop for beginners was a great class! I have dabbled in photography as a hobby for many years now, but never devoted consitent time as I was always in school or working. Prior to this course, I had opened Photoshop many times and attempted to learn skills by googling and watching You Tube videos. Despite my efforts, nothing seemed to click and the program remained intimidating and overwhelming. This class put the basics all in a nice little package that was easy to understand and follow! This class not only enabled me to learn the basic photoshop skills, but it also helped me know exactly what could be done to improve my images. Because I currently work as a full time Nurse Practitioner and I am a mom to an 18 month old, I decided to do the study along as I was unsure how much time I would have to devote to the class and assignments. While I am sure the feedback you would get from the full study would be invaluable, the study along version provided me the freedom to work at my pace while still learning the same skills. Marissa, our instructor, was awesome! She is clearly very talented and was enthusiastic and informative though out the class. I never once was bored by her or the content of the class! This class has motivated me to take more classes to help expand my skills in my little hobby!

    • Marissa Gifford says:

      Hi Brittnay! Thank you so much for your kind words! I’m so thrilled to hear that you enjoyed the class so much and that you were able to make the most out of your Study Along participation. Photoshop can definitely be overwhelming to learn on your own, and I’m so happy to hear that my class and materials helped simplify it for you. Thank you for being a part of this first run, Brittnay! <3

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