Exploring Creative Photography online workshop with April Nienhuis for Clickin Moms.jpg

Exploring Creative Photography

with april nienhuis

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March 05, 2018
current run
April 16, 2018
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Full Participation sold out.
Study Along seats available!

Are you bored with your photography? I get it. I’ve been there. You know how the story goes – get a fancy new dSLR, learned how to shoot in manual, figured out the basics of natural light, and the rules of composition. As satisfying as it was for me to learn all that and be able to take a technically good photo, it didn’t fully satisfy me. I still craved something more… creativity. With this four week creative photography workshop, we will push past the basic rules of photography and explore how to create truly captivating imagery. We’ll study how to break the basic rules of photography to help you tell the story you wish with your pictures. Let’s break out of the mold and tap into your creativity!
“I’m finally able to visualize and intentionally create photos that have meaning and cohesively tell a story. All those rules you learned along the way are meant to be broken, and April teaches you how, when and why.”

4 weeks


daily shooting encouraged


4 hours of work per week


this course has prerequisites


Students should be experienced shooting in manual mode and have a solid understanding and experience with the technicalities of photography including ISO, exposure, shutter speed, aperture, and focus. A basic understanding of light and how it influences an image is strongly suggested. We will discuss using a Neutral Density Filter, tripod, prism, creativity lenses like a Lensbaby and tilt-shift, and artificial light but none of these are required for the course. Lightroom and/or Photoshop is helpful but not required since editing is optional in this course (you will receive some minor editing suggestions on your assignments and the materials include multiple how-to videos for editing). An open mind is a must since we will be exploring our creative photography choices throughout the month.



April Nienhuis has been a second shooter for the past eight years and it has encouraged her to find a creative approach to photography. While the main photographer works her magic posing and taking the more timeless images, April searches for unique perspectives and compositions that will be complimentary. As much as she enjoys fun and somewhat quirky imagery, her work tends to elicit a tranquil factor that many find soothing yet mysterious. Not believing in tying yourself down to one style, she loves a bit of everything – color and black and white, natural and artificial light, traditional portraiture along with the more abstract. April Nienhuis is a self taught photographer located in rural Oklahoma. She lives with her firefighter husband of 15 years and their three beautiful children whom she homeschools. She is also the Director of Online Media for Clickin Moms. Her portfolio is available here.

The following photographers also participate in discussions and provide assignment critiques as teaching assistants: Danielle Hatcher, Meg Loeks, Jan Tyler



• 4 Weekly Lesson Downloads with Assignments (outlined in syllabus- one per week)
• 11 Creative Editing Videos
• 10 Sky Overlays (exclusive to ECP students only)
• Instructor-Led Online Q&A for Each Lesson
• Critiques of Weekly Assignments by Instructor & TAs

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.

Welcome & Preassignment

Week One: Textures

Reading: textures and how they affect imagery; where to find natural and added textures; how to apply textures in post processing; exposure and how it affects the overall texture of a photo; when underexposure and overexposure works; textures and the intentional application of low and high ISO; how your ISO may affect your color; how to add grain when editing
Assignment: finding and photographing textures with the discussed techniques

Week Two: Depth

Reading: understanding depth and isolating subjects; creative tools and techniques to add depth; creating intentional out of focus imagery; unexpected apertures to draw out depth; creative focus lenses (Lensbaby and tilt-shifts); freelensing; the Brenizer method; prisming; adding depth with light (natural and artificial); creative perspectives; how to add depth and blur when editing
Assignment: capturing depth to pull the viewer in

Week Three: Motion

Reading: how to draw out motion in photography; how to add movement when there is none; stop motion photography; how to effectively show motion with a slow shutter speed; the techniques of panning; shutter painting; the purpose of neutral density filters; capturing fireworks; star and moon photography;

Week Four: Creative Vision

Reading: breaking compositional rules; effectively cropping your subject; unconventional lens choices; the meaning of colors in your photography; atmospheric white balance; artistic processing; alternative crop ratios
Assignment: putting it all together

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 and TA critiques each week. They also have lifetime access to a Workshop Alumni forum for continued peer discussion after the course concludes.

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.


  • S says:

    I am on the fence about this class. For me, it had its pros/cons. Pros: The TAs were wonderful. They gave me amazing feedback on all the images I posted during the four weeks, it did help me to break out and try new things. I was shooting every day and breaking out of my usual. Cons: The promo video was amazing so I assumed the class would have videos behind the scenes shooting those things. They were no behind the scenes shooting video. The only videos were short ones on how to edit. You are not promised feedback except for the one weekly image. And that is exactly what I got. Not once did the instructor comment on any of my weekly threads and the weekly critique images usually took a while to get also. Also, the PDFs were a little light on instruction. It mentioned using a tool but never behind the scenes showing you how it was used just a mention of it. I wish there would have been more information on how certain things were achieved. I did enjoy the assignments and shooting for them. If I could do it again I would just do the follow along. Not spent on the full participation.

  • Katie says:

    Exploring Creative Photography is an amazing, must take, course. I took this at a time where I felt I had all the “basics” down in photography but I needed a creative push. I could properly expose an image, compose, and get good focus. But I was struggling with getting images that really stood out. ECP was the absolute perfect course to push me creatively. April teaches you how to break the “rules” to compose beautiful images that you may have never attempted prior. This was one course that I really wished was longer. You will not be disappointed!

  • Joanna Nimeck Satel says:

    I can’t say enough positive things about this class. This is the first full participation class I took and it really helped me grow as an artist and know I can take chances and do things I think are hard. April provides wonderful feedback and engaging materials. I encourage anyone on the fence about this class to jump in and see how far you can run with it.

  • Kristin says:

    Exploring Creative Photgraphy was definitely one of my favorite and most productive courses yet! April pushed me out of my comfort zone and I found so many new techniques that I either didn’t know about, how to do or was just scared to try but I ended up loving them. The lessons made me really think about why I am doing what I am doing, from my settings to what is in my viewfinder. I wish this class was twice as long. If you feel like you are in a creative rut or getting bored with your photography, or just want to learn some new techniques, take this class!! I found myself more willing to take a break from client work to actually shoot for myself, something I often neglect doing, and I was really excited to do it. This class is one that I will definitely keep going back to.

  • Jennifer says:

    I have taken many breakouts and workshops as a study along member but after much research I ended up selecting Exploring Creative Photography as my first Full Participation class and I am SO glad I did! April packs in so much information into each week and really gets you thinking about why you are using certain settings and then challenges you to use them in a different way! I think I learned more about my camera in 4 weeks than I have in the last 2 years! I was more intentional with my settings to execute my vision than ever before and loved that I learned something new each week. The amount of student, AH, and TA participation was excellent and really pushed me that much more! I can’t recommend this class enough – it has produced some of my favorite images this year and definitely ones that I will cherish forever!

  • Cathie says:

    Exploring Creative Photography wrapped up over 3 weeks ago but I’m just now getting a chance to share some of my images! I really loved this workshop! We explored creative use of exposure, focus, ISO, shutter speed, color, movement, aperture, lens choice, composition-you name it! As I often find with CM workshops-the material was extensive, thorough and filled with inspiration! April is a fantastic instructor and was so helpful in guiding us through the material and answering our many questions! Thanks to April and to all the TAs for all the wonderful feedback. Thanks also to all the alumni helpers!

  • Mona says:

    I just wrapped up ECP with April Nienhaus and it was just what I needed. I’d been feeling creatively stuck and April’s materials got me out of it. There are creative things that were taught that I was already doing, but I really wasn’t aware of WHY I was doing them or WHY I liked the looks that they achieved. It was a real eye opener. If you are considering taking this class, definitely go for it, the payoff is huge, and going forward, you will always have these teachings in your mental toolbox. Now I am shooting more purposefully and I have more confidence in what I’m doing and why I’m doing it, as I have the knowledge I was lacking. Lots of pics here, but just wanted to share. Thanks for looking:love it Thank you again April.

  • Kimberly says:

    I had a lot of fun with this class, even though it was a SUPER busy time for me! Many thanks to April for putting together such a wealth of information and inspiration! I still have a long way to go, but I am seeing a lot of progress in my images since joining CM!

  • Eve says:

    The PDF’s were awesome and jam-packed with a lot of ideas to try, and had so many beautiful examples from photographers I really admire. This class definitely pushed me to try things I had never tried or even considered and I’m grateful for the knowledge I’ve gained. I highly recommend this class if you need an extra push to exploring different ways to utilize your camera than you’re used to.

  • Val says:

    First of all, you should know, I’ve wanted to take this workshop since it was first debuted two summers ago (I’m a little crazy over April’s work and after reading the syllabus I knew it was a must for me) so, last summer, I treated myself for my birthday and signed up! Absolutely no regrets.

    It’s easily one of my favorite courses thus far with CM. I’ve taken a lot of courses here, some essential for learning light, composition and a few more about purpose and vision, and a couple geared towards business. ECP was the perfect mix of all aspects of photography. This was definitely the “game changer” for my style and vision as a photographer. April has put together a workshop that pushes you, ever so gently, to explore your camera and the environment around you, giving you license to do what you’ve always wanted but didn’t think you could. There was never a sense of pressure during the four weeks, it was all about exploration and there was no right or wrong which was very refreshing and allowed you to be comfortable stepping outside of your comfort zone.

    The biggest take away for me was finding out what my equipment is capable of and how to make it work with my vision. I really can’t say enough about my experience, maybe it was the right course at the right time in my photography journey, but it made a significant impact on me, my work, and what happens when I pick up my camera.

  • Julie says:

    This class and the lovely April just knocked my socks off!!! We looked at creating photographs using techniques that most try to avoid such as: underexposure, overexposure, high iso/grain, shutter speed (have you tried shutter painting?), focus, etc and holy wow was it fun for me. April’s pdfs, feedback, and openness to letting us create however we wanted was a breath of fresh air. If you want out of your box, then this is the class for you!

  • Sonja says:

    This workshop is packed with information about how to get the most out of your camera and how exposure, shutter speed, ISO and other components can help you to enhance your vision. I incorporated many of the techniques into my daily shooting. Every time I take a photo now I think of the creative tools April tought us.

  • Ana says:

    April and the TAs are amazing! The lessons have a lot of information but this isn’t a technical “how-to” course. April discusses different camera settings and explains how they can affect your story. The image discussions are great because they get you thinking about the “rules” of photography and are great examples of how to effectively break the rules. I felt like I was in a rut before this class but not anymore! You will not be disappointed. I enjoyed this class so much!

  • Meredith says:

    This class exceeded my expectations in so many ways. It felt like a higher level class than a 200 level — in a good way. My mind is overflowing with new techniques for purposefully creative imagery – from exposures, to shutter speeds, to aperture variations and more. It’s true what they say…you need to learn the rules before you can break the rules. And even if I am “shooting life as it happens,” I can do it with more intention now. It’s funny how the more I learn about rules or even the rules of rule breaking…the more liberating it feels. ECP is a must have for a solid photographer tool kit, in my opinion. This class is the second time I felt a surge in my photography. The first was when I took Sarah’s Composition and Creativity class. I’m a very happy alumni (of both classes actually). So, here’s my share. Thanks for looking.

  • Laura says:

    What a wonderful class this was! It really pushed me to think about exactly what I want to say in my image and what mood I want to convey before clicking the shutter- and more importantly, it teaches you HOW to achieve your desired effect through creative use of camera settings. The course was truly a great experience and I enjoyed working on the topics every week. I felt that the material was easy to understand and very accessible. I created some great work during the run of this class, and highly recommend it to anyone- it will have a profound effect on both your personal and professional work. Thanks for a great learning experience, April!

  • Lisa says:

    Shooting 202 was AMAZING with the fabulously talented, April Nienhuis, her teaching assistants and my very talented classmates. The PDF’s are gorgeous and filled with so much material that I know I will be revisiting it for a long time. This class helped me to move past traditional photography and begin to pursue creativity and art in my work. I highly recommend this incredible workshop!!!

  • Elaina says:

    I want to thank again April for such an inspiring class and helping me push my limits and comfort zones. I gained not only a deeper understanding of exposure triangle but getting cozy with cranking that ISO up and feeling good about it..
    I loved her PDF’s and all of the TA’s support and love. But really I gained more confidence in my creativity, and just left with so many “aha’s”. This class was essential to my growth in all ways!! It’s a must to take and run to sign up if you can!

  • Heather says:

    I really cannot express how much I enjoyed this little adventure with April and the rest of the crew. It was ahhh-mazing. Images shared here: http://www.clickinmoms.com/forums/showthread.php?t=294026&highlight=exploring

  • Kristen R says:

    If you are considering this class, I strongly encourage you to sign up! April and her materials push you to explore creative choices that will allow you to intentionally control the mood and artistic expression in your images. Whether you have just mastered shooting manual or you are further along in your journey, this course will encourage you to try new things and step out of your comfort zone. There is no question, Exploring Creative Photography will push you to become a more creative and intentional photographer, allowing you to create more unique images that express your individual vision.

    A sample of my favorite images from this class can be found here: http://www.clickinmoms.com/forums/showthread.php?t=307467&page=2

  • Maggie (sandersmr) says:

    I tend to be a “safe” shooter and my photos reflected that. This class pushed me out of my comfort zone and showed me it was ok to experiment and to push it to another level. Yes, my experiments don’t always work but I’m not afraid to experiment now. I would recommend this class to anyone that wants to take their photography to the next level, whether you are hobbyist or pro.

  • Kristin says:

    I like to push myself creatively, and experiment! Exploring Creative Photography did not disappoint. At first it was hard to break the rules that you have learned and that have become second nature to your style. But after pushing through your own boundaries there is just so much to learn about yourself and your photography. I shared some of my favorite images from my run in November here: http://www.clickinmoms.com/forums/showthread.php?t=306172

  • Jessica says:

    I took this class FP, and thanks to the awesome material and daily shooting, I now have so many more creative “tools” at my disposal. I’m finally able to visualize and intentionally create photos that have meaning and cohesively tell a story. All those rules you learned along the way are meant to be broken, and April teaches you how, when and why

    I would highly recommend this class to those who are already very familiar shooting in manual mode and have conquered the basic rules of exposure. April teaches you how and when to break the rules to achieve a creative result and help convey a tone/message/story/etc with every photo. She encourages everyone to shoot, share and critique daily, which helps the material really sink in!

  • Amy says:

    I can’t say enough good things about this workshop – it challenged me to think differently about my photography and reminded me of my younger self, who didn’t think twice about experimenting with color and light. April and her TAs had excellent feedback, and, with the ongoing CC of the other (very talented) class members, I was inspired to overcome the obstacles which generally prevent me from shooting daily. Highly recommended!

  • Alexis says:

    This class is wonderful! If you are looking to add some new techniques and literally creativity to your work, this is the class for you. I was very bored with my work. It did not have depth. This class gave me the tools to achieve what I wanted in my head to my camera and then my actual pictures. Things I didn’t use to like I now do. I am amazed at how much this class has pushed me to another level. You might come away addicted to black and white photos and learn to love a new style. I know I have.

  • Courtney says:

    Please take Exploring Creative Photography!!! There was so much knowledge I learned and some enabling of myself of tools out there to really drive my creative photography journey. You will not be disappointed with the material in this workshop. To top it off the feedback given from April, Celeste and Caroline is really wonderful. Having so many unique perspectives really pushes you to think outside the box and help you further explore and discover your way with photography and how you view it as art. This workshop really tested my creativity and pushed me outside my normal shooting avenues, BIG TIME! I may have even found a want for shooting something other than my kids!!! This material this is constantly in my mind while shooting now and will continue to help my develop into my artistry! Seriously wonderful and I plan to work through the material again because there is so much to explore with everything that is learned.

  • Eva says:

    This is a wonderful workshop! I loved every minute of it. It will stretch your boundaries and get you thinking outside of the box. It has taken my photography to a completely new level and I understand how to creatively control and set up an image for maximum impact. It was just what I needed after getting a solid footing in manual. You start to experiment with different apertures, shutter speeds, ISO, grain, perspectives, crops, lenses to name a few. April’s photos are so beautiful and she encourages daily shooting and posting. April is always available, encouraging and so helpful with her cc as are the wonderful TAs. I loved taking it FP.

  • Nicole says:

    Prior to Exploring Creative Photography I lived in a happy low ISO, wide aperture, fast shutter speed, rule of thirds bubble – and I was pretty content but bored. I saw amazing photos produced from others that broke the “rules”, but just couldn’t make that rule breaking work for me. Enter April and her amazing TAs – I learned so much from the lessons, daily shooting, discussion images and feedback, and I can’t believe the things I shoot now that I would never have felt comfortable with before.

  • kara says:

    exploring creative photography is one of those workshops that really helped me find my way. it has changed the way i shoot for the better. prior to this course, i was familiar with what each of the components of the exposure triangle is responsible for. but after ecp, i am now more intentional about selecting each component and those decisions further impact the story i am trying to tell with my images. the equation for finding proper (or purposefully improper) exposure got more complicated, but the results are so worth it. ecp allows you to slow down, experiment, and break some rules and you might be surprised by some of the things you like.

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