composition & creativity

with sarah wilkerson

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Composition and Creativity is geared towards intermediate to advanced photographers. This unique course covers compositional principles, viewing psychology, and artistic considerations relevant to photographers as they conceptualize, frame subjects and scenes, process their work, and develop a personal artistry. This course focuses on improving image composition, strengthening visual interest and artistic intent, and refining your photographic vision for maximum impact on the viewer. The instructor will remain available to you for all five weeks and will hold a screencast based “office hour” for live Q&A, demonstrations, and discussions during break week.
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“After the first two weeks, I could already see a difference in my photography. This class will have you digging into each of your photos and learning what makes an image stronger.”

Commitment
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4 weeks + 1 break week

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daily shooting required

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6-8 hours of work per week

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this course has prerequisites

Prerequisites

All participants must have a mastery of technical basics (exposure, aperture, shutter speed, ISO, etc) and proficiency with their preferred processing software (Lightroom and/or Photoshop recommended). Participants need not shoot in manual regularly but must be comfortable doing so. We will not be covering or critiquing technical basics in this course.

Instructor

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Sarah Wilkerson is the CEO of Clickin Moms and a photographer since 2006. Her approach to photography is guided by literary Romanticism and cinematography, and she gravitates towards light-driven storytelling, rich color, and the dreaminess of tilt shift work. A former attorney and graduate of Duke University, Sarah is a married to a skydiving Army JAG and has four children.

The following photographers also participate in discussions and provide assignment critiques as teaching assistants: Megan Cieloha, Lisa Tichane, Emma Wood, Kristy Dooley, Kristen Dokoza, Kristen Ryan and/or Celeste Pavlik

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

Categories

Shooting
300-level (Advanced)

• 4 Weekly Printable Lesson Downloads with Assignments (outlined below)
• Instructor-Led Online Q&A for Each Lesson
• Personal Critiques of Weekly Assignments by Instructor & TAs
• 90 Minute Live Office Hours and Workflow Walkthrough (plus Recording)
• Tonal Pattern Action Set for Photoshop
• Processing for Composition: Lightroom and Photoshop Tutorial Videos
• High-Speed Processing Plan Demonstration Videos
• Introductory and Wrap-Up PDFs with Introspective Bonus Exercises

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

Reading: Elementary vs. Advanced Critique; Levels in Photography
Preassignment (optional): Words Exercise; Technical and Aesthetic Levels analysis

Lesson One: Basic Compositional Considerations

Reading: Artistic responsibility; Eight basic factors; Framing and Blocking; How to plan a shot; Documentary authenticity; Is processing “cheating”?; Defining Distractions
Assignment: The 25% Rule

Lesson Two: Beyond the Rule of Thirds

Reading: Rule of Thirds, Golden Mean, Golden Triangles, Golden Spiral
Assignment: Golden Compositions (Two Parts)

Break Week

Live Office Hours
Discussion (optional): Self Doubt and Self Analysis

Lesson Three: Photography’s Essential Conflict

Light in Composition; Looking for Light; Value Patterns; Viewing Psychology; Form; Exposure and processing for dramatic light
Assignment: Dramatic Light

Lesson Four: Balance and Visual Interest

Reading: Compositional Balance; Asymmetrical Balance; Visual weight; High Attractants; Framing; Achieving Balance; Processing for Balance
Assignment: Processing for Balance

Workshop Wrap-up

Closing Thoughts and Final Exercises (optional)

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.



32 Comments

  • Angie says:

    I took this course as a study along student and Sarah is FANTASTIC!!!! Sarah really takes to heart all of her student’s concerns, offers out of this world constructive critiques on assignments and the substantive value of her learning material goes way beyond anything I could have expected from a workshop. Even as a study along student, the assignments were challenging and the material helped me compose better by the end of Week 1. At least I felt that I was composing better and being more mindful of what I was framing! There were also tons of bonus material, especially processing related which helped finalize my vision for composed images! Highly highly highly recommend this workshop and would take it again as a full participant in a heartbeat!

  • Sonia says:

    This class is just AMAZING and as someone else just said, amazing is not enough to describe what this class is about! It’s full of great informations you will need to become a better photographer. The exercices that Sarah made us do are just so great and fun to do. It was for me the begining of a great adventure! I am so glad I took this course and I would recommand it to anyone. My only regret is that I was not able to get in as a Full Participant, so I will have to take this course again another time. Sarah is amazing and she is giving such great advices!! This is really precious! So I hope you take this class too, and discover what the C&C greatness is all about!!

  • Megan Dill says:

    This course opened my eyes in a big, big way, and I feel so fortunate to have been a part of it! Before taking it I was stuck in my photography journey, usually defaulting to the rule of thirds in most of my compositions. It was getting boring. This course opened my eyes to new compositional rules and equipped me in harnessing light to my advantage, thus transforming my photography and putting me on the path to solidifying my style. The peer critique was invaluable, and Sarah’s critiques were insightful and inspiring. Amazing doesn’t even begin to describe this class!

  • Holly says:

    Need. This. Class. Like. Whoa. (giggle)

  • This was without a doubt the best workshop I have taken up to this point. I thought that the instruction from Sarah was detailed, new, and challenging. I thought that the support from the others in the class was like nothing I have experienced before. I took this class with such talented photographers that I felt like I had to push myself every single day to keep up. The feedback from Sarah each week was thorough and detailed while remaining encouraging at the same time (which I personally think is a gift when you can walk away from CC feeling as though you know where to go next time without feeling defeated). The aspect of shooting daily makes this workshop intense yet I can’t imagine it any other way. This class will push you to become stronger in your photography skills as well as your ability to understand the components of what makes a great image great. The information is something that you will continue to reflect on as you move forward in your learning yet they are skills you can apply right away. I highly recommend this class as it will change the way you look through the viewfinder.

  • Lisa Sheehan says:

    I took Sarah’s workshop last summer and it was both extremely challenging as well as transformative. Even if you think you pay attention to the elements within your frame, you probably don’t!! But after this workshop with Sarah you will have a new appreciation of how everything in your image plays a role. This workshop will most certainly get you seeing things in a new way and alter the way you approach your photography. Although challenging, I feel this workshop is the type that is a *must* for any serious photographer – both hobbyist and professional. Sarah’s feedback is detailed and extremely in depth and she is amazingly generous with her time throughout the course.

  • Luci says:

    I just finished this course with Sarah and all I have to say is AMAZING! Sarah puts in so much time with her students. She is full of incredible information and she takes care to be available when you are needed. If you are unsure of a concept, she will keep with you until you have an understanding of it. Her course material is detailed and full of pictures for great visual learning as well. I feel that since I have taken this course that my mind has opened to seeing people, environments, moments….life, in a new way. This is not only making for better, more thoughtful photography for me, but it is also giving me a greater appreciation for our beautiful world. This may sound nerdy, but I can feel new synapses in my brain growing and connecting from all of the knowledge and the different perspectives that Sarah gives on approaching photography. This class is challenging, fun and a MUST take for anyone looking to push to the next level or just get a deeper thought process. I cannot recommend this class highly enough. Thank you Sarah!

  • Kelly Garvey says:

    This class will change your world! I look at everything SO.MUCH.DIFFERENT now. I didn’t realize that I wasn’t taking the whole frame into account before. Sarah’s got me thinking on such a deeper level & I have purpose now for everything I do (or I try atleast)! I love being challenged & that class did just that. Sarah is so available to us & provides such in depth CC – you can tell she really put tons of time into it & knows her stuff. She really genuinely cares & is so approachable & encouraging. I can’t imagine the hours that went into teaching us! I see huge improvements in myself & in everybody – she’s got us excited, motivated & pumped up! I am so glad I signed up for this course. Thank you, Sarah & all the other pros who contributed to this class – it’s been an awesome experience that I am sad to see come to an end!

  • Jamie says:

    To have an instructor that is so focused on helping you and the class as much as possible is what makes a great course. Sarah goes above and beyond in being available and helping you to succeed. The lessons are very thorough and really make you stop and examine before shooting. The critique you get is amazing and it helps so much just to be able to read through all of Sarah’s critiques because there is so much knowledge there, things I would never have thought of. It’s a real eye opener, it offers something for everybody.

  • Rachel says:

    This class is unbelievable!!! The information Sarah goes over is so thorough and detailed- it’s made a huge difference in my photography already!!! I love how differently I can look at things, way I never would have beforehand. Sarah is on the boards constantly- always providing feedback, answering questions, anything we need…and the participation among the ladies in the class was incredible!!! Everyone gave detailed feedback. If you want to “see things differently”- you will absolutely loveeee this class!!!!!

  • Amanda says:

    This class is AMAZING!!! My photography has already been taken to the next level (with one week to go in the course). Sarah really knows how to explain things and makes herself completely available throughout the course. The videos and full-page critiques were just bonuses I was not even expecting. I cannot wake to take another one of her classes and look forward to keeping in touch with CM friends I have made throughout the course!

  • Kristin says:

    What can I say about this class that has not already been posted prior? The lessons each week are a big push to not only see through your lens differently, but they will have you looking at your environment differently. After the first two weeks, I could already see a difference in my photography. The thought behind the picture is something that I find interesting, this class will have you digging into each of your photos and learning what makes an image stronger. Sarah is an incredible teacher! Her lessons are well thought out, thorough with tons of examples – and if you still have a question, she is quick to reply and encourage you! This is a tough class, and I agree that you should have a good handle on the basics – it will only allow you to focus on all the other aspects of your photography that this class brings. I have enjoyed this class so much, it is absolutely one of the best classes I’ve taken. If you’re ready to “step it up” or just further develop your skills, then this class is a must!

  • Courtney says:

    This class will change the way you see the world through your view finder!!!! I was in a rut before I started this class and now I am not only rejuvenated but I also have a TON of new knowledge to apply to my images. Sarah has a way of seeing things that I didn’t even know were there. You will receive some of the best critiques of your photos. Seriously, I’m talking about paragraphs on your photo!! I learned so much from the critiques from Sarah, the TA’s and my fellow classmates. If you have a question don’t hesitate to ask it. I’m pretty sure Sarah never sleeps anyway :O) It is an intense course and really pushes you but in a good way. You can’t help but grow!!! I can see a drastic change in my photos compared to prior to this class. I feel a lot more confident as a photographer. One of the best workshops I’ve taken!!! If you want to take your photographs to the next level hurry up and sign up!!!! You WILL NOT regret it!!!

  • Melissa N. says:

    To write that this class is amazing, would be an understatement. I feel very privilege to have been able to take a course from Sarah. She is an amazing teacher and talented photographer that you can’t help but be inspired even when being challenged. The time Sarah puts into her course is unbelievable, the lessons are well made and she is always there to answer questions quickly. I learned so much and have grown and evolved as a photographer and that is all thanks to Sarah! I highly recommend this to everyone who is ready to take their photography to the next level!

  • Jaime Profeta says:

    There are no words to describe how amazing this course is! These have been the best four weeks of my photography journey….ever! I completely agree that you need to be comfortable shooting in manual and have a solid grasp of the technical aspects of photography when starting this course, so that you can focus on the course content instead of how to use your camera. This course puts a much greater emphasis on the creative and artistic side of photography than any other course I’ve come across. Whether you’re relatively new on your photography journey or you’ve been around the industry for years, this course will challenge you to look at things in new ways. In fact, not only will this course have you seeing your photos differently, you will look at the whole world differently!

  • I don’t even know where to start. This course changed my photography world. Before beginning shooting 301 I was extremely bored with my photography; in a rut to say the least. Now, I can go back through my portfolio and see a clear, distinct difference in my photos from before the course and after. Sarah’s instruction, critique and encouragement opened my eyes to photography as a pursuit of artistic excellence. As someone who had a firm grasp on shooting in manual and clean processing I still found this course challenging, but in the best way. My patterns of thought with regards to composition, light and guiding the visual experience that my photos provided were shaken up and put back together with a fresh perspective. Now, 8 months later, I still think about the concepts every time I pick up my camera. Amazing!

  • Tammy B says:

    So although I have yet to complete this wonderful class & can say with an abundance of Enthusiasm that I LOVEIT!! 1 week in and have already learned so much……can you imagine what I will have under my belt by the end of week 5?? Just take it …..come on you know you wanna

  • Kristen says:

    I absolutely loved this class. It was the first workshop I took at CM and it created my workshop addiction. It opened m eyes to all kinds of different compositional guidelines and learned to apply my own creativity to create more memorable images. It was also the first time I really slowed down and thought things through- I still struggle with this but the results are always better when I do! :) Sarah is an amazing teacher, she always provides thoughtful, thorough responses and feedback. This class is nothing short of inspiring! I highly recommend it!

  • LaurieY says:

    I took the original class, which was absolutely fantastic, and I know since then it has been molded into something even better.
    Going into the class I was a bit nervous spending any money on it since I knew some of the basic compositional rules (rule of thirds, etc), and took a leap of faith. I’m glad I did. The instructors took the things I knew and went way beyond that… I had no idea how many different compositional guides there were! Not only did I learn new compositional rules/guidelines/framing etc, but why they are used, and to see them in everyday shooting.

  • Romana W says:

    This course changed my life! I started out thinking I was kind of OK and was gently pushed and inspired to a whole new level of photography. You will take pictures every day and get feedback and ideas from the instructor and your classmates. Moving through different areas of basic composition and including them in all your shots, with absolutely mindblowing critique and points to improve upon. If you want to get beyond ‘You take great photos’ and ‘Wow I love your shots’ to actually understand how to improve your photography, develop yourself and have real feedback that moves you forward, then this is for you. But make sure you can do basic Photoshop/editing and can manage exposure and manual settings first. It is not for the beginner – they move fast and the standard is high.

  • Pam says:

    This is a must take class for anyone looking to expand their approach to photography. Over the course of four weeks, you will learn, and integrate into your work, fundamental composition elements that will strengthen every image you take. You will begin to analyze your images in a deeper way and learn how to communicate your vision more completely. This was an amazing class taught by a caring, supportive and nurturing teacher. I can’t rave enough about this class and the instructor who teaches it. It is outstanding!

  • Sabrina says:

    I enjoyed this workshop so much because it truly gets you out of any ruts you might be in. It’s a fantastic four-week creative journey to a new level in your vision as a photographer. And, yes, I can confess to dreaming about the concepts in the class (it was totally all-consuming in a good way!). Sarah is a wonderful instructor–a wealth of information and support. The forum was a great, active place to learn and grow from some outstanding photographers!

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