Visual Rhetoric: Becoming a Better Storyteller

with Courtney Larson


$300 Full Participation | $150 Study Along

Tell a dynamic story with your images.

Remember the best story you have ever heard heard? Maybe it was a bedtime tale your father created during your childhood, a popular TED talk that inspires you, or the way your husband tells the story of when you two first met. What makes that story so powerful? Storytelling is both a natural talent and a learned craft. Much like an aspiring authors do, we are going to learn how to construct a powerful visual narrative. We will examine the tools needed to express ideas and emotion. By analyzing literature and art, we will construct a new language for dynamic storytelling and the relationship between our mind’s eye and the camera. This class will develop the student’s ability to integrate various storytelling approaches, create single frame stories and photo essays, compose an effective communication strategy, and offer new tools for emphasizing the moments.


Students should be comfortable shooting in Manual Mode and have an understanding of the exposure triangle.

what you’ll get

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Full Participation students receive extensive personal video critiques of weekly assignment submissions.

Study Along Students have full viewing access.


4 Weekly PDFs that will help you develop your ability to create a cohesive story through your images


Full participation students engage in instructor-led discussion and Q&A for daily interaction and support. Study along students have full viewing access.

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3 pre-recorded videos, 4 live chats (recorded for viewing later, too)


Welcome & Preassignment

Lesson One


During the first week we will discuss ways to approach storytelling within a single image. You will learn how to identify the narrative in your current work and skills to strengthen future work much like a writer would when penning a novel. This week will look at the Rhetorical Triangle as we discuss it’s presence in art, advertising, and photography. *Complementing video discussing “anchors”.

Exercises: Three discerning exercises where you are to use your grasp of rhetorical concepts to share your thoughts or your analysis of image(s).


Approach a scene with no preconceived story and, only using 5 frames, document the strongest story the scene will give you.

Lesson Two


In Week Two we will discuss the basics of building strong content in our images. This week continues the literary approach as we dissect the characters, setting, and plot. The second part of the PDF will look at strengthening our emotional responses by developing or deepening the characters. *Complimenting video: Understanding the Setting.

Exercises: One discerning exercise where you are to use your grasp of rhetorical concepts and analyze eight images.


Approach a scene with no preconceived story and, only using 5 frames, document the strongest story the scene will give you.

Lesson Three


Learn about The Decisive Moment, three practical tips for documenting moments, and the elements in multi-image stories. *Complimenting video: live chat where you see me cull a Day in the Life session as I talk about the WHY behind my choices.

Exercises: Three discerning exercises where you are to use your grasp of rhetorical concepts and analyze images or photo essays. Two shooting exercises based on the PDF material.


Create a multi-image story in 5-12 images using the six various frameworks for a compelling story.

Lesson Four


This week will examine the psychological power of imagery and will review how we can use nonverbal cues to communicate our message. The PDF will discuss nonverbal in some of the world’s most powerful images and in everyday work of other photographers. We go over body language and composition as two key ways we can communicate with our audience.

Exercises: Two shooting exercises based on the PDF material. One discerning exercise where you are to use your grasp of rhetorical concepts to analyze images.


You are to shoot three images that express your personal “anchors” of an attitude, belief and value (from week one’s PDF). When sharing your images you will discuss all the identifiers of the rhetorical triangle and how you used the entirety of the course to approach and execute the assignment.

as seen on instagram


"One of my favourite workshops ever!"

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about your instructor

Courtney Larson: Storyteller, Documentarian, Boss-lady, Creme Brulee lover, Googling Expert, Golden Girl.

Courtney has always been telling stories, ever since she can remember. Whether it be crayola doodles, painting on a canvas, traveling the country with fellow actors, running her own jewelry business, or living abroad, she has been sharing the narratives of her life and of those around her. As a devoted artist and on the adventure of life that is motherhood, photography has become her medium of choice…and the rest is history.

Courtney lives in Phoenix, AZ with her beautiful ginger husband and their three children (nope, no gingers yet) She is a documentary photographer and her work has been described as honest, immersive, with a side of daring. View Courtney’s work at

how it works


download weekly lessons

Each week, students receive a set of course materials, which generally include a PDF and instructional videos. All course materials are yours to download and keep.

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chat online

Your workshop registration includes access to a private online forum for sharing and discussion. The classroom forum is open 24 hours a day so that you can learn and join discussions on your own schedule.

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study & ask questions

Study on your own time, and check in on the classroom forum for interactive learning. The instructor is present in the forum every day to answer questions and offer encouragement.

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complete weekly assignments

Students receive an assignment to complete each week that pertains to the topics covered in the course materials and builds upon 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 critique 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.



  1. Sarah Keene August 13, 2018 at 8:41 pm - Reply

    This class is just GOLD! Courtney has laid out the principles of visual rhetoric so clearly and concisely in the PDFs, and she shares a wealth of images that all help so much to convey her message. She is an exceptionally engaged instructor that welcomes questions and invited hours of chatting over materials on our weekly calls! This class was precisely what I need to be studying right now, and I didn’t realize it before. These principles will make my imagery so much more meaningful and I am so very thankful for that. So here’s a HUGE and very heartfelt THANK YOU to Courtney. I could not be more grateful. People, don’t walk, RUN and take this class.

  2. Rachel Hall August 12, 2018 at 3:44 pm - Reply

    I have LOVED this course. Courtney is a warm, dedicated and engaged teacher and her critiques are awesome. I’m definitely seeing a difference in my images, and my thought process when I pick up my camera. I’m so glad I did this course and highly recommend it.

  3. Michelle Pimentel August 11, 2018 at 11:13 pm - Reply

    A week after I completed this course, my husband was looking at my photos and said I definitely got my money’s worth. I agree! This course was challenging and difficult, and so worth it. I feel like my entire perspective on why I take photos has shifted. I am a more thoughtful and intentional photographer today, and I know I will continue to improve as I continue to process all the materials. This was my first course, and Courtney’s generous feedback was so helpful. The TAs were also wonderful. I highly recommend this course!

  4. Amanda Ruzicka August 11, 2018 at 10:30 am - Reply

    I can’t say enough good things about this class and the amazing instructor. If you’ve been thinking about taking it, just pull the trigger and sign up. You will not regret it! Courtney is a gifted educator and has such enthusiasm and passion for photography and storytelling and is so generous with her time and expertise. The weekly live chats were invaluable and inspiring and the weekly critiques were so helpful and motivating. I learned so much and had a great time participating. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what I learned because I didn’t *just* learn facts, this class shifted my whole way of thinking about how and why I shoot and what makes an image strong or fall flat. It not only improved the way I shoot but also how I self-critique my own work. I created some of my favorite images to date while shooting for this class.

  5. Michelle Kirkby August 10, 2018 at 1:05 pm - Reply

    I took this class hoping to be a slightly better photographer after four weeks. I’m excited to say that after four weeks I feel like a much better and more confident photographer. This class really teaches you to see photography (yours and others) in a new way. It also helps you dig deep to learn more about yourself and why you shoot. I’m leaving this class feeling inspired, refreshed and excited! I highly recommend this class and would definitely take a class with Courtney again!

  6. Michelle August 9, 2018 at 9:18 am - Reply

    My hope for this course was to be a stronger and better photographer in four weeks. I can honestly say taking this class and working with Courtney has exceeded my expectations. She’s opened my eyes to seeing scenes in a whole new way. I have not only a deeper understanding of why things work in my photos and others but also a deeper understanding of my personal why when shooting. I feel stronger and more confident in my photography and ability in only a few weeks. Courtney is an amazing teacher and the course material was great. I highly recommend this class!

  7. Pernilla Levisson August 9, 2018 at 4:25 am - Reply

    I loved how this class forced me to analyze why I photograph and then gave me the tools I need to move forward with my storytelling!

  8. Elizabeth Hargrave August 9, 2018 at 12:17 am - Reply

    What a wonderful class. Courtney was engaged and enthusiastic for the whole class. The information presented was easy to follow and understand and thought provoking. Courtney’s feedback was great and really pushed me to grow. I have not mastered all of the information in 4 weeks but feel that I will continue to use the material to hopefully keep developing my ability as a storyteller.

  9. Sarah Jessup March 22, 2018 at 8:08 pm - Reply

    One of my favourite workshops ever! Courtney is an amazing teacher and so generous with her time and materials. She made me think about my images in a way I’d never really thought about them before, really delving into the “why” that powers my photography. It was a very introspective workshop and I feel like I learned so much about myself in addition to how to become a more effective storyteller. This class is definitely worth taking full participation, as Courtney is very generous with her feedback and the video chats are such a helpful tool to really work through the materials. You won’t regret taking this one!

  10. Jenny R March 22, 2018 at 6:19 pm - Reply

    This is an awesome class! I learned so much about storytelling from Courtney. It really opened up a new way of thinking for me, and I started really thinking through what I want to say with my photos. It gave me a deeper meanig when photographing. Courtney is a committed teachert and leaves very thorough feedback on the assignements. I was amazed at how she analyzed my images and helped me work to go deeper! Storytelling is an art and you will get so much info in this class. I still go through the materials because I find them useful. I recommend this class, its so worth it!

  11. Lori Pickens March 16, 2018 at 8:49 pm - Reply

    I cannot recommend Visual Rhetoric enough! I take a lot of workshops and breakouts, and this one really stood out to me. It is filled with new and really thought provoking content. I have even taken other story-telling workshops before, and this still had so many concepts that I had either never studied before or ones that I finally understood at a deeper level. I also learned a great deal about myself, and how to captures that really matter to my core and make me feel more fulfilled. Besides all of the amazing content that you learn, well then there’s Courtney… she is one of my favorite teachers. She will tell you honestly what she thinks, and yet you can also tell she truly cares about your growth as an artist. Her feedback videos are so insightful. She and the TAs are always there to answer any question you have and are an endless wealth of knowledge! I promise, this course does not disappoint.

  12. Christina Biasi March 16, 2018 at 3:32 am - Reply

    I simply loved this class. Courtney is a great teacher, and she provides tons of information on now to better understand and approach storytelling photography. Before this class, i did not know what I was doing when i tried to tell a story with my images. Now i have a clear vision in mind, guidelines which help me to tell a story, e.g. evoke emotions or catch the viewers attention, and to express my feelings and thoughts. There are also plenty of guidelines included on how to become a better photographer as such and importantly, how to merge the how and the why in photography. The course invites you also to a journey to your inner self, and it was in many ways therapeutic :). Above all, it was inspirational!! Loved chatting with her and i simply recommend it to everybody. One of my best pictures emerged during the last four weeks Thanks Courtney!!!

  13. Brittany March 15, 2018 at 9:02 pm - Reply

    I absolutely loved this course! I took it as a study along (which is what I do with most courses) and about halfway in to week 1 I was wishing I had taken it full participation! Courtney poured her heart and soul into this workshop and it’s very obvious. From her thought out critiques, to the weekly live chats, there is so much opportunity for feedback! If you’re looking for a workshop to help you with your storytelling with an extremely involved instructor, don’t hesitate to sign up! And be prepared to be challenged, work hard, and grow!

  14. Katie Spata March 13, 2018 at 10:52 am - Reply

    This class was sooo good! I would do it again in a heartbeat! I loved the assignments and critiques, and Courtney was such a great instructor. It was so good to be “in a classroom” again with meaningful assignments that challenged me and pushed me to try new things! I can say my photography will not be the same from here on out!

  15. Rachel Sine October 11, 2017 at 11:06 am - Reply

    I loved this class. Seriously, it’s a new favorite. First of all, Courtney is a wonderful teacher. She is generous with her time and vast knowledge. I was impressed with her participation, and really enjoyed her regular live chats online where I got to connect with her and my fellow classmates. This allowed us to dig deep into the class material, and get answers to questions in real time. Second, the material is unique and extremely helpful. I’ve taken story-telling type course before, but there were lot’s of new concepts presented here that have already changed the way I approach making a photograph. And, finally, this class was super introspective. I came away knowing more about why I take photos, and what speaks to me and my vision. So, yes, I highly recommend this workshop. It’s a game-changer, and will mark a milestone in my photography journey.

  16. Liz stutler August 5, 2017 at 6:19 pm - Reply

    Take this class!!! Seriously- I learned so much from Courtney. She perfectly explains how to see moments, how to capture them and how to create a beautiful story full of emotion, visual interest and importance! The content in this class is priceless- but having Courtney as a mentor is indescribable! She helped me find and develop my passion and for that, I am forever grateful! You will not be disappointed with this class!

  17. So-Ha June 22, 2017 at 3:40 pm - Reply

    I found this course to be challenging in a really good way. It breaks down the different elements of telling visual stories and demonstrates practical techniques. There is an introspective thread throughout the course, which really helped me to respond to ‘why’ I take photographs and what I bring of myself to it. It is an emotional exercise. It really made me realise that my own stories are valuable. (I took this course as a study along participant.)

  18. Linsey Davis June 21, 2017 at 7:58 pm - Reply

    In a nutshell: Visual Rhetoric was awesome & worth every dollar!!! Courtney has put so much into this workshop & it was obvious that she has a thing for teaching. I even signed up for her class at Click Away & would happily take any class that she offers in the future. I had major realizations about my own childhood & why I am the mother I am today. And even why I am so passionate about photography. Honestly, it was therapeutic.

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