Create strong in-camera compositions.

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Seeing photographically is what this week is all about, join us as we learn how to create strong compositions within the camera. We do not dwell on the equipment, software or editing. During this week we will discuss the visual, intellectual and intuitive elements, which go into creating a photograph. This course is open to anyone looking for new ways to see – from the novice to the seasoned pro. Each day we explore a single aspect of photographic vision in depth.

© Crystal Chappell

Mornings begin with a review and critique of the previous day’s photographs, followed by lecture and discussions providing a basis for the day’s assignment and fieldwork. Experimentation is encouraged and participants are expected to stretch, explore and test new ideas. Failures and mistakes will be applauded.

Subjects covered during the week:

The Camera Lens – Explore the lens’ ability to distort perspective, alter reality and isolate subjects through focus and depth-of-field.

Photographic Design – Work with lines, shapes and space as the frame creates two dimensions from a three-dimensional space.

Point of View & The Frame – Investigate the frame’s ability to edit, select, isolate, include and exclude elements in our field of vision. Examine how the camera lies to tell a greater truth.

Light – Develop a greater appreciation for the quality of light- the direct light of noon, the soft light of dawn, the shadows of late afternoon, the diffused light as the Maine fog rolls in.

The Culminating Picture – A single photograph, your final assignment, brings together all the elements you have examined and will be presented at the final critique.

The class will meet Monday – Friday 9am – 12pm EDT, and there will be individual meeting with the instructor each day between 3 – 5pm daily. The class will meet for a final review of work at the end of the day on Friday.


I just wanted to send a belated thank you very much for an excellent workshop last week.  I was glad for the opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and explore more use of color and what I think of as more fine art work.  As you know, it wasn’t a smooth journey, and real growth never happens that way.  While I know the object wasn’t to end up with a superb project at the end of the week, I was pleased that by the end of the week, I was starting to get more accustomed to how your thoughtful critiques could set me in a positive direction.

– Kent Fairfield


Past student work: Doug Triffon (x2), Crystal Chappell (x2)

Header image credit: ©Doug Triffon

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Instructor: Andrea Birnbaum

Andrea is a photographic essayist working on long form projects related to identity, belonging and memory. She has developed projects on special needs siblings, girls and women, troubled youth and is currently photographing women over 50, including herself. She is passionate about teaching photography and helping others find their creative voice. She has taught students of all ages, most recently as an adjunct faculty member at The Art Institute of Michigan, and at the College of Creative Studies in Detroit, where she was a faculty advisor for two trips to Haiti, where art students taught art classes to children, and collaborated with Haitian artists in Jacmel, Haiti. She has spent the past year teaching therapeutic photography to troubled young women at a residential facility in Detroit, helping them use photography to express themselves.