A Peek Inside Our Photo Boot Camp

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Boot Camp students

When I was hired at PAUL'S PHOTO about nine months ago, I was only supposed to fill in and help out for a little while. I knew little to nothing about cameras. I believe I asked what DSLR stood for and received several concerned stares from everyone working here.

I have a background in art, and so the creative process of photography really appealed to me, and it was inspiring to spend each day surrounded by Mark, the sales guys, and the customers who love to talk photography all day, every day. It still is. It's part of the reason I decided to stick around.

For the first couple weeks, I felt like I was picking up on a lot just from listening to everyone talk about photography all the time (and from asking a ton of potentially ridiculous questions), but there were a few technical questions I felt I still needed answered.

Plus, all this talk of cameras was starting to make me want a camera of my own.

I decided I needed to take Photo Boot Camp. It's our most popular series at the Creative Photo Academy, and this is because it takes new photographers from the basics of learning their camera buttons to being able to discuss things like shutter speed, aperture, and depth of field.

The series is six weeks long, one class per week, with homework assignments each time. Each class covers a basic topic in photography: The Camera, Exposure, Light, Flash, Focus, Composition, and Sharing Photos.

Mark created the Boot Camp lessons and has been teaching the class for over 20 years -- actually, I think Boot Camp and I are almost the exact same age -- 25! He's taught it so often and seen so many students pass through the door that he's got it down to an exact science. I could tell, sitting in class, that he could almost predict the exact questions each of us were going to ask him.

One of my photos from my homework assignments! Not the greatest photo of roses in the world but definitely 120% better than photos I used to take.
One of my photos from my homework assignments! Not the greatest photo of roses in the world but definitely 120% better than photos I used to take.

And if any of you know Mark, you know how enthusiastic and full of energy he is pretty much all the time. If you think he's in in his element when he's talking to customers behind the counter, you should see him when he's teaching a class.  He knows how to explain the concepts so that "science people" and "artsy people" are on the same page.

This isn't to say that the class isn't sometimes frustrating.  Of course it is -- it's always difficult to learn something that is completely foreign to you. The homework assignments were crucial here -- although they were sometimes frustrating for me to accomplish because I felt like I wasn't doing anything correctly (and several times, I wasn't), the assignments forced me to get out and practice each week.

They also showed me how I was progressing in comparison to my classmates, and looking at their photos taught me more about the types of photos I enjoy looking at and want to take in the future.

Now, when beginning students ask me for a recommendation of a class to take, I tell them about my experience in Photo Boot Camp. It's easy for me to relate to a lot of Beginner level students since I started off knowing even less than a lot of them know or knew before they started, and I hope it's encouraging for students to see that I started off from square one and can now hold my own in conversations about photography or photo shoots in not very much time at all.

Next step: learn to master photo editing programs!

If you'd like to try out Photo Boot Camp, our next session starts off in the beginning of February (your choice of Tuesday morning or Wednesday evening sessions). Click here to view the full schedule and details.

One thought on “A Peek Inside Our Photo Boot Camp

  1. Sue Kamm

    I totally agree about Photo Boot Camp! I've been through it twice and I think I've become a better photographer.

    Using a DSLR is much different than using a film camera. With a film camera I used to wait for the exact moment to take a picture (keeping in mind the per-print and developing cost). With the digital camera one can take numerous photos and pick the best image.

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