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Photographic L.I.G.H.T. Review by Charlotte Gochnauaer

Collette Storkel
Collette Photography

Has your older child expressed interest in photography? Then this beginner class offered by Collette Storkel of Collette Photography might be a good fit. It is easy to just snap a photo, but to create a beautiful image you need an understanding of your camera, balance and light. And in this comprehensive course, Ms. Storkel covers all of this and much more.

The course is an all inclusive, beginner photography course. The materials included are the course textbook, test book and answer key, a grey card, exposure journal and a 2-in-1 reflector/diffuser. This is a self-taught course that can be done at any pace. There are 15 lessons in the course which begins with photography fundamentals, then moves onto light, composition, portraiture, motion, landscape and more.

The lessons are easy to read, and have many color photos and illustrations. There is a written test for each lesson which is self-given but is closed book. It is not required to send in the tests or results; they are simply a way to see if the student has grasped the materials in the lesson. It is recommended though, that the student not progress to the next lesson unless they have scored 90% or higher.

At the end of each chapter there are photography assignments. These are very appropriate to the lessons and truly expand what is being taught. For example in the chapter on portraits, the assignments include taking a photograph of someone in motion, another photo taken in a studio setting and another with a 3:1 lighting ratio. All of the assignments are explained in detail in the lesson and do cause the student to practice what they are being taught in the textbook. Beginning in lesson eight, it is required that some of the completed photo assignments be mailed to Ms. Storkel. Students will send in an 8x10 or 8x12 print of the assignment. This varies from 2 to 6 images per lesson. Along with the photos, the student is also required to write an accompanying essay that describes the camera settings used and the style of the photo. This entire course takes 30 weeks to complete if done at the suggested pace of one lesson every two weeks. At the end of the course your student will know how to choose the correct lens, freeze motion, take photos in macro and black and white settings, and much more.

In my family I have an interest in photography so I was the one who took the entire course. I learned so much! The book moved along at a comfortable pace and I found the example photos and illustrations very helpful. They were appropriate and not offensive, as some photography books can be. The text was written in an engaging style and the test booklet was beneficial in helping me understand the material.

The most important and helpful part of the course was the send-in assignments. Ms. Storkel reviews the images that are sent in and then critiques and send them back to the student with her comments. This invaluable evaluation and the tips that she sent back were most helpful for me as a photographer. She was encouraging in her critique, yet saw the many places where the images could be improved upon and gave helpful suggestions. Also as part of the course, the student joins a private online forum, where Ms. Storkel gives advice and holds occasional photo contests. This is a great resource where students can interact and ask photography questions. I took the full 30 weeks to finish the class. This was an excellent pace and gave me enough time to do the photo assignments.

The cost of $495 for the entire course is reasonable, especially when you think of the materials included, plus the one-on-one tutorial type of interaction the course offers. There is the extra cost of developing the images and the postage for the send in assignments. It is also helpful for the student, while taking the course, to have access to an SLR camera. There is no age limit for this course but I would suggest this for the high school/college age students who are interested in learning more about photography.

In taking this course, I really improved my photography skills as I learned about the many features on my camera and how to shoot in all the different modes. I really enjoyed learning about more advanced photography, light and composition. I benefited from the relationship with the teacher and the advice and helpful tips she gave. I highly recommend this photography course for anyone who wants to learn more about taking great pictures.

Product Review by Charlotte Gochnauer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC March 2011