Courses and Workshops

Photography and the Search for Meaning –
An Extended Workshop

Come join us to explore the notion that photography presents a gateway to meaning. For many of us meaning can be found in religion, vocation or in friends and family.   But for others, the search for meaning is more elusive, philosophical.   Some find refining a craft, creating a work of art, writing a good story is sufficient to satisfy this need but how does this work for photographers?   We all question at times and we all want to express our vision.

The act of making a photograph is one of assigning significance. There is always a reason behind our pictures. We question, remark on what we see, juxtapose objects, celebrate the wonder, and express ideas.   As photographers we use a language that is universal, that has its own syntax. Photographs prove our existence, they not only provide context for our stories, they provide a powerful platform to express our individual viewpoint.

During this workshop you will be offered informed critiques and a basis to extend the depth of your work. You will walk away with renewed confidence and an unshakable focus. You might even solve the question, why am I here?

Our focus will be to use our photography to create a visual essay. You will be offered the opportunity to create a series of photographs that express your own unique view on a topic that has import. You will be guided and supported through this process by the community that we will become. We will help you discover the threads that already exist in your work, help you to refine and extend them into a body of work that expresses your ideas and observations in an integrated visual essay.




Photography AND Visual Language
January to April  2019 at Uvic

Photography is a form of visual communication. Over a ten week period we will look at and explore the process and construct of visual messaging in photography and other visual art forms. Our intention will be to develop and understand the basic requirements of content and form in creating images with impact and depth.

We will attempt to integrate the academic as well as practical viewpoints, always working to understand the works of the great photographers within the context of visual language. To do this we will compare visual language to other expressions looking not only for the similarities but also the differences that afford visual expression its power.

We will also look into models of communication and comprehension and attempt to apply them to the work that we create in response to assignments.



Vision, Style and Authenticity

A Workshop Disguised as a Course

This is not a course; it is a participatory workshop. You will need to make lots of pictures and be prepared to present them to the group on a regular basis.

Our objective will be to help you find your visual signature, to develop a style for working and to do work that is authentic to you.

It’s a tall order and not something to be attempted lightly but that is exactly what we will do. We will work from the positives. We will look for the things that we do well, that say the things that we need to say and we will reinforce each other in the process. We will work from prints that we can see in groupings and our responses will always be constructive . We will take advantage of the fact that we will be sitting in a room with 12 other visual people who will be committed to help each other in our growth.

This workshop is in five sections

The first section is an overview of the program where we will examine the process that we are about to engage in, our objectives and the methods we will use to achieve the results we are looking for. You will be challenged to define a project that you will be prepared to commit to at the end of the second section. We should be able to cover this on the first night.

The second section is the review section where each person is asked to present as many as 12 prints that represent work that they have done to date.  As we look at each person’s work we will be looking for the threads that tie the work together, the clues to help define your visual signature and style. Each presentation will be ½ hour in duration and every participant will be asked to make constructive notes on the things they see in the work. Those notes will be given to the presenter to take home and consider.

In the third section, each participant is asked to define a project that they plan to pursue through the following weeks. The objective will be to create a tight body of work that demonstrates style, integrity and authenticity.

In the remaining weeks you will be asked to bring in samples of the work you are doing to share with the group as your project progresses. This will involve extensive group critiques and ongoing problem solving. This is the fourth section and it will last for 5 sessions.

Finally, at the last class you will be asked to bring a group of 10 prints that represent the body of work that you have created using the disciplines you have developed to share your success with the community that we will have become. I promise a very satisfying evening for all involved where we celebrate the successes of everyone in the group.


Boro Coat by Mary Sullivan Holdgrafer
Digital Photography for Artists

The digital camera has proven to be a powerful tool for artists in the 21st Century.

Cameras are ubiquitous whether they reside in your cellular phone, tablet, pocket camera or Digital SLR, they give us the ability to capture and record anything that inspires us.

Indeed, most professional artists will agree that photographs are vital to their career and excellent photographs are necessary to accurately document their work.

As a contemporary artist you are serious about your work and proud of the pieces that you make. You have spent years learning about color, composition, scale, perspective, anatomy, light and so many other relevant subjects that are important to your work.

You know that competitions are normally judged by your peers, that the competition is fierce, and being published is critical.

You know that everyone’s laptop, computer screen or TV shows colour and contrast differently.

You know that your work looks different in window light , full sunlight and in a gallery.

You dread finally getting your work published and finding that the printer has mismatched your colors to the ink.

This workshop will show you ways of dealing with each of these problems. These days of precision technology means there are no excuses. Either it is right or someone has made a mistake. Don’t let that someone be you.

In this course we will address each of the problems listed above and give you practical ways of dealing with them.

In addition, we will also cover the basics of digital photography. You will understand how a digital camera works and what makes a camera suitable for someone who is serious about color. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on one but some cameras are not suited for artists.

You will learn which cameras are right for you and why.

We will also look at inexpensive, sometimes free, creative apps for processing digital images and getting your creative juices flowing.


This course is divided into five sections and two tracks each session is priced separately.

The first section is essential to the remaining four. It is about making digital technology understandable.

  • Cameras and lenses.
    • Not all cameras are suitable for copying artwork.
    • The problem of lenses and distortion.
    • Sources for determining the properties of a lens before you buy it.
  • Understanding the two main color models used in reproduction.
    • RGB and CMYK.
  • Practical solutions to solve the problems associated with converting from one color model to another.
  • Understanding the reasons for the various file types (jpg tiff and raw) and where they are used most effectively, including why you should never touch a jpg.
    • Understanding bit depth in color manipulation.

The second is a practical demonstration on lighting and the geometry of photographing flat artwork.

  • Understanding the color of light and its affect on the subject.
  • The geometry of lighting a flat surface.
  • Using specular and diffused light sources.
  • Basic tools required to accurately reproduce color.

The third is an opportunity to photograph and process your own flat artwork in a pre-established studio setting.

  • You should bring a memory stick to the workshop so you can take your files home with you.

The fourth is a practical demonstration on lighting and the geometry of photographing 3 dimensional artwork.

  • Understanding the color of light and its affect on the subject.
  • The geometry of lighting a flat surface.
  • Using specular and diffused light sources.
  • Basic tools required to accurately reproduce color.

The fifth is an opportunity to photograph and process your own 3 dimensional artwork in a pre-established studio setting.