I am a big fan of continuous learning. I think its important everywhere in life, not just at work, though obviously I think its a big deal there too.
I always do something every year though – just for me – Ice skating and cake decorating are two of my previous courses, both of which I enjoyed and got something out of.
This time though, with some time off, I thought i’d go for something I could not only use personally and at work, but something I could really get my teeth into. So photography it was.
I spent a considerable amount of time deciding which course to do, it needed to be beginner, DSLR based, but more advanced than showing me how to label folders. Pretty sure I had that down.
In the end I went for Learn Digital Photo in Redbourn, run by Ann Kelly.
I picked this for a few reasons – its proximity to home, the great reviews, and the fact that it was a solid 2.5 hours a week.
That leads me neatly onto my reasons why this course was the best one I’ve ever done. In list format. You’re welcome.
1. I had ‘proper’ time to engage in the lesson
Its great doing an hour of something a week. Lifes busy, I get that. But 2.5 is awesome. It really gets you into a topic (or two) and gives you time to think about it. Not only that but it gives you just enough to want to know more – so you actually do your homework! See there’s a first for everything…
2. Learning something new each week
Each week was a new challenge. And I don’t say that lightly, some weeks really were a challenge. Its important to push your brain though, and that moment a few weeks later when it all clicks is a big thing.
3. I had a great tutor
Ann was incredible. Those of you who know me know full well I don’t do praise particularly well. Sarcasm – yep I’m your gal, but genuine praise – you’re better off finding someone else. But seriously though, Ann is an excellent tutor. Not only does she have a real passion for the subject, a very cool style of photography herself and years of experience, but she’s also an interesting and engaging teacher. Interspersed with her opinions on society, anecdotes from her career and plenty of feedback (the good the bad and the ugly) she was outstanding. You need a great tutor to really develop you and your style. Even if they don’t always share it.
4. The practical classes
If you’re considering a photography course, do one with practical classes. You end up with stunning photos that you’d never have known how to get previously, and real hands on experience – as well as ‘live’ feedback. The learn digital photography course has two of these – one in London at the eye, and another portrait class. Both I thoroughly enjoyed.
5. I actually took something out of it!
My previous classes have been mainly for immediate enjoyment, not ongoing use. Though I can skate well enough now forward (and slightly backwards) i’ve never iced a cake since. This time its different though. I actually know now how to use my DSLR that I paid a sizeable chunk for. Not only that, but I actually want to use it! I’m desperate to get out with it and practise (travelling is a great excuse) and I’m thrilled when my shots look how I wanted, or even when the EV is on the zero. I know that, much like riding a bike, that knowledge is going no where and i’ll use it regularly. Which leads me onto…
My course cost me in the region of £250+ I can’t remember exactly, but it was worth Every. Single. Penny. In reality its probably cost me more as I now have a hankering for a few additional lenses… maybe a third tripod… etc etc. (Ps my 30th birthday is coming up… *cough*) However it really has reignited my love for photography, and I couldnt really put a price on that.
So would I recommend doing a course? For sure. Would I recommend Anns course? Absolutely. And if you can’t commute to Redbourn – try harder. Or at least look for a course with a decent chunk of time each week, and constant feedback from a great tutor. It will make the world of difference.