Rated 5 out of 5 by o21tv Surprisingly good
I'm a filmmaker and fairly experienced photographer. This course went on sale so I decided to give it a shot, perhaps there would be something useful for my kids to learn photography. What a pleasant surprise! It is full of life experiences from National Geographic Photographer Joel Sartore. Useful tips, many I have never thought before. Absolutely worth every penny and more. Now, this is not a technical course. If you want to learn how to operate your camera in detail, just search on YouTube. there is tons of free videos out there for your camera. This is a how to think as a photographer course. Wonderful!
December 9, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by Chad one of the best courses here
This is an excellent course!
It goes over the basics without assuming much prior knowledge, but it's really not about technical details of photography. Mr. Sartore does a great job of helping the viewer see photos on a higher plane. It's not just about getting the light right and the correct exposure (which he addresses), but about moving around and arranging the subject of the photograph in a way that conveys a message. And he provides lots of tools for doing this, from how to blur a cluttered background to providing layers of depth to really give a sense of where a picture was taken.
This lecture provides a great toolbox, with all the essentials needed to take great photographs. What I love most about it is that not only am I taking much better pictures than before but I'm also seeing how bad even these improved ones are. I'm looking at the photos in a new way. I certainly need more practice and have a lot of different issues to work on, but these tools make it possible for me to analyze my photographs critically and improve.
Mr. Sartore comes across as the nicest person you could meet. He's like a friend and a mentor. I've experienced over a hundred courses on this site, and Mr. Sartore is one of the very best teachers and certainly the most likeable. There are a couple others who have an extreme level of passion or other attributes that help draw students into the material. Mr. Sartore seems to have had a life filled with adventure as a photographer and he uses that to his advantage in relaying stories and personal details about the images he's showing to make it more personal.
I highly recommend this course. It's easily among the top 5% I've experienced. It's right up there with "Origins of Life" and "Understanding the Inventions that Changed the World." I'm happy that Mr. Sartore chose to share his knowledge and experience with us.
September 28, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by Ark1836 Picture Perfect
I was motivated to take this course because my wife decided we needed a good camera to take better pictures of our children. After being convinced to buy a good DSLR camera, I figured that I should learn more about how to use what I had purchased. This course ended-up being much more than I expected, and I have already started watching it a second time. First, let me warn that this is not a very technical class. The professor spends significant time discussing aperture, ISO and shutter speed, but that is the limit of the technical side. So, this course did not teach me much about the actual mechanics of using my new camera—for that, I bought a guidebook written for my specific camera. Instead, the professor spends the course trying to teach the student how to "see." He spends considerable time showing how a professional photographer approaches a shoot, analyzes the situation and makes adjustments to get a great picture. I particularly benefited from the segments where he actually went into the field and worked the situation to create the image. The best of these field segments was the one where he took two of his children to a junky construction site and demonstrated how to use different methods to eliminate the junk and create great pictures. His point was that even the most challenging situations can still be turned into great pictures. I also enjoyed how honest he was with real world situations—showing everything from his own messy house to his own cranky children. As a parent who wants to take better pictures of my own children, I really appreciate the professor's willingness to show his own challenging family. This course is one of the best Great Courses I have taken so far.
August 21, 2015
Rated 5 out of 5 by SST1 Extremely enjoyable course
First of all, I really enjoyed this course. Often I watched several lectures in a row, which I almost never do. And the reason was the teacher. I have often rated Teaching Company courses as good because of the content, even though the lecturer's style left something to be desired. In this photography course, though, the teacher made the course. Joel comes across as a genuinely good guy, someone you would enjoy as a friend or neighbor. His style is conversational, definitely not as a know it all, like some professors. Photography is so much a part of his life that it all comes out together with his wife and kids and pets and family vacations as well as his National Geographic assignments. He is able to apply his photographic principles in all these situations, which basically is what most of us want to learn to do. Absolutely great teacher.
As for the course content, it was good, but not exactly what I expected. When I ordered the course, I thought that since Joel was a National Geographic photographer (a fact of which he reminds us about a dozen times in each lecture), he would bring us some really advanced, technical and hard to learn esoteric techniques known only to the truly great photographers and guaranteed to enable us to take magazine-quality photos every time we pushed the shutter button. Wrong. In fact, after watching the first five lectures I was rather disappointed. The early lectures were very basic - things like a lens's focal length and aperture (which he consistently calls "hole in the lens"). It didn't take a master photographer to explain these. Anyone who has used more than a smart phone camera already knows them. As an amateur photographer for well over half a century, I worried that I had wasted my money. If you have had much experience with an advanced camera, you might want to skip these, except then you couldn't enjoy Joel's folksy style.
As time went on, though, his lectures began to be more practical. Eventually he covered most photographic topics, such as lighting, composition, landscapes, wildlife, family vacations and many other topics, giving one and sometimes more lectures to each. I could wish that he dealt with some of them in more depth, but this is just an introductory or survey course. In the end, I found that not only had I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Joel, but I learned some things along the way. What more can you ask?
In sum, I would recommend this course to any amateur photographer who wants a refresher on the basics, and some good tips about how to take better pictures.
August 8, 2015