SYLLABUS – FALL 2021 (archive)

   In preparation for our classes, you will be given weekly homework assignments consisting of readings, YouTube videos, and individual photo shoots with photo submissions to the class for discussion. Classroom format will consist of presentations of different photography topics and discussing the participants’ submitted photos.  Photo shoots will be done on your own.  Details of the shoots will be communicated in class, with suggested subjects and locations for each assignment.


(Click on the following link for a printable PDF version of the calendar:  Beyond the Snapshot – Fall 2021 Calendar v2)

Pre-Assignment for First Class – Due Tuesday evening, September 21

By Tuesday evening, September 21th, please email 3 of your favorite photos to us that you have taken of any subject that you like, e.g., landscape, portraits, nature, street photography, abstracts, etc. Please e-mail images to ALL 3 coordinators (,, and copy yourself.


Class #1 – Thursday, September 23

TopicsPhotography and seeing / How do we find our photographic vision? / Review Student Images

Homework for Next (September 30) Class

Explore the ordinary

  • Rest and explore your surroundings for about 15-20 minutes before choosing your subject to photograph. Choose something that catches your attention while exploring.
  • Choose one of the following images: Garbage dumpster, Car, Section of a sidewalk, Parking meter, Wall, Fire hydrant,  or Doorway.
    Or choose something else your prefer to photograph.
  • Create at least 10 photos of one subject that are thematic and cohesive.
  • Send us 3 images (the first image, last image, and your favorite image – please label each image).

Purpose of exercise: Go beyond limiting your ideas of interesting and boring and find new perceptions.

Think of Edward Weston’s Peppers in Black and White!

(Optional Creative Exercise)

  • Find about 10-12 photographs you like.
  • Explore what interests you in the images. Look at the lines, light, whether or not there is a slow shutter speed that blur some action or shallow depth of field caused by a wide angle and note these. Also notice the subject, the point of view of the photographer, and the choice of the moment.
  • Examine the images to see what made you care about these images. Knowing what connects with you visually and emotionally is the first step in understanding how to make your own photographs connect with others.

Class #2 – Thursday, September 30

Topics: Composing with Light / Review student images

Homework for Next (October 7) Class

Exploring Light

  • Shoot lots of images at the Wickford Village photo shoot on October 3 using different lighting situations, including side lighting, back lighting and frontal lighting
  • As you take each image, make a mental note of the direction of the light and how it will impact the lighting on your subject (e.g., hard-edged shadow vs softer shadow with more transition, etc.)
  • Send us 3 images (can be the same or a different subject):
    1. One image demonstrating side lighting
    2. One image demonstrating back lighting (may be a pure silhouette if you wish)
    3. One image demonstrating frontal lighting
  • If you find that the lighting is too harsh and contrasty in a particular image, consider turning the image into a Black & White in post-processing
  • Try shooting “small scenes” such as building details or abstracts, or that have interesting lighting, so that you go beyond just postcard “snapshots” of this truly scenic and historic New England village!

Purpose of exercise: this exercise emphasizes light as an essential element of composition and the powerful impact of light on how and what we see.  Notice light direction and light quality (hard vs soft), and its impact on your subject as part of your image making process.

Class #3 – Sunday Morning, October 3 @ 9:30AM

Photo shoot at Wickford, RI

  • Park in the public lot behind Walgreens Pharmacy at 63 Brown Street (across the street from the Kayak Centre).  Directions:
  • There is also plentiful parking on the street.
  • Parking in the lot is free, except don’t park in spaces where signage indicates use for specific shops
  • Meet at the benches in the back of the parking lot overlooking the harbor
  • There is an outside public bathroom and water fountain located behind Walgreens
  • We will walk and shoot for about 1.25 miles total, first shooting at the harbor, then heading down Main Street to the wharf.  We will return via the Bush Hill Nature Reserve, where there is a lovely salt marsh.  The terrain is easy and flat but sturdy walking shoes are recommended.
  • Total time: 1 – 1.5 hours depending on how fast we go
  • If anyone wishes to do more at that point, we can do an additional loop of about 0.9 miles around Academy Cove salt water pond behind the North Kingston library for some bird watching, and then stop at Hussey Bridge and the Narragansett Rune Stone on the way back to the parking lot.

Homework (See homework assigned in Class #2, above, due October 7)


Class #4 – Thursday, October 7

Topics: Rules of Composition / When do we use the rules and when do we create new ones / Review student images

Homework for Next (October 14) Class

Part 1. Two ways to go about this, but either way, prep yourself with some mindful moments before shooting

  1. Look around and cast about your chosen subject or scene until you get that little buzzy feeling of excitement about something, or,
  2. You can go ahead and choose one of the less obvious compositional principles (i.e. Point of View or Foreground Interest and Framing over Leading LInes or Pattern/Texture) to challenge yourself to see differently as a way to approach a subject of interest. (Note, not a problem if leading lines and pattern/texture is what gets you excited, but just a suggestion to try something out of your comfort zone.)

Take 10+ photos (or maybe you get into it and shoot off 50 as you think about more things you could do as you shoot – it’s called “Working the Scene”). You may find you start off thinking about the rules of composition, but soon the subject matter will lead you into completely different thoughts – good! That’s as it should be; by all means play around. Play is the operative word here.

Part 2
Choose a few images to crop, paying attention to where the energy is in the image, removing the extraneous parts that make it harder for the viewer to feel what you’re seeing in it (you’re removing the visual static so your vision is clearer). This is where returning to the “rules of composition” can help, the rule of thirds especially. Ask yourself: Does the crop help draw the eye in and through the image? Does the image feel more dynamic or powerful in its emotional impact from whittling away at it?
Note: If you need help with your cropping tool, please email one of us and we can help.
Hint: Often you will wrestle with 2 things you really like in the photo, but keeping both  frequently weakens the impact. It’s usually better to choose one and crop optimally for that. You can make a duplicate and do a second crop featuring the other option and see which ends up being stronger. It’s that cake and eat it too thing – usually can’t have things both ways.
Choose 3 photos to send us, but send us two photos of one image (before and after a crop, for a total of 4 images).
NB: You may have nailed a good photo that doesn’t need a crop – hooray! That can be one of the 3 images – this isn’t a cropping exercise, but a learning to see exercise.Purpose of exercise: How a photograph is organized or composed will affect its visual power and its meaning.

Class #5 – Thursday, October 14

Topics: Composing with Color/ Review student images

Homework Due for October 28th Class
  • Capture color as your first goal. Keep a narrow focus only on color and free from any association.
  • Look at colors rather than objects – see the redness of red and blueness of blue without superimposing anything on them. 
  • Things NOT to do: 1) do not take photos that are black, white, gray or beige – instead, look for bold, vivid colors; 2) do not shoot graffiti or graphic designs; 3) do not shoot words or letters or numbers; and 4) do not shoot flowers. Try not to think about the meaning of anything you see.
  • Get in close so that you can see what attracted you. 
  • Examine whether it is a vertical or horizontal perspective and take a shot.
  • Send us 3 color images.
 Purpose of exercise: This exercise emphasizes the use of color to help you tell your story. 

Class #6 – Thursday, October 21

Photo shoot at Lincoln Woods State Park, Lincoln, RI

  • Photo shoot from 1PM – 3PM
  • Meet in the big parking lot off of Les Pawson Loop near the Olney Pond Beach and Pepe’s Restaurant.
  • Directions from Google Maps:

Rain Backup Plan:   If it rains, let’s meet instead at the Roger Williams Botanical Center for an indoor shoot from 1-3PM.  Tickets are $5 general or $2 for seniors and will need to be purchased online.  Attendance is of course subject to your own comfort level (see RWBC Safety Protocols below).  Note: When you purchase tickets on the RWBC website, choose the 12-2PM timeslot.  We’ll send out an e-mail by 8AM that morning to confirm.

RWBC Safety Protocols

Homework (See homework assigned in Class #5, above, due October 28)

Class #7 – Thursday, October 28

Topics: Intentional Camera Movement (ICM) and Abstraction / Review student images

Homework Due for November 11th Class
  • Plan your shots before you take them – Try to picture what the scene will look like by adding motion to it.
  • Try to move your camera during the exposure to create an artistic or “painterly” effect. 
  • Try different movements –vertical, horizontal, diagonal, and swirling.
  • Experiment!
  • Send us 3 of your favorite ICM images (they can be ICM images, abstract images or a combination of both).
 Purpose of exercise: This exercise emphasizes the use of ICM to help you create your abstract or creative images. 


Class #8 – Thursday, November 4



Instead of a downtown Providence shoot, we’ll instead go to the Roger Williams Botanical Center for an indoor shoot from 1-3PM.  Let’s meet in the parking lot at 1PM.   Tickets are $5 general or $2 for seniors and will need to be purchased online.  Attendance is of course subject to your own comfort level (see RWBC Safety Protocols below).  Note: When you purchase tickets on the RWBC website, choose the 12-2PM timeslot.

RWBC Safety Protocols

Homework (See homework assigned in Class #7, above, due November 11)

Class #9 – Thursday, November 11

Topics: Contemplations on a Theme: Telling a story – What do you find inspiring? / Review student images

Homework for Next (November 18) Class

Create a story and share your vision

  • Create a story and choose a topic for yourself. (ex. graduations, children playing, pets, flowers/gardens, the current environment, buildings, beaches, reflections or any other topic you prefer.)
  • Using the tools we explored, take up to 10 photographs and create your personal story.
  • Before you share your ideas through your work, go through the photos and find those that have the elements in the pictures that tell the story.
  • Also examine your photos – did you follow the rules of composition? Did it work or not work? What would you change and why?

Send us 3 photos that communicate your vision

Class #10 – Thursday, November 18

Topics: Review student images / Slide how of all images / Wrap up