Take Better Photos These Holidays with the Christmas Dash

Christmas and the holiday season are fast approaching. Don’t let another year go by without capturing the joy and wonder of your family this Christmas.

Following on from my hugely successful “Photography Dash” (where more than 3000 beautiful photos were taken by over 500 participants), I’m opening registrations for a modified version of the Dash called the “Christmas Dash”.

Christmas Dash is Closed

Registrations for the Christmas Dash are closed. If you are interested in the next Photography Dash, please enter your email address on the Photography Dash information page and I will notify you when registrations for the next Dash open.

The Christmas Dash will boost your photography skills for the all important family get-together at Christmas by giving you structured lessons on family and holiday related topics for the two weeks leading up to Christmas. You’ll learn how to:

  • Take wonderful group shots of your family/friends that you will look back on for years to come
  • Capture the magic of Christmas through the lens of your camera
  • Discover the ‘good side’ of your family’s faces. With these results, they won’t mind you taking photos of them!
  • Shoot beautiful photos of Christmas lights at night
  • And much more…

Practice Makes Perfect

In the 9 years of teaching photography on this site, I’ve consistently found one thing that super-charges your skills: Practice. If you consciously practice a skill every day, you’ll not only become great at that skill very quickly, but the results will stay with you for a long time.

So how do you get the practice you need, so you’ll automatically take great photos when your family is around (and you are likely thinking of other things)?

Introducing the Christmas Dash

The Christmas Dash is a 2 week course from December 9th-23rd, 2013 designed to make you a much better photographer at your family gatherings. Every two days, you’ll practice an easy new skill designed to improve your photography during the holiday season. I’ll send you course material and videos to help you out. Spend half an hour trying it out with your camera. At the end of the day, upload your best photos to our private community. You’ll receive feedback from your classmates (or directly from an advanced photographer with the Gold level), and can take inspiration from others who have completed the same assignment.

It will only take 30 minutes a day. By the end of the dash, you’ll be taking beautiful photos on-demand. You’ll be more confident with your camera. And you’ll have a portfolio of images you’ll be proud to show off!

Designed for Beginner and Intermediate Photographers

The Christmas Dash will be immensely useful no matter what skill level you have. Every two days you’ll learn something new, and have a chance to apply that new knowledge with a photographic challenge. The skills taught on The Dash don’t require in-depth knowledge of your camera. And they will stay with you for a lifetime!

The course material is designed to be ‘short and sweet’ with no padding. If you’re in a hurry, you can complete the exercises in 30 minutes. If you’d like to spend more time, there is extra material so you can dig deep into the day’s topic.

You can use any camera! You don’t need an expensive DSLR camera – point and shoot cameras will work fine too. This is not about your camera’s gear; it’s about you, the person behind the camera.

Every two days, you’ll receive via email:

  • Details on a new foundation skill to continue to improve your photography during this holiday season.
  • At least two articles showing you what to do and ideas to start you thinking
  • Some days, you’ll also be able to watch a video with more pointers and help
  • A practical photo challenge to be completed by the end of the next day. This encourages you to get ‘hands on’ with your camera and apply your new skills.
  • Additional optional reading material if you need more inspiration

To get the most out of the Christmas Dash, I recommend you do the following every 2 days:

  • Read at least one article
  • Spend 30 minutes with your camera completing the practical challenge. This is very important, as it helps lock the skills into your brain! So you’ll just take great shots naturally on the big day!
  • Upload the best photo (or best photos) from the challenge to our private community.

The more you do, the better the Christmas Dash will work for you.

A Thriving Community

One of the best parts of the original Dash was the community aspect. So I’m including it as part of the Christmas Dash too. You’ll sharing your progress with others who are in the same position as you. You’ll learn from the community by taking inspiration from their efforts; and in turn they will learn from your own achievements.

Some lifelong friendships were formed with a previous photographic group I helped put together, and I have no doubt the same will happen here.


There is a nominal US$15 cost to participate in the Christmas Dash. The charge is because I know that when you have money on the line (ie you are invested), you’re much more likely to complete something. I want you to use the Christmas Dash to improve your photography.

Get Personal Critiques

With the Christmas Dash, I’m introducing personal critiques of the photos you create during the Dash.

Do you want to know how to take your photos from ‘mediocre’ to ‘spectacular’? Sign up to the Gold or Platinum level of the Christmas Dash. These options cost a little more because I’m hiring a team of advanced photographers to help you out.

In the Gold level, I’ll match you with an experienced photographer who will give you thoughtful and honest critiques of each of the 8 photos you upload. You’ll have a chance to take their advice and upload a new image. How would it feel to have an expert sitting ‘by your side’ – someone in your court who will tell you what works, and what could be improved. You’ll get advice exactly in the areas you need it. And have heaps of fun in the process.

In the Platinum level, you’ll receive the 8 reviews from me (David Peterson) personally. I’ll work directly with you to improve your photography with hints, tricks, and encouragement exactly when you need it. Because my time is limited, I’m offering a very limited number of 20 places in Platinum. Once they are gone, they are gone. Sorry, Platinum is SOLD OUT. Still spots available in the Gold edition.

Schedule / Topics

The Christmas Dash runs from 9th December to the 23rd December. You’ll get a new skill to practice every two days for 14 days.

Here’s a sampling of what you’ll experience as part of The Christmas Dash.

Day 1 (December 9th): Portraits

We’ll discuss the best ways to take fantastic portrait shots, from lighting to composition and how your subject should sit. I’ll get you to practice taking a few portrait shots today, so you’ll know exactly what to do when your family arrives for Christmas.

Day 2 (December 11th): Christmas Magic

On Day 2, I’ll show you how to add Christmas magic in your photos. From capturing your children (or grandchildren) putting up decorations, to the Christmas tree and those wonderful in-store holiday themes.

Day 3 (December 13th): Christmas Lights

Today, we’ll learn how to take magical shots at night. You’ll learn the camera settings to take superb Christmas light photos – either with your own decorations, or those around your area.

And during the remaining 5 days, we’ll cover much more…


I encourage you to push past your usual excuses; I don’t have the time; My gear isn’t good enough; I can’t learn anything technical.

Excuse: Time. We all wish our days were a few hours longer so we could do more of the things we want to do. Especially around the holiday season. It might seem hard to spend 30 minutes on your hobby every couple of days.

Solution: Integrate your photography with another task during the day. Do you work all day? Take your camera with you to work and spend some of your lunch break outside shooting. Are you a mom with kids? Photograph them! If they are older and play sports, take your camera to the game. Do you watch TV at night? Spend a few ad breaks with your camera instead. Or spend a little less time on social media.

Excuse: My camera isn’t good enough A lot of photographers blame their gear for bad photos. And I understand why – manufacturers tell us that all the time because they want to sell us a new camera.

Solution: It’s hogwash! Most bad photographs are taken because of inexperience behind the lens. Not because of some technical deficiency with your camera. The Christmas Dash is designed to improve YOUR skills. You won’t need an expensive camera to take part. All the simple skills you learn can be completed with any camera – even the camera on your phone.

Excuse: I can’t learn anything technical. I agree, cameras can be technical. But you don’t need to know all the technical stuff to take gorgeous photos!

Solution: Most of the lessons in the Christmas Dash are not technical at all. Instead, I’ll concentrate on helping you really look at what’s in front of the camera. Light. Composition. Color. More time looking through the camera, and less time fiddling with dials.

Frequently Asked Questions

When does the Christmas Dash start and finish? The Christmas Dash starts on December 9th, 2013 and will last for 2 weeks – until December 23rd.

Do I need an expensive DSLR camera? No. The Christmas Dash is designed for all cameras including Point and Shoot and Phone cameras.

Do I need tripods and filters? No, but as a general rule, I highly recommend using a tripod as it will greatly help your photography – particularly for night photos.

How will I receive the material? I’ll email your daily lessons and photo challenges, and you’ll be part of a private community where you can share your images and stories with other participants.

Can I use a tablet or phone? Yes, you can use either to both access the materials and take photos (although you’ll get better results using a dedicated camera rather than the camera on your phone).

Will I be able to access the material after the course finishes? Yep. I’ll email you each day’s resources, and post them to our private community. You will also continue to have access to the community after the course ends, so you can keep in touch with the friends you have created while on the course.

I don’t know much about my camera. Is this for me? Absolutely! In fact, this is especially for you. Each day’s lessons are designed for beginners and intermediate users alike.

Do I need to have an image editing program? None of the daily challenges will require any photo editing software, but having one will be useful for touching up your masterpieces.

I can’t share my photos. They won’t be good enough. I encourage you to share your creations with other participants, even if you don’t think they are very good. No one is there to judge, and you won’t be laughed out of the course. Chances are your images will be better than you think they are, and the feedback you get will be incredibly valuable for improving your skills.

I don’t live in the USA. Will that be a problem for participation? Not at all. All content is sent at the same time every two days – around midday Australian Eastern Daylight time, which is 1am London time, and 5pm in California the previous day. You’ll have two days to complete each assignment.I also won’t be closing off the galleries for previous days either, so you can still view images and upload your own. There’s no penalty for being a little late.

Have a question I don’t cover here? Please ask me.

Feedback From A Previous Dash

But don’t just take my word for how The Dash can improve your photography. Here’s a small selection from the fantastic response I received from the last Dash I ran…

David is a great teacher, very thorough and always willing to help if you need it. If you are in doubt about taking any of his courses, just jump in and do it. You won’t be sorry. Reasonable prices as compared to other online courses.

— Sandra Rumbley Birmingham, AL

The Photography Dash was very helpful in progressing my photography to the next level. It was great to be connected to a wonderful photography community. I highly recommend you give the dash a try.

— Sharon Brewster, Richmond Hill, GA

As I write this, we’re just finishing up the final few days of the Photographic Dash 2013. Originally, I signed up for the motivational aspects of the course as much for the educational materials. In the end, the Dash was much more beneficial than I expected. I learned some fun, creative and new techniques to apply to my photography and I met an international on-line community that was both encouraging and inspiring. The materials supplied were well written/produced and, since they were from other providers as well as David himself, opened up possibilities for future learning resources from a variety of other sources as well. The immersion into the world of photography these last two weeks was, at times intense, but overall thoroughly enjoyable. I feel I learned a lot and will come away with brand new inspiration and tools to further my photographic exploits. Thank you David for offering this affordable opportunity to learn the craft.

— Betty Hodges, Alberta, Canada

The Photography Dash is a brilliant course to learn new skills. It has left leaving me looking forward to improving. I recommend this course – no matter what level who are.

— Viv Steiner

I am a novice photographer and the photo dash helped me focus on the basic elements of photography and forced me to take the time to practice each element. The cost is minimal and the results for me were outstanding. Seeing the work of others in the dash was a great source of ideas. I would encourage anyone interested in improving their camera skills and photography skills to take advantage of this opportunity.

— Jim Merton, Ohio, USA

I am DEFINITELY a better equipped photographer after completing this course.

— Klag Norman

Having taken photos for years, I was quite happy with my “good” photos. But as David’s course was well priced, I thought I’d give it a try. So glad I did. I didn’t know how much I didn’t know. Now I am a bit wiser, i have new ideas to try and higher ideals to aim for. Thank you David. A great course.

— Marion Darlington, Queensland, Australia

Hi David,I really enjoyed the last 2 weeks of Dash as you made it fun as well as learning. The articles were fantastic and helpful and I will recommend this to anybody who would like to become a more rounded photographer.

— Veronica de Bruyn, Cape Town, South Africa

I am a weekend warrior photographer with a passion for creating images. I have always loved photography but never had the opportunity to pursue it until a few years ago. I have taken several classes in photography and never learned as much as I have with the Dash. The course was entertaining, packed with knowledge and pushed you to rethink the way you take photos. Thanks David for getting me out of the box and into to a new world of photography.

— Gary Partin

David Peterson’s Dash is the most worthwhile thing that I have done in Photography. The learning exercises were wonderful and I learned more in two weeks than the last 15 years of reading and not really practicing . His reading material is excellent. He is a wonderful teacher. The course was well thought out. If you love Photography be sure to do Dash !

— Gwen Cobb

I can’t thank David enough for providing this Photography Dash, as I have learned more about my camera’s settings and more about photography in the two week Dash than I have in all the years I’ve been interested in photography. I now have the confidence to know that I can take much better photographs, no matter where I am, because I know how to use my camera to much better effect. Thanks David for a very informative and educational course.

— Barbara Taylor, Gold Coast, Australia.

If ever there is a photographer who is really worth his salt, it is David Peterson. When you truly want to learn about photography and all its assets, his Digital Secrets provides you with all the relevant subjects and beyond. One can NOT walk away from doing his courses and NOT learn. That is impossible. His new Dash Course is a wealth of knowledge and a must to every want-to-be photographer, be it a beginner or the more experienced ones. You definately learn and get to put it in practise as you go along….and believe you me, you DO achieve far better photos. For those who want to pursue this hobby to become their source of income, look no further than David Peterson!

— Ianthe Wiehahn

I can’t think of a better way to supercharge your photography this holiday season. Let’s do it!