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Improve Your Photography With The Photography Dash

I know you want to improve your photography. But if you’re like most of us, you keep reading articles and tutorials about it, but you never put those ideas into practice.

It’s time for a push! It’s time to get off the couch!

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.

Remember when you were first learning to drive a car? You had to think about every single move your hands and feet made. It took all of your concentration. But as time went on, you became better and better. Your driving ability became second nature. Now rather than having to think about every step, you can think about the day’s work while you drive – or sing along with a song on the radio.

The biggest hurdle to improving your skill is procrastination. “I’ll get to it tomorrow.” And you never do. Then when you really need to use your camera – like at a wedding, or other significant occasion, you end up with crappy photos.

I want to help!

I’m going to boost your photography skills by countering both these excuses. I’ll give you the space to experiment and practice, while keeping an organised routine to stop procrastination. You will accelerate your photography skills by practicing something new every single day in a supportive environment.

Imagine taking photos like this

Introducing the Photography Dash

Starting November 12th, 2013.

Sorry, registrations for the Dash and Amble have closed. If you are interested in participating in either course, I will be running another one early next year. To be notified when the doors open next, please enter your details here:

The Photography Dash is a 2 week course designed to make you a much better photographer. Each day, you’ll practice an easy new skill designed to vastly improve your photos. I’ll send you course material and videos to help you out. Spend half an hour that day 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, 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’l be proud to show off!

The Photography Amble – for a slower pace

Think you can’t spare 30 minutes a day? (I think you can… please read the excuses section below.) But if you really can’t, I’m also running a “Photography Amble” with the same content, but a weekly schedule rather than a daily schedule. See below for details of the Amble.

Designed for Beginner and Intermediate Photographers

The Dash will be immensely useful no matter what skill level you have. Each day 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!

Are you confident with your camera already? Then the (optional) stretch goals are for you. These are included with each day’s new skill and are designed to push the boundaries of your photography knowledge. You’ll find them confronting, but also extremely fun. And when you pull it off, you’ll be incredibly proud of yourself.

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.

Each day, you’ll receive via email:

  • Details on a new foundation skill to continue to improve your photography
  • At least two articles showing you what to do and ideas to start you thinking
  • Most 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 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
  • Optional Stretch Goal: Additional material and a stretch goal designed to push your limits as a photographer

You’ll be expected to do the following each day as a minimum:

  • 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! Don’t think you have 30 minutes? Sneak them into your day! See the excuses section below.
  • Upload the best photo (or best photos) from the challenge to our private Google+ community.

The more you do, the better The Dash will work for you. You’ll get a certificate of completion if you have uploaded photos for at least 80% of the challenges.

A Thriving Community

I think one of the best parts of The Dash is the community aspect. You’ll be 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 receiving feedback; and in turn they will learn from your own achievements.

Get a group of like minded people together sharing the same goal and magic will happen.

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

Cost

There is a nominal US$19 cost to participate in The Dash (also $19 for The Amble). 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 Dash to improve your photography.

Excuses

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. If you have a full time job and kids, it might seem hard to spend 30 minutes on your hobby each day.

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 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 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.

Excuse: I’m going on a trip. The Dash starts on 12th November, and I know that’s not a lot of time to clear your schedule. You might have a vacation already planned, or you’re going on a work trip.

Solution: This is actually the best time to take The Dash! Being away from home is a great opportunity to learn more about your camera, as you’ll be able to explore your new environment. Get out and about in your new location with your camera taking some memorable photos to share when you get back.

Schedule / Topics

The Dash runs from 12th November to 26th November. You’ll get a new skill to practice each day for 14 days. (The Amble will run from 12th November until 12th January with a break for Christmas.)

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

Day 1 (November 12th): Composition

You’ll learn about, and get the chance to practice some of the 18 top composition techniques to make your photos look fantastic. I’ll show you why the Rule of Thirds works; the rule of odds; creating balance; why you should leave space; and much more.

Your photo challenge for today is to take a photo using a composition rule you haven’t used before. You might have taken a hundred photos of your garden, but have you taken one using the Golden Triangle? You’ll find it will be much more pleasing to look at!

The stretch goal for today is Light Awareness. Light plays a central role in photography, and if you know how to look for light, you’ll never take boring snapshots again!

Day 2 (November 13th): Unusual Angles

On Day 2, you’ll practice taking photos from unusual angles and perspectives. I’ll show you when to photograph from above; how to look for hidden perspectives; and taking memorable images by breaking the composition rules you practiced yesterday.

Today’s photo challenge is to take a photo of one subject from 5 different angles. Be creative and try to find angles that isolate the subject from the background, or highlight your subject in an unusual way.

Focal Points is today’s optional stretch goal. I’ll show you how you can use elements of your image to draw the eye to your subject. They’ll help to tie everything together. Create images that will make those who look at your photos go ‘wow’!

Day 3 (November 14th): Slow Down

Most of the time, we see a scene, lift up our camera and shoot. Today, I’ll teach you how to take it slow and observe your surroundings to find that perfect photo. What is the light doing? What is around your subject? What different angle would work better? Also, watching your subject in action helps you find a photo that captures their essence.

The challenge for Day 3 is to observe your surroundings for 15 minutes BEFORE you pick up your camera. Take mental notes of what’s going on around you and try to notice everything. Often when using this technique, I think I’ve seen everything but then notice a different lighting pattern or angle I didn’t see before – and that made the best image.

The stretch goal today is to tell a story with your image. Pick a feeling or emotion and find a way to show that in your image. Your aim is to have a viewer be able to tell you the emotion just by looking at the photo. And no cheating with the ‘simple’ emotions like happiness. Try greed; envy; or frustration.

Days 4-14

The rest of the days, I cover widely diverse skills like self portraits, detail shots, night shots, black and white, and frames. For stretch challenges, you’ll get to shoot a famous landmark in your area in a different way; take photos of strangers; tell a lie with your photo; and experiment with HDR. And much more…

The Photography Dash – Supercharge Your Photography

There is no better time than now. Stop procrastinating and start taking awesome photos today.

The Photography Dash runs from 12th November 2013 to 26th November 2013. The cost is US$19 for the whole course.

Registration for the Dash is closed.

The Photography Amble – go a little slower

If you don’t think a daily schedule will work for you, but still want to improve your photography, then sign up for the Photography Amble. The Amble has exactly the same content as The Dash, but spread out over 2 months. You’ll get new skills and photo challenges each week (not daily) with some time off during the Christmas break.

The Photography Amble runs from 12th November 2013 to 12th January 2014. The cost is US$19 for the whole course.

Registration for the Amble is closed.

Frequently Asked Questions

When does the Dash start and finish? The Photography Dash starts on November 12th, 2013 and will last for 2 weeks. The Amble starts the same day with weekly challenges until January 12th (with a break at Christmas).

Do I need an expensive DSLR camera? No. The 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.

How will I receive the material? I’ll email your daily lessons and photo challenges, and you’ll be part of a private Google+ 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 the Google Plus 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.

Can I switch from the Dash to the Amble if daily challenges are too much for me? Yes, you can. Send me an email and I’ll swap you to the slower Amble program. Note that the content is identical, so if you’ve already completed 3 days of the Dash, you’ll see those topics again for the first three weeks of the Amble.

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, and for some of the more advanced (but optional) stretch challenges.

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’ll be away for some of the time. Can I still participate? Yes! If you have Internet access where you are going, being away is a perfect time to participate, as you’ll be able to explore your new location with your camera. If you won’t have Internet access, I recommend you take the 2 month ‘Amble’ rather than the 14 day ‘Dash’.

Do I need to sign up to Google+? I don’t like signing up for things I won’t often use. You will be able to follow all the course material and do all the assignments without signing up for Google+. However, you won’t be able to participate in the community photo sharing aspect (where you can share your photos and see those of others doing the same Dash). And I think that’s one of the most valuable parts as you’ll get feedback from others as to your progress. I chose Google Plus because it’s the best free software for sharing and collaboration. You can always sign up to Google+ for the Dash then close your account afterwards.

I don’t live in the USA. Will that be a problem for participation? Not at all. I plan to send the new day’s content at the same time each day – around midday Australian Eastern Daylight time, which is 1am London time, and 5pm in California the previous day. You’ll have until midnight local time the next day to complete each assignment. So if you live in Australia, you’ll have 36 hours for each assignment, with 12 hours overlapping each assignment. So there will be plenty of time for uploading and interacting with others. I 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.

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

David.