Digital Photography 1

Digital Photography 1

So you want to learn photography? Digital Photography 1 is the perfect place to start! In this class you will be transformed from a camera operator into a photographer. This class is all about taking creative control over your camera so that your pictures look the way you want.

What you’ll learn

As you go through the 28 lessons in Digital Photography 1 you will learn to:

  • Take sharp photos
  • Use compositional techniques like Filling the Frame, Rule of Thirds, Depth, and Framing
  • Blur the background
  • Blur motion or stop it
  • Create beautiful portraits with sharp eyes and catch lights
  • Shoot in manual mode
  • Understand lighting
  • Take great macro photographs
  • Shoot great landscapes

Required Equipment

Digital Photography 1  assumes that you have access to the following equipment:

  • Adobe Photoshop Lightroom [current version]
  • Digital SLR camera with lens, battery and memory card
  • Personal computer with high speed internet access
  • 50mm prime lens (recommended, not required)

Complete Syllabus

Our complete Digital Photography 1 syllabus is available online. We encourage you to review it!
Visit to preview the videos.

Learning Styles

Everyone is different, so we have created four different ways to work your way through Digital Photography 1. Each of these ways gives you access to the video lessons forever, but have different terms for interacting with a live instructor.

Full Edition

Just like college – in an 8 week term you watch videos, write papers, shoot assignment photos and receive grades. You’ll meet with your instructor online once a week for a 10 minute critique of your work. At the end of the term you’ll receive a certificate and transcript.

Audit Edition

Just like the Full Edition without papers and grades. Over 8 weeks you watch videos, shoot assignment photos, and meet with your instructor online once a week for a 10 minute critique of your work.

Mom Edition

Specially designed for moms and anyone else who wants to work at their own pace. You have 6 months to shoot your assignment photos. You’ll receive a recorded video critique of the images you submit instead of a live session.

Videos Only

Go it solo! Watch the videos and go conquer the world. No papers, assignments, or deadlines.


Unit 1 // Why do we Photograph?

Length: 21 minutesComplexity: Standard

Why Do We Photograph?

It is important to ask the question “Why do we photograph?” at the beginning of a course on photography. Understanding the “Why” establishes the concept of Purpose within photography. You are not a Button Pusher – you are a Photographer! As a Photographer you create images for a reason and a Purpose.

Unit 1 // Camera Basics: Canon

Length: 26 minutesComplexity: Easy

Camera Basics Canon

If you have ever wondered what that button does, this is the session for you! You’ll learn the key functions of your DSLR and how to set it up for maximum success in Digital Photography 1. This session is for Canon users. There is a similar session available for Nikon shooters.

Unit 1 // Camera Basics: Nikon

Length: 27 minutesComplexity: Easy

Camera Basics Nikon

If you have ever wondered what that button does, this is the session for you! You’ll learn the key functions of your DSLR and how to set it up for maximum success in Digital Photography 1. This session is for Nikon users. There is a similar session available for Canon shooters.

Unit 1 // Focusing Your Camera

Length: 27 minutesComplexity: Standard

Focusing Your Camera

Consistently sharp focus takes practice, concentration, and knowledge of your camera’s focusing tools. Learn how your DSLR looks at the world and how to trick it into getting sharp focus even in difficult lighting.

Unit 1 // Fill the Frame

Length: 21 minutesComplexity: Easy

Fill the Frame

Filling the frame is the foundation to successful composition. You will be challenged with the idea that your images have purpose, and must be carefully crafted to fulfill that purpose to the best of your ability.

Unit 1 // Lightroom: Importing and Exporting

Length: 23 minutesComplexity: Hard

Lightroom: Importing and Exporting

Learn to use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to download images from your memory card to your camera. Lightroom’s powerful import allows you to rename your files, store them wherever you like, and add key information like your copyright on the fly. Learn how to set up presets so you never have to enter information again! The exporting overview will give you the settings you need for sharing your work in Digital Photography 1.

Unit 1 // Evaluating Images

Length: 18 minutesComplexity: Standard

Evaluating Images

This may be the most important session of Digital Photography 1 becsause effective evaluation is key to improvement in every area of life; photography is no exception. Learn how to evaluate and critique images based on 5 key criterions. This session sets out the standards for review and critique at IPS.

Unit 2 // Lightroom: Library Module

Length: 24 minutesComplexity: Standard

Lightroom: Library Module

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom forms the backbone of our Image Management and Workflow. Learn to navigate the Library Module by using stars, flags, colors and collections to organize and sort your images. Using Lightroom’s organizational tools will make finding that “One Image” a breeze!

Unit 2 // Color of Light

Length: 20 minutesComplexity: Standard

Color of Light

Mastering light is the key to photographic success. Light comes in all different colors. In this session, you’ll learn about the Kelvin Temperature Scale, White Balance, and how to adjust your camera to photograph in any color lighting.

Unit 2 // Rule of Thirds

Length: 18 minutesComplexity: Easy

Rule of Thirds

Perhaps the most famous composition technique in photography is the Rule of Thirds. Learn the truth behind the Rule of Thirds and how to use it for stronger images that emphasize the story you’re trying to tell.

Unit 2 // Centering the Needle

Length: 15 minutesComplexity: Standard

Centering the Needle

If you have ever been dissatisfied with how bright or dark your images are, this session is for you. You will learn to take complete control over the exposure, using the camera’s built in meter as a guide to help you “Center the Needle.”

Unit 3 // Direction of Light

Length: 21 minutesComplexity: Easy

Direction of Light

In this session you will learn the primary directions of light and how they dramatically impact the appearance of your image. By changing the direction of light you can change the entire message of your picture.

Unit 3 // Compositional Depth

Length: 22 minutesComplexity: Standard

Compositional Depth

As a Photographer you are constantly faced with the challenge of representing a 3 dimensional world in a 2 dimensional medium. Learn to use angles, lines, and repetition to add back in the sense of realism that comes from good Compositional Depth.

Unit 3 // Aperture

Length: 27 minutesComplexity: Hard


The aperture is an essential tool for gaining a proper exposure in your image, but it also controls the depth of field. This session will teach you how to take creative control over the aperture to create a shallow depth of field or a large depth of field.

Unit 4 // Quality of Light

Length: 19 minutesComplexity: Standard

Quality of Light

Quality of Light completes your lighting trifecta in Digital Photography 1. You will learn the difference between Directional Light and Diffused Light and about the beauty of Directional-diffused Light. You will also begin your quest to study Quality of Light to make your subjects look amazing.

Unit 4 // Framing

Length: 23 minutesComplexity: Hard


The compositional technique of Framing is the most difficult you will learn in Digital Photography 1. In this session you will learn how to Frame the Subject, Frame the Viewer, and Frame the Photo.

Unit 4 // Shutter Speed

Length: 30 minutesComplexity: Hard


Shutter Speed is an essential tool for achieving proper exposure in your image, but it also controls motion. This session will teach you how to take creative control over the shutter speed to freeze motion or to show motion. You will also learn how to defeat the Photographer’s arch nemesis: Camera Shake.

Unit 5 // Lens Selection

Length: 17 minutesComplexity: Standard

Lens Selection

The lens you choose has a more dramatic impact on your images than just getting you closer to your subject. Learn the dramatic difference between Telephoto, Normal, and Wide-angle Lenses and what Zoom and Prime mean. You will never look at lenses or composition the same again!

Unit 5 // Histogram

Length: 15 minutesComplexity: Standard


The Histogram is a powerful tool to help you get proper exposure in any situation. It’s also an intimidating graph representing an awful lot of math. This session will teach you the essentials for reading it without turning into a geek.

Unit 5 // ISO

Length: 14 minutesComplexity: Standard


ISO is the final piece of the 4 elements that make up exposure. You have already covered Aperture, Shutter Speed, and Light. In this video you will learn when to adjust your ISO and what settings make sense in different lighting conditions.

Unit 6 // Introduction to Portraiture

Introduction to Portraiture

In this session you will build your personal foundation for creating amazing portraits. You’ll learn what is portraiture and how it differs from other photographic disciplines. This session will help you apply everything you know about photography to the field of Portraiture.

Unit 6 // Sharp Eyes and Catch Lights

Length: 25 minutesComplexity: Standard

Sharp Eyes and Catch Lights

Sharp Eyes and Catch Lights are the two most important things to set your portraits apart from your competition. You will learn how to position the face for good light in the eyes and techniques for focusing to keep those eyes sharp.

Unit 6 // Posing Basics vol. 1

Length: 24 minutesComplexity: Standard

Posing Basics vol. 1

Posing is the most intimidating aspect of portraiture for most people. This session will teach you how to begin working with anyone, anywhere to make them look their best. You will also learn about 2 views of the face: ¾ View and Front View.

Unit 7 // Group Portraiture

Length: 21 minutesComplexity: Standard

Group Portraiture

Group Portraiture is super intimidating, but with a few tips and tricks it can become a lot easier than you think! This session will teach you how to photograph groups of 5-200 and even have fun while doing it.

Unit 7 // Photographing Landscapes

Length: 25 minutesComplexity: Easy

Photographing Landscapes

Dynamic landscape photography is powerful, capturing the imagination of the would-be traveler, and reminding us of the adventures we have been on. Most poor landscape photos have the same problem. In this lesson you’ll learn how to overcome this One Problem to make your Landscape Photography stand out from the noise.

Unit 7 // Lightroom: Export Dialog and Image Resolution

Length: 25 minutesComplexity: Hard

Lightroom: Export Dialog and Image Resolution

Photos are meant to be shared! Learn to use the Export Dialog in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to resize your images for any device or application. You will also be introduced to the Crop Dialog to change the proportions of your image.

Unit 8 // Lightroom: Smart Collections

Length: 15 minutesComplexity: Easy

Lightroom: Smart Collections

Chances are you didn’t become a photographer because you love to organize images. That’s OK. This session will blow your mind as you learn how Adobe Photoshop Lightroom can automatically sort and organize your images for you!

Unit 8 // Macro Photography

Length: 23 minutesComplexity: Easy

Macro Photography

There’s far more to Macro Photography than a single lesson can teach, but this will get you started. Macro is all about getting close and revealing the amazing detail we usually overlook. You’ll learn about the equipment that makes Macro Photographers successful and an amazing trick for using what you already have to create amazing Macro images.

Unit 8 // Image Storage and Backups

Length: 24 minutesComplexity: Standard

Image Storage and Backups

If you are like most people, you have lost photos because they weren’t backed up. Don’t let that EVER happen again! The storage and backup techniques taught in this lesson will save you many tears and much cash.


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