Digital photography – developing creative vision with Benjamin Graham

Ref: SWE32744

Location: West Dean
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About this course

Learn to identify opportunities in light, subjects, patterns, tones and forms. Enhance your graphic awareness and grasp key compositional principles to stimulate your personal vision in photography. For DSLR users.

Course Description

Learn how to see creatively by identifying the opportunities that light, subjects, patterns, tones and forms present to you as a photographer. This introductory course for DSLR camera users will raise your graphic awareness and encourage you to understand and fully exploit the essential compositional and lighting principles that will stimulate your personal vision and advance your portfolio.

In our technology dominated 21st century, we can all too easily become seduced into believing that without much forethought or input from us, our incredibly sophisticated digital imaging equipment will do all the hard work and produce photography competition winners for us. Whilst it is true that with recent advances in capture technology, producing well-focused, well-exposed images has become much easier (and understanding these technical matters is an essential part of photography), none of it is as crucial as being able to see creatively in the first place.

Creative vision is so much more than merely noticing a good view, identifying good light or spotting a good subject. Without a fundamental understanding of compositional principles, as well as knowing the advantages and limitations of your equipment and the images it can (or cannot…) produce, these elements will not necessarily, effortlessly or routinely convert into successful photos.

Personal vision and the previsualisation abilities that accompany it are what make each of us unique as photographers. This course will encourage you to identify, enhance and refine these aspects of your skill set, so that you can consistently identify and produce compelling shots.

Part of seeing creatively is developing the expertise to include and combine all the best visual elements and exclude the redundant ones, as well as mastering the skills to produce an effective graphic conversion from a three-dimensional view of a subject or view into a convincing and flattering two-dimensional final image.

The tutor aims to make best use of the weather and light conditions on this weekend; if the opportunity arises and - subject to group approval – if circumstances allow, we may make an early excursion out of the college to the coast, with a early start on Saturday morning (at pre-5am).

Throughout the course, you will strengthen and augment your photographs by learning how to:

•Recognise compositional structure

•Exploit rules of composition

•Use lines, forms and patterns

•Identify the right light

•Create visual balance

•Minimise distraction

•Generate positive tension

•Choose the right focal lengths

And by taking control of:



•Depth of Field

•Field of view

•Point of view

•Focal length

•Compression and expansion

•Inclusion and exclusion

Once mastered, seeing creatively becomes an instinctive, natural part of the way you routinely process visual information and mentally convert it into graphic opportunity. You will start seeing the world differently as you develop your personal vision; your photographer’s eye will evolve and, as time passes, will become a continuous and mutable source of inspiration.

The course will combine demonstration, presentation and practical tasks on location, with the use of Adobe image interpretation software in the digital photography studio – where we will apply apposite enhancements to the images that you acquire during the course.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials

What students need to bring

  • Please submit your current favourite image to your course tutor by emailing: [email protected] at least two weeks before the course starts. Please ensure you include your name, as well as your tutor’s name, course title and dates. Participants’ images will form part of a group discussion after dinner on the first day of the course.
  • Ensure you pack appropriate outdoor clothing for the time of year, including waterproofs and walking boots/wellingtons, and be prepared for some reasonable walking.
  • Ensure all equipment is clean and ready to use. Please bring:
  • Your DSLR camera, with clear memory cards and lenses, together with any filters you may have, with spare batteries and a charger, plus camera to computer leads
  • A tripod, if you have one
  • Camera instruction manual (if available)
  • A notebook and pen
  • A USB memory stick/portable hard drive via which images can be transferred to your own computer at the end of the course or for saving work in progress (The College Shop, which opens daily from 8.30am–2pm, usually has a few for sale.)
  • Bring a note of your own Adobe ID login. If you don’t already have one, please register for a free account at prior to the course, and remember to bring the details with you.
  • Please note that while each student will be allocated a PC workstation, some of the other equipment provided in the studio is shared amongst the group.

Additional information

You need to be familiar with using a computer. A basic understanding of Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom is desirable, but not essential. Please wear appropriate clothing for working inside and outside, this includes stout covered footwear (no sandals or open toes).


Benjamin Graham portrait

Benjamin Graham

Benjamin Graham is an award-winning internationally-published landscape photographer with over forty years' photography experience. He has been a category finalist several times in the Outdoor Photographer of the Year and, with a local image of West Wittering beach, was awarded the prestigious title of Overall Winner of the UK Landscape Photographer of the Year in 2017. A private tutor and group leader, dedicated to celebrating the beauty of the UK's coast and countryside, his work regularly appears in the UK and across the globe in major newspapers, magazines and on-line editorial galleries.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

Courses of interest

Further study options

Take the next step in your creative practice, with foundation level to Masters in Fine Art study. 

Depending on your experience, start with an Online Foundation Certificate in Art and Design (one year, part-time), a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design made up of 10 short courses taken over two years (part-time) or advance your learning with our BA (Hons) Art and Contemporary Craft: Materials, Making, and Place (six years part-time). All will help you develop core skills, find direction in your practice and build an impressive portfolio in preparation for artist opportunities or higher-level study. See all degree and diploma courses.