Last year, I confessed that I’m actually not very knowledgeable when it comes to photography. In the months since writing that post, I’ve become more and more comfortable with my camera. I now know which buttons do what, and what to do in order to achieve the vision in my head. Most of the time, anyway.

Still, I wanted to take it a step further. So, I’ve enrolled in Annie Leibovitz’s online MasterClass.

For those unfamiliar, Annie is one of the most famous and influential contemporary photographers. She’s often classified as a portrait photographer, but is a bit of a photojournalist as well. She began working for Rolling Stone in 1970 and Vanity Fair in the 1980s.

In the forty years since her career started, she’s taken countless iconic shots of celebrities, politicians, and important individuals, including the photo of John Lennon embracing Yoko Ono on the day of his assassination.

Needless to say, the opportunity to learn from her is a big deal. So when my father-in-law texted me earlier this week to ask if I’d like to sign up, I jumped at the opportunity!

What is MasterClass?

MasterClass is a series of online courses taught by some of the biggest names in their respective industries. You can learn cooking from Gordon Ramsay and Wolfgang Puck, screenwriting from Aaron Sorkin, filmmaking from Werner Herzog and Martin Scorsese, film scoring from Hans Zimmer, and even Tennis from Serena Williams! And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

I can’t speak about how it works in all of the classes, but in Annie’s there are a series of video lessons, downloadable workbooks, assignments, open office hours with the opportunity to speak to Annie directly and ask her a question.

Like Dave’s Arcanum classes, there’s also an online community forum full of fellow students, with the opportunity to share work, collaborate, give feedback, and more.

So far, so good

Shooting toys is obviously very different than what Annie does, but the principles I’ll learn from her will be universal. I’ve only completed two lessons, but am already thinking of my photos differently. I’m examining them from a new point of view, and judging them in a way I haven’t in a long time.

Over the last year I’ve become very comfortable behind my camera, but I don’t think I’m challenging myself as much as I could be. The challenges built into the lessons and assignments are already forcing me to think outside the box or leave my comfort zone.

I obviously can’t divulge details on everything that’s taught in the class, but I promise to report back on how this new adventure goes and what I learn about myself and toy photography along the way!

Now, onto my next lesson…

My portrait of Annie Leibovitz

Are you doing anything this year to educate yourself or improve your skills? I’d love to hear about it in the comments down below!


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