Studying Photography – The Final Evolution
Could studying photography ever get better than this?
Ever since Hampshire School of Photography came into being (July 2016), the courses and their contents have gradually evolved.
I remember the first one-year course I put together when I was teaching one-to-one. I had such a high opinion of it. When it morphed into a 12 month course for a group of 8 students I really felt we were going somewhere.
But it wasn’t until the Masterclass program came into being back in early 2019 that I felt we had reached our peak. We had a great location at the 21-acre Warbrook House estate and the course format really rocked. 10 modules over 12 months, learning everything from the exposure triangle and composition – through to shooting landscape, portrait, macro, working with flash and modules on Photoshop & Lightroom.
It was a big financial gamble. I had hoped we’d get 12 students booked on that first Masterclass (which we call MC1), we actually started with 18!
Despite the pandemic and lockdown, Masterclass continues to be immensely popular and MC4 (starting in September) is already half-full as I write this in June 2021. It is such a great way to really get your head around the fundamental building blocks of photography… and out of it, so many students have made so many great friends.
However… I was becoming acutely aware that a number of the Masterclass students were expressing sadness as the year came to an end. They were going to lose contact with the friends they had made and… they actually liked being set monthly photo-assignments. They would miss the regular challenges, as it forced them to get out with their cameras, every single month.
In simple terms, what were they going to do once Masterclass finished? It had become a regular part of their life.
I looked at a whole range of solutions from a monthly club, meeting in a hotel, to an online forum (which has since been launched but is still under beta-testing… and it will soon be open for anyone to join. The HSP Academy).
Then in late 2019 I came across a concept known as ‘Mastermind Groups’. They had been around for many years, I believe Henry Ford was one of the first to pioneer them.
Originally they were developed to help business people meet up regularly in small groups of maybe 8 people, to share each others’ experiences and to collectively help each other within the group succeed, by drawing on those experiences and holding each member accountable to get things done, on a month-by-month basis…
The format was simple but it had an impressive track record of success. In fact, Mastermind groups now exist all over the world and many find enormous benefits, enabling everyone in the group to get tangible positive results from them.
Was there a way to apply the proven format of these groups to those wishing to improve their photography skills? Big question.
The classic Mastermind group format didn’t really have any teaching in it, and obviously, teaching was essential for what I was doing.
I continued to work on developing the concept and just as I was about to launch, COVID struck!
So here we are, 18 months later, and with the end of lockdown approaching, the HSP version of a Mastermind group for photographers will be starting at the end of July. It’s called the INNER CIRCLE.
The INNER CIRCLE is a truly exceptional way to learn photography, unlike any other.
Working in a small group with just five other Master Photographer’s Apprentices, members will meet up every month around a table with Kevin Ahronson for in-depth teaching and interaction.
They will be required to push and stretch their personal photographic comfort zones, to grow their camera skills through trial, testing and accountability to each other.
Twice a month they will go out on photo-assignments, sometimes as the photographer, sometimes as an assistant to someone else in the group. Everyone’s assignment will be unique to them and they will experience a wide range of subjects and genres. Their growth as a photographer will be exponential.
The secret of success revolves around the assignment thing.
Everyone gets a new assignment every month but unlike other courses, the assignment in INNER CIRCLE is unique to the individual. No one else in the group is doing the same.
Everyone is paired up and both people attend each photoshoot together; one as the photographer and the other works as his/her assistant. So they may end up helping to carry gear, set up the lighting, hold reflectors or even get release forms signed. There are dozens of ways assistants can be used.
Of course, the process of assisting is a great learning process in it’s own right and apprentices get to see how other photographers think, how they plan, how they shoot, how they work with their subjects. This is immensely insightful and incredibly useful to help build someone into a well-rounded photographer.
Anyone joining the INNER CIRCLE will be busy. As well as the monthly sessions around the table with me, they have two photoshoots to attend (one of which they have to plan and then edit the images) and once a month there’s a catch-up Zoom meeting with me to monitor their progress and ask any questions.
This is a full-on commitment, but the results are expected to be extraordinary.
From my perspective, I am likely be phasing-out any more private mentoring (one-to-one’s). I still have a number of private students I’m working with and when their years come to an end, I’m not sure I will have time to take on any more.
Never say never of course, and if the right individual comes along…
To find out more…
If you would like to find out more about INNER CIRCLE click on this link.
Even if you can’t make the current intake, I’m sure there will be others. Register your interest so that you don’t miss any opportunity in the future.