Stretching Your Frame of Mind

Course Start:
Instructor: Joe Baraban Duration: 4 Weeks Cost: US$129

THE ARTIST’S PALETTE: Imagine yourself standing at some location with an artist’s palette in your hand. A recently stretched canvas is waiting on an easel, and a jar full of cleaned brushes sits on a small table next to you. Cobalt and Ultramarine Blue, Raw Sienna and Burnt Umber are positioned side by side while Chromium Oxide Green, Cadmium Red and Yellow lie together opposite them; Mars Black and Titanium White sit in the middle. They all have been squeezed from tubes and anxious to be mixed together.

Now, imagine that instead of all those wonderful pigments on your palette, there are the ‘elements of design and composition’. Terms like: Vanishing Point, Negative Space, Perspective, Tension, Color, Texture, Pattern, Light and Line, have been etched into the aged wood.

Everyone knows what happens when you mix red and blue, right? You get purple. How about when you mix blue and yellow together? Green, right again. But, what happens when you add Tension, a few Patterns, and Perspective together while taking your daughter’s portrait during an outdoor birthday party? Or Negative Space, some Texture, and a Vanishing Point when you’re composing a street scene in a small Tuscan village? Well, you’ll get the picture.

Remember you’re still an artist, but a camera on a tripod has now replaced the stretched canvas and easel. Through examples of my own work, I’ll help you develop your ‘eye’ by showing you how to incorporate these ‘elements of design and composition’ into your imagery. A new, finely tuned vision will be the result, and you will walk away armed with the ability to create powerful and memorable photographs.

CHASING THE LIGHT: With assignments and exercises to heighten your awareness of shooting during ‘the golden hour’ (early morning and late afternoon), you will gain a better understanding and sensitivity to light, as it enhances every aspect of these important ‘elements of design’. The differences between backlight, side and front light will be studied, and last, learning to use the ‘angle of reflection’ in directing the light source to the subject will soon be an integral part of your visual thought process.

With computer software, I’ll show you how to determine exactly where the sun will be anywhere on the planet from the moment it comes up at sunrise to the instant it sets; and where the shadows will fall days or even months before an important family outing, a personal trip, upcoming wedding, or commercial shoot.

SEEING PAST FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Photographers tend to come across a location or a subject and take the first picture that they see, then move on leaving a lot still on the table. During week four, the class will look at what I call the ‘Master Shot’. This is the first idea that pops into your thought process, and a photograph you could live with in case it started to rain on your parade.

After taking this shot and putting it safely ‘in the can’, I will show you how to look for better ways to visually say the same thing or tell the same story. Getting up close and personal, looking at it from way down low then way up high, changing lenses, adding or subtracting props, and putting in or taking out people. Then, you’ll look at it from various ‘points of view’ while constantly keeping in mind the direction of the light.

What’s important about the Master Shot, and the following images is that while you’re shooting you’ll be learning the difference between one of my favorite expressions; taking a picture and making a picture.

THE “DOES IT” LIST FOR GOOD COMPOSITION: In this class, we’ll discuss what I consider the ten most important areas to remember when composing your photographs, and you’ll learn to love what I call my Fifteen Point Inspection Plan. This is when the commonly used phrase ‘use it or lose it’ will start to make sense. My Plan will become an important addition to the camera bag and you’ll carry it with you wherever you go. I have conducted workshops in Maine, Santa Fe, California, Florida, Texas, and Canada.

The “Does It Do It” list for achieving good composition will be a part of our class. It contains what I consider to be the ten most important areas to remember when composing your photographs. You’ll learn to love my “Fifteen Point Protection Plan, Border Control, and the Four Corner Check-Off. A by-product will be the phrase I often use, “Use it or Lose it”.

Students that have taken my workshops in Maine, Santa Fe, California, Florida, Texas, Canada, and most of the countries in Europe, have all taken their imagery what I call, ‘Up a Notch’.

From beginners, to Intermediate, photographers, to advanced amateurs, to working professionals have all learned how to take their photography up a level. I promise you that “Stretching Your Frame of Mind”, breaking all the rules, and making mistakes in a supportive atmosphere will be a great way to spend the four weeks. At the end of this course, provided that you have committed yourself to the process of making stronger images, you’ll walk away with a much greater command of your craft. You’ll be at a higher level of perception and have a redesigned group of photographs to show off your skills. Since the class centers around the basic elements of design, I promise you that everyone no matter their proficiency in photography, will benefit from this class.

My work can be viewed at:

Course Requirement:

My class is open to photographers of all skill levels! All you need is a digital DSLR, understanding the manual setting and have a good working knowledge of your camera. This course is color photography only – no black and white imagery will be accepted.

Instructor: Joe Baraban

 Joe BarabanAfter receiving his BA in Journalism, Joe ventured out into the freelance world and never looked back. For the past forty years, Joe has shot professionally for clients from Coca Cola to Hennessy, Cessna to United Air Lines and Boeing, and from Microsoft to IBM and HP. He has shot the full line car brochures for Acura, Saturn, and Range Rover, not to mention campaigns for Acura, Jaguar, Mazda and Ford. The tourism departments for Alberta, Canada, Pennsylvania, Alabama, and Texas have contracted Joe to shoot images for their state campaigns. Just to name a few.

Joe spent his early years shooting for AP, UPI, and was a Black Star photographer. Over the years, National Geographic, Life, Texas Monthly, Time, Geo, Newsweek, and the New York Times Magazine have used Joe for several of their editorial assignments.

Teaching people how to use their eye has always been one of Joe’s passions, and he’s conducted his personal workshops around the world and also with organizations including: The Maine Media Workshop (twenty-seven years), The Santa Fe Workshop, The Julia Dean Workshop in Hollywood, The South Florida Workshop, The Pacific Northwest School of Art on Whidbey Island, The Texas Photographic Workshop, Objectif’s, a photographic organization in Singapore, and The Houston Center for Photography. Joe has also conducted continuing education classes at Rice University.

He has been sought out as a guest speaker for various ASMP chapters (American Society of Media Photographers), advertising and art director’s clubs across the country, The Art Center in Pasadena, California, and Brooks Institute. He has given seminars at Photo East in New York, Photo West in San Francisco, and Viacom (the national photographic convention in Canada).

Joe has had feature articles written about his work in Communication Arts Magazine, Photo District News, Japan’s Portfolio Magazine, and Studio Magazine. His work has appeared in CA, Photo Graphis, and The Mead Annual Report Show. His expertise had also spurred an invitation to judge the prestigious Communication Arts Photography Annual.

He currently has four of his Fine Art photographs in the permanent photography collection at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, headed by world acclaimed photography curator Ann Tucker.

What students are saying about Joe Baraban and his courses?

To Learn more about how our courses work please visit: Course Info

“I just wanted to thank you for another wonderful class. I have to confess that each week when I read the new assignment, my first reaction was mild panic and a deep certainty that I would not be able to produce anything worthwhile that fit within the parameters you had set. But before I knew it, the ideas started to flow, and I quickly became obsessed (no, that isn’t too strong a word!) with exploring the possibilities. I can honestly say that the photos I produced in response to your assignments are among my favorites. Thanks for bringing out a creative side I didn’t know I had!”

Barbara Geiger
Understanding Color

“Thank you so very much for this course! It’s allowed me to take the blinders off and present my images for what I want them to be without being a slave to the “reality” of the camera. I would also add that in conjunction with your printing course, this has been the most useful course I’ve ever taken. Your notes are more than comprehensive and your comments and critiques are direct, clear, and always directed to the improvement of the art.”

After the click

” I want to thank you for this class and for your patience and availability to answer all of my questions. I have learned very much through this class. I have used LR in the past, but mostly for editing images. I now have a better grasp in the organization of my images, an even better understanding of editing images, and an understanding of the value of presets. I still have a lot to learn, but this has put me on the road to be able to improve my photography. Again, thank you! ”

Dale Yates
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