Course Syllabus

Week 1 | Foundations of Advanced Shooting
Discussion of effectively and accurately setting exposure using The Zone System, temperatures of different forms of light and how it affects white balance, obtaining the correct Kelvin temperature in-camera, the pros of ‘back button’ focusing, thoughts before you click the shutter, the characteristics of varying focal lengths and lens types.  Purposefully using depth of field, motion and varying ISO settings for a stronger image

Week 2 | Flat and Directional Light
Discuss characteristics and usage of the basic directions of light, lighting patterns such as split light, rembrandt light, and up lighting, light placement techniques such as broad and short light, capturing dramatic natural light portraits indoors, the sparkle of catchlights, creating dreamy backlight images indoors, obtaining dimension and texture, modifying light sources, using light to minimize background elements, methods for effectively shooting in uninteresting light

Week 3 | High Dynamic Lighting Situations
Discuss the limitations of the camera’s sensor when capturing a dynamic tonal range, the necessary shooting and exposure decisions, purposefully incorporating blown highlights and clipped blacks, how the position of the sun affects purposeful shooting, shooting during golden hour including haze, flares and rim lighting, reflecting and filtering light, hard light vs soft light, shooting in patches of light, tonal range and how it effects black and white imagery

Week 4 | Creative Shooting Techniques
The beauty of low light imagery – shooting and editing, minimizing noise and embracing it, grain vs digital noise, the art of artificial light, out of focus imagery, silhouettes, capturing light and shadows, purposeful underexposure, time elapsed photography such as light writing, zoom blur and double exposure

Course Information

Skill Level:

Participants should be proficient in their understanding of shooting in manual, the exposure triangle, and their preferred processing software.

DSLR with lens and processing software (lightroom or photoshop)

Course Summary:
For participants to learn advanced photography techniques and gain the technical abilities to skillfully, purposefully, and creatively produce stronger images to match their vision through weekly lessons and assignments.


Workshop Dates

August 13 - September 9, 2017

Forum Member Registration: July 17, 2017

Public Registration Opens: July 24, 2017

Full Participation


Study Along


I am a lifestyle and environmental portraiture photographer and photography instructor in the Chicagoland area. The main source of my photography is my college sweetheart husband and two silly and adventurous little boys. My boys are only 14 months apart and always provide me with endless material worth documenting. I challenge myself to document our everyday lives by using all types of light in creative and interesting ways. I find inspiration from real emotions and connections, dramatic and interesting light, and capturing the little moments of childhood.

Website | Facebook

I'll start out by saying that I've loved Karens work from the moment I saw it. She is so relatable - a full time wife and mother, working outside the home and also a serious hobbyist who takes STUNNING photos of her boys. When I found out she was offering a class at In Beauty & Chaos, I signed up for full participation the MINUTE registration opened. Karen packs a TON of information in this four week course - she is very generous and holds nothing back. The assignments and course materials are comprehensive and eye opening - each week, I was taken out of my comfort zone and pushed in ways I didn't think possible. The feedback on my assignments were detailed and thoughtful. There is something for everyone in this class - it's perfect for beginners and seasoned pro's alike. I used to avoid shooting in full sun, harsh light and small apertures - now I seek it out! Karen has given me the tools to creatively shoot in any lighting situation. It's liberating to know that I can shoot anywhere at anytime in any light. Thank you so much Karen for pouring so much of your heart and soul into this course!
If you take one class this year - THIS MUST BE the one!!!!

- Kristin Dominianni

I've never taken an online class before, because honestly there have only been a handful that have really captured my attention, and this was one of them. Not only, is Karen a fantastic photographer, but she's a great teacher as well. I can't tell you how many times I messaged her telling her I was mind blown, seriously mind blown. There are so many new techniques that I have learned that have been a huge game changer in my photos. Doing documentary, you don't always have a chance to get your settings perfect before taking a shot. With the things I learned here, it has really made me take a bit more time to stop and compose my images before shooting. There are so many aspects of a photo I look for now before clicking the button, that never even occurred to me prior to taking this class. I can't thank Karen enough for not only creating this workshop, but for being such a fantastic teacher, the wealth of information learned has no price tag. If you've ever thought about taking a workshop.. stop what you're doing and take this one... you won't regret it!!

- Rebecca Wang

This course is nothing short of awesome! Karen is such an amazing teacher, she always went above and beyond to help answer questions and give helpful CC on all of the images submitted. She has crammed so much incredibly useful information in this short 4 week course. I didn't even get to try every all the exercises that she has provided, this is a course that you will continue to learn long after the course has ended. I would absolutely recommend this class to pretty much every photographer that is looking for an extra push in creativity!

- Erica Richardson