Please note: the info in this article was correct at the time of writing
I was asked to review the College of Digital Photography (CODP) recently to help them bring to light the amazing offerings they have for those looking to refine or even discover their photography skills. People are often unsure as to whether a course will benefit them but also scared that the course they enrol in goes over their heads. I’m not going to lie, I feel this way every time I consider a new course or change in general but hopefully, through this article I will be able to explain just how wrong that assumption is.
The College of Digital Photography was started by Udo Kieslich who has spent many years working on and developing photography courses as well as being a commercial studio, nature and landscape photographer. Every one of the lecturers has a long history with photography but are not only chosen for their gift with aesthetics but also for their passion to educate. Without going into a long and tedious step by step history, I will just summarise and say that CODP is not one of these ‘fly-by-night’ colleges that you see advertised all over the place. Their goal is to educate you in the most fun and professional way and you will pick up on that the moment you step onto one of their campuses.
They offer a range of courses and I’d go so far as to say that they have something for everyone, from those looking to get better at taking pictures on their mobile phone, they have a ‘phonography’ course (yes that is a word). For people wanting to get a good understanding and practical knowledge of photography but don’t have time for a six month course, they offer a ‘fundamentals’ course which will see you going from zero to hero in just six weeks! I can testify to that because this is the course I just completed and I couldn’t be happier! You can read a full list of their courses on their site so I won’t go into too great a detail but suffice to say you won’t struggle to find something that suites you, they even have a kiddies course for only R900!
They have 3 campuses in Saxonwold, Fourways & Pretoria.
I attended the Saxonwold campus and from the moment I walked in I could tell that these were cool guys. My lecturer, Martin Short is the kind of guy you can chat to about anything and he’ll always make the time. It almost feels like you’re the only one in the class sometimes because they make a habit of coming around to each student and physically showing you the settings on your own camera. Nothing is generic or brushed over, they make sure that once the class is done that every student is on the same page and my class was the perfect example of that. We had a lovely lady Jacquie who was using a slightly more basic camera than the rest of our class but Martin made sure that she kept up with the rest of us even if it meant spending some time with her after each class. Outstanding dedication!
Our fundamentals course covered the basics of digital photography, giving you a full understanding of what makes up a good photo, from exposure to framing. You quickly realise that photography is all about light and that is something which I imagine would have to be taught to any beginner. Once you’ve come to grips with the way your camera deals with light, the pieces all start to come together. The course took six weeks in total with six lessons and a one day practical outing and I could see my photos getting better every week. By the time the practical came it was just a matter of applying the theory we had learned over the past few weeks. I spoke to the other members of my class and each one agreed that they never expected such a drastic turnaround in a matter of just a few classes. You’d be shocked at how great the pictures started getting after just one lesson!
Each class also features an assignment which is due a day or so before the next class so you have just under a week to complete each of them. The assignments are designed to sum up everything you learnt at the previous lesson as well as to just ‘drill it in’. At first I worried that I wouldn’t have the time to complete them in time each week but you’ll soon realise that they only take an hour or so maximum and the point isn’t to take the worlds next big photograph, at this point it’s just to demonstrate and practice the knowledge you learn each week. All the photos in this review were taken by me during my assignments, so sure they might not be the best photos but if you’d have seen the photos I was taking before you’d be blown away!
Another big plus when registering with CODP is that everything can be done online. You can order your course online, pay online, get feedback from staff via email and even submit all your assignments using what I can only describe as a seamless online submission system. It’s about as user friendly as things come, I’m positive my mom wouldn’t even need a moments instruction on using their website. They really out-did themselves in this regard.
Start dates for the various courses can be found on their site as well as guidelines as to which course will best suite you or the person you’re buying it for. One of their courses would make the perfect present for the photographically inquisitive friends or family in your life and I guarantee it’s the kind of present that that won’t be forgotten soon. Take a look at their website for more information or get in contact with them directly, they’re more than willing to assist in every way. Get out there and make that change happen, whether it’s for you or a friend, I guarantee you won’t regret it!
By Byron Marais
All photos taken by Byron Marais during the 6 Week Fundamentals of Digital Photography Course