/What kind of equipment do I need?

Technically, all you need is access to any camera that allows full control over its shutter speeds and apertures. Most of our students are using conventional dSLR type cameras, which are cameras that have a single, detachable lens. However, it is possible to learn advanced photography with a mirrorless camera, or even a “point-and-click” compact camera, so long as the camera allows for complete manual control over its functions.

/Do I have to have any experience or previous training?

Absolutely no experience is required to take our Photography 1 course.  The course is designed with the assumption that its participants know absolutely nothing at all about photography, so we start from the absolute beginning and then move on from there. One of the founding principles of ASOP is the desire to make higher-level photography skills accessible to everyone, and more-over, we like to think we exist in order to help broaden Austin’s collective visual literacy.  So no one
should feel the least bit intimidated by the prospect of taking one of our classes! Beginners are always welcome!


/Well in that case, I’ve taken a class or two in the past, should I jump straight into the advanced classes?

This is a tricky question. Our experience has consistently indicated that the vast majority of people asking this question have needed to start with the Photo1 course.  Part of the reason ASOP was founded was to counteract the misinformation and inadequacies we've observed in mainstream workshops and tutorials.  So to be specific, if your previous education concentrated primarily on camera settings and operating system functions (ie: apertures, shutters, white balance, histograms, etc.), and then moved on to  "situational advice" (ex: "how to take a portrait"), then we will almost certainly surpass your knowledge very early on in Photo1.  We actually spend most of the course discussing the underlying properties of the medium that those camera features were originally designed to address, including comprehensive discussions on lighting variables, angles of light, contrast ratios, layers of space, distances, angles of movement, etc.  We then discuss the manner in which you can control the structure of your photograph, as well as the viewer's eye movement - and even the aesthetic or emotional value of the image - through combinations of these physical properties.  However, the most important thing to note here is that the Photo1 curriculum puts all of these properties into one holistic narrative, through which our students gain a tangible understanding for how this knowledge will alter their vision and their shooting habits, and in that sense the course is keenly developmental.  We consistently find that Photo1 is precisely the "next-level" training that these students are seeking. Conversely, the feedback we’ve received from those who have jumped directly into the advanced classes has indicated that nearly all of them were several steps behind their classmates who had taken Photo1. But if you feel you need to consult with us regarding your proper placement, don’t hesitate to give us a call or simply come on down to the studio and we’ll discuss it together. 

/How are the classes structured?

Most courses meet once per week, for 2 hours at a time, and they last for 6 weeks (totalling 12 hours of instruction). However, it should also be noted that our most eager students tend to get quite a bit more out of it. We encourage students to come early to class or to stay late if they have questions. And students are also encouraged to keep an ongoing email dialog with the instructor if they'd like.


/What's the class size?

Most of our classes have around 10 students. We prefer a smaller class size, partly to allow for everyone's shooting to be analyzed, but also so that everyone has a chance to form a relationship with the instructor.


/What if I have to miss a class?

If you need to miss a class, please contact us in advance, and we will work with you to provide some options for make-up.


/What is your cancellation policy?

Because a lot of our classes fill several months in advance, we do require 1 WEEK'S NOTICE  for any cancellations or transfers in order that we may have a realistic amount of time to re-sell the seat.  Therefore students may receive a full refund up until one week before a class begins, however, once we're within 7 days of a class's start date, all registrations must be final.  PLEASE NOTE: students who choose not to cancel an enrollment outright, but instead want to push their enrollment to a later date may do so (provided tthey do so more than 7 days in advance), however their credit will then be subject to the same rules as our gift certificate policy, which is to say the credit will never expire, but cannot be refunded.           


/Are there any age requirements?

Anyone over 18 is free to enroll.  However, parents of teens should be advised that students in the 16-17 age group have taken our classes with mixed results. Our classroom atmosphere is closer to that of a college or grad school discussion group, and a lot less like an "after-school" teen art activity. So for that particular age group we leave it up to the parent's discretion. However, please note that students under the age of 16 are definitely too young for our program.

/Are your classes for digital cameras only, or can I shoot film?

It makes no difference whether you are shooting film or digital. The science involved in capturing light through a lens is nearly identical in either case, with the primary difference being some minor distinctions in terminology and, of course, the logistics of  post-processing the image. Although it is now 2024, our instructors still shoot a lot of B&W film, and we still occasionally have students who prefer to use film, but yes, the vast majority of our students now shoot exclusively digital.