Individualized Photography Instruction

Michael Furtman is an award winning photographer of twenty-five years experience. His images have appeared on the covers of, and inside, numerous magazines and books.

In addition to his work as a professional photographer and writer, he has taught digital photography at Lake Superior College in Duluth, MN, and has lectured on the subject for groups such as the Outdoor Writers Association of America and the International Regional Magazine Association.


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 (You'll be able to specify online or in-person instruction)

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(Deposit of $100 -- balance due on day of lesson)

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Why Take A Lesson?

There is no question that digital camera equipment has opened up photography to more people than in the days of film. Yes, most all of us had a film camera back then, but most used it to capture birthdays and other "Kodak moments". Because digital equipment has decreased the cost of producing images, more people than ever now own truly sophisticated camera gear, equipment capable of capturing images like those they've long admired in magazines and galleries.

For some, it has become an avocation of great joy -- and occasionally, great frustration!

Just because we have great gear available to us doesn't mean that making great photographs is a snap. A great digital image requires the same skills to produce that a great film image did -- proper exposure, good composition, and the creative use of natural light. Photographing nature adds more demands -- stopping action, finding locations, exposure compensation, dealing with weather, understanding wildlife. Finally, though our camera gear today is better than any camera gear in history, its complexity leave many confused, unable to tap the photographer's and camera's full potential.

What You Will Learn?

After many requests, I've decided to offer one-on-one photography instruction. I'm not going to tell you what you will learn, because what you want or need to learn may be very different than the wishes and needs of the next person. What I will tell you is what I can teach -- I can teach you to unleash your creative abilities and that of your gear.

I've taught digital photography at Lake Superior College, and I know what confuses people the most. I know how to explain the concepts of composition and lighting, the practices of exposure metering, exposure compensation and shutter speed. I know how to integrate the the newer tools of white balance and ISO settings to create great photos. I can explain all those modes on your camera's control dials, and which mode to use in specific situations. I can help you grasp, then master and use, the concept of depth of field. And then, after spending time together shooting images, we will view them and critique them one on one. What went wrong with this image? What is right? How could you have improved it? If it is your desire, I can teach you photo editing as well, and answer many questions about digital image formats, archiving images, and computer needs.

Who Is This For?

This instruction is for anyone who is interested in improving their photographic skills, especially novices and those who have some background in photography, but now are getting serious about producing stunning images. Although I'd prefer to work with those who use only digital SLR (Single Lens Reflex) cameras, I'm willing to help anyone, even those with point and shoot cameras.

When and Where?

I'd like to be able to invite you along on a serious wildlife shoot, but the fact is, I'd be so busy shooting, and we'd be so hushed up, that the lesson would suffer. On the other hand, that doesn't mean we won't be photographing wildlife. There are always some species around that are more tolerant than others, and we'll work with whatever is available at the time -- the skills I can teach you to capture a common pigeon in flight are absolutely the same used to photograph a peregrine falcon. Landscapes and flowers, of course, don't run away, and we can, if that's your goal, work with them. Frankly, the subject matter is less important than the lesson. I know there are lots of photo schools and tours out there that promise great wildlife shots (except that they aren't of wild animals, but captive animals in an enclosure) or tours of Kenya or Yellowstone. While I live in a beautiful place, and while there are some extremely interesting species to photograph, I'm here to teach you about your gear and about technique. Will we be outside? Yes, weather permitting. Will we photograph wildlife? If at all possible. Will there be lions or wolves or zebras? Not unless we go to the zoo....

I live in Duluth, Minnesota, so that's where we'll do our lesson. I can, and would be willing, to travel a reasonable distance, but you'll have to pay for my time and expenses. Most of the time will be spent outdoors, although if you're really interested in digital image editing, we'll have to spend some time at a computer. In fact, I'm pleased to offer lessons that deal ONLY with the computer side of the equation. As I said, the lesson is yours to plan....I'm here to teach you what you are most confused about, or most interested in. We can discuss the fine points at the time you book your lesson. As far as the When -- when are you available? I'll try to work around your schedule if I can. Be forewarned that spring and fall are very busy times for wildlife photographers.

You'll need to provide your own equipment. You don't need professional gear. If you're interested in wildlife, you should have a lens of at least 300mm in focal length, but if you don't, don't worry about it. As I said, concepts and skills are what these lessons are all about. You probably won't leave my company with a great wildlife shot, but you WILL be able to produce those when and if the opportunity arises, and after you've gathered the gear needed.

How Long, and How Much?

How long the lesson lasts depends upon you. There's not much we can do in less than a couple of hours. I've given lessons of that length that students thought were very helpful, but I know we both left with questions unanswered. I suggest we start with a phone conversation that discusses your experience, your equipment, and your expectations. After we discuss your needs on the phone, I'll suggest a time frame, but I'm willing to bet that a half day (3 hours) would be of great help to you, and longer may be better. Remember, this lesson is all about what you want -- I only ask that you be considerate of my time as well. Don't ask me to drive to Minneapolis for a two hour lesson!

My rates are simple: $60 per hour, unless you book a full six hour day, which costs $300. If you're booking the full day, I'll want a $100 deposit. If you're booking by the hour, I need payment up front. Don't worry about that until we talk. Then you can download a registration form that you can return with your payment, and that will explain all the little details. You can also pay online. And yes, deposits are refundable if I need to cancel or if weather makes us cancel (and we can't reschedule). I would consider teaching a small group -- up to three people. A break in the rate would be worked out. The lesson doesn't end when you go home. Once you're a student of mine, I'll be happy to answer a reasonable number of questions via phone or email, or critique a few photos.

Online Photo Instruction

It would, in fact, be possible to carry out lessons strictly online and over the phone. I know that's less than ideal, but for some, it may be the best or only avenue available. If that interests you, let's talk about it! Once I've answered your questions, I can give you an assignment. You can email the images to me for an online photo critique. You'd be surprised by how much you'll learn using this technique. My time is my time -- whether I'm online or outdoors with you, I need to get the same rate, but I promise you'll get your money's worth.

Contact Me

I don't want to put my phone number on the website, so please email me if you're interested. I'll get back to you and we'll make arrangements for a phone conversation.

If you've read this far, you are curious and want to improve your photography. I can help.  Drop me an email and get the ball rolling. You've spend hundreds or thousands on your camera gear. Why not invest a little bit more to get the best out of it?