“Foundations of Photography with Tutor” Course Review

By Jean Bogais

I came across Michael Freeman’s photographic work and publications a few years ago. Last year, as I was watching a training video by Nick Rains from Leica Akademie Australia, I noted that Nick mentioned the Building Blocks concept in photography and credited the “internationally acclaimed photographer Michael Freeman”, for developing this concept and teaching about it. He also mentioned Michael’s excellent educational books. This endorsement attracted my attention.

After taking photos on and off for many years both privately, and also professionally in a forensic environment, I felt that I wanted now to explore photography as art, using my own eyes and emotions and sharing my vision with the viewer. In short, self-expression – much more than just “taking photos.” I knew what I wanted to achieve and felt that a high-quality short course could be useful in addressing some issues.

A search on the internet unveiled hundreds of courses all claiming to be better than the other.However, the name Michael Freeman stood out, associated with Learning with Experts in the UK, and the advertised concept behind the course differed from the rest. In its information, Learning with Experts states that its philosophy is to imagine the online space as if it were an in-person classroom – where participants can see each other’s work, discuss ideas with fellow students and receive feedback from the course tutor. It is worth noting that they started operating with this online model in 2015, long before Covid, when most educational institutions had to shift to online teaching by obligation. I felt that this early innovative thinking was important in deciding who to select.

According to Learning with Experts, I could buy a comprehensive 8-sessions course with assignments created (design and content) by Michael Freeman and be part of a virtual classroom; or I could take the option of exactly the same course, but with–in addition– Michael as a tutor to review the assignments and give advice. Great incentive! Not insignificant difference in price, but as I discovered absolutely worth it. In any case, however, the value-for-money of the base course (Peers) is amazing and an absolute must for anyone who cannot or does not want to stretch as far as the option with tutor.

I opted for the Foundations of Photography with Tutor. The description of the course was excellent, clear, concise, no non-sense. Of course, I emailed Learning with Experts with some questions. First good note, I received an answer to all my questions the following day from Jack, the coordinator. Not bad given that the time difference between Australia and the UK is 10 hours. This high-level of quality communication/support has been consistent during the entirety of the course.

There is a lot in this course including 8 on-demand video lessons – presented by Michael Freeman (4 hours 15 minutes) with lifetime access; downloadable notes including transcripts of videos, interactive classes, practical photo assignment with each class (with tutor feedback in the Tutor option), and more.

A word of advice… make sure to download the notes. Lifetime access to videos depends on the uncertainty behind tomorrow’s technology and no one can guarantee that they will still be available–or working–in the future.

The description stated that “You'll learn all aspects of photography and develop your own portfolio of photos and style as you learn.” I first thought that this had to be an exaggeration, but eight sessions later, I had learned a lot. Most of all, the course helped me rethink my approach to photography and focus on what I wanted to achieve. I liked the no non-sense approach! Fundamental questions about photography such as What? Why? Where? When and how? were all addressed with clarity by the tutor (with explanations and examples) and would be accessible to anyone.

The tutor option was very helpful because of the feedback. It was good to receive high quality comments on every photo as part of the eight assignments in the course. Very down to earth comments by the tutor addressing fine details at times – critical, but not patronising, very respectful, and thoughtful suggestions. Great! Obviously, a lot of experience and will to share. It even motivated me to redo some images after the course taking the feedback into account. Good learning process.

I completed one assignment per week making it eight weeks for the entire course, but I had the time to do it. Some people may find that more time is needed. The assignments are not all that easy and require some thinking and planning before shooting, and also there is the post-processing, so any potential participant must appreciate that this course requires a certain level of commitment. It is a great experience though, and the outcome is very rewarding.


  • Excellent course overall, worth the investment with or without the tutor option.
  • Access to a unique wealth of knowledge and experience with the tutor option.
  • Excellent for someone who wants to capture scenes creatively rather than just take photos of them.
  • Requires a certain level of commitment. Participants must go somewhere/anywhere and shoot – then process and present their work.
  • High level of professionalism and care by the Learning with Expert team on all aspects.
  • A few technical issues which at the time detracted from the enjoyment but were resolved rapidly and never impeded the process.

Check out some of my work here!

Below is an abridged example of an assignment that I completed in the last session with the subject, photo, and comment. N.B. it was a street photo that took seconds, I did not know who these people were.

Assignment Week 8 (last session): A well-caught, quick-reaction shot of an unplanned moment, such as a sudden gesture or expression. Because this kind of image, an ideal in street photography, wildlife or sports photography (for example) is almost impossible to prepare, you can choose your submission from any earlier shooting.https://www.jbogais.net/photos/

Comment from the tutor: The couple are at a perfect moment, well-placed, contrasting well with the background. In particular I love the 'disembodied' shoes in the background walking in the opposite direction. In fact, if it were my shot, I might carefully raise the contrast and brightness around those shoes so that they remained disembodied but a tad brighter, to consolidate the connection with the couple's feet.

Jean Bogais

Sociologist (PhD) passionate about photography.

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