National Geographic Photography: Light, Color & Storytelling

Go beyond shooting to study light, color and storytelling with four top National Geographic photographers.
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  • Lectures 18
  • Length 4.5 hours
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
    30 day money back guarantee!
    Available on iOS and Android
    Certificate of Completion
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About This Course

Published 4/2016 English

Course Description

The best way to learn the art of photography is by watching a master artist at work. In Masters of Photography: How to Use Color, Light, and Storytelling in Photography—eight lectures taught by four top National Geographic photographers who represent the gold standard of photography—you’ll gain unprecedented access to true masters, watching and learning from them as they work. 

Join Michael Melford, an internationally recognized landscape photographer, for a discussion about diffuse light, sidelight, backlight, and “magic” light, and how to use filters to control the available light. 

Annie Griffiths, Executive Director of Ripple Effect Images, demonstrates how the different “personalities” of colors communicate emotions. She’ll provide practical tips on shooting at all times of day, using backgrounds, and creating silhouettes, and she’ll show you how to use light for drama and interest, nature shots, and special event photos. 

Learn how to create impact with your photos following the lead of William Albert Allard, photographer and writer, and consider photographing traditional icons in new ways. 

Ed Kashi—photojournalist, filmmaker, and educator—takes the lessons on visual storytelling to the next level, sharing insights into capturing daily life, cultures, landscapes, a sense of place, and a cohesive feeling or mood. 

Beyond revealing professional secrets, this course provides a toolbox overflowing with techniques you’ll put into practice every time you lift your camera.

What are the requirements?

  • This course focuses on the artistic process rather the mechanical side of taking pictures. Other than a basic understanding of a camera’s operations, no advanced photography knowledge is necessary.

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Establish an intended mood through use of light, color, framing, and other creative tools in order to tell a visual story with a deliberate message through photographs.

Who is the target audience?

  • Anyone who enjoys taking photographs with any type of camera, from professional to smartphone, particularly those interested in visual storytelling.

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Good, Bad, and Magic Light
Diffuse Light
Side Light and Polarizing Filter
Back Light and Metering
Section 2: Wait and Work the Shot
Going on Assignment
Stay and Anticipate
Section 3: Compose with Color
Dust, Sunlight, and Colors
White, Black, and Moods
Section 4: Write with Light
Falling in Love with Light
Using Different Types of Light
Section 5: 50 Years of Telling Stories
Visual Essays
Tips and Tactics for Assignment
Section 6: Moment, Gesture, Place
Light and Place
Finding Good Composition
Section 7: Engaging the World
Passion in Telling a Story
Communication and Collaboration
Section 8: Raising awareness
Advocacy Journalism
Documentary Imagery

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Instructor Biography

The Great Courses, Experience the Joy of Lifelong Learning

The Great Courses is the premier publisher of educational video and audio courses that are designed to meet the powerful and rapidly growing consumer demand for personal development and lifelong learning. The pioneer of the concept of engaging, direct-to-consumer university-level courses, The Great Courses has a catalog of more than 450 courses led by the world’s top professors and experts in a broad range of subjects across science, mathematics, philosophy, history, literature, fine arts and music, better living, business, and personal development. Our esteemed faculty members are drawn from the most respected institutions in the world and, uniquely, are selected by our customers exclusively for their ability to teach. Our courses, too, are produced only after we survey our community of lifelong learners on course concepts and gain their approval. The result—compelling courses taught by engaging instructors at the top of their fields.

Instructor Biography

Michael Melford, Award-winning photographer for National Geographic

Michael Melford is an award-winning photographer who has worked with National Geographic for more than 30 years, producing 19 features for the magazine as well as more than 30 stories for National Geographic Traveler and eight titles for the Society’s books division. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in photography from Syracuse University, he became a contributing photographer for Life Magazine and went on to have his work featured in many leading publications, including Newsweek, Time, Fortune, Smithsonian, Geo, Travel and Leisure, Travel Holiday, and Coastal Living. Most recently, he has been on assignment for National Geographic, celebrating the marvels of America’s National Parks. Mr. Melford holds National Geographic seminars on photography around the country and on the various ships that National Geographic has stationed around the world.

Instructor Biography

Annie Griffiths, Award-winning photographer for National Geographic

National Geographic photographer Annie Griffiths has photographed in nearly 150 countries, and her work has been exhibited on five continents. She has worked on dozens of magazine and book projects for the Society, including stories on Lawrence of Arabia, Baja California, Galilee, Petra, Sydney, New Zealand, and Jerusalem. Deeply committed to photographing for aid organizations around the world, Ms. Griffiths is also the Executive Director of Ripple Effect Images, a collective of photographers who document programs that are empowering women and girls in the developing world. Her book projects include A Camera, Two Kids and a Camel; Last Stand, done with author Barbara Kingsolver; Simply Beautiful Photographs, which was named the top photo/art book of 2011 by both Amazon and Barnes and Noble; and Life in Color: National Geographic Photographs. Ms. Griffiths has been honored with fellowships by Ashoka, The Cordes Foundation, and The International League of Conservation Photographers, and she has received awards from the National Press Photographers Association, the Associated Press, the National Organization of Women, The University of Minnesota, the White House News Photographers Association, and Heifer International.

Instructor Biography

William Albert Allard, Award-winning photographer for National Geographic

A major force at National Geographic and of mainstream photography for 50 years, William Albert Allard has been contributing to National Geographic Society stories and books as a photographer and writer since graduating from the University of Minnesota in 1964. One of color photography’s most celebrated pioneers, he has shot in 30 countries and been published in many major U.S. and European publications, including more than 40 articles with National Geographic. In addition to being a former contributor to Magnum Photos and having his prints appear in private and museum collections, he is the author of six highly acclaimed books, including the award-winning Vanishing Breed, a collection of his photographs and writing about the American West and the cowboy. His latest book, William Albert Allard: Five Decades, a retrospective and memoir, explores his long career in both words and pictures. Among his worldwide exhibits, his one-man show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tehran, Iran, in 2002, was the first exhibit of an American artist in Iran since 1979. In 1994, he received the Outstanding Achievement by an Alumni Award from the regents of the University of Minnesota.

Instructor Biography

Ed Kashi, Award-winning photographer for National Geographic

Ed Kashi is a photojournalist, filmmaker, and educator dedicated to documenting the social and political issues that define our times. Since 2000, he has pioneered the movement to multimedia and filmmaking in photojournalism, producing the innovative Iraqi Kurdistan Flipbook—which has been shown in film festivals and museums around the world—and award-winning short films and multimedia projects on geopolitics and social issues. Along with numerous awards from World Press Photo and Pictures of the Year International, UNICEF’s Photo of the Year 2010, a Prix Pictet 2010 Commission, and honors from Communication Arts and American Photography, Kashi’s images have been published and exhibited worldwide. He has made seven books, including Curse of the Black Gold: 50 Years of Oil in the Niger Delta and THREE. Kashi’s latest book, Photojournalisms, is a compilation of journal writings to his wife, done over a nearly 20-year period, from various locations around the world. 

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