Nowadays most of the camera user manuals have hundreds of pages, how long does it take to read all pages? Two days? A week? Would it be possible for a person to learn the fundamentals of photography in a day? Is it a fantasy? No, it is not, and it can ben done!

It started during the Chinese National Day holidays in 2014, I got together with my childhood friends in Nanjing. When the subjects of cameras and photographs came up they complained that they can afford to buy more sophisticated and more expensive cameras, photography is too differcult to learn. So much so they were even thinking to hire a photographer to travel with them to take good photos for them.

I smiled and told them that it is not that diffircult, it takes only one day to understand the fundamentals of photography. They were shocked and bet with me for a dinner.

Two days later, I gave them a lesson in my friend's office. In only four hours I explained everything with pictures and sketches on the whiteboard. When the class ended, everyone was very excited. After the class we went to Nanjing Normal University to practice. They were all amazed by what they had achived. That was the begining of my “4-Hour Crash Course on Fundamentals of Photography.”

What can be taught in four hours then? It is about the length of two movies. I did not teach them anything about camera operations, and instead I want them to see the big pictures, like having a bird’s-eye views on top of a mountain. The reason people feel theoretical stuff is hard to understand is because they never try to understand the basics, the fundamentals of photography. They learned a bits and pieces here and there, and they are still confused in the end. What I did, is to explain it from the angle of optical imaging, combined with comprehensive explanation of the relationships between theories, variables, terminologies and equipments. After that, it is just an optical or physical experiment. In the later part of the course, I would be leading a group discussion on how to achieve the best settings under different lighting conditions and subjects.

That's why I said over and over again when taking part of my photographic lessons it is not necessary to bring a camera, but you must bring your brain. Everything is simple when you know the fundamentals and the way how the cameras are working. Focusing on the operations of a particular camera won’t get you to far. My mission is to enable you to use any camera after attending my course. For a specific function of a particular camera, you can always find it by reading its manual. The most important thing is that you know what you should do.

Initally, “4-Hour Crash Course” was purely a four-hour lesson on the fundamentals of photography. After 20 lessons in Asia, America and Europe, I have revised my teaching materials. Now it is a 7-hour course, but I still kept name “4-Hour Crash Course”. The new teaching plan consists of photos, videos and jokes, to make it easier to understand.

I must admit, this is an unusual photographic course. Nonetheless I have taught 80 sessions in Asia, America and Europe with 982 students. They are the living proofs that my “4-Hour Crash Course” is the right medicine to cure the symptoms of camera manual-phobic disease.

But I have to remind you, this is just an entry level photographic theory course. One cannot write won't be a Calligrapher, and I will be only teaching you how to write.


The first lesson held on 5th October 2014 in Najing.


Related topic:Q&A of "4-hour" Photographic Theory Course


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