Make sure you know what you’re paying for

A few years ago, my son and I attended a 10-week Tai-Chi adult education course. It was awful and a class that started with about 20 people in it finished with just 3.

Last year I started teaching my own adult education classes. Since doing so, I have found myself increasingly angered by stories my students have told me of other courses – not just photography – that they have attended which have failed to live up to expectations. But I think it's clear to see why...

Consider this statement:

‘You find yourself looking at a website offering evening classes. There’s nothing on there about the tutor, the style of learning or anything other than a couple of generic paragraphs about what the subject is. Now, please pay between £150-450 and they will provide someone who will teach you to be good at it. That’s it. Have faith and just hand over the money. Now.’

When you visit a website researching an evening class, this is pretty much what you’re presented with, only in a less direct manner.

I can think of no other setting where you would be asked to part with that kind of money without knowing thoroughly what you were getting for it.

What if you go and the tutor is an idiot, unprepared or just dull? Or the style of course doesn’t suit your way of learning? How did previous students do on the course? Did they get a quantifiable benefit from attending it?

I believe the way courses are presented is fundamentally flawed. It asks for a whole lot of trust from students with no examples or proof from previous attendees that the course will give you what you need.

I think that institutions that offer evening classes should do open evenings for them, just as they do open days several times a year for their younger students. I think that individuals who offer courses should do taster sessions for them, too.

And here’s the bit you knew was coming….

This is exactly why I do taster days leading up to my courses.

After all, you might not like me, my teaching style, my approach. I do sound quite angry, after all… but at least I'll give you the opportunity to find out before you spend all that money on a course.

A £10, 90-minute taster session could save you a fortune in both cash and frustration. And even if I’m a personable bunny, how do you know you will see an improvement in your photography after 9 weeks?

This is why I show lots of my student photos on the homepage of my website and, of course, I ask them for endorsements which you can read online. As a tutor, I'm only as good as their work. I link out to their social media accounts (with their permission) so you can even ask them directly, if you wish.

I survey my students after each course and have a 100% satisfaction rate for the question ‘Did you feel the course represented good value for money?’

My point is, don’t pay out for a service unless you know exactly what it is, especially one where you’re being taught a skill. You’re putting a lot of time, money and effort into an evening class and you deserve to know what you’re getting. Ask questions before you part with your hard-earned cash.

What do you think?

Photo: Pixabay

Anita Corbin Exhibition

FREE EVENT for Brighton & Hove residents!

Anita Corbin First Women Exhibition:
2.30pm, Sunday, March 1st at Brighton Museum

I’ll be heading off to this exhibition and invite you to join me. I’ll be outside at 2.30 so will meet you there if you want to come along! Please sign up through the Meetup group (it’s free!) so that I know to expect you 😊

There’s no Meetup fee, it’s just a photo social!

Photographer Anita Corbin has spent the past 10 years taking pictures of 100 inspirational women. All of them are trailblazers, people who have been the first to do something previously only done by a man. Anita Corbin is a British photographer. Her collections and exhibitions include Visible Girls (1981) and First Women UK (2018). The National Portrait Gallery holds eight of her works.

‘It is my hope that women who dream big will look at these pictures and see that they are not alone.’ Anita Corbin

Discover and celebrate 100 pioneering women of the 21st century in this major exhibition by acclaimed photographer Anita Corbin. These striking images capture an impressive record of female achievement, from beatboxing to bomb detection, computing to cricket, blast furnaces to boardrooms.

Read about the Brighton Exhibition here and look at two of Anita’s earlier series below:


The original photographic series, Visible Girls by Anita Corbin portrayed the search for identity; the street-level self that was part of a tribe bonded by music, fashion and politics. 36 years later, Corbin’s Visible Girls: Revisited has called those original Girls back together, viewing those changed women through a modern lens.

View the collection here


Read about the First women project here

Summer news

Now we’re approaching the end of Summer (don’t shoot the messenger!) it’s time to indulge yourself and dust off that expensive camera you bought but perhaps don’t get the best from.


But before that, why not get out this weekend and see some of the best wildlife photography of the year. We’re having a group outing at 2.30pm on Saturday 10th August to see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at Brighton Museum. It’s strictly a social event and provides an opportunity to meet your fellow photographers and photography enthusiasts. There’s no Meetup organiser fee, you just pay the exhibition admission charge on the day. See the full listing in the group for more details.


There’s another weekend 2-hour Beginner’s session on Saturday 17th at 2pm on the seafront, too. Pop along  and learn how to get your camera off Auto and get some creative control of your photographs.


If you’re feeling more ambitious, a new Beginners’ Creative Photography course and an Intermediate Creative Photography course start this September, too at Brighton Girls school on Montpelier Road, Brighton.

You can secure your spot on either course with a 50% deposit. Balance payable by 1st September.

You can see some my April 2019 course attendees photos here and read what they had to say about the course.


There’s more planned for Spring next year, too, including full one-day sessions on specific areas of photography, Introductory Photoshop for Photographers sessions and even a trip to sunnier parts for a City Shoot and Landscape Photography weekends.

It’s all go, so join us and learn to enjoy your photography again or simply learn a new skill and make some new friends in a friendly and supportive environment.

For full details visit either my website or the Meetup group.

I hope to see you soon.


Whatever happened to Bill Black?

Whatever happened to Bill Black?

In case you think that the site has been relatively quiet of late - you're right!

Following a recent accident I had to have minor surgery on my right arm which has meant that I have not been able to update the website as much as I had hoped.

However, in the next week or two I will begin updating the site more frequently with new Beginners’ and Intermediate courses planned for September and one-day courses scheduled across the summer weekends.

Thank you for your patience and I look forward to seeing you all soon.

More to come

Each of the photo sections only has 12 photos in it. This is deliberate, to give you a sample of the type of photos I took on the trip.

My photographic trips to China and California were longer than the others, however, so I will be adding new photos to these sections.

You can subscribe to receive an email telling you whenever new photos are added.

I also kept a blog of my 2013 California trip which you can find by clicking here or on the image below.