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Mastering the Art of Photography

Lesson 8 of 39

Seeing Beneath The Surface Of Things

Chris Weston

Mastering the Art of Photography

Chris Weston

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Lesson Info

8. Seeing Beneath The Surface Of Things
Getting beneath the surface of things is key to creative photography. Chris compares his passport photograph with a masterful portrait to demonstrate the difference between the semblance of a subject and its essence.


Class Trailer

Class Introduction - Three Steps To Creative Photography


Firing The Creative Mind - Part 1: The Camera Points Both Ways


Firing The Creative Mind - Part 2: Letting Go Of Judgement


Firing The Creative Mind - Part 3: Detaching From Outcomes


Practicing Mindfulness In Photography


Finding The Visual Narrative


Behind-the-scenes: Naples


Seeing Beneath The Surface Of Things


Lesson Info

Seeing Beneath The Surface Of Things

Do me a favor. Go grab your passport or any photo ID. You can put me on hold while you go get it. Okay. Now look at the picture of yourself. What does it say about you? Not much, right? It says that this is what you look like on the day it was taken, when you weren't allowed to smile or show any emotion whatsoever. Truth be told, if it's anything like mine, it probably says that is what you'd look like if you ever got arrested. Your passport photo tells the immigration officer what you look like The semblance of you. What it doesn't tell them is anything about who you are. What makes you you? Now take a look at this magazine cover. Study it. What can you tell me about this person from their picture alone, They're powerful, confident their hands on. They have a playful, almost cheeky side of their disposition. While this portrait reveals is not just what the subject looks like, where their personality and their character, too. This is the difference between semblance and essence between...

the outward appearance of a subject, place or thing, and it's intrinsic nature or indispensable quality Here's another example of capturing the essence of a subject. The great wildebeest migration, which takes place every year in East Africa, is one of nature's greatest spectacles, but it's actually pretty tough to photograph. Well, much of the time is just an enormous brown mass of animals, and there's so much going on, it's hard to know where to point your camera now. When I was there a couple of years ago, what struck me most was not the river crossing itself, but the interaction between the zebra and the wilder beast. It reminded me of how I imagine a battle from the First World War would have manifested. The zebra were like military generals directing the action the wildebeest with, uh, Tommy's, the infantry under orders charging over the top to an unknown destiny. Amidst the smoke and the dust and the turmoil. Many wouldn't make it, but charged they did with this image. That was the essence of the story I wanted to tell. That's what you should be aiming to get to the bottom of with your photography, the quintessence, the substance, the spirit of your subjects. Postcard shots focus on semblance. Great photographs reach for the heart

Class Description


  • See images with a creative eye.
  • Capture artistic photographs of the most popular subjects.
  • Choose the right lens and camera settings for the image you want to create.
  • Recognize and capture the “decisive moment”.
  • Add visual mood and emotion to your photographs.
  • Develop your own unique photographic style.
  • Find what inspires you and apply that inspiration to your image-making.
  • Fine-tune color, tone, and visual presence with easy-to-learn Adobe Lightroom adjustments.


Once you’ve mastered basic camera craft and photo-technique, what is the next step in advancing your photographic skillset? In this in-depth course, award-winner Chris Weston shares an approach to photography that has creativity at its heart, and reveals the secrets and professional techniques that will get you creating photographs that ‘sing’.

Taking you on a step-by-step journey, from vision to print, Chris shows you how to: tap into your natural creative instincts; ‘see’ much-photographed and everyday subjects with a unique vision; set a creative intention and get the camera to capture it authentically; and, with a few simple techniques, process superb print-ready photographs. Through ‘in-the-field’ examples and inspirational case studies, he reveals the nuances of composition that can make or break a photograph, and describes the creative tools that turn snapshots into stunning photographs good enough to adorn any wall.

Delivered in an easy-to-follow, down-to-earth style, using ‘real-life’ examples and ‘live’ tuition, this course builds on the practicalities of camera technique to equip you with the creativity and vision to see, capture and process compelling photographs time after time, whatever your camera or level of experience.


  • Beginners who want to create better photographs.
  • Intermediate photographers who want to refine their image-making and be more creative.
  • All photographers looking for inspiration and creativity.
  • Outdoor photographers interested in travel, landscape/cityscape, nature, sport, and wildlife photography.

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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I loved this course - in particular the latter part of it in which he demonstrated how post processing lets you really tell the story of the image. Another fabulous course. Thanks Chris & thanks Creative Live.

Abdullah Alahmari

Thanks a lot to mr. Chris Weston This course is great and It is a 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 course for me. Beside the other course ( mastering photographic composition and visual storytelling) both courses are Complementing to each other and highly recommended.

Charles Ewing

Fantastic course. Great photographer, teacher and storyteller!