Storytelling with a Camera


"To me, photography is an art of observation. It is about finding something interesting in an ordinary place. I have found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them." (Photographer Elliott Erwitt)

Writing tells a story using words. Photography expresses story through the power of images. Both photography and writing are vehicles for expressing (whether in images or words) what you see or hear in your mind.

Enhancing your observational skills in photography will, in turn, enhance your access to detail in writing. Learning to compose and arrange an image will enhance your ability to compose and arrange your thoughts in language. The instructor will provide writing prompts to foster those connections. Students will also write responses to their own work and fellow student work as they learn to observe the storytelling power of each other's photos.

This class will help you discover the language of images and how they shape the way we see the world. Photography gives us an opportunity to appreciate a range of experiences: beauty, heartbreak, anger, happiness, and frustration; but, most of all, photographs tell stories.


There is a saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Photography lets you ask the question: What stories do my pictures tell? Are they expressing what I want them to? This high school class, taught by Lucy Olson, will teach you the basics of how your camera works, as well as the fundamentals of composition so that you can create the images you are seeing in your head, to tell the story you want to tell.

When you hold a camera in your hands, you are no longer seeing the world as a whole, with all of its worries and cares. What you see is a very small portion, where all that exists is you and what you see in the viewfinder. You will be able to press the shutter, knowing you are about to create something magical—a piece of art only you are capable of creating, a story only you are capable of telling.

Equipment Needed

Any camera that has the ability to set manual settings—can be a DSLR, an advanced compact camera, or mirrorless. If you are confused, just make sure the dial on the top has letters such as P, M, A (or Av), S (or Tv), in addition to the scene modes.

Class Schedule

Week 1: Getting comfortable with a camera in your hand and pressing the shutter, covering a brief overview of camera terms and settings.

Week 2: How to get out of Program or Auto mode, and learn to use other priority modes to get full control over your images.

Week 3: Learning composition and how to take a purposeful photograph.

Week 4: Learning the elements of a good photograph as opposed to just a snapshot.

Writing happens throughout the class in a similar manner to our online discussion classes. Students will reflect on their photography skills in writing, making connections between both the languages of images and words.

To explore our Brave Writer classroom, click here to access a sample class.

"My daughter Sara who is taking the photography/writing class. Yesterday I came home from work and found her uploading a short reflection she wrote about a photograph. Sara had worked on this for more than 2 and a half hours - wow. AND, she WANTED me to read her work - that never happens. What she wrote was insightful and laden with emotion. Sara was so proud of her work." --Sandra

I really enjoyed this class! It was fun and I enjoyed learning more about photography! ( : I learned how to tell more of a story and express more in my photos instead of it being "just" a picture, but you can make it come alive in a way. ( : It was a wonderful class and I wish it was longer. (: Thank you very much! --Jenna

I loved this class so much! Its been my favorite online class ever! :D --Saraya

This class has been a great opportunity for me to practice photography in a group setting. The assignments were alway fun and inspiring. I never knew how lines made you think about things in different ways. That was really cool! The class overall was very helpful, not just with taking pictures, but learning how to comment on other people's work. Thank you so much for teaching this class! I have enjoyed it very much! --Abigail

The class was super awesome! I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in photography. I learned a lot, and you focused on all the different elements of photography, instead of just composition, or how to use your camera. --McKinley

Class Structure Description #

Brave Writer online classes are specially designed with the busy homeschooling parent in mind. Classes last anywhere from four to six weeks. We offer courses that address a specific writing need so that you can take the ones that suit your family throughout the school year. Short class sessions enable you to work around family vacations, out-of-town swim meets, recovering from wisdom teeth removal, and visits from grandparents. We operate on the quarter system, including a summer session. Our most popular classes repeat each quarter, while others are seasonal.

Our classes meet in a customized online classroom, designed specifically to meet the needs of Brave Writer. Only registered students and the instructor have access to the classroom to ensure your privacy. Assignments and reading materials are posted by Brave Writer instructors each week (no additional supply fees necessary, unless otherwise indicated). Either you (homeschooling parent) or your child (homeschooling student) will visit the classroom daily at your convenience to read helpful information about the current topic or to find the writing assignment. We operate "asynchronously" (which means that the discussion is not live, but that posted information remains available to you in your time zone at your convenience). Instructors check the classroom throughout the day to answer questions and give feedback on writing.

Writing is done at home and then typed into the classroom, and shared with both the instructor and other classmates. You're not required to be online at any specific time of the day. We have students from all over the world participating in our classes so "live" discussion is impossible. Instead, the online classroom enables the instructor to post information and assignments when it is convenient to the instructor. Then, when it is convenient for you, you come to the classroom and read the latest postings.

Instructor feedback to student writing is offered for all participants to read. Writing questions are welcomed and encouraged! That's the point of class. We aim to give you immediate support as you face writing obstacles.

Brave Writer takes seriously the need for encouragement and emotional safety in writing. No student is ever at risk of being humiliated or mistreated. All online dialog is respectful and supportive of your child's process. This is the core of Brave Writer philosophy. You can read about Brave Writer values here.

What makes our program especially unique in the world of online education is that we value a corporate experience. Rather than teaching your child in a tutorial format, we prefer students to have the opportunity to both publish their work for an audience (other students) and also to have the chance to read other student writing. In no other setting is this possible. Schools-in-buildings rarely have students read each other's work. Homeschooled children are rarely in a classroom environment to begin with, so the opportunity to read peer-writing is nil.

Our classes provide an utterly unique experience in the world of writing instruction. Since most writers grow through emulation of good writing, it is a real advantage to Brave Writer kids to get the chance to read the writing of their fellow home-educated peers. They love it! They get to examine and internalize other ways of writing, analyzing and expressing ideas similar to their own. They have the chance to validate and cheer on their peers. And of course, the best part of all is that they receive the praise and affirmation of kids just like them.

Not only that, all instructor feedback is posted to the classroom for all students to read. That means your kids get the benefit of instructor comments on many papers, not just their own. We've noted that this style of instruction is especially effective and hope you'll agree!

To explore our Brave Writer classroom, click here to access a sample class.