The amateur aperature: AVA offers three-night course this week for newbie photogs

The amateur aperature: AVA offers three-night course this week for newbie photogs

August 17th, 2014 by Casey Phillips in Life Entertainment

"Winter Play" by Kim Hunter Feisley

"Untitled" by Kim Hunter Feisley

"Untitled" by Kim Hunter Feisley

"Untitled" by Kim Hunter Feisley

"Untitled" by Kim Hunter Feisley

"A Quiet Moment" by Kim Hunter Feisley

"A Quiet Moment" by Kim Hunter Feisley


* What: Digital photography course for beginners.

* When: 6-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

* Where: Association for Visual Arts, 30 Frazier Ave.

* Admission: $125.

* Phone: 265-4282.

* Website:

For many amateur photographers, upgrading from a point-and-shoot camera to a digital single-lens reflex - or DSLR - can feel like auditing a course on differential calculus. As a result, some choose to plant themselves in the familiar ground of their camera's automatic mode and avoid all the confusing dials and switches altogether.

The Association for Visual Arts hopes to change that this week with a three-day photography course that will walk DSLR neophytes through their camera's many advanced functions as well as introducing them to basic photographic principles.

Hopefully, the course will help demystify camera tech and generate better, more confident shooters, says AVA Director of Media and Design Zach Cooper.

"Many people out there ... really don't really have knowledge of the basic functions of a DSLR," Cooper says. "We hope they'll be able to take better photography ... set up better composition ... and have better outcomes, whether that's doing something online with Instagram or have them printed for matting and mounting."

The course will be taught by local professional photographer Kim Hunter Feisley, 29, who moved to Chattanooga three years ago from Charlotte, N.C.

Last year, Feisley taught a course on the business of portrait photography at AVA, and she quickly realized that even those who had signed up for the ostensibly advanced course were not as familiar with basic photography as she had assumed. That surprising lack of knowledge was the impetus for offering a more basic course to introduce newcomers into the world of digital photography, she says.

AVA's class will be comprised of a package of three 2 1/2-hour courses on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The first evening will cover basics such as how to use a light meter, setting proper exposure and a comparison of various types of lenses and flashes. The next course will discuss artistic techniques such as framing and composition. During the final evening, students will learn how to edit their photos using popular software suites such as "Adobe Photoshop" and "Adobe Lightroom."

Throughout the course, Feisley says she will take the students out to nearby Coolidge Park to run them through their paces and put their newly acquired skills into action. A subsequent classroom critique and discussion of each student's best field photos will help demonstrate how techniques are being used (or abused), she says.

Feisley was introduced to photography as a child through her father, an amateur photographer whose images adorned the walls of their house in Fort Mill, S.C. As a teen, her father presented her with a refurbished Minolta film camera that once belonged to her grandfather, and the two of them bonded during outings to find worthy photographic subjects.

A largely self-taught shooter, Feisley says she hopes to help her students by offering a crash course that saves them from spending as much time as she did in self-guided research and trial and error. If, in the process, they learn that their camera has more to offer than its default settings, she says, that's just an added bonus.

"The cost [of DSLRs] has come down so much that everyone and their mom has one now, but they'll just put the camera in auto mode and take shots with a kit lens," she says. "I'm not saying you can't take great pictures that way, but there's so much more you can do with it if you actually know how to use the equipment."

Contact Casey Phillips at or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.