I’ve learned everything about photography through experimentation, tutorials and online resources. The most formative one of these has been CreativeLive. While I learned a huge amount of photography skills, what I value more is the lasting impact it has had on other parts of my life, through inspiration and resources – journaling, organizing my life, sports, the books I read and the podcasts I listen to.
But let’s backtrack a bit. For those of you who are asking “WTF is CreativeLive?”, here is a short intro! CreativeLive is an online learning platform for photographers and all kinds of creatives started by Chase Jarvis, a legendary photographer. The courses cover a million different things, from landscape photography and camera settings, through pricing and freelance business skills, to calligraphy and metalsmithing. Yup, they even have courses on that now! The “Live” part of the name refers to the free part of the platform: if you watch a course when it’s broadcasted (no way of pausing and there is a fixed time for watching it), it’s free and if you want to do the course in your own time and have access to all the materials, you can pay for individual courses, or get an all-access pass for every single course on the site.
So, let’s take a look at what courses I did and what I learned from them!
30 Days of Genius
There is no other way to say this – this course is literally genius! It is a thirty-episode interview series by Chase Jarvis with successful entrepreneurs, artists and creatives. The course has Mark Cuban, Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss, Brené Brown, Richard Branson, Gary Vaynerchuk, Jared Leto and Sophia Amoruso, just to mention a few names. Each episode is usually between 40 minutes and 1 hour 20 minutes and I kind of just listened to them like a podcast while I was cooking in the kitchen or otherwise had time to kill.
This series is filled with entrepreneurial stories of how these people took an idea and creatively found ways to make it a reality. The stories range from Sophia Amoruso launching the clothing company Nasty Gal just selling random vintage items on the internet as a little side project, to Richard Branson starting Virgin Airlines because he was pissed off that a major airline cancelled his flight. While all these stories were extremely interesting, I wasn’t about to launch a company anytime soon, so the most valuable part was the patterns that I saw – namely: habits. While the people in the series are all completely different, with a wide variety of habits and schedules, pretty much all of them had at least one, but usually many of the following: daily or almost daily sport, some form of journaling practice, meditation and a routine, especially in the morning, that help them get into the right mindset to work and create productively.
This has been one of the most impactful courses I’ve ever done! In fact, I’m pretty sure I remember more of this than many of my modules in university. I’ll get back to the effects it had on me a little later, but first I want to mention some of the other courses I enrolled in.
28 To Make
The goal of 28 to Make is simple: it is to get you into the habit of doing something creative every day. It’s super low commitment, probably 10-20 minutes a day (including completing the exercises) for 28 days in a row. Each day you watch a little video that prompts you to complete a creative project – that can be anything from drawing, to collages or blackout poetry. Most of it won’t exactly be art gallery-grade stuff if you are not good at drawing, but the point of this is not to make something super nice. You are creating all of this for yourself and the goal is to make something daily and to get into the habit of being creative every single day. Oh, and all of it is great fun!
I’ve written a bit more about this course years ago, back in the Dark Ages of this blog. You can check that out HERE. This course led me rediscover drawing and helped me create more consistently.
Kathy Holcombe and Kevin Kubota’s Courses
Since the courses on CreativeLive can set you back 50-150 USD each for the usual large photography courses, I have always aimed to watch courses while they were being streamed for free. There are plenty of minor inconveniences with this of course, like the courses are streamed in a very different time-zone than I’m in, so they usually start in the evening and go well into the night and you have to sit through a 5 to 10-hour course in one go! But the courses are great and for someone early in their photography or creative freelance business journey, it’s worth staying up a few nights to gain useful knowledge.
I did two great courses on starting a photography business around two years ago. One was “Start and Grow Your Photography Business” with Kevin Kubota and the other was Kathy Holcombe’s “Building Your Photography Business for under $3,000”. I do have detailed notes from both courses back home in Budapest, but of course I don’t have access to those now. Since they covered such similar topics and I watched them quite a while ago, I’m afraid they did merge a bit in my head, so I’ll discuss them at the same time.
These courses were fantastic, because I watched them just around the time that I was setting up my own freelance photography business in England, starting to negotiate with clients, having to come up with pricing, sorting out invoicing, etc. While both courses are mainly wedding photography-focused and the legal advice is for the US, the principles are rather universal for any genre, from portrait to event photography. For someone who is starting out in photography, I can definitely recommend paying for one of these courses, as the 50 or 100 USD you spend on these will teach you more than another new gadget will!
Chris Burkard – The Outdoor Photography Experience
Chris Burkard is my favorite photographer. He does amazing landscape and sports photography, shooting epic landscapes and athletes doing badass things in those landscapes. He is also pretty much an athlete himself, just to keep up with the people he’s shooting… Oh, and he also owns two alpacas! Definitely a cool guy and a huge inspiration for me!
I have watched just about every video with him on YouTube and listened to all the podcasts that he has been on. His hard work and dedication to his craft, and his story of becoming one of the most successful photographers in the world is amazing. So naturally, when I saw that he had a course on CreativeLive, I had to buy it. Since I usually don’t have a lot of money lying around, I waited until it was on sale and bought it around last June.
The summer was pretty busy, so it took a while to actually start going through the course. It’s not really about learning to shoot landscapes by teaching you camera settings – it’s an advanced course where you are already expected to know that. It is about taking outdoor photography to the next level, by learning to better see patterns, composition, light, control the elements you can, utilize color theory and a million more things! It is about being intentional with photography and telling a story instead of just snapping a cool photo of an epic place. It also taught me a lot about post-processing and backing up.
I’ve only completed the course a couple of months ago, so it’s hard to tell what the effects were on my photos, but I have already completely revamped my Lightroom editing system and created a more robust backup routine to make sure all my photos are safe. It has also motivated me to get out, shoot more and experiment more with my landscape photography.
The Impact of CreativeLive
The impact of CreativeLive and the resources I’ve found through it have been huge. The obvious part is an improvement in my photography and editing, plus it helped massively in the two years that I was running a photography business in the UK.
The even more important impact though was not photography-related. It mainly came from the 30 Days of Genius series – the start of my conscious journey in self-improvement. While I was already learning a lot from tutorials, blogs and other resources, this was the first time that I actually followed through with a course online. It’s 30 or so hours long, so it’s definitely some commitment! Since then, I’ve done a couple of other courses on this website.
The bigger impact has, however, been through the things I read and the things I’ve started doing because of it. All the self-improvement books, like Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek and all the new habits, like consistent daily sport, my bullet journal, getting up early, consistency in creativity and even a healthier diet can be traced back to this. Now this is clearly not all from CreativeLive, but it was the little snowball that started the avalanche. I found the resources and the inspiration I was missing before that. At some point, I will dedicate a whole blogpost to this topic, especially to the books that had the biggest impact on me in the last year or two.
Whether you are looking to improve a specific creative skill, like calligraphy or astro-landscape photography, you want to learn about running a freelance business or you just want to be inspired, CreativeLive probably has a course for you. Before you shell out a bunch of money, try to tune in to one of the courses that are on-air, and you can watch for free. Or, start with the 30 Days of Genius or 28 to Make courses, which are available for everyone for free all the time! CreativeLive has been my favorite online platform for learning beside YouTube and I’m certainly going to do more courses in the future!
I also think it’s probably time for YOU to go learn something exciting and build a new creative habit!