An e-course about transcending rules and "shoulds"
and making gorgeous, heartfelt images that are truly YOU.


Candela: Finding Inspiration Through Photography


Candela is an e-course about moving beyond a technical and mechanical approach to photography toward a deeply expressive personal practice. Who you are matters more than any tip or trick or piece of gear. At a certain point, it’s essential to look inside to discover what you really have to say as an artist. In Candela, you’ll draw powerful new inspiration from heartfelt personal inquiry as you shake up your seeing, abandon rules that constrain creativity, tackle stumbling blocks, and take brave new steps toward true artistry.

Photography can be a deep, transformational personal practice, a powerful form of self-expression and meaning making, a communion, a source of catharsis and healing, and an opportunity for rich, life-changing insight. It’s about so much more than f-stops. Your personality, your history, your perspective and experience – all of that forms the foundation of who you are as an artist. When you turn your attention away from the bells and whistles and toward what really matters, you'll develop a richer artistic practice. 

What really matters? The people and places you love in the world, the experiences that make you laugh and cry and jump with delight, the things that connect you more deeply to life, love, and the human experience. This is rich territory to explore as an artist. Candela is designed to take you there. 


    Connect your photography to something deeper. 
    Fall in love with your art again.


    You know how certain images make you feel something? They’re not just technically-perfect eye candy - they’re filled with resonance and real emotion. You look at them and your breath catches in your throat, or you get a little teary eyed. 

    When you look at your work, it feels flat.

    You've followed all the rules, bought all the gear, listened to all the experts - and you still can't make images that feel right. You're considering upgrading your gear again...and you have the sneaking suspicion that's not the answer. 

    This is where Candela comes in.

    This e-course will show you how to let go of the distractions and hone in on the very heart of the creative practice. You'll learn to connect your photography to your lived experience - to move beyond "photography as an exercise" and towards photography as a beautiful, nourishing way of life

    During our six weeks together in Candela, you'll receive: 

    • Insight to help you simplify, slow down, and bring a deeper awareness to your photography
    • An invitation to let go of "rules" that limit creativity and make you constantly question your choices
    • Instruction on using your passions, history, and life experiences as creative inspiration
    • Guidance on intuitive, heartfelt composition
    • Inspiration to fine-tune your awareness of beauty and light
    • Help setting the stage for a deep, personal creative practice
    • Rich ideas on living a nourishing, fulfilling creative life - now and into the future
    • And so much more!


    This course is absolutely incredible! I never imagined I would be walking away from it with so many new tools and ideas, so much more confidence, and a completely new way of looking at photography. Thank you SO MUCH, Laura - it’s been the most amazing experience! My head is actually buzzing with ideas and excitement!
    — Romina Mandrini

    Your art is a beautiful extension of your life. 
    Make images that sing to your soul.



    What’s included in Candela?

    Each week, you’ll receive three rich, thought-provoking lessons and one creative exercise that prompts you to integrate and apply what you’re learning. Lessons are delivered via:

    • In-depth readings

    • Audio essays

    • Audio slideshows

    Candela is designed to fit easily into your busy schedule. Unlike a traditional classroom experience, you can do the lessons anytime day or night. You can take the course at 3am in your pajamas, if you like!

    When class begins, you’ll be invited into a warm, welcoming online classroom. This is where we'll expand on the themes in the weekly lessons. Expect to find lively discussions, honest (always kind) feedback, and lots of encouragement and support.



      There are two ways to experience Candela...

      The first option is detailed above. The second option includes everything mentioned above and adds a mentoring component. Here’s what that looks like:

      • Step 1: I will review your past photographic work, your website (if you have one), and any portfolios or other images you want to share. (Yes, I will look at ALL of it.)

      • Step 2: We'll schedule a 60-minute mentoring call. Ask me anything - it’s your time to use however you like. I’ll offer feedback on your images and we’ll chat about your photography goals and any creative challenges you’re experiencing. We’ll also map out your next steps so you feel jazzed, focused, and eager to get going.

      The mentoring option is an excellent fit for people who are looking for detailed feedback and personalized advice.



      Hey, Creativity??? Guess what? I’m back! Thank you Laura!!
      — Elizabeth Taylor
      Laura, you are so gifted in so many ways! This course has really changed my approach to photography and the joy has come back!
      — Patricia Hogan

      Why did I create Candela?

      I spent many years directing the programming at a photography school. 95% of our classes were technical. Those classes are important, but I knew the creative process was so much richer than that.

      I often saw our students become disheartened, because they felt like they were missing something. They’d invested so much, they’d learned the skills, and their images still weren’t as good as they’d hoped. 

      As a working artist, I knew that artists don’t spend 95% of their time focused on the technical. We talk about entirely different things. The way photography is taught and the way it's practiced by artists? Apples and oranges. I created Candela to open the doors of this deeper relationship with art - to help my students access the heart and soul of the medium and become true artists.


      Is Candela right for me?

      • If you know there's more to photography than f-stops, Lightroom presets, and big lenses...
      • If you want to add real emotion and personality to your work...
      • If you feel called to use photography to express your hopes, passions, vulnerabilities, and joys...
      • If you carry around a lot of rules and "shoulds" and you're ready to let them go...
      • If you want to use your photography as a tool to understand yourself and the world more deeply...
      • If you want thoughtful, supportive feedback and expert guidance every step of the way...


      Then yes, Candela is a lovely next step.


      I’d lost my way and my vision in photography. Thanks to Laura’s gentle nurturing and guidance, I found it again. Thank you, Laura, from the bottom of my heart for your zen approach to art. It has truly inspired me and helped me to slow down. I finally understand that slowing down doesn’t mean I’ll be left behind as an artist, it simply means I’ll be taking the time to better understand myself and my art. This is, without a doubt, the safest place for me to learn. I will definitely be taking more courses with Laura.
      — Louise Dandeneau



      Frequently Asked Questions


      How much time do I need to put in?

      We each learn and process information at our own pace, so I’m hesitant to put a number on it, but…my broad estimation is that you’ll make the most of this course if you spend at least two hours a week on the lessons and your weekly assignment.


      What happens if I fall behind my classmates?

      As far as I'm concerned, there’s no such thing as falling behind. Art doesn’t unfold on a timetable, so there will be absolutely zero pressure to rush or force things in this class. You'll have access to all the lessons for one full year after the course ends, so you can repeat them as many times as you like.


      What's your refund policy?

      If you need to leave the class for any reason, your registration or purchase is transferrable to another session of the same class, but is not refundable. Because you'll get access to the class and all the class resources (and because you'll get to keep your access for a full year), your registration isn't transferrable to a different class. 


      What kind of camera do I need?

      All cameras are welcome! You don’t need anything fancy to take this course. In fact, the simpler, the better! DSLRs, point-and-shoots, camera phones, pinhole cameras made from oatmeal boxes – I have a strict equipment nondiscrimination policy. If it makes you happy to shoot with it, you've got the right gear for this class.


      Tell me honestly - how good do I need to be for this?

      Since Candela is a conceptual photography course (not a technical class), photographers at every level are welcome. It's never too early to start thinking about creativity in a deeper way. The only prerequisite is being comfortable with basic camera operations and knowing how to upload images to your computer.




      Laura, I want to thank you again for the inspiration, thoughtfulness, patience, and encouragement you gave me in this six weeks of “conversations.” You’ve made this e-course so individualized, personal, lively, and effective. I feel I learned a lot in a very informal, relaxing, and encouraging setting. The course was exactly what I needed - I felt the need and urge of connecting my photography with something inside but didn’t quite know how to go about it. Your course gave me the means. Thanks for all the helpful guidance and thoughtful comments and the huge encouragement!
      — Ning Fan
      I signed up for Laura’s class at a time when my personal inspiration was kind of at a low point. For me, the concept was refreshing after having taken so many courses over the years based on technical photography and the supposedly ‘right’ way to compose a winning picture. Laura approaches students with a compassionate heart, a sharp mind, and the right mix of support plus constructive criticism. She pushed me beyond what I thought I could do. Effective and more interesting work is emerging for me as I dare to break rules that can stifle creativity. I learned a life-long creative process from Laura that will continue for me.
      — Jim Kushman
      Laura, you were superb in your teaching and in your questioning. I could not have asked for a better class to challenge me intellectually and to challenge me to think about art, photography, and philosophy, and to challenge what I was doing with the camera in the past. Laura, you are simply outstanding. So, what you have done for me is show me the new horizon. It is now up to me to walk that path with a new passion and a new freedom and let creativity emerge. Thank you again.
      — Jerry Kohler
      I’m sad this class is over. It has been so refreshing and different from anything else I have taken in relation to my photography. Everything we have done in this course has been liberating. I feel more relaxed, more open to the “suggestions” of the world in terms of what to photograph, and more confident and trusting of my instinct to shoot what I love...which I had started to lose when I came to this course. I had felt pulled by the voices of others - voices saying this is right, this is wrong, this is marketable/salable, etc. and this class has given me permission to do and be my own kind of artist.
      — Yolanda Santiago White
      The most thought-provoking photography course I’ve ever taken! It is emotionally stimulating and causes one to bring introspection to her/his photography. Candela allows for personal depth of thinking and feeling in a field fraught with technical issues.
      — Deb Merchant
      Candela is a safe place to get very conscious about your photographic practice, indeed a way to look at many things in your life - such as attitudes that get you stuck and ideas about how to move beyond them. Presented in a very inviting, non-judgemental way, you learn about yourself by reading about others’ experience, and through writing and doing the assignments. Lessons are presented in a variety of engaging ways - slideshows, reading, audio, and assignments are clear, fun and enlightening. Laura - you have hit it out of the park on this. Incredibly well visualized, organized, presented. I felt inspired, challenged, enlightened!
      — Rebecca Benoit
      I am totally loving your class and insights! It came at a perfect time for me and I think it is helping me to grow not only as a photographer, but as a person. My personal goal as I am taking your class is to find my ‘signature.’ I want to find out what touches my heart and matter the flaws or critics. Thank you for opening my eyes to that possibility.
      — Penne Fossa
      The class was inspiring and helpful in finding an artistic voice. I just went back to my notes and am happy to have so many lists of things I can draw from to be inspired. The thing I took away from the class was not to feel so rushed to find a project, subject, or style - but to have fun again just being who I am as a person and as a photographer.
      — Jenny Shadley
      I thoroughly enjoyed Laura Valenti’s course. She has a way of inspiring each of us to push through our own boundaries and hang-ups, and to expand our visions with examples of amazing contemporary artists who really break the rules. For me, it was so timely to take her class as I prepared for the reviews at Photolucida and I needed that extra bit of courage to not second guess myself and trust my intuition. She did all that and more with some great life lessons in creativity she taught us along the way. Many thanks to you Laura!
      — Victoria Bjorklund
      The Candela workshop was inspiring, thought provoking, and reaches to the core of your creativity. I experienced tremendous growth from analyzing the content and intent of an image. I have a renewed strength & confidence in my vision as an artist.
      — Debbie Danielson
      Laura, thank you for all the time you’ve spent in creating this course, and for taking the time to comment on all my posts! I never expected an online course to feel so personal!
      — Sharon S.
      Laura is superb. Smart, knowledgeable, insightful, stimulating.
      — Robert Hogan


      Get notified when future sessions open for registration: