“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

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 inward to discover what you really have to say as an artist. In Candela, we’ll draw powerful new inspiration from heartfelt personal inquiry as we shake up our 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 we turn our attention away from the bells and whistles and toward what really matters, we develop a richer artistic practice. 

What really matters? The people and places we love in the world, the experiences that make us laugh and cry and jump with delight, the things that connect us more deeply to life, love, and the human experience. This is the territory we need to explore as artists. Candela is designed to nurture significant artistic growth while helping photographers connect their personality to their art in meaningful new ways.

This special session of Candela is self study.


Candela is at the heart of my teaching. It distills everything I feel is most essential to the creative photographic process. The course includes inspirational readings, audio slideshows, lectures, and weekly photography projects designed to help expand creative boundaries. In the self-study version of the course, students also get access to a dedicated Facebook group for sharing images and ideas and connecting with other students.



Candela is designed to fit easily into your busy schedule. Four days a week, you'll get access to a healthy dose of photo inspiration in the online classroom, and you'll have one creative photography project to complete each week at your own pace. Unlike a traditional classroom experience, Candela lessons can be taken at any hour of the day or night, whenever it suits you best. You can take the course at 3am in your pajamas, if you like! You can always repeat a lesson if you need to, and there is no such thing as falling behind. 



All cameras are welcome! You don’t need anything fancy to take this course. DSLRs, point-and-shoots, camera phones, view cameras, pinhole cameras made from oatmeal boxes – there is a strict equipment nondiscrimination policy. 



Since Candela is a conceptual photography course (as opposed to a technical class), thoughtful photographers at any level may join. We’re here to learn – if you feel you have something to learn about the creative process, you’re in the right spot. Beginners and more advanced photographers will feel at home in Candela. 


Image by Fritz Liedtke

Image by Fritz Liedtke


I have a long history in the photo world. I've spent twenty years in the field as a photographer, curator, and arts director. I curate and jury exhibitions for galleries and photo festivals around the world. I also regularly serve as a reviewer at portfolio review events (Houston FotoFest, Review Santa Fe, Photolucida, and many international reviews) where I help photographers fine-tune their vision and promote their work with more confidence. For many years, I worked in the nonprofit art world - most recently as Outreach Director at Photolucida, an organization that works to build connections between photographers and the gallery and publishing worlds. Before that, I was Program Director and co-Curator at Newspace Center for Photography, where I also taught black-and-white darkroom. 

My teaching centers on clearing creative blocks and cultivating the insight and confidence necessary to make deeply authentic personal work. Photography is so much more than a technical and mechanical exercise. I'm passionate about helping photographers become visionary artists.

I can't wait to work with you!




“Hey Creativity??? Guess what? I’m back! Thank you Laura!!”
— Elizabeth Taylor


“The Candela workshop was inspiring, thought provoking, and reaches to the core of your creativity.
I experienced tremendous growth...I have a renewed strength & confidence in my vision as an artist.”
— Debbie Danielson




“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
“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
“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
“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