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An e-course for photographers who
want to brilliantly transform the way they see.

 

 

LIGHT ATLAS: THE PATH TO WHOLEHEARTED SEEING

Next Session: TBA


 

  • Are your images "good enough" - but you can’t shake the feeling there’s a "next level" you haven’t found yet?

  • Do you see other photographers making truly transcendent images, and all you can think is, "What do they know that I don't?"

  • Do you long to find your unique style and voice as an artist - but you have no idea how to get there?

  • Are you ready to look at your photographs and know in your heart that you've created real ART?


Light Atlas teaches you how to SEE in a fresh new way.
This is the creative shift you’ve been waiting for.

 

When people look at a photograph that really amazes them, they often assume the artistry they’re witnessing is about the subject - or the sophistication of the photographer’s gear.

But, a beautiful subject doesn’t automatically turn a photograph into a work of art.

Art happens in how the image is crafted. 

It’s about your vision - how you interpret what you see. It's about how you design the frame, see the layers, the content, light, mood, symbolism, and (most important) the relationship between all the elements.

When you really tune in to these things, your images become much more powerful.

This is the path of the artist.

Led by photographer, curator, and arts educator Laura Valenti, Light Atlas exists to help photographers expand their visual awareness so they can make images filled with depth and meaning.


 

 

Light Atlas was so transformative and insightful that I do not have the words to adequately portray its significance. Laura exposed us to a variety of artists and challenged us to try new things and to really put our souls into it. I highly recommend this class to anyone who wants to dig deeper and make more meaningful and personally fulfilling photos. The lessons are so positive, uplifting, and full of juicy info and they tap into ideas deep within; they really are creative catalysts. Laura is amazing at inspiring students to do new things and see in new ways.
— Tiffany Couch
 
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Transform the way you see.
Create uniquely beautiful images that light you up inside.

 

 


Have you ever compared one of your photographs to another photographer’s image of a similar subject - and the comparison is almost night and day?

How is that even possible?

Same subject. Same sun in the sky. Maybe even the same kind of camera. So...why does their image leave you breathless with its poetry, while your image just feels flat?

Here’s the answer:

Artists take the raw materials of life and re-form them into something with distinct power, beauty, and meaning.

It’s not about the gear. It’s not about finding the right "content." It's not about compositional "rules."

It’s about how you see.

Is this kind of creative vision simply a matter of winning the genetic lottery? Is it one of those "you’ve got to be born with it" abilities?

Absolutely not.

You can evolve your way of seeing. You can become a visionary artist with a distinct style. 

I know, because I’ve helped thousands of students take these next steps, and I’d love to help you too.
 

 

 

Light Atlas pushed me and expanded my horizons. I came out of the class with new “eyes” when photographing. To others I would say, this class will improve your seeing and creativity 110%. I truly believe Laura has a gift for teaching, along with her gift of being an incredible photographer. Laura takes the time with each of her students to bring forth their creative side. There is no doubt I have grown immensely.
— Anne Smith




What’s included in Light Atlas?

For six weeks, you'll receive four lessons a week - including a photography assignment that prompts you to integrate what you’re learning. The 24 lessons are delivered via:
 

  • In-depth readings

  • Audio essays

  • Audio slideshows


Light Atlas 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 community. 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 on themes like: 
 

  • The difference between photographing nouns and making visionary images 

  • How to use different "lenses" (like poetry, mystery, mood, and magic) to shift your seeing

  • Releasing the pressure to please others - and finding out what your inner artist really has to say

  • Genuine encouragement for free-thinking creative experiments - because artists are natural risk takers

  • Exploring personal symbolism (a powerful way to see deeper meaning in the world)

  • A clear and grounded entry point to wholehearted, intuitive seeing

  • Moving beyond standard-issue tools and techniques - and my best guidance on more creative alternatives

  • Overcoming the fear of doing "different" work or being called “weird"

  • Letting go of strict ideas about what "good" photographs look like (because "good" just means conventional)

  • A definitive answer to the question, “How do I make a visually powerful photograph?”

  • And so much more!

     

Light Atlas also includes a soulful, exclusive collection of interviews with six visionary photographers:
 

  • Heather Evans Smith: Learn how she creates breathtaking, magical images with luscious costuming and set design.
     
  • Susan Burnstine: Hear how she uses dreams and childhood memories as inspiration (and handmade cameras!).
     
  • Douglas Beasley: Learn how he draws from metaphor and mindfulness to connect with his subjects more deeply.
     
  • Ervin A. Johnson: A deep discussion about art as protest, transforming fear into beauty, and photography as ritual.
     
  • Russel Joslin: Hear about his emotional, mysterious self-portraiture work - and how his images guide him.
     
  • Maro Vandorou: An in-depth talk about her gorgeous alternative printing and installation concepts. Straight prints on plain paper in humdrum frames? We go WAY beyond that in this conversation.
     

 

 

This was an extraordinary class. Laura has a way of getting us to see on a different wavelength. It was a six-week meditative exercise that fundamentally struck a deep chord. It nudged me into new territory that I am excited to continue to explore. Laura gave students a safe place to air our souls and nudged us into upping our confidence to use our medium to express our true selves.
— Alex Hernandez
 
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Why did I create Light Atlas?

In my 20+ year career in the art world, I've met thousands of photographers who have completed hundreds of photo assignments, taken frequent workshops, and continually updated their gear - but they're still struggling.

They want to develop a clear style that's truly their own and make images that really stand out, but their work feels “competent...but ordinary.”

What is it that sets apart photographers with strong vision? How are they seeing the world differently? Is it possible to learn to see the way visionary artists do? I believe the answer is YES.

I created Light Atlas to help photographers access the key ingredients they're missing. 

 



 

There are two ways to experience Light Atlas...

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

Step 1: I will review your past photographic work, 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 will schedule a 60-minute mentoring call. Ask me anything - it's your time to use however you like. I’ll offer my reflections on your strongest images and help you build on what you have. We’ll chat about your personal photography goals, and I’ll offer suggestions on moving through any creative challenges you might be facing. 
 

The mentoring option is an excellent fit if you value detailed feedback and personalized advice. 

 

 

I love your classes so much. You have an amazing positive energy that can transcend cyberspace. Thank you for being a gifted teacher and creating a safe environment to thrive. I have taken so much from this course...I’ve loved experimenting again and thinking outside the box. I feel more like an artist every day. This course has opened me up to my creative self more than I thought possible. It’s like an internal light has been ignited and it’s amazing. Photography has always been something I loved ‘doing’ but now I feel much more invested in the images that I take. I encourage everyone, wholeheartedly, to take time to learn from you!
— Jill Velinos
 


 


Is Light Atlas right for you?

 

  • Your photographs aren’t "bad" per se, but something is definitely missing

  • Expressions like "personal vision" or "artistic voice" sound lovely, but you’re not entirely sure what they mean or how to create them for yourself

  • Your photographs lack an emotional element - and you'd love to make images that really move people

  • You tend to overthink your photography, and you'd love to follow your intuition more

  • You see so many creative possibilities in each image, but you struggle to make photographs that fully translate what you feel

  • You want to move away from peers and influencers who are nudging you to make more conventional work that doesn’t speak to your heart at all

  • Your photography feels stalled lately & you're not progressing or feeling particularly inspired

  • You edit yourself before you even lift the camera, and you're ready to FREE your process and invite more creativity in

  • You’re ready to take your images from “good enough” to revelatory, poetic, stunning

  • You want to be able to say with total confidence, “I am an artist.


 

 

It’s been a highlight of the year to tune in each day to the lessons. Every day of this class has been important and enjoyable. I love Laura’s unique ability to guide and reinforce us as artists. I learned from all the other students, too - their images, courage, and insight. The result of all this has been two new bodies of work started and a different approach to seeing and making images.
— Sally Bowker
 

 


 

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 is your refund policy?

Because you'll get access to all the class resources immediately after purchase, this class is not refundable. If you need to leave class for any reason, your registration is transferable to another session of the same 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 Light Atlas is a conceptual photography course (not a technical class), photographers at every level are welcome. It's never too early to start seeing the world as an artist does. The only prerequisite is being comfortable with basic camera operations and knowing how to upload images to your computer.

 

I'm an experienced photographer. Is this class a good fit?

Many experienced photographers take Light Atlas to reinvigorate their vision when they're feeling a bit stagnant. Since the class is about deepening your relationship with your photography (and the way you're seeing the world), even photographers with many decades of experience will benefit.  

 

 

 

 
Fabulous. Light Atlas was such a beautiful, positive way to begin each morning. It encourages new ways of thinking and seeing and as a result your photography is likely to expand in unexpected ways.
— Lea Murphy
Outstanding class! You have made such a difference in my life!
— Patricia Hogan
This class has been a gift. Thank you for your inspiration, your wisdom, and your encouragement. Thank you for helping me see where my real inspiration comes from.
— Lorraine Castillo
Laura, you have really outdone yourself with this course! There is so much wisdom, inspiration, and room for exploration in it that I could easily spend a year learning and digesting this material.
— Judith Bender
Of the (MANY!) classes of Laura’s I have taken, Light Atlas is definitely my favorite. It seemed to me that every person made some sort of gigantic leap of growth during this class - transformative growth. Highly recommend.
— Diana Nicholette Jeon
Laura, thank you for this class! I loved it, it was helpful beyond words.
— Deborah Saul
My experience was outstanding in many ways! I came away with several project ideas. This is a class that makes you really think about your photography practice, to look past the surface and dig deeper into your emotions, thoughts, and feelings. It is a transformational experience! I will definitely go back and re-read the lessons and re-do the assignments just for my own benefit. There’s so much good stuff to absorb!
— Lisa Marie Waddell
This has been such an inspiring and supportive class. The weekly themes have been so relevant and eye-opening for me. Learning to see through magical, poetic, and mysterious lenses has been a wonderful way for me to slow down and make photographs in new ways. I am grateful Laura for your thoughtful and honest sharing, your wisdom, and for introducing us to so many talented and creative photographers. As I continue to work on validating myself it has been useful to see so many photographers who have such unique approaches in making images and whose work I might not have appreciated or understood before. I am also grateful for being part of such a talented group of fellow students - it’s always reassuring to not feel alone.
— Connie Gardener Rosenthal
Laura always has a way of helping me discover new layers and meaning in my work.
— Gail Haile
I am always intellectually challenged and spiritually taken by Laura’s classes. Her photography lessons take me out of the house and into the world with new ideas and new eyes….Laura, you poured your heart and soul into creating the materials for this class; as a fellow online teacher, I am sooo impressed with your work. My overall experience in Light Atlas was illuminating.
— Sandy Brown Jensen
Laura’s classes have been so important in my growth as a photographer because they make me think about how I approach photography and they help me look at the world with a fresh and different perspective.
— Cathy Hoff
I gained so much from the conversations in the class, from Laura’s wise and supportive words, and from the wonderful community of artists.
— Andi Alexander