Digital photography – the essentials with Roy Matthews

Photography and digital image manipulation

Ref: SSS10551


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About this course

Expand your photographic skills by exploring camera settings, composition, light, subject choice and timing, alongside basic editing in Adobe Lightroom. Expect some walking to local locations around West Dean.

Course Description

A comprehensive guide covering all the essentials, this course will create a solid foundation from which to expand your photographic skills, based in the grounds at West Dean, offering a variety locations as your subject matter. Explore the key areas including camera settings, composition, light, subject choice and timing and how they work in practice across various genres, alongside basic editing in Adobe Lightroom.

The emphasis of the course is on practical teaching – all aspects are fully demonstrated in a clear and simple way. Whatever your preferred style of photography this course will give you the perfect foundation to expand and the confidence to achieve the best results in the future. The course will also cover basic editing in Adobe Lightroom CC, as well as a series of informal critiques of the work produced via digital media.

It is ideal for both beginners or those who already have a working knowledge of the technical aspects, including photographic exposure and the manual settings on your DSLR camera, but wish to brush up on their understanding.

Be prepared for evening photography sessions which may be included, in order to capture the inspiring light a few hours before sunset.

A feature of the Summer School is an immersive learning experience with more time to develop your creativity and embrace further opportunities for creative development beyond your chosen course.

Several early evening creative sessions (5.10pm - 7pm) are planned throughout the week. Extra activities will differ this year in response to social distancing. A detailed timetable for your Summer School week will be given to you on arrival. This will include:

• Short inspirational talks by tutors and displays of their work

• Sign up early evening tutor-led drawing sessions in the garden

• Time to relax or explore in the tranquil West Dean Gardens

• Take a break from your course with some free time on Tuesday afternoon, from 3.30-5pm

• Informal end-of-course group reviews and displays of students' work in studios


Timetable for Summer Schools

Several evening events are planned throughout the week, a detailed timetable for the summer schools will be given to you on arrival.

Arrival Day

Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students should vacate their rooms by 10am please.

Course Materials


  • Portrait model for one morning.

What students need to bring

  • A DSLR or mirrorless camera and all the lenses you have, ideally covering from wide angle to telephoto (but bring what you have). 'Bridge' or Advanced compact cameras that have full manual control over exposure settings are fine too.
  • Any lens filters you have
  • A tripod – essential
  • Fully charged and spare camera batteries – and charger (essential)
  • Camera memory cards with plenty of free space
  • Camera to computer USB leads
  • Cable release or remote (can also use self-timer on camera if you don't have these)
  • USB memory stick to save your images
  • Be prepared to work outdoors so bring appropriate clothing, including waterproofs, suitable waterproof footwear, sunhat, waterbottle and a day rucksack.
  • A note of your Adobe ID login, may be useful

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • USB memory stick
Please note: it is essential that you are familiar with using a PC computer, as while the tutor will give instruction on getting to grips with imaging software, he will not teach basic computer skills.


Roy Matthews

Roy has been a commercial photographer since the mid 1980's having started his career as a studio assistant before becoming freelance in the early 1990's. He has worked in many different genres including studio, reportage, architectural, portraiture, editorial and sport. Always keen to pursue his personal work as a balance to the commercial world he has been widely published and has exhibited in many locations over the years.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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