Registration is OPEN! /// Classes begin January 9th
From Auto to Manual


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From Auto to Manual Photography Class Cover Image of a man with a child

From Auto to Manual


Next class starts TBD
Registration opens TBD
Teachers Jessica Cudzilo

If you own a camera that sits on “auto,” this class is for you.  There is an incredible amount of art to be made in this world and it will NEVER be done with a camera set on automatic settings.  It does not matter if you own the fanciest and most expensive camera on the market.  If you are letting it make the decisions, you are most definitely missing out on creating art that is authentically your own.

This four-week class is designed to give you the courage and knowledge to cut the dependency.  It is time to quit letting your camera boss you around.  The outcome will be photos created by you, and an artistic integrity that inspires and invigorates.

Break the cycle.  You can step out from behind your camera’s automatic settings and intimately direct the art that you desire to create… to become a photographer in the truest sense of the word.  You will learn so much your brain will ache and you will leave this class with the knowledge required to produce photographic art that is created by Y.O.U.

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From Auto to Manual – Syllabus

WEEK 1: Exposure [part 1] – exposure modes. aperture, understanding depth of field.

WEEK 2: Exposure [part 2] – shutter speeds, ISO and putting it all together to get the images you envision.

WEEK THREE: How to read light and get to the right settings using your in-camera light meter and metering modes.

WEEK FOUR: Focus points, white balance and misc photography essentials including gear, insurance and more.

The Schedule

All participation and interaction for this class will take place in a private online forum. (Registered students will receive instructions on how to access the forum a few days before class begins.)

On the first Monday of class, your teacher will share Lesson 1 in the forum and e-mail it to every student. The teacher will be available during the week to answer questions and facilitate discussions in the forum as you read and work through your lessons.

Homework will be due on Sunday and personal critiques will take place the following Mondays and Tuesdays via video screen capture. Each week will follow the same pattern.

The beauty of this class and every other class at DEFINE is that you can read, practice, and participate throughout the week whenever it is convenient for you- from any timezone, anywhere you have Internet access, at any time of day. Most students spend 3-5 hours per week “in class.”

If you have any questions, please feel free to email

Is this class for you?

DSLRs do pretty well on auto half of the time. But, what about all the other times when our cameras fail us because they read the light wrong and give us a blurry image or a poorly exposed image or an image with the focus in the wrong place? It’s maddening, right?! If you are not shooting confidently on manual mode (aperture priority does not count) this class is for you.

Material(s) Needed

A camera that you can shoot in manual (preferably a DSLR, but most advanced point and shoots will do) A computer The time and willingness to learn



  1. :

    Dear Jessica,

    I debated on whether or not to write this post, but I just have to clear my soul. This class has challenged me in so many ways and taught the basics that will forever change my photography for the better.

    I thought I was all done when I printed and read lesson 4. Wow. Just wow!! Your words moved me to tears. Seriously. The big ugly, I-hope-no-one-is-looking cry. In hindsight, guess I was crying, not only because this class is almost over, but because this is truly the beginning for me. I’m constantly doubting myself and my abilities. The next step scares me, but your words encourage me to move forward.

    You wrote,”I don’t want to get to a point in life, where I look back and feel like I robbed my best years of being an artist because of my own insecurities” God bless you because you put into words my greatest fears. I don’t want to look back and have regret. You spoke to a part of my soul that I thought I silenced a long time ago.

    This class and your words have inspired me to constantly improve and to one day become the one thing I’ve dreamed of…… amazing photographer. An artist. A better version of me.

    So thank you so much for sharing your words, your art, and your wisdom. I will be forever changed for the better. Thank you.


  2. :

    Dear Jessica,

    I wanted to take these last few minutes of time on the forum to thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

    Thank you for all of yourself that you so generously gave to all of us. This workshop has been a truly wonderful, exciting, challenging, eye-opening and above all inspiring experience for me.

    You have done an AMAZING job with it. Your lessons are super informative, and OH SO EASY to understand! I want you to know that you have forever changed the way I take pictures. I know that might seem like a small thing, but to me that seems so wondrous! You have literally changed something in me forever. I’m not trying to sound dramatic, but its true.

    For the rest of my life, every time I take a picture, I will be thinking of all the things you taught me. THANK YOU!

    I stumbled upon your workshop out of the blue. I’d never even considered an on-line workshop before and now I cant wait to take another one! Please, please let me know if you develop a follow-up for this one.

    May God bless you in all your future endeavors, and fill your life with goodness, for you and yours……you have touched all our lives….thank you…….


  3. :


    Words cannot express my gratitude to you for offering such an amazing experience. I am so lucky to have found this workshop and so forever grateful to you for all you have taught me.

    I have been walking around with this camera (that’s not exactly true, it’s usually in my bag) for almost two years not knowing exactly what to do with it. It has been easier to use my point and shoot most of the time. Like one of the other students said earlier, I was just in a PANIC every time I would try to use it other than in Auto mode. I just couldn’t ever get over the hump. I would tell my husband it was like trying to learn to do something new and trying to learn it in “Chinese”. Now I have a new found confidence in my camera and in myself. And, It has been a really long time since I have done something like this for myself, just because.

    Before I found this workshop I was always afraid to pick up my camera and take “bad” pictures, therefore it just stayed in the bag most of the time. You have taught me not to worry if I take bad pictures. Now I know how to critique them myself, learn from my mistakes and what to do to make them better. For that, I am truly thankful.

    I know you have heard this again and again, but I wanted to tell you myself, you are an amazing teacher!!! You have such an easy way of taking such a difficult subject and putting it in terms that every one of us can learn from. I will miss my time with you.


  4. :

    Dear Jessica,

    I just want to tell you how much I have enjoyed the workshop and, like the others, would like to tell you what a gifted teacher you are! I have taken other workshops and none have had the interaction I have received in this workshop. I appreciate the amount of time it must take to critique and to answer all of our questions. I fully understand it is no easy undertaking! I feel I learned a lot about my camera and the art of photography that books and manuals just don’t explain well enough.

    Best wishes to you and best of luck in future endeavors.


  5. :


    I will not be able to thank you enough for getting me to where I am today. I can’t believe what you have taught me and how I can actually use it to get the results I want. It has been so empowering! Thank you for the pushing me and giving me the confidence I needed. You should be so proud of how you are using the gifts you have been given to their fullest! Don’t change that!


  6. :


    I can’t believe the course is over! It went so quickly! I have been soo blessed by it all. I knew this course was for me from the moment I came across your website and it has been incredible rewarding in every way!

    Waiting for every lesson in expectancy of what is next and then feeling as you were talking straight to me while reading through the pages. Wow! You truly have a gift.

    I felt very encouraged by your words, your passion, your art. Thank you so much for making this course available to us!

    I have learned so much, I have improved a lot in my photos, and I’m already hungry for more! That’s a good sign, eh?


  7. :

    Thank you, Jessica for providing the opportunity to take such a fun, informative and inspiring class that has already changed the way I embrace photography. I’m beyond thrilled to finally “get it” and look forward to feeling a confidence with photography that I’ve never had before. Thank you again!

  8. :

    Jess, thank you for what you have created at Define. I stumbled across this beautiful place of learning through following Christine Pobke’s IG. I am so very glad that I was scrolling through IG that day because this class was exactly what I was looking for.

    There are so many courses, both online and in-person, out there taught by people who know cameras inside out, the tech gurus, but what they seem to lack is passion, soul, authenticity, and the ability to break things down into what really matters. This no-nonsense, easy-to-digest course has been the perfect starting point for me. You’ve created great content and backed it up with a truly personal delivery. The next round of classes can’t come quick enough – do we really have to wait until September?!!!

    The biggest of thanks and a nice, warm hug heading your way!

  9. :

    It’s pretty simple. If you want to learn how to become a photographer, then learning how to shoot in manual is the first step. If you want to create better images for any reason, shooting in manual is your first step. Jess Cudzilo’s From Auto to Manual teaches you exactly that plus much more crucial information on photography.

    It’s so simple, DEFINE is an unconventional school created by photographers for photographers. Unconventional, it doesn’t sound very pretty. At DEFINE unconventional means not paying thousands of dollars, not wasting countless hours, and actually cultivating learning about the wonderful, whimsical art of photography.

    Take this class!

  10. :

    Thank you so much, Jess. You are so super smart and I learned SO MUCH from you this month. Like SO SO MUCH. I am so glad I chose to take this class! You answered all of my questions, so thank you again!!!!

  11. :

    Lesson 4 was FILLED with so much good information. Thank you for being so thorough with the assignment (white balance, focus, etc) and the helpful advice on equipment. This class has exceeded my greatest expectations. You have such a gift for teaching and communicating to a diverse audience.

  12. :

    As a professional but self-taught photographer, this class was an excellent way to un-learn all of the bad habits I’ve picked up along the way. Nate + Jaclyn stripped photography down to its most basic parts and helped us learn the “whys” behind the “hows” in manual photography. For me, this class was an excellent jumping-off-point into film photography and becoming my own “walking light meter”.

    Thank you, Nate + Jaclyn, for such a kick ass class! You two are amazing.

  13. :

    Months after, I know that this class with Jaclyn and Nate, has transformed the way I shoot . It helped me troubleshoot my own process like no other class before, and it pushed me to go out and try all those camera function I knew in theory but always avoided using. An excellent class , I would take it again.

  14. :

    You have been influential in helping me use my camera, make mistakes and keep going, keep pushing through, not letting my fear and confusion win, and just LEARNING. You’ve taken this looming cloud of camera confusion and broken it down and things are just finally clicking and I am ecstatic. I am oh so grateful for you and how God has used you and this class in my life! I wish I could hug you. Seriously.

    I really loved how you included so many other helpful topics and tips in this lesson at the end – gear, insurance, lenses, brands, everything – thank you, thank you! 🙂

  15. :

    Seriously, you have undoubtedly enriched my life just by stretching my knowledge and taking me to a realm previously unknown to me. On top of that, you clearly delivered the building blocks to a means of expression that I know I personally find rewarding to tinker with and downright therapeutic. Now wondering why I waited so long to start ‘playing’ this ‘sport.’

  16. :

    Jess, I just wanted to say thank you, thank you, thank you very much for being my teacher these past 4 weeks. I had an amazing time taking this class and I feel like I learned a lot. Most importantly, you helped me gain confidence with my camera and this is a big deal for me. I do have a lot more to learn but I’m not overwhelmed anymore, I’m just very excited about it. Now I just wished you could also teach me how to write! 🙂 I read some of your posts on your blog and I enjoyed them very much (I loved both, the content and the quality of the writing). You take amazing pictures, and you are an excellent writer? How can you have both? amazing!

    I don’t remember how I came across DEFINE, but I’m so, so glad that I did. I love this place and I loved taking your class SO much. Thank you, Jess. Gracias!!

  17. :

    Firstly I would like to thank you Jess for being a wonderful teacher and giving great advice even from the other side of the world. I feel like this has been the perfect step to take me into the crazy, awesome world of manual photography so thanks so much!!!

  18. :

    I never told you how much I appreciated your critique from last week. You gave me some great things to think about and practice doing. I need to watch it again and take good notes so that I can continually go back and assess if I’ve applied what I’ve learned. Thank you for all the great advice. I have thoroughly enjoyed this class and am really amazed at all that I have learned in just 4 weeks. However, I can already tell that I definitely need to go back and reread each section. Thank you for all your time and all your encouragement. I really appreciate you!

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From Auto to Manual Photography Class Cover Image of a man with a child

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