Foundations of Black + White


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Foundations of Black + White


Next class starts February 18th
Registration opens February 7th
Teacher Michelle Gardella

Get ready to totally immerse yourself in the world of black and white photography. Whether you started in your high school darkroom 20 years ago or have never thought about monochrome before, this four-week class will reignite a passion for seeing things in new ways.

Black and white imagery, while it creates a feeling of truth, is not actually how you see the world when you open your eyes each morning. Every single black and white image is a magical manipulation of reality, and once you harness the power of it all, there’s no turning back.

This class will be all about evolving your photographic ‘eye’, even if you have no plans of ever being a black and white photographer in the future.

You’ll explore how to shoot specifically for black and white photographs, experiment with different film types, and celebrate what happens when you create right smack dab in the middle of the intersection of historical tradition and modern visualization. You’ll look at some of the greats and some of the top-secret favorites, and fill your cup while collaborating all together.

This class will go into the nitty gritty post processing techniques, but isn’t designed to teach you how to be exactly like someone else. You’ll walk away with an expansive and luminous personal awareness of why certain stories living within you need to be shared the way only you can tell them.

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WEEK ONE: Roots + Foundations : Discovering Your Path

WEEK TWO: New Ways of Seeing – Honing Your Awareness

WEEK THREE: Technical + Technique – Exploring Film Basics and Digital Editing Tools

WEEK FOUR: Exploring the Masters – Filling Up on Inspiration

The Schedule

All participation and interaction 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, Michelle will share Lesson 1 as a PDF in the forum and e-mail it to every student. She 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. 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?

This class is for students who want to deepen their understanding of black and white photography and learn new ways of seeing the world around them. It's an exploration of technical skills, editing tricks, and powerful personal storytelling. You will explore a bit of film, but a film camera is not required. There will be a section on digital editing, so be sure you are familiar with Lightroom and Photoshop. (If you have never used Lightroom before, you may want to try Kellie Hatcher's class Living in Lightroom!)


Material(s) Needed

A camera, a computer, Lightroom, Photoshop


  1. :

    This class has been an incredible journey… and I can say with full confidence that it has changed my life. I have always been drawn to black and white images, but could never quite make them work. They just never had the ‘oomph’ that I was going for. And by oomph I don’t mean ‘Bam! in your face black and white! woot!’… I mean ‘Wow… what is this image? what am I looking at? This makes my heart feel something. There is power in this photo.’ When it comes down to it, I think my biggest take away is to capture what is real. If it’s real you don’t need color to pump it up. You can strip it down to the bare bones, and it will still stand out because it’s genuine and true and honest. It will make you feel something, and feelings don’t come in color.

    I can’t thank you enough, Michelle, for all of your energy and hard work in creating a space for us to explore the beautiful genre of black and white photography. I will miss this class!

  2. :

    I signed up for Foundations of Black and White with Michelle Gardella to re-connect with an art moves me beyond words. I can’t even begin to explain the transformation I’ve felt over the past few weeks. I loved that she took time to actually look at my work and offer suggestions that brought me into everything I was reaching for. She helped me go from fumbling through settings to making empowered choices with my camera and post-processing. Her instruction, guidance and whole-hearted feedback will nourish me until I die. Encouraging words from someone like Michelle… well, they do something to a person.

    They root through the ivy and wild roses searching for that forgotten secret portal and throw it open wide, like bedroom curtains in the morning, to let it the light. I’m so grateful!

  3. :

    I knew there was something special about Michelle… but there was no way for me to comprehend just HOW much magic she contained. I knew very little about black and white imagery before taking her class. I’d use it carelessly on photos with little to no thought or intention behind it. My world instantly changed with lesson 1 of her course. Each week she gently smoothed out our rough edges and helped refine our eyes to the beauty and intention behind black and white. It was life changing, soul-lifting. She has an incredible gift of challenging you but making sure you understand you’re not alone. I will forever be grateful for her wisdom and words. You must take this class. You deserve it.

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