Now accepting students for the Q2 2013 Email School intake!

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Another quarter, another batch of students graduated – I’m now accepting enrolments for the second quarter of 2013 for the Email School of Photography. So far, I’ve had 90 students in total, about 70 of whom are in various stages of completion. Busy? No problem, take your time. Here’s how it works:

1. Learn what you want to learn. You decide what you your final objective is: it can be as specific or general as you like. Anything from ‘how do I make a good photograph?’ to ‘I want to be able to make gigapixel images’.

2. Receive in depth critiques. Send me a related portfolio of your ten best images, which I’ll review and critique. This lets me get a baseline for where you are and where the opportunities lie. I’ll be brutal, but objective and honest: you’re not going to gain anything from sugar coated comments. Each of your subsequent assignments receives the same treatment.

3. It’s assignment based. I’ll set you ten assignments. Each assignment is aimed at teaching you one thing; the submission is in the form or a photo, or series of photos. There will be a detailed explanation of the hows, whys and technical/ historical context before the assignment, and a thorough review and postmortem dissection afterwards. This is the key learning portion.

4. It’s flexible. You’re the only student in your particular tailored program, so along the way, feel free to change the end goal as you learn more, or ask any relevant questions you might need answered. You get out what you put in!

5. Take as long as you need. The assignments can fit around your schedule and level of commitment. In fact, I’d be disappointed if you submitted the first image you shot, because it means you haven’t spent any time thinking about the learnings and experimenting.

The Full Course – US$800
The price for this is a one-off fee of US$800, or $900 including the Introduction and Intermediate Photoshop videos.

Compared to the thousands of dollars one spends on a decent camera and a couple of lenses, the equivalent of $80 per lesson is very little money to spend on acquiring the knowledge to use it properly and be able to capture your vision. And unlike equipment, the value of knowledge does not depreciate over time. The Email School was designed specifically to help you learn the fundamentals of photography that apply across any system to let you take the kind of photographs you want to take. It’s the distillation of 12 years and millions of images worth of experimentation, experience and expertise into one-on-one, personalized tuition with an experienced instructor and photographer. The reason I’m offering this is because I didn’t have anybody to go to to learn about the things I wanted to shoot when I was starting out, but I’d gladly have paid or enrolled in a school to learn – except there weren’t any. You don’t have to be in Kuala Lumpur to take part (but it would help) – everything can be done over email.

It’s a tailored, personal way of learning – you get as much out of it as you put in, and there’s no time limit to what you can learn.

Portfolio Review – US$500
Alternatively, I do a comprehensive portfolio review either in person, via email, or recorded to video (depending on your preference); from a submission of 50-100 images, I’ll perform a detailed critique of 20 of them, deconstructing them down to elements that work, elements that don’t, and most importantly, identifying recurring opportunities for improvement – and how to go about fixing them. I’ll also give you useful tips on straightforward things you can do with the equipment you’ve got to get closer to the results you want. This is similar to the Full Course, but without the assignment-based ongoing feedback process afterwards.

For an idea of what you’ll get through the full email school, have a look here – one of my students, Eugene Palomado, has done a fantastic job of reporting on his assignments and impressions of the course.

If you’re interested, please get in touch.

Thanks! MT

A couple of testimonials:

Stefan Decker (Email school): I also see a great improvement in my photos and I am so happy that I take your lessons. (Best spent money on photography!)

Pete Saunders (Email School): I certainly have benefited greatly from Ming’s mentorship. Don’t expect his critques to be sugar-coated. He will be honest (brutally so at times) but fair. If you want to be on the path to developing useful and creative photographic skills, this is the person to go to. I have been fortunate enough to have had the ear (and eyes) of Ming these past few years in guiding me to the satisfying levels I’m at today. Ocassionally, he even likes one or two of my photographs.

Jo B Grasmo (Image critique): Wow! Precisely what I was looking for! Thank you very much! I guess I’m “too afraid” of breaking rule of thirds and having anything in the middle of the image. Balance is indeed something I need to think more about when composing my images, which fits with another goal of less cluttered images – making them simpler and more peaceful.  Again, thanks!

Roger Wojahn (Portfolio review): Thank you so much for your patient, thoughtful, encouraging and brutally frank comments on my portfolio as well as my strengths and weaknesses.  I have taken them all to heart and feel like the goals are tangible and understandable.  Edges, exploring the vertical, eliminating random extra space and many of the finer (and larger subject) points all taken.  A few of the comments about, for example, a boat on one side and needing a bit more of the mountain line descent on the other were merely a shortcoming of having one lens on the camera and little room to move closer or further from the scene.  Still those points are instructive. 

Valerji Tomarenko (Intro to PS DVD): Just received the DVD (it took it less than a fortnight to reach Germany). Very happy about it. Exactly what I was looking for, against the backdrop of all these books, tutorials etc. on PH. Thank you so much!

Luis Meirinhos (Intro to PS DVD):
(What I like)
1. I really like the simplicity of the workflow to change a set of photos.
2. Workflow based on 1 application with 2 modules . (Bridge + Photoshop)
2.1 I use 3 applications and wast so many time changing between them (ViewNX, CaptureNX, Photoshop).
3. Photo ranking process with good use of method (FBLW – First BEST Last WORST)
3.1 I use numbers instead of stars on ViewNX, but my method is FIFO – First In First Out. It’s good because it’s one method but, for this propose, i don’t think i have good results. I have many medium quality pictures processed that I’ll not see them again. I’ll try your method to have better use of time.
4. Many sharpening filters have better results.
4.1 I never realise this. The results are much better compared to one sharpening filter more aggressive.
(What I improve…)
1. Use photoshop non destructively for everything!
1.1 Is there any difference if we use one layer with 50% of grey (Overlay) for dodge and burn?
1.2 this way if I wish to revisit one photo latter I don’t lose the original.
2. Workflow of one picture that you have to fix or remove something. Ex: dust, cable,…
I really enjoy the DVD because I learn new ways to improve my photos and have more time to do other things instead of post processing.

Kim Davidson (Intro to PS DVD): After receiving your DVD I installed Adobe Photoshop CS6, never having seen it, camera raw or bridge before. I would not have believed it possible, but thanks to your great instruction on your DVD, I worked my way through bridge, camera raw and successfully processed photos in Photoshop CS6 in just one day and i keep going back to your DVD to learn more. I can’t thank you enough.

James (Intro to PS DVD): I just wanted to say thanks for the very informative DVD. I know photoshop pretty well, but you have taken the way I’ll use it from now to another level. I was always scared of that Curves line as it seemed to be really sensitive and easily ruin my shots. Now from your DVD I know how to use it and have already transformed a few of my photos and they look so much better. Also your dodge, burn, sponge and sharpening tips were a revelation for me. I won’t list all the things you went into, but suffice to say I’m looking forward to going through my photos now and seeing the results.

Djoko Susanto (Intro to PS DVD): I had watched your your photoshop workflow dvd, it was shock me, much.
I never thought, it was so easy techniques, but it’s awesome.
I learned so many techniques in photoshop but never realized yours is the best and simple, great job Ming.

Dimitris Glynos (Intro to PS DVD): Hi Ming! I just saw your “Photoshop workflow DVD” and it was really amazing! The resolution of the mov file (1440x900px) is very very good and your workflow both on color & b&w images is pretty impressive! Thanks a lot!

JP Kornberg (Intro to PS DVD): I am happy to support the use of your PS DVD. Your workflow really is easy even for PSphobes.

Joey (Intro to PS DVD): I received your PS workflow dvd a few days ago and have enjoyed it very much. Though not familiar with Photoshop I look forward to trying out the many techniques you discussed and feel confident it will start me on the right path as I step into the often confusing world of post-processing.

Keith Nisbet (iPad app, general): I read all the major review sites and drive myself crazy pouring over reviews trying to figure out how to make the best purchase decision as a nikon F3 owner with some nice old Manual focus lenses that really needs to move into the digital era, but, works on a limited budget.
When I came across your blog it was arresting. Your photos… composition, humanity, beauty, perspective, such a quality that is so difficult to put into words. There’s just something special abut your work that engages one for far longer than a quick peek. Your reviews…read like seeing with a translucent film removed from ones eyes for the first time. The detail, clarity and sheer intelligence is so refreshing. Thanks so much. I can only imagine the time and energy you put into your site and its content.
I did purchase your brilliant Compendium iPad app. It’s the least I could do. Best wishes for your continued health and contribution to Photography.


Visit our Teaching Store to up your photographic game – including Photoshop Workflow DVDs and customized Email School of Photography; or go mobile with the Photography Compendium for iPad. You can also get your gear from B&H and Amazon. Prices are the same as normal, however a small portion of your purchase value is referred back to me. Thanks!

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Images and content copyright Ming Thein | 2012 onwards. All rights reserved


  1. Zerberous says:

    Is the grain structure of the b/w-photo from the sensor, or due to post-processing? If it is post-processing it would make a great teaser for your classes. 🙂

    • Ah, that would be because it’s film 🙂

      • Zerberous says:

        I really love this grain! —– btw: if you have time while visiting Tokyo please drop me an email. We have a similar background in education/school. Big thanks for the blog!

  2. I’m on my third assignment with Ming, and the quality of my pictures has already dramatically improved. I still have lots – LOTS – of room for improvement, but 1/3 of the way in I already feel like I got my money’s worth. If you want to become a better photographer, and can take serious, insightful criticism, I can’t imagine a better way than this.

  3. I’m also doing the course (3 more assignments to go) and I have to say that Ming has helped me a lot. I see things differently and it has definitely changed my process when shooting. It’s really great to have a mentor when you want to learn and improve. I fully recommend the course.

  4. I spent all my money in my Leica Monochrom, i’m planning to take this course before 2014, but i can’t for Q2.
    (i have a good salary, but…. well… french government & taxes …)

  5. robert powals says:

    Great Picture of your wife!

  6. Phu Vuong says:

    Hi Ming, I have enough gear, now I need sign-up your class because I really enjoy your pictures.
    Currently I used Lightroom 4, Thanks you for offering email class.

    • Fundamentals will make more of a difference than your postprocessing method at the start: PS or LR are just there to enhance the presentation of the subject, not fix weak light or composition. So, don’t worry about that part…if you’d like more info, or to sign up, I’ll send you an email shortly…

  7. I’m currently doing the course (email school) and my photography has greatly improved. I’m loving the assignments and learning things I never would have considered before. Money well spent.

  8. Ming, is there any “gear/software” requirement for this course? Like, can we use any camera we want or we require any specific model/feature? And are we forced to use PS or we can use any other software that we choose? Thanks!

    • No requirements at all, it’s tailored to your level. But you have to be realistic about both expectations and work required: if you come in with no knowledge of photography at all, I can’t turn you into Ansel Adams in ten lessons – more, maybe; but at the same time, to really understand the lessons to the point that they’re intuitive, you’ll have to go out and practice/ shoot – there’s no substitute for that. I can guide you and shorten the learning path dramatically, but I can’t physically hardwire the knowledge into your head 🙂 If you want to cover postprocessing it has to be PS, but otherwise you can use whatever software package you’re most familiar with.


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