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So, Ya Wanna Be a Photographer?

Learn to be a self-assured, competent photographer in six months with training from Washington Photo Safari!

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How long does it take to become a competent pianist? Six years? Ten years? How much practice is involved?

How long does it take to learn to fly an airplane? One year? two years? How much practice is involved?

How long does it take to become a painter? A barber? An electrician? A crane operator? An accountant? A carpenter?

All these professions require training, and then LOTS and LOTS of practice… The same is true of photography. Why should it be any different?

Here at Washington Photo Safari, we can teach you the principles of camera use, lens use, and composition in a couple of days, but it takes months and months of practice to perfect your skill in various types of photography before you can really call yourself a “photographer!”

You don’t have to become a professional photographer, but to call yourself a real “photographer”, you need to be versatile enough to handle ALL kinds of photographic situations, such as nature, architecture, landscapes, pets, portraits, sports, events, and travel and street photography.

Here is how one of our clients, pediatrician and aspiring photographer Dr. Percita Ellis of Lexington, VA feels about her hobby of photography:

“If people could only imagine how eye opening, versatile, and rewarding photography can be, they would see that it allows one to capture an image that is then stored as a forever memory: a memory that you can always look back upon when you want to reconnect with an event or activity. A memory that may one day draw you into exploring that subject or venue even further. A memory that can be molded into the start of fulfilling hobby, or possibly a second career.

 Thus, photography can be viewed as an expression of the photographer; a photographer’s unique fingerprint; and most importantly, a photographer’s creative muse.” Percita, Ellis, MD

 Remember that your camera is really a magic machine; a device capable of doing things no human (or smartphone) can do! It can stop time, it can see in the dark, freeze the wings of a hummingbird, make all the moving people in a train station disappear, turn waterfalls into misty clouds or a million little ice pellets, make small rooms look big, turn your kids into ghosts, move the moon across the sky, bring the beauty of nature into your home, and capture memories of your past in exquisite detail.

But, to become a photographer, you must know HOW to make these things happen by getting OFF of “Auto” and using F stops and shutter speeds instead. Whether it be a new Smartphone, a fancy SLR, or a mirrorless camera, since you paid for all of the photographic features on that device, you might as well learn how to use them!

For example, can you quickly answer this question?

You are using a DX cropped – frame camera and are in a beautifully illuminated but quite dark church at nighttime in Italy or France, no tripods allowed, shooting from the back of the church towards the altar at a focal length of 75-80mm to capture a piece of architectural detail.  

 You want good depth of field of focus so that everything is sharp from front to back, and your shutter speed needs to be fast enough to avoid the blur that comes from hand-holding at slow shutter speeds.  What camera settings (ISO, shutter, aperture, white balance in Kelvin temperature) and lens do you use to get a sharp, well-exposed photo with accurate color in this situation, and why?

If you can answer that question quickly and accurately before taking the picture, without going to Google or You Tube, you probably don’t need to take this course!  If you CAN’T answer the question right away, then this course is for YOU!

Now of course you can teach yourself to be a photographer on You Tube, as many have done. It’s free and the video clips are very good!

But that is passive learning, with no feedback.  Our approach is hands-on learning, with a focus geared towards personal instruction in the field WHILE YOU ARE TAKING THE PICTURE, as opposed to critiquing the picture after the fact, when it is too late to make changes!!

THAT is why our motto is: “See. Click. Learn.” (In fact, we have made Confucius the “Official Philosopher of Washington Photo Safari” because- in 400 B.C. – he said: “I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand.”)

 So, you might not ENJOY nature photography, but you have to be ABLE to do it! You might not WANT to do weddings or events, but to call yourself a photographer, you have to know HOW to do those things.

You might not LIKE to take pictures of people, but you must know HOW to do it if asked. You might not ENJOY shooting sports or race cars, but you must know HOW to do it.

You cannot just be a travel photographer. Instead, you must an all-purpose photographer, so thoroughly familiar with your equipment and how to use it that you can take on any challenge. Right? Right!

So, if you REALLY, REALLY want to call yourself a “photographer”, Washington Photo Safari has a deal for you: a six-month-long course in 12 different aspects of photography, featuring not only in-person or online instruction but also lots and lots of required practice, just like those pesky practice sessions on the piano or violin your merciless parents and teachers made you do when you were a kid! And we are providing all this to you at a big 20% discount off of our regular fees!

a group of people posing for the camera

Here is what one Safarian had to say about her experience learning to be a photographer:

January 1, 2023, my New Year’s Resolution involved enjoying and improving my photography skills on a regular basis.  Photography has always been my go-to hobby when I need to pull back from day-to-day stressors.  Having already participated in approximately 50 safaris since November 28, 2021, I felt this 6-month course, “So You Wanna Be a Photographer” would enable me to consistently work towards my photography goals.

This course did not disappoint and took me even farther than I had anticipated. So how is this different from just participating in safaris? The all-inclusive price of the course includes full coverage of 12 half-day safaris, PLUS having scheduled access to David for review and critique of a selection of photos taken, extensive review of questions regarding photography techniques.  David continues to express encouragement and a “don’t give up” mantra.   At the end of the course, the student puts together a portfolio of what he feels to be the 10 best photos taken during the course and submits for review with David Luria. 

On a scale of 1-5 stars, I would rate this opportunity a definite 5+ stars   Percita E.,  Lexington, VA


Here is what we offer.

 First, after registering, you will get a complimentary copy of’ Washington Photo Safari’s Guide for Amateur Photographers”, a 130-page reference guide to the whole course with its useful tips on 29 different areas of photographic technique, a $19.95 value! It is a compendium of all the handouts we provide on our safaris. It will help you at every stage of your training.

Then, beginning on the month of your choosing, you will embark on a 6-month series of two half-day  safari sessions per month, selecting your safaris from the extensive list of opportunities noted on our calendar. These safaris are offered in- person or on zoom several times a week  by a team of 11 professional photographer instructors, led by Paris-trained  E. David Luria, founder and director of Washington Photo Safari.(This is  the team that has enabled  Washington Photo Safari to become one of the nation’s largest 5-star rated community-based instruction programs, with over 40,600  amateur photographer customers, an average of 5  photographers trained  every day, 365 days/year, for over 23 years!)

Take a look at our website calendar, listed under the “More” section of our website, or check out the attached list of 2023 safaris. Choose 2 half-day safaris per month for the next 6 months, any of which might include private tutoring or portfolio critiques by Zoom or phone,  based upon your present skill level and interests. If you wish, Mr. Luria will be happy to guide you to your safari choices so that your skill level at the end of the six months will include:

-thorough familiarity with the basics in camera operations,(i.e.  F stops, shutter speeds, ISO and white balance settings , lens usage,  and the ability to shoot on all modes: Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Program Mode, or Manual Mode);

  • A clear understanding of, and skill in applying the principles of visual art composition (i.e. rule of thirds, leading lines, foreground elements, framing the subject, filling the frame, how to pose subjects , etc.);
  • an ability to do correct architectural and travel photography;
  • an ability to shoot moonrises and sunrises on Manual Mode, with tripods;
  • an ability to do nighttime photography on Manual Mode, with tripods;
  • abilities in street and candid photography;
  • abilities in nature, animal, and flower photography;
  • abilities in basic portraiture photography;
  • abilities in two or more areas of specialty photography (e.g. Macro, neutral density, fireworks, abstracts, events, time-lapse, slow-shutter speed, multiple exposure, food and restaurants, stained glass, fast-action work, snow photography, museums and artwork, panning, pets, post-production software usage, etc.)

Photographing the Jefferson Memorial at Night

In between all the sessions that you take, you must PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE your new skills, either in your home, in your yard, on vacation, in the woods or a garden, shooting out of the window of your home, in the city, in the country, in a church, in your dark closet, in a restaurant, by day and by night. If you leave the camera on the shelf in between sessions, you will lose the muscle and intellectual memory needed to handle your camera! AND THEN,THERE WILL BE A TEST!

Our offer ALSO includes free access to WPS Founder E. David Luria by text, phone or email, with questions or advice any time you need special help along your path! From time to time during your 6-month session, Mr. Luria will check in with you to see how you are doing, review your work , give you tips for improvement, and ask you hard- to-answer-“how would you handle THIS situation?” questions on camera settings and lens usage..

At the end of the six-month period, you will submit your 12 best images to WPS Director       E. David Luria for a 2-hour virtual portfolio review session (a $99 value), and of course, you will be tested on your answers to all twenty of the Twenty Most Frequently Asked Questions on Photography

 Mr. Luria, who is noted for being mean, nasty, and demanding, will – in consultation with his fellow instructors – ultimately decide whether you qualify for the term “WPS Certified Photographer”, or whether you need more PRACTICE.

 (If your schedule does not permit you to complete the 12 safaris in 6 months, we will let you stretch it out to 8 months)

But WAIT! There’s MORE! Upon completion of the 6-month course, you will also get

  • an 8 x 11 glossy “WPS Certified Photographer “ Certificate of Completion from Washington Photo Safari adorned with our signature photo of the US Capitol in spring, a nice item to hang on your wall!
  • a 10% refund on any future safari over the next 12 months after you complete your 12 sessions

a highly coveted “WPS Certified Photographer” luggage tag you can proudly affix to your camera bag with bragging rights to impress your family, friends, and the colleagues in your local camera club!  (OK, this may be the most expensive luggage tag you have ever purchased, but you’ll get the entire six-month photography instruction session tossed in at no extra charge!)

What’s the cost?

The fee for this entire 12-session course is just $999, paid in advance, a whopping 20% discount from the $1,250 retail value of all these 12 half-day  sessions, plus the photography guide, and the portfolio review.

(If you wish to divide the payment into two parts, you can pay $750 in advance, and the $249 balance 3 months later)

The six-month, 12-safari  option will appear on our website calendar shown on the first day of every month. You choose the month in which you wish to start your series of two safaris per month, and register and pay right on the website.

The NEXT step is to make your safari selections by looking at our calendar of offerings. Plan out your 6-month schedule and send your requests to us by email at Alternatively, you can just type the title of any safari (i.e. zoo photography, street photography, etc.) into our search engine and the next sessions on those topics will pop up.. Since you have already paid up front, there is no need to register on the website for your 12 individual safaris, we will get you registered for each one that you choose for your six-month session and send you confirmations and reminders.

And you do not need to choose them all at once. Choose them at your own pace, let us know which ones you want. Please give us at least 10 days advance notice for each safari that you choose, to make sure that you get a spot.

Are late-model smartphone users eligible to apply?  Absolutely!  Phone capabilities are catching up with cameras very quickly, and we have special Zoom sessions and composition sessions geared at smartphone users, especially those with advanced features that allow blurred background focus, variable shutter speeds and white balance settings. But we believe you will derive greater benefit if you are using a DSLR or mirrorless camera body with variable modes and interchangeable lenses and the ability to work on Manual Mode.

We look forward to turning you into a photographer! But remember, you do have to PRACTICE!

Also, did we mention that you have to PRACTICE?

Questions or comments? Call or text us at 202-669-8468, or at

Washington Photo Safari
4545 Connecticut Ave. NW # 418
Washington DC 20008