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Michael Seewald's
Photographic Art Classes

San Diego, Carmel, Napa and International workshops.

Advanced / Professional Student Testimonials.


Seewald's photographic 'fun-shops'
proudly sponsored by:

Chrome Digital of San Diego
"They've printed hundreds of my enlargements over the decades, awesome company. Great copy work
for painters too, they shoot and give you a giant file at very reasonable prices."

Pro Camera Repair, San Diego.
"Taken my cameras here for decades, always top notch work. I need my cameras
working properly in distant places, and I trust them to keep them in tip top shape."




If a picture is worth a thousand words,
what is a fresh Seewald grad video worth?
Priceless, IF it helps you decide to take one... take a look-see.





Click photo to enlarge
Joan Harris, left, took third place for 'Fair theme- Fab Four' and
Kim Signoret-Paar wins BEST OF SHOW with 'Piata Mica in Sibiu, Romania'

Congrats to Kim Signoret-Parr, a recent Seewald photo ‘fun-shop’ grad that just won ‘Best Of Show’ at the San Diego Fair's ‘International Photo Competition’, the LARGEST photo competition in the world. Her friend and fellow Seewald grad Joan Harris also took a ribbon!

Funny thing was,
Kim and Joan actually both won two of the six Seewald special donated awards we gave out there, and then took the class a year ago May. And now look at them! What an honor to have taught them. I was there at the special grand-opening night, viewing art and chatting with class grads and having fun critiquing art when Kim taps me on the shoulder and informs me she had won ‘Best of Show’. She bragged how sh
e used the knowledge to fine tune the piece, cropping such and such an item out, balancing this with that, etc., apply the knowledge she’d learned, and wow, it won. She was soooo ecstatic, for sure.

As I told Kim as I shook her hand, I was honored to meet 'a fellow BofS. winner', I'd never met anyone else who’d won it, after all, there is ONLY one per year! There were over 4,300 entries this year, she won top of the top. When I took Best of Show in 1996, there were only 3,300 entries I competed against! (Yep, the odds were only one in every three thousand, three hundred years, hers were one in every four thousand, three hundred years- not good odds at all, huh? “



Click photo to enlarge.
'Stream, Vernal Falls' by Manoj Jayadevan, Yosemite class of 2.27.2015

“Michael, Bottom line: The workshop (fun-shop) was priceless! As I told you when we were in the field, I've had a lot of workshops, and those ‘instructors’ basically just took us to pretty places. They answered questions if we asked, but that was about it. You actually taught, critiquing each image; explaining what was right, and wrong, with all my compositions, and why! And then showed me HOW TO FIX THEM, if they needed it, on the spot!

I will no longer need more ‘classes’, as with your help I now have a map on how to make strong art, from here on out. “
Again, thanks so much,
Manoj Jayadevan, Yosemite class of 2.27.2015
Intermediate level photographer, San Francisco, CA

NOTE: Contact info to confirm this testimony, as with ALL TESTIMONIES
we receive and post, are always available on request.



Click photo to enlarge

Jeffrey Sitcov, a Seewald understudy for an extended period over the past few years, shows off his first place award, San Diego Fairs' International Photography competition, 2012.


“...Michael was great!  20 years of photography and I learned more in this class than in my previous years of study, with trial  and error, combined!

... Couldn't help but brag about his course to my family when I got home.  Taking Michael's class opened my eyes to an entirely different perspective than I had been doing and can't wait to get my camera out this week and get images of Old Town Temecula that haven't been done before!  Can't wait to take the Portrait class! ...”

Rhonda Mazurek, with her new

 ‘Certificate of Achievement’

Rhonda Mazurek, Professional Photographer, Temecula,  CA
A-Z Class of 1.24-25.’09

(And yes, she took the portrait class - Feb. 21st, 2009)


personal_attention_day1:      10 - Very satisfied- handled all my questions

personal_attention_day2:      10 - Very satisfied- handled all my questions

personal_attention_day3:       10 - Very satisfied- handled all my questions

value_for_the_money:                    Way more value than what I paid

How_helpful_overall_at_becoming_better: 10 - Very helpful, lightyears ahead of were I was

How_satisfied_overall:                  10 - Very satisfied, I'm ecstatic

amount_class_was_worth:                 Couple of Grand

quote_me:                               ON

name:                                   Reed Bonham

Short Paragraph of 'how it was':
"...I am a pretty seasoned photographer, and have the technical aspects down pretty good.
However, Michael really inspired me to use those technical aspects to a new level. His instruction on composition ,will forever change the way that I view and take pictures. He truly is a master photographer. It was a joy to take the workshop, and have individual attention and direction in improving my
photography. ...

...I was taking great pictures, before the workshop. I was looking to make award winning pictures. What a bonus, that was just what happened. Thank you so much for the instruction and inspiration."

Reed Bonham, intermediate photographer, Fresno, Calif. USA

NOTE: Want to ask Reed, or anyone else here, if he said all these nice things? Are these for REAL! Please send us a request for contact info, these folks would not mind confirming their wonderful critiques if anyone wants. MS

     "The outdoor class (Day II and III) gives the student real-time feedback and the opportunity to practice getting it right, sometimes using Michael's setup as an example.   ...Practical advice about equipment and lighting."

Eric Yee, advanced photographer.
New York, New York
Weekend class of 9.28-29.'03

Balboa Park Grad Ceremony 1.11.'09
Photo by Pennie Ahmed

from our critique form:


Very passionate about the difference between taking pictures and creating art. I "get" it now ...

Short Paragraph of 'how it was':

If you are even remotely interested in improving your picture taking, this class will undoubtedly help you.
Whether you only care to improve your weekend pictures or if you are looking to take your photography to the next level, this class will provide you with intangible things that can not be learned from a textbook. Before the class I felt I was quite a bit better than the average "weekend warrior" because I had taken thousands of pics and knew how to shoot in manual mode. Unfortunately the results were nothing to brag about. After the 2nd day I felt like I had made a couple of HUGE breakthroughs and am definitely more confident in my photographic ability. Originally I signed up to learn how to take better pictures and found out that anyone can take pictures, but photography is an art.

I have been wanting to take photography more seriously for a couple of years but wasn't real sure on where to start. Taking part in Michael's workshop was the best thing I could have done.
I wish I had been able to take it sooner. I look at it as an investment. An investment in my equipment. Equipment that I will carry in my head not in my bag. If you want to take your photography to the next level, take this class as soon as you can. Don't spend thousands on the next generation camera and lens. You probably already have the right camera and lenses. Spend it wisely on learning things you cant purchase on line. This may sound like an advertisement but it is merely an expression of the excitement that I feel after the fun shop. After speaking with a few of the other students, their feelings were mutual. I am looking forward to taking the portrait class.

Luis Arroyo, advanced photographer
San Diego, CA

Class of 1.10-11.'09

"...The class does a great job at equipping the student with tools to esthetically enhance any photograph, past or future.

I used to think I was a pretty good photographer because I had good technical knowledge of how to take pictures. This class turned on a little "light bulb": I have spent the last 40 years in photography trying to say, "Look what I can do with a camera" rather than concentrating on how to use the picture's strong points to enhance its message."

Jeff Fischbeck, advanced photographer,
San Diego, CA
Class of 8/'03

"... elements of composition being explained and repeated until we finally got it!"

Carl Morrison, advanced photographer.
Placentia, California
Class of 12/'98


Hey There! My name is Christee, and I took your weekend fun class back in February 2006. I have been meaning to e-mail you for a while, and your e-mail just reminded me. I wanted to thank you for your time I just say how much I learned in your class. At the time, I really new nothing about photography, and I had a friend ask me to shoot there wedding cause they had no money. So, I took your class just to gain some info on the subject. Well I took the information I learned from your class and shot that first wedding. That one turned into 2 weddings and so on. My first year I shot almost 20 weddings.

I now have my own photo business and I seriously don't think I would have done so well if it wasn't for your class. I remember taking the info you taught on shooting manually and just practiced and practiced, until it become natural to me. I wouldn't shoot any other way now. Just wanted to encourage you and let you know how much you helped me.

Thank you so much and God Bless you!
Last name held per request.


name: Eileen Hallett

short_paragraph_of_how_it_was: I am a Professional Photographer that has been long-ago and far-away sorrowfully removed from the MANUAL camera setting. Ever since the Digital World offering the fast & easy immediate self-gratification exploded, I too only use my elaborate camera on AUTO. Even though I hold my camera in my hands practically daily, I honestly forgot how incredible the camera is at truly capturing the spectacular views that catch my eye. What a treat / GIFT it was to be reminded of all the cool images you can capture using your camera in its manual mode!

Using humor, tremendous patience, repetition and years of expertise, Michael Seewald teaches & shares you step-by-step how to use these manual settings.
This class was fun, illuminating, gave me renewed photographic interest and liberating …

How_was_michael_as_an_instructor: Due to the fact that everyone absorbs instruction differently - Michael is a comfortable mentor that finds numerous ways to drive his facts/teachings home. While my individual experience had it’s up and downs – when all was said and done … I GET IT!
Michael makes sure that everyone gets ‘ALL’ from the uncomplicated, straightforward instruction, to his finer, advanced, enhancing the quality of your own personal photographic experience.

How_was_Michaels_teaching_style: I have always had fun capturing the sights that move me – Obviously Michael shares the passion.
He has a entertaining sense of humor and offers this class with a serious, yet light hearted persona.

how_tough_respectful_day_one: I enjoyed the critiquing portion and understand how truly valuable this analysis can be. One cannot fix old habits without having comparisons. My preference is to spend a little less time on ‘EVERY PHOTO’ and get ‘Straight-to-the-Point’. A little harsher is this area would have been just fine with me.

how_tough_respectful_day_TWO: Having Michael view my possible images right through the eye of my own camera was helpful and offered me something that I have never had before. Immensely, this was comfortable and a fast assessment teaching technique, “This is what I am seeing … Do you see my vision? Is it a miss? What am I missing? and Michael would respond.”

what_thought_of_suggested_Ball_heads: I will most certainly be acquiring a Ball Head Tripod! This was a very valuable photographic tool to learn about…

Eileen Hallett, Carlsbad, CA
Advanced photographer.
Class of 3/3/'07

"...There is no question that Michael knows what he is talking about and his enthusiasm is contagious."

Raymond Sarwinski - Cryogenic Designs, Inc. / physicist/ “birder too”, San Diego, CA
Advanced photographer.
Class of 9.22-23.'07


"Why would anyone fly across country from Massachusetts to San Diego for a weekend photography course?

I’m an advanced amateur, whose become very involved in photography.  Have developed some technical skill shooting, Photoshop skills, and have learned to print to beautiful 16x20 prints. I’ve won one local contest, and have had requests for my photos. Many of my photos, though good, lack impact. I’ve never had formal art training, and felt I really needed some guidance and education in the area of composition.

Our class consisted of varying skill levels from beginners to advanced. Day one was spent learning what makes a great photo great, with discussion of the elements (and rules) that must be followed to make a piece work. Michael first showed some of his art, then discussed how we look at a photo, and what makes us want to continue to look at a photo.

We then each showed our work, and all including Michael critiqued it with an eye toward helping us improve composition. It was amazing to see Michael look at a somewhat interesting but vague or defocused photo, and in moments with cropping make it into art. He did this time and time again. We didn’t gain Michael’s eye or skill in a day, but we began to understand, and often as a group we were able to dramatically improve compositions by cropping.

Day two was spent at Balboa park, shooting. We did a number of exercises to help us learn how to use the rules of composition. Those who didn’t understand f stops, shutters speeds, depth of field lens selection or histograms were helped with those issues. We spent very valuable time in the photography museum critiquing the exhibited photographs. As the day progressed the group members were beginning to be able to see elements of great composition before they were pointed out. At times we were able to apply the rules to see how a composition could have been improved.

We ended by using all the rules to try and create compositions, and in so doing learned a lot about light (our paint).

Throughout we had fun. The sessions were lively. At times we were a little resistant to the “rules”. When we didn’t “get it” Michael was patient and logical. It seemed to me students of all levels had fun and learned.

Was I crazy for flying across the country for a weekend course? Very possibly, but I would do it again. I went to learn about composition and I did. I feel grounded now in an area that was a mystery to me. Do I think every photograph I take from now on will be a prizewinner? Probably not, but I feel I have acquired some of the basic building blocks of good composition. With practice and perseverance I may find it easier to produce more of those “WOW” photos.

Was it worth the trip? An unqualified YES!"

Mike Gotthelf, advanced photographer,
Boston, MA
Class of 2.25-26.'06


"Hi Michael- Thanks for the great workshop this weekend. Learning about how the eye moves around the image was worth at least twice (no -- three times) the price. I am going to try to finish the exercises to increase my understanding of the process. With all your encouragement, I am going to try entering the Marin county fair...(Updated note; she followed Michael's suggestions on improvements to her art and was accepted!)

...Given the in-depth portfolio review we had over the weekend, (and in comparison to other workshops I've attended) I believe that your price could have been $1,750...

...Thanks again for all the help. Let me know if I can return the favor. "
Take care,

Dorothy Gantenbein, advanced photographer,
Fremont, California
Weekend Class of 4.16.'05    


Note: The following letter was rec'd before the student even had the second day of the two day class!

" Dear Michael, .. added together, I probably took 18 months of classes. I'm now realizing that the class I enjoyed today surpassed those 18 months. The prior classes never put it all together. They talked about composition without explaining what makes good composition. They didn't explain the goals of composition. You laid down goals of a 'good photo' and gave understandable directions of how we can compose a 'good photo.'  The critique session of our photos made us be honest and evaluate attempts at a 'good photo' and how our photo would be improved. This was the first time I've been asked to look at a photo and decide what can make it better. Wow, that exercise started putting it all together. I understood that light was important but didn't understand the subtleties. I now will be more aware of light; strength and direction.

The walk around the courtyard was another example of your subtle but effective teaching techniques. Early in the class you pointed out that photos are one-dimensional. No kidding, I thought. But, when you explained ... , I thought 'why wasn't I shown this in previous classes?'

The class setting and structure was relaxed; almost impromptu. I got more from this non-direction direction (or flow) than you can imagine. If you would have handed out the 'Evaluation Guidelines' at the beginning of the class, some of us may have been overwhelmed about everything that goes into a picture.
You made us 'drink out of a fire hydrant' without knowing we were. It was like a great movie; I had to think about it (on my drive home) before it could be appreciated... "

Thank you,
John Silver, advanced photographer,
Orange County, California.
Class of 6.'02


Click on photo to enlarge.

Weekend class of 5.21-22.'05. 
Taken in the beautiful botanical gardens in Balboa Park near downtown San Diego, one of the places 'worked' during day 2 of Seewald's two day San Diego 'Fun-shop'.


   "...I believe that opening yourself to the critiquing of those whose opinion and professional input you respect is essential to one's growth as an artist.  Michael helps you realize not only your strengths and weaknesses but your potential as well!

    I think that the class was well balanced and covered the important points in composition.  Everyone should walk away from the class with a new outlook on how to set up that next shot."

Christian Johnson, advanced photographer,
Del Mar, California
Class of 3/'98

    "...I will look at a potential photo with more strategy now!"

Brit Christofferson, advanced photographer,
Cardiff by the Sea, California
Class of 2/'98

   "I thought the class was great and very individual to each person. There was much input on current work and improving what is already shot!  Cropping aides are invaluable- I'm re-infused with excitement about my existing work..." 
     "...I feel I received more than my moneys worth!"

Chris Barley, advanced photographer,
Cardiff by the Sea, California
Class of 4/'99

Click to enlarge.
 Photo copyright Valerie Seewald 2.1.'03!
Class of 2.1.03

Pictured left to right.  Don Dreyfus, atty., Solana Bch, Calif., Jim Lennon, architect, Del Mar,  Tom Shjarback, int'l. telecom. instillations, Lakeside, Calif., Dr. Joel Scheiner, Seal Beach, Calif., Michael Seewald, of course, and Dr Stevan Silberstein, of Lunenburg, Massachusetts.

Seewald notes:  
This was a 'tough group', as they were all very savvy in this art.  Sometimes we'll get more beginners, but not with this group of professional people.  Most had darkroom experience and other classes.  A tough group to teach/ perform for but check out how they rated Seewald below.

After class survey/ critique results: 

Would you recommend this class to friends?
yes -100%  /  no - 0%

How much 'value for your money' do you feel you rec'd?
Less - 0%    /   About right - 80%  /  More than - 20%


..."Michael, you're as good a teacher as you are a photographer!"

Don Dreyfus, advanced level photographer,
Atty., Solana Beach, California
Class of 2.1.'03


 "...I've made good progress because now I have a way to evaluate what I'm seeing before I shoot. I'm not shooting quite as much (as I'm looking more), but I'm getting more images that I like.

...Putting concepts into practice is "always" a faster learning curve than simply talking about them. Being able to look at Michael set up a shot where you are trying to capture something was very valuable.

....the small class size in the field allows one to learn from the others too; about their equipment, their eye, & their techniques."

Dianne Arnold, advanced level photographer,
Encinitas, California
Class of 9/'03


     Day one presented clearly and graphically the core fundamentals of effective composition, and how it is achieved in photography. The night after the first day I was unable to sleep well, conceptualizing in my mind what had been learned, reapplying it to photos I had brought to class that day as well as to many more which I could not wait to revisit at home and apply the principles Michael had presented in class. I have not been so excited about my photography in years. Michael's instruction would help any photographer improve their work, and allowed me to take "nice" photos I had, and turn them into dynamic pieces of art.

     Day two: The practical application of theory is always a challenge, and that is what day two essentially involved. The greatest benefit I received was finally arriving at a realization of what a center of interest is in a piece of art, and how better to end up with the concept in a photo on purpose rather than by accident.

Dan McGeorge, advanced level photographer,
Lakeside, California
Weekend Class of 3.12.'05.

NOTE-3'.06: He has since taken another class, a Carmel one week workshop last summer.  He has just signed on for another one week one this upcoming summer! 

"Hi Michael
    I just want to thank you for a most incredible weekend of learning, thinking, trying, shooting... Our discussion on metering light and getting the balance right in our images really got me thinking on my way back home from Balboa Park yesterday. . ...

    Thank you so much for talking about light meters and how to get decent exposures. I like the way you present a topic, without saying it all but saying enough to make the mind go to work on the topic and did my mind work on this one and the results are fascinating!...
    Anyhow Michael, once again, I really enjoyed this weekend tremendously, thank you very very much for everything and I hope to come up and perhaps visit you at the studio soon!
Kind regards,

Francis Swarts, advanced level photographer,
South Africa (temporarily working in San Diego, CA)
Class of 2.25-26.'06



Claudia Maddux receiving her graduation diploma,
Photo by student Derek Tarr,
Class of 3.4-5.07

     "Michael is a remarkable photographer with great enthusiasm for teaching.  As an advanced photographer, I feel that my skills will improve much more quickly than they would have without my taking the class.  I think any beginning or intermediate photographer would get their money's worth from this course..."

Derek Tarr,
San Diego, Calif..


     "Michael's photographic vision is incredible, his willingness to share that vision is an opportunity serious photographers should not pass up."

    "Like many amateur photographers, I subscribe to several photo magazines, have purchased dozens of books on photographic technique and technology, and spent more that I probably should have on equipment.  Why wasn't I making really great photographs? I found most of the answers in Seewald's Workshops, the best photographic investment I've made, short of sponsoring one of his works."

Bill Landon, advanced level photographer,
Murrieta, California

Class of 5.'96

"...Michael is a great teacher, he has so much personality and love for what he does. He kept my attention the whole time. He is vary easy to learn from and understand.. I learned more from him in two days than I did with a year of college photo classes.

Being able to go out and do 'hands on' with the things we learned from day one was wonderful. Just in the first 5 minutes I was looking at my camera differently. I had learned just how powerful my camera was, and I am enjoying it more!

I really appreciated the brief tour of the photography museum in the middle of our class... I look at art now with a whole new eye. Seeing how other photographers think and work... I learned not all Art is great, ha ha!

...I know I am a much better photographer now. I hope to now enter my work into a fair and/or other events. I am comfortable in doing that now only because of what I learned from this class. I also hope to frame my work and display it in my own house. Maybe even sell some to friends and family.

Michael, Thank you so much for this weekend and everything I learned.... You have made me a much better Photographer. "

Kimberly Rizzo, advanced level photographer,
Anaheim CA.,
Class of 2.25-26.'06


And from Kimberly's cousin who took the same class-

"...I really enjoyed the class. I agree with one of the comments on your web site by another student, that the more I think about what we learned the more excited I get.

I was really nervous about the second day and having to shoot all manual mode. I thought that I would not be able to get it and feel stupid. Michael explained it so well and I caught on really fast and came home and taught my husband. So thank you so much for being such a good teacher...."

C. Wuite, advanced level photographer,
Joshua Tree, California,
Class of 2.25-26.'06

And this just in on 5.5.'09

Hey There! My name is Christee, and I took your weekend fun class back in February 2006. I have been meaning to e-mail you for a while, and your e-mail just reminded me. I wanted to thank you for your time I just say how much I learned in your weekend class. At the time, I really new nothing about photography, and I had a friend ask me to shoot there wedding cause they had no money. So, I took your class just to gain some info on the subject. Well I took the information I learned from your class and shot that first wedding. That one turned into 2 weddings and so on. My first year I shot almost 20 weddings. I now have my own business and I seriously don't think I would have done so well if it wasn't for your class. I remember taking the info you taught on shooting manually and just practiced and practiced, until it become natural to me. I wouldn't shoot any other way now. Just wanted to encourage you and let you know how much you helped me. Thank you so much and God Bless you!

"I believe my skills have improved significantly since attending the classes. I find that my approach to "artistic" photography is very much different than before and even snapshots and vacation photos taken since the classes now have more 'punch'."

Rick Wight, advanced level photographer,
San Diego, California

Note: Rick has now taken 3 classes- Class of 6.'03, 9/'03, 10.'03
Students re-take the fun-shops to constantly move to the next level of competency, and they receive discounted admission too.  Each time you learn more, building on your knowledge, and as Michael works with each person separately in the class he helps them 'where they are at'.

"Michael Seewald is amazing to work with! ...the class was so very helpful and surprising to someone like me who 'thought' they had a good eye for composition.  He pushes you to the limit of frustration to better bring about the artist in you. At the same time he is fun, generous and kind. And most of all, PATIENT! I am amazed at his graciousness with everyone no matter what the skill level or equipment brought to the class.

His suggestions are never without merit and always helpful. Oh, and his story telling isn't bad either. At the end of the class you will want more and guaranteed you will want to go on at least one trip with him in the future. Very Addictive. Very fun! Very educational!

Thank you Michael for all your generosity!"

D'Arcy Lewis, advanced level photographer,
Temecula, CA
Class of 5.'06


Critique form. By the numbers:
personal_attention_day1: 10 - Very satisfied- handled all my questions
personal_attention_day2: 10 - Very satisfied- handled all my questions
length_of_class_day1: Just right
length_of_class_day2: Just right
class_materials_day1: Told about the pre-class info page, forgot to readclass_materials_day2: Was told to read the pre-class info, forgot How_helpful_was_class: 10 - Very helpful
How_satisfied: 10 - Very satisfied
value_for_the_money: Way more value than what I paid
amount_class_was_worth: $800 or more
what_thought_of_photo_museum_tours: I think that it just confirmed to me once more that you are the greatest living photographer

quote_me: ON
name: paul sabesky
Sponsorship_interest: Maybe

"...As has been said by others, I learned more in 2 days then all the class's that I have taken combined!  I really want to thank you for a great weekend and also for the many examples of what God has done in your life...."

Paul Sabesky, advanced level photographer,
Tehachapi, California

Class of 1.6-7.'07


An open letter from Michael TO YOU...

Hi folks,

    This story is a bit strange in that in a way it has two endings - one of them YOU get to write;  A lady from overseas called me last month.  She really wanted to learn how to take great pictures and she said she loved my work.  She was going to be in the area during my next two-day seminar and then said she takes a lot of pictures of her travels, but most all of them were not worth looking at.   She wanted to know exactly what I taught!.  "Well", I told her, "I teach people to ‘see’ as the camera sees, which is NOT how we see, and to ‘think’ as I do, so the work will have a sense of time and place to it, like mine does.  To create art so your eye stays in the image longer, to eliminate varying distracting elements that will stop folks from un-consciously looking at your art, so you too can create award winners, among a few things". 

    It takes me two complete days of fast paced talking and presenting and that there was no way I could tell her 'exactly' all what I taught, per se, as she would actually have to take it to hear all that I teach!

    How do I put it in words that I transfer, basically, all the 'important' knowledge gleaned from my entire college degree in photography, and fo
rty years of serious practice from working at my art- into her brain all in just two short days?  I told her I've fine tuned the fun-shops after 20 years of presenting them and that most of the advance folks give me the highest praise, as the beginners don't know how much they don't know, does that make sense?  Then she told me she once ‘got burnt’ by a class in that she did not learn much, even though the instructor took good photos.  I told her all about the great testimonials from previous students, both beginners and advanced, with many that had told me the same story, that they had been taken to pretty places but the instructor did not teach them all that much.  Well, she said she would have to think about it!

    Think about what? Would I really have all of these great testimonials if I did not do a good job? Think about it?  Hello!!!  One student reported that he learned more in just my first day of class than he had in 18 months of college photo classes!   What is that worth, MUCHO time and money right? I really felt sorry for her as she never called back to sign up- what a pity.  This means she will probably continue to take the mundane pictures she complains about making; or at least take many many years to 'possibly' get good by trial and error!  More likely she will be self-condemned to mediocrity all because of taking a class with a so-so instructor once!

Click on photo to enlarge.
Photo copyright/courtesy Kevin Nichols, class of 11.5-6.'05.
Flower, Botanical Gardens, 2005

    Now, as stated, 90% of MY attendees report they received MORE THAN their monies worth, with a total of 99.9% reporting they received 'AT LEAST their monies worth’! (And this rating is across the board, beginners, intermediate or advanced students. (That .1% that did not get their monies worth  reminds me of the sign at the entrance to my old childhood town of Gila Bend, Arizona. It read; 'Welcome to Gila Bend, home to 1,948 friendly people and one old crab'- well, what are you going to do?).

    Now it’s up to you.  This lady never got back to me and will miss a great opportunity to save a lot of time and money learning how to make great photos, (or even be able to paint great compositions).  But YOU don’t have to go that route, all you have to do is sign up before someone else takes the spot that will get them creating those awards winners before you do in the next FUN-SHOP!  Classes are very limited in size so you can get a lot of personal attention from me, ALMOST one on one in effect.  90% of classes sell out at least two weeks in advance!

See you in one of my classes soon, right?
Michael Seewald


Michael is just about the best instructor I've ever taken a workshop from. He's very clear and easy to understand when explaining concepts; Michael can traverse the basic to the advanced and bring the entire group along. This is a rare gift. Michael gives just the right amount of attention as needed by each student and keeps everyone working towards the next level.

short_paragraph_how_class_was_overall:  Michael Seewald has taught me how to look at art from a whole new perspective. Before Seewald's fun-shop, I was guessing while composing a photo. Michael gave me the tools to MAKE a great photo. I really enjoyed Michaels enthusiasm for his craft and his ability to bring along both the beginner and the advanced student.

...Michael makes the learning / growing process fun. His personal stories add richness to the learning process and I really appreciate that he's willing to share both his successes and challenges.

Day one benefits? - it's all about the composition, I saw the critiques turn my OK photos in to really good photos. It helped a ton to see this done by a master like Michael. ...

How_tough_respectful_day1_critiquing:   This needs to be a tough day / process - I don't think you can learn unless teachers are painfully honest. Bring the pain, it can only make my art (if it ever truly becomes art) better.

Day two benefits? - The major benefit of the field work was the assignments, they were not easy, and each assignment played right in to the concepts that were being taught.  ...Michael is both tough and respectful. I know I was making mistakes and I appreciate Michael pointing them out while making great suggestions.

Tripod w/ ball head good idea? - The ball head tripod is my best photographic investment to date. The ball head my set up and adjustment so easy. If you don't have a ball head tripod, listen to Michael - get one now....

Final_comments? - Don't ever stop teaching Michael, you're doing the photographic world a major service.

John Granquist, San Diego, Calif.,
Advanced photographer.
Class of 9.22-23.'07


Click photo to enlarge. Copyright Mark Albert 2006.
 Courtesy crop by Michael Seewald 

The Two Marks
Self-portrait by Mark Albert of the
Class of 10.1.'06

(Note: I like the way Mark took advantage of this great hallway that was pointed out during class to go make a dramatic self-portrait afterwards, using all of the leaned techniques and compositional elements combined.  Move to the front of the class Mark!  MS)

We rec'd this from Mark with his photo.

     Thanks for imparting your wisdom, creativity and knowledge.  Two days does not a master make, or Rome wasn’t built in two days.  But if you are able to duplicate yourself
you will need half the time. See attached (upper photo).
     Photoshop manipulation was crop, levels, curves.  No cut and paste.  How did he do that? 
     I was explaining to my wife on Saturday night the improvements possible to my images. She jumped right in talking like a pro after 10 minutes.  So, I told her we need to visit the studio. So look for us some weekend.  ...

Mark Albert

"...I really enjoyed the class and I came out with a lot more value from it than I thought I would.  It made me want to use my camera for other uses besides my commercial photography too.  It opened the door to the joy of photography ... help me become a complete artist."

Rick Whitehead, advanced level photographer,
N. San Diego County
Class of 11.5-6.'05


Click photo to enlarge.
Copyright Chris Parson, 2007

Ghost Students by advanced photographer Chris Parson, class of 1.6-7.07.

Some comments from Chris:

"...Action Packed, come with your thinking cap on, leave your pre-conceived notions at home and be prepared to have your eyes opened up.  The outdoor session - I loved learning a new train of thought required to make "ART" and I felt it was easy to understand, just difficult to put into play when all my bad habits wanted to keep filling my mind."

...Day 1, theory: "Comprehension was easy."  Day II- "translating it to a photo is where the going gets tough... Remembering how much more satisfying it is to put the camera on manual, thinking about proper light, exposure, f-stops and "making" a photo versus "taking" one."

how_tough/respectful_was_day_one_critiquing: "Rough but fair. But always done with an explanation."

how_tough/respectful_was_day_one_critiquing: "Little rougher, but that comes from it being harder trying to produce in a confined space with limited time."



"I would like to personally thank the many students whose praise
makes my work all the more enjoyable. Thanks for
taking the time to critique me, encourage me and to help me improve too." MS

Go to Guest book and request more
info/sign up for class dates announcements.




But IF you still Need more inspiration...


But still, how is the MAGIC done?
How can Michael teach us more in one day than folks receive in two years of college classes? Heck, I've got a degree, I'm pretty smart even, that just does not compute.

THE BIG SECRET...  learning from one particular instructor with a photo-art degree that had learned 'how the eye actually moves through a piece of art', the only instructor of many that knew, per the masters like DaVinci and Michelangelo, Michael has taken that knowledge and built on it, becoming a master in that art itself.

"...I learned more in 3 days than I had in several school classes ... The class was fun not dreary! I would definitely recommend it. MAGIC revealed..."

Tamara Ames, beginner, San Diego, CA.,
Yosemite class of 3.20-23.'09


That's how he wins so many awards, applying the 'masters thought processes', way past 'rule of thirds'- that's kids stuff, on HOW TO ACTUALLY CONTROL peoples eyes, and keep them IN THE ART. And what 'things' in the scene that will 'ruin' that process; he shows you what they are, and how to keep an eye out for them, how to 'fix' you old photos and how to use this knowledge to go forward with making strong art from now on.

And even after explaining/showing it to the students, even pros, it takes two entire days trying to incorporate this process into their creating to even begin to get a clue of how this will now be of great value, and to see it work in your, now, 'art'. Nobody can easily, and no one can perfect these thought processes without years of practice.

Michael gives you shortcuts that he's come up with, things the 'masters' never even knew (since there was no photography then to practice it with)!

So, let's just stop for a second and evaluate this students comments for a second, he came from Massachusetts after hearing about 'the magic' that could be leaned, word of mouth actually, (from another advanced student who came down from San Francisco). "...Michael first showed some of his art, then discussed how we 'look' at a photo, and what makes us want to continue to look at a photo (this took a few hours).

We then each showed our work, and all, including Michael, critiqued it with an eye toward helping us improve composition. It was amazing to see Michael look at a somewhat interesting but vague or defocused photo, and in moments with cropping, make it into art. He did this time and time again. We didn't gain Michael's eye or skill in one day, but we began to understand, and often as a group we were able to dramatically improve (each others) compositions by cropping. ..."

He goes on to say it was well worth coming from N. England for the class.

Click photo to enlarge. All rights reserved, copyright Michael Seewald 1989-2011
Ghost of Florence, Italy, '89
(Note: most don't even see the ghost, and no, it's not the people's back)

But really, can this all be true, or is it pie in the sky? You selling beans for a bean stock to us Seewald's? I just don't know.

You tell us: Although Michael hardly ever enters competitions, he wins often. Why? Question, could it be plain LUCK? Good question, very good, let's take a look. Take Ghost of Florence, Italy '89: It has been entered, over the years, in four different competitions, two of which were against 'all arts combined'- ie paintings, photos  and sculptures, let's see how he did.

FIRST entry was into the San Diego Readers Annual International Photo Competition, sponsored by the Museum of Photographic Art, San Diego, 1991 (he entered only one image, and entered this competition only once in his life). It was judged by the owner of Photo Metro Magazine, a fine art publication published out of San Francisco, they flew him down to judge. How did it fare? It took Best of Show, Color, out of hundreds of world-wide entries. It ran on the front cover in Full Color, you can not buy the cover- how cool. By the way, one of the buyers for the museum dug into his 'other' pocket and bought one for his own collection!

SECOND entry was into the San Diego Art Institutes 'So. California juried competition', against over 300 paintings, 50 photos and 10 sculptures, and judged by a sculptor! How did it fare? It took 'Jurors Choice', besting all arts combined. What would have been your odds? Well, one in every 360 years. But he won.

THIRD entry was into the San Diego Fair's 'International Photographic Competition', it won an Honorable Mention, and considering only one in three get accepted, and a few hundred images per category, it's kinda like a 6th place, not bad. (By the way, one time he took BEST OF SHOW there, in 1996, besting over 3,300 world-wide entries with his Canal Reflections, Venice, Italy '94. (What's your odds? Well, once in every 3,300 years, not TOO GOOD, but as Michael only enters it every three or four years, the ODDS in his case ARE ACTUALLY ONE IN EVERY 10,000 YEARS!) But he won.

And final and FOURTH entry:  Michael entered it into the San Dieguito Art Guild's 'annual juried competition' in Encinitas, California. It was up against some 150 paintings, photos and sculptures, a smaller competition, but still mostly professional artists. How did it fare? It won 'Best of Show' and the coveted 'Grumbacher Gold Award'. It was the first time the organization had been able to present it, and took 30 years of hoop jumping to be able to award it. Grumbacher is, of course, an oil paint making company!

So, maybe he's just LUCKY, or maybe he knows what he's doing/talking about/teaching? Why, what are the odds of winning three out of four major, or semi-major, competitions like this? Don't even want to try and figure it out, but in the one in millions for sure.


By the way, Michael had 12 folks pre-purchase a set of Italian images he had not created yet, it was his eighth time/trip doing so (now over 55 trips around the world through his unique sponsorship program that the Lord has blessed him with, idea wise). But how did Ghost of Florence do during the choosing process? Good question, the folks had some 30 photos to choose from, and after the 12 picked their favorites, the Ghost of Florence. was still in the un-chosen pile! That's right, it was a 'reject', not by Michael, but by them! "What's wrong with them" most folks say after seeing the Ghost of Florence, "it's wonderful". Yes, BUT Michael has so many strong images even the 'left-overs' are good enough to win Best of Show's in competitions, and they do!

And that's what he says to his students, that he wants their rejects, the ones nobody wants, to win museum awards, like his do.

By the way, the Ghost of Florence is still for sale in various sizes, starting as low as $750 for an 11x14, e-mail for prices of large ones, he makes them up to 40x50".



But, you say, isn't this knowledge passed on from all teachers? NO, most don't know it, and not many professionals either. One acquaintance told Michael recently 'he's just as good as Seewald, maybe better, 'cause he's been shooing longer! LONGER? It's not the amount of time doing it, it's the amount of time DOING IT RIGHT!

"I've seen folks shooting a lot longer than me, but still can't make a photo to save their lives" Michael has told us, "and they don't even know it. A lot of guys come into the gallery and say, 'here, look at my work, it's just like yours- you should sell it', and then I look, and am aghast that they don't see the difference from the poorly composed images and mine, maybe they never will!"

In fact, Michael has also said, "Look at all that art in La Jolla, dozens of galleries and 95% of it I wouldn't want for free, boring! Not that they don't 'technically' know how to put paint on a canvas, they are 'nice' and all, but not something I'd take precious wall space up for, even at $5,000 each, you keep 'em!"

So, not many artists EVER learn it. AND Michael knows what they DID NOT TEACH that they should have, either from not knowing, or not being able to teach it! BUT he teaches you, and isn't that all that really matters!


"...The night after the first day I was unable to sleep well, conceptualizing in my mind what had been learned, reapplying it to photos I had brought to class that day ... I have not been so excited about my photography in years. Michael's instruction would help ANY photographer improve their work, and allowed me to take "nice" photos I had, and turn them into dynamic pieces of art..... "

Dan McGeorge, Advanced Level (And now gallery owner of his own)
Lakeside, California
Class of 3.'05/ Carmel Class and Portrait Class of 5.'09



YES, Michael knows what you SHOULD know, and that's what he teaches. But HOW?

Again, by boiling it all down and giving us just the MEAT, no potatoes, no broth, no nada, ONLY MEAT, that's how!!!

And that's the secret to the "I learned more from Seewald on day one than in two years of college" testimonies. No wonder some pros have called him out on it, it does not seem possible, and with the average professor, yes, it's impossible.

Yet other pros will tell you, those that realized Michael's art is that strong overall, that it's worth even going across the country to attaint his knowledge base, that he's worth way more than he charges. "How could you pay what it's worth", Michael asks, "what's your time worth, what is a college degree and 40 years of my knowledge worth, thousands actually, but who is going to pay that?" Exactly, who? Nobody. But then again, doesn't that make these classes such a deal at only $695 for three days, or about a $1,000 for joining him for three or four days in Napa, Yosemite or elsewhere?

And besides, I too was amazed at what your learn. Michael 'made' me take it, as I'd collected his work for a few years (sponsored 6 trips when I was a nanny, all on lay-away, all before we started dating), then married him. And then I sold his art in our gallery. At the end of day one of class I asked him, "Michael, do you really think of ALL THOSE THINGS (it was mind boggling in extent and depth) when we are out on the road?" His answer, "Valerie, even more", and then he went on to remind me how he sometimes 'dodges and burns' in mid-air in front of the lens at dusk or night, saving time from having to do it in the darkroom (when darkrooms were around that is). NOTE: he did teach me a bit of darkroom work, and I even printed some of our wedding photos in his (our) color darkroom! ;/)

Valerie Seewald




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Michael Seewald Galleries
Del Mar Plaza
1555 Camino Del Mar, Ste. 312, Del Mar, California, 92014 USA 
Phone: 858.793.3444 

Open Wed. thru Sun., 2 p.m. till 8 p.m.
Friday and Saturdays till 10 p.m..
Call first if going out of your way, we sometimes close to run errands.

© 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016  Michael Seewald.  All rights reserved.
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