Online Photography Classes with Ricky Tims

2024 Photo Challenge Part 1


This is Part 1 (26 weeks) of Ricky's 52-Week digital photo course. It begins with the basics and progresses through camera techniques, Lightroom, Photoshop, special effects, and composition. 

Class Example Image

Save through the year!
Part 2 (13 weeks)
Early bird price will be only $99.00 - Registration begins in June

Part 3 (13 week)
Early bird price will be a steal at $49.00 - Registration begins in September

Please also watch the trailer and image gallery above.

Welcome to the tenth anniversary of my 52-Week Photo Challenge Class! I'm excited to share the year with you!

The step-by-step, slow-paced, and manageable lesson plan features a wealth of information and covers a variety of subjects.

You will learn basic camera techniques (DSLR or mirrorless cameras), Lightroom and Photoshop, as well as numerous specialty techniques. A constant reminder about compositional elements and principles, as well as artful seeing and careful framing, are at the forefront of the class.  Your 2024 photo journey starts here. You will never see your world the same again. You will learn to find beauty everywhere even in the most mundane places.

Participants are worldwide.

Ricky Tims leads Part 1 (26 weeks) of an in-depth, three-part, 52-week digital photography class. This is group participation/interactive class. You will become virtually familiar with the other participants taking this course. A wonderful community is built— a bonus that I didn't originally perceive.

This photo course is not self-guided, but it is self-paced. Lessons/challenges are posted each week. You review the pre-recorded lessons and downloadable PDFs on your own time at your convenience. The lessons are not LIVE making the challenge class accessible to everyone around the world.

Each week you will review the lesson and then upload one challenge assignment image each week. All participants are able to see and comment on all submitted images.

Each week Ricky selects about ten images to critique. In addition to watching/reviewing the lesson, commenting on other images and reading Ricky's selected critiques are vital to your success.

The class is perfect for anyone interested in being a better artist by using photography as a medium for creative exploration and artistic discovery. Hobbyists and travelers will benefit too. You will learn to look at your world with an artistic eye. Proper camera gear and software is required - see below.

The entire course (52 Weeks) when compared to other online photography courses is a $1200+ value. Please note: Most online courses are self-contained and self-paced. This course is virtually interactive with the other participants and the instructor. The bite-sized lessons make it easy to commit to the year of challenges.

Part 1 (first 26 weeks) is a $599 value. 
After January 1st, Full price, $599 for Part 1

All Part 1 participants will have the opportunity to register for Part 2 (13 weeks for only $99) and Part 3 (the final 13 weeks for only $49).

What You Will Learn
     • Learn camera basics
     • Learn in-camera specialty techniques
     • Learn the elements of art and principles of design
     • Learn Lightroom and Photoshop
     • Learn Special editing plug-ins such as Topaz

Class begins Sunday, December 31, 2022

Pre-class information/lessons will begin mid-December

Part 2 (13 weeks)
Class price will be $99.00 - Registration begins in June

Part 3 (13 week)
Early bird price will be $49.00 - Registration begins in September

WATCH THIS VIDEO featuring 40+ student images.

Please read the following Q & A carefully.

Q: Who should take this class?
A: Everyone who is interested in photography regardless of his or her artistic medium or skill level. Young and old, near and far, and experienced and inexperienced. All are welcome.

Q: Can I submit previous images that I have taken previously that fit the challenge theme?
A: All submitted photos must be NEW photos. All challenge photos must be taken during the week of the challenge, never before. This is not a class to highlight your previous accomplishments no matter how wonderful or pertinent they may be.

Q: When do classes start?
The first challenge/lesson begins December 31, 2023 and continues weekly with new lessons/challenges posting each Sunday. A new streaming video and/or downloadable lesson is issued each week. With very few exceptions, each week has a video tutorial and .PDF for the challenge lesson. The class builds on the previous lessons so keeping up with the weekly challenges is vital. 

Q: How much time will the course require?
The first eight weeks will require the most time due to the learning curve of becoming familiar with the class format and the newness of what must be learned at the beginning. Expect to spend at least 2 hours minimum the first few weeks. After than, about an hour or two is all that is required. Many students will be inspired to spend more time.

Q:What type of Camera do I need? 
A: REQUIRED: You will need a DSLR or Mirrorless Camera with changeable lenses. This class is not intended for those using point-n-shoot cameras or smart phones. This is not a smart phone photo course. There are consumer cameras that can access the features listed below by going into the screen menu. These are not recommended. Having the primary dials for settings on the camera body will be much more user-friendly. In general, if you can change lenses, you will have what you need. If you have a camera with a built-in lens, I would suggest investing in an upgrade.

You will need the ability to shoot in Manual Mode, Shutter Priority Mode and Aperture Priority Mode. Some cameras will have an image stabilization or vibration reduction on/off feature, which can be beneficial, but not required. Before class starts, read your camera manual, learn where your manual adjustments are located. The sooner you know how to quickly make adjustments to functions like ISO settings, shutter speed, over/under exposure, etc., the quicker you can focus on taking pictures instead of feeling lost and confused with your camera. A camera with external buttons/dials for quickly changing aperture, shutter speed, and ISO is recommended. We will start with the basics and progresses with the assumption the students have zero camera knowledge. 

Q: How do I know what camera to buy if I don't have one?
A: There are a variety of brands to choose from. However, the majority of photographers are split into the Nikon camp or the Canon camp. Sony has favorable mirrorless cameras as well. Of course, there are many other brands. Check with your local camera store and have them assist you. If you don't have a local camera shop, shopping online can be helpful. Look for a bundle that will have the camera body, two lenses, digital media, filters, camera bag and more. Those are often the best value for startup gear. 

Q: What lenses will I need?
A: REQUIRED: During this course you will need to shoot wide and zoomed. 

There are versatile zoom lenses that allow for both wide and zoomed. Most students will use two lenses, such as a 24mm-70mm and a 70mm-200mm. If you have lenses that are wider than 24mm or longer than 200mm, that is a bonus but not required. Lenses vary. The specific range stated above is just a suggestion. You will need versatility for the types of shooting we will do over the course. Specialty lenses (such as macros, fish-eye, etc.) are not required, but may certainly be used as an option from time to time. 

Q: Do I need a tripod?
A: REQUIRED: A good quality tripod is an absolute must. There are many lessons that cannot be accomplished with a hand-held camera.

PLEASE NOTE: An expensive camera should never be paired with an inexpensive, flimsy tripod. Quality tripods and head mounts are not priced at $19-$29. Expect to make the investment. Your camera needs to be matched with a tripod that will support and protect your camera. Sturdy, carbon fiber or aluminum tripods are recommended. Consider your options and select one that best suits you. Quality tripods are usually sold separately from the head mount. Tripod heads come in different styles. Tripods are best selected "in person" as are the ball heads. You will discover what features are most comfortable for you. Another consideration for tripod is twist-release leg extensions vs flip-lock leg extensions. My preference is flip-lock, but that doesn't mean a twist-release shouldn't be your personal choice.

Q: What software will I need?
A: REQUIRED: All participants must have the Creative Cloud version of Adobe Lightroom Classic and Adobe Photoshop. Additional software for editing plug-ins will be covered later in the year. There is not a requirement to purchase the additional software. 

Adobe offers the Creative Cloud option for Photoshop/Lightroom bundle for $9.99 per month (or $119.88 annually) which I highly recommend. Here is the link to get Adobe's Creative Cloud Photography Plan. It comes with Lightroom, Lightroom Classic, and Photoshop. We will only be using Lightroom Classic and Photoshop for this class. All lessons are taught using Lightroom Classic platform. There is also a Lightroom (non-classic) version. We will not be using the non-classic version. Should you opt to use Lightroom instead of Lightroom Classic, you will need to make any adjustments and learn the differences on your own. My guidance will not be available for the Lightroom version. I will be using and teaching Lightroom Classic.

FOLLOW THIS LINK TO GET YOUR SOFTWARE. On the link click BUY NOW to see the options.

The Adobe Creative Cloud is a new way of getting software apps. It is licensed rather than purchased, making it very accessible to everyone. Using the Creative Cloud means that when there is an update, there is no charge for the new version. The monthly or annual fee ensures you can get all updates. You can use either the PC or the Apple platform. Video lessons will be demonstrated using the Apple platform. The differences between the two platforms are minor. 

Lightroom, Lightroom Classic, and Photoshop (along with 20G of storage) comes with the plan I am recommending. You will only  need to install Photoshop and Lightroom Classic.

SELECT THE 9.99 per month - Photography Plan (20GB).

SEE SCREEN SHOT FROM ADOBE PAGE BELOW - The suggested plan is outlined in RED.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use Photoshop Elements for this class?
No. Please use the latest version of Photoshop.

Can I use older versions of Photoshop and Lightroom?
No. Please get the latest version of software listed above.

Will I learn how to photograph my quilts?
Not specifically. The photo skills you learn will allow you to take much better photos of your quilts, but many (if not most) in the class are not quilters. You will learn to be a better photographer which in turn will help you to better photograph your artworks.

About the Class Format:
You will review the lesson on your own at your own convenient time. You don't have to login at a specific time to learn and watch. 
1. Review the lesson first.
2. Take your photo, process it, and save/export it. (You will learn how to do so in class).
3. Upload it to the class gallery - ONLY ONE PHOTO IS ALLOWED EACH WEEK!

The challenge and lessons are self-contained each week, but the year progresses with lessons building on the previous lessons.

Evaluation of Images 
Each week I will select 10-12 images to evaluate and critique. Therefore, not every image submitted will be critiqued. The critiques will be presented to the entire class to be read/viewed by all participants. By reading my comments on a cross section of images you are then expected to evaluate your own image based on my comments. Naturally everyone wants glowing critiques but critical comments are necessary in order for the group to learn. Images showing both shortcomings and successes are necessary. Wear a thick skin if I make a negative comment. It is for the purpose of learning. My goal is to teach and inspire—not discourage.

I will always strive to pair my critiques with words of encouragement. Please understand that critical comments are vital to the course. I won’t be selecting a cross section of "only the best" photos. I’ll be looking for images that are inspirational, but I will also be selecting images that will help the group learn. 

Types of Challenges/Assignments 
This course will teach you a variety of things: Camera technique, composition, software, and SO MUCH more.

Camera technique: If you are a novice at making the camera do what you want (rather than having the camera make automatic choices for you, i.e. “point and shoot”), you will learn many techniques – like depth of field, bracketing, and panning. You will learn to be in charge of your all settings including ISO.

Composition: A significant part of the class will be dedicated to composition by exploring the Elements of Art and Principles of Design.

Software: I will also teach a variety of techniques using Lightroom and Photoshop. There will be challenge weeks that are theme based only so that you will not be limited by a special technique or design challenge assignment. Added this year will be lessons on certain editing plug-ins. You will have the option to purchase those or not, but I will teach how to use them.

How does the class share images?
The lessons are presented at my own teaching website: But your photos are shared on a photo sharing site called Students are provided with a unique upload link each week. The images are uploaded to a gallery at Smugmug.comYou do not have to purchase a Smugmug account to upload images or to view the images and participate in the class and view the images. However, you will need to login to Smugmug to interact and add a comment on someone else's image. This will be explained in more detail during class.

Who Can Comment?
This is an interactive class and everyone should attempt to review the submissions of their classmates and add comments. However, in order to protect from spammers, only allows comments when visitors are logged in to Smugmug (not to my site, You can log in to Smugmug using either:
     1. Your own Smugmug account (Power Plan is $13 per month- but NOT required for class.) 
     2. Login via Facebook account
     3. Login via Google account

In reality, while is is not required, all students should be associated with a photo sharing website such as Facebook, Smugmug, Flickr, Picassa, ect. Since you are only allowed to submit ONE photo to the class gallery each week, having a photo sharing site allows students to share links to a photo gallery with multiples images. This option is available via adding a link in the comment section - further explained when class begins.

Inevitably, the group creates a bond and will connect with each other. Since only one image is allowed per student per week in our challenge gallery having an account with a photo sharing site is very helpful.

How does the schedule work?
All times are based on Mountain Time (Colorado). New classes and challenges are pre-scheduled to post every Sunday morning at 1am. Challenge images may be uploaded anytime during the following week. The deadline for posting is the following Sunday night at midnight—eight days later. You will get a class email each Sunday morning when the new lesson is posted. It contains the new challenge as well as a reminder that the previous week's image is due. This schedule means that once class starts, Sunday is an "overlap" day. The new lesson is posted while that same day is winding down to the deadline of the previous week.

How do I get acquainted with other students?
Because we interact as a class, you will be known by your name. You will use your full real name. I will learn who you are by your name and not a nickname or user name.

How are images critiqued?
It is not possible to critique every image that is submitted. However, there are at least three times throughout the year that I will comment on every photo submitted that week. Critiques on selected images will be posted in the comment section on Smugmug. This will all be explained once class begins.

For each challenge I will select my choice for Photo of the Week. It is purely a selfish decision. Picking just one favorite image each week is always challenging because there are always many exciting images. The choice is personal and my self-indulgence during the year. It is not "the best" photo. It's is simply one I choose to be Photo of the Week. 


What is my commitment?
Course Dedication 
It is estimated that you will need about 1-2 hours each week for this class. At first you may find you spend about 2-4 hours if you are just learning your software or other concerns.

If after the first 26 weeks you are inspired to continue, you can choose to continue on with Part 2, and subsequently, Part 3.

Deadlines for submission must be met on time each week. Late submissions are cumbersome from an administration aspect. Please don't submit challenge photo late.

I do not monitor who posts and who doesn't post. Should you find you have to miss a week here or there, or find that life gets in the way, don't worry, the lessons are still being posted and you can review them in the future at any time. Please don't post your images after that week's deadline. Your registration gives you permanent access to the lessons. They are yours forever - yes, that means next year and beyond!

What Happens to These Lessons in the Future?
You will forever be able to login and access the lessons and videos associated with your purchased classes. If you find you have to take a break from the challenges, but would like to review these on your own in the future, they will always be there for you to login and access under your My Classes tab. The My Classes tab only appears when you are logged in to


The lessons on design and Photoshop are wonderful. And the opportunity for growth that Ricky provides is invaluable! I thought this class would be about photography, which it is of course, but so much more. You will learn to refine how you see and to dig deep into your inner artist. – R. Miracle 

Every Sunday morning, like a kid waiting for Santa, I open up the next lesson. Lessons continuously build our skills with the camera, composition and the use of Photoshop to enhance our pictures. Ricky quickly responds to questions and classmates are eager to share their knowledge and provide assistance. I recommend this class to anyone who truly wants to get to know their DSLR and become a better photographer. – C. Shaw 

Your photography skills—composition, knowing your camera, and processing will grow exponentially over the course. Best of all, each lesson’s scope is a do-able “bite-size.” If you have more time, you can go deeper, learning from fellow students’ work. Recently, I took my son’s Senior (HS) portrait and the comments were “looks professional!” That’s thanks to how much I have learned this year. A FAB class….and wanting more! – S. A. Smith 

The 52 Week Photography Challenge has been a worthwhile adventure into the technical and creative aspects of making photographs. My favorite aspect is being motivated on a weekly basis to get out and shoot. This year with Ricky has rekindled my love of photography. – J. Puntnam 

I loved the 52 week photo challenge class. I learned tons about camera settings and post editing techniques. Tutorials were excellent and your weekly critiques were honest yet kind and taught me so much about photography and art principles. Thanks for a wonderful year! – J. A. Banks 

Learning Photoshop in babysteps has taken away the fear. Shooting photos every week, I finally feel in control of the camera. Ricky and the other participants are always there for you... with helpful tips and encouragement. And reviewing photos from all across the country as well as Europe and Australia has been a delight. – Kari "Safari" Bauer



Have a question? Ask the Teacher

Included in the Class

27 video lessons
22 lesson downloads