Circle of Misse

Exploring Photography

Taking time to engage the senses and see things in new ways
Taking time to engage the senses and see things in new ways 

Learn how to take more meaningful photographs while taking in the sights, smells and flavours of the Loire Valley in France. You know at least the basics of using your camera and love snapping photos any chance you get. You might even say you’re passionate about it, but you feel your photographs lack that little something to take them from "ok" to “wow”.

In our Creative Photography course, we'll walk you through the basics of what makes a photograph "good", talk theory of creative photography, offer you hands-on exercises and photographic excursions to the villages, markets, landscapes and sights of the surrounding Loire Valley. All along we will develop your photographic eye, creativity, skills and offer substantial feedback on the work you produce. By the end of the workshop, all students will have produced and edited a short series of work for presentation on the final night.

This course is available as both a full-week and part-week option.


Who Attends?  Those who have a passion for photography and who have already started or want to start thinking seriously about the photographs they take. The course can be scaled to all levels of experience, from an experienced amateur to an emerging artist, but the common ground should be an interest in pursuing creative photography with a serious mind - while having fun!

Is this a beginner’s course for photography?  No, this is not your typical “beginner’s course” for photography – we’re starting with the assumption that you know how to use your camera, and that you’ve been taking photographs for a while. This is a course that will help photographers from all skill levels (newbie, enthusiast to experienced) develop skills to bring more creativity to their photographs, teaching you to form narrative in images and series, understand what makes a good image “good” and how to make your images better. The idea is to take a look at the place you’re at with your photography now, and look at theory and practice to improve it creatively and become a more thoughtful photographer.

Should I already have a project in progress to attend?  No, that’s not necessary, but it’s fine if you do. We will use our explorations, exercises and discussions to generate new ideas and create new photographic stories.

Do I need to be interested in a particular genre or type of photography?  No, not necessarily. We’ll be focusing on creative photography, but part of understanding what that means is also looking at the boundaries of existing photographic genres. If you find yourself limited by the genre you’re working in, or looking to try something new, this course will be an ideal playground for those explorations.

What if I want to learn about how to use my camera better?  Naturally, some elements of craft will come up as germane to our coursework, but the emphasis will be on creativity. That means not getting too bogged down in technical issues or talking about gear, both of which can be distracting to that goal. That’s why it’s so important to only bring cameras and equipment that you already feel comfortable with.
So, if you mainly want to learn about the right f-stop for product shots, how to set up light kits or get advice on the best lens to expand your camera gear, and those sorts of technical topics, this is likely not the course you’re looking for.

How does it work?  Created and led by Katherine Oktober Matthews, this unique and highly-effective course gently guides you in using influential works of photography, theory and thoughtfulness, as well as your individuality and the sensory experiences of being in the French countryside, to naturally kick start your creativity and produce photography that will inspire you to keep going. Working with visits to the local sites such as chateaus, market, vineyards and areas of natural beauty form the core of this truly holistic experience that will show you how to think, see and photograph more creatively.

What will I leave with?  The confidence to take creative risks with your photography, play with imagery and write your stories with pictures. You will learn to block out your internal critic long enough to take the images you want, and how to turn your internal editor back on to choose the images that work. You will heighten your powers of observation, your openness and ability to see connections between things. That will also allow you to internalize and use them organically. You will also leave with at least one short series of images that can be used as a building block to your visual storytelling capacity and give you the confidence to keep experimenting and growing your photography, not to mention serving as an incredible souvenir to show others of your skills.

See Dates and Costs for all details and booking information.

Misse in Pictures

  • Writers reap rewards from the cookery school

  • A river walk to explore and engage the senses

  • Circle of Misse in the Spring

  • A sensory exercise in the Misse garden

  • Misse Wildflower Meadow

  • Enjoying an early spring lunch al fresco