While the Garden offers well-known, top-notch Desert Landscape School classes, it also offers a wide array of other educational programs, including a host of photography classes for all skill levels, from the casual iPhone® photographer to the professional looking to master composition and editing techniques. In addition to attracting diverse students, the Garden’s picture-perfect setting has drawn some of Arizona’s best photographers to become instructors and exhibitors—currently Dr. John P. Schaefer’s “Flowers & Form” photography exhibit is on display in Ottosen Gallery. As a special spring treat, we asked three of our instructors to share a few tips.

Robert McBride

  • carefully about the foreground of your shots. By placing a point of interest in your foreground, you give those viewing your images both a way into your shots as well as creating a sense of depth.
  • Good landscapes will have either a dominant foreground or sky—unless you have one or the other, your shot can end up being fairly boring.
  • Every photo needs a focal point to hold the viewer’s interest. This can be anything—an interesting tree, building, an animal, etc. No photograph is complete without a clearly defined subject.
  • It has been said that photography is the art of exclusion. It is just as important, when making a compelling photograph, to exclude what we do not want within the frame of our image as it is to include what we want.
  • Telling a story is powerful in a photograph, and learning to tell or imply a great visual story in each and every photo is as important in photography as it is in literature.


Robert is teaching Four Peaks and Full Moon Photography, the Adobe® Photoshop® Elements series, Hummingbird Photography,Understanding Your Camera, Capturing Desert City Lights and the Mastering the Tools series.

Lisa Langell

  • Abstract images make great contemporary art that is further enhanced by splitting the image into a triptych configuration and mounting natural elements—such as branches, vines and flower arrangements—to tie the look together.
  • Bored with single shots? Shoot a series of related or sequential images and combine them into a single impactful, artistic design.


Lisa is teaching Seven Types of Natural LightAbstract Photography and Automatic Photography.

Joanne West

  • Shoot during the golden light of early morning and late afternoon. The low angle of sunlight makes the shadows longer, the texture show up and the colors warmer.
  • When you find an interesting subject, try photographing it from many different angles of view. Looking at a common subject in a unique way can make a much more interesting photo.


Joanne is teaching Wildflower PhotographyButterfly PhotographyChasing the Milky Way and the Digital Desert Photography series.

To learn more about all of our classes and to register, visit To learn more about our instructors, visit

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