A Year in Review: 2021 at Visual Education

Much like the year that preceded it, 2021 pitched plenty of curveballs and kept us very much on our toes. But despite the many challenges it sent our way, this year was another great one here at Visual Education. Let’s look back at what went on!

We’re always working hard to enhance your experience of our platform. That’s why we introduced a host of new features this year, all of which inspired lots of positive feedback. Most of these new features can be found on our newly redesigned My Home Page.

The one we’re most proud of is our Lighting Comparison Visualiser. This handy tool enables you to test and compare 25+ lighting modifiers without having to take a single photo.

From softboxes to octaboxes, flooters to snoots, parabolic umbrellas to Pulso Spots, you can experiment with hard and soft light, contrast, skin tone and texture, shadow sharpness, catchlights, crispness, and much, much more.

Want to see how we built the tool? Check out the epic beauty shoot Karl conducted as he tested out every single modifier in the studio.

Lighting comparison visualiser shoot

Shooting for the Lighting Comparison Visualiser


Lighting Modifier blog

Use our Lighting Comparison Visualiser to find out which modifier best suits your needs.
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We were also very excited to roll out our brand-new Calendar feature. With so much going on at KTE from one week to the next, some members used to find it challenging to keep on top of everything on offer. Now, thanks to the calendar, it’s easy to stay up to date and organised.

Also helpful is our new My Bookmarks feature. You can now bookmark as many classes as you like – favourites to revisit, half-watched videos to go back and finish, or classes to watch in future. All you have to do is click the Bookmark icon at the lower-right corner of the video player. Ta-da!

Speaking of classes, we’ve been busy adding captions to our videos, and translating those captions into a range of languages (including Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Spanish, Hindi and Japanese).

As 2021 comes to a close, around 95% of our classes are now fully captioned, with the majority translated, too. We’ve also started making headway on captioning our live show replays. All in all, it’s a mammoth, ongoing task — but we won’t rest until it’s done!

Living la vida lockdown

The year was only three weeks old when we went back into COVID lockdown. Fortunately, the previous twelve months had turned us into WFH experts, so we quickly got back into the swing of remote work.

Though we missed hanging out at VE HQ, we at least got to spend more quality time with our beloved furry friends.

Working from home but not alone

More importantly, we kept expanding our platform. During those long lockdown weeks, we released several new classes. These included a high-concept fashion photoshoot about the Hazards of the Perfection Paradigm, some more instalments from our Professional Car Photography sessions, and an Antique-Style Saddle shoot.

Lockdown also didn’t put a stop to our live shows. Karl caught up with living legend Jonathan Knowles to talk about shooting video as a stills photographer. He also completed two live shoots while alone here in the studio – no mean feat!


Hazards of the Perfection Paradigm

From concept development to execution on location, follow Karl and the team on this fascinating fashion shoot.
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New classes galore

Once our local lockdown ended and we were all reunited in the studio, we really picked up the pace. In fact, over the year as a whole, we released a whopping 44 new photography classes. That’s roughly equivalent to one every eight days!

A good chunk of those new classes was represented by two new courses, which we were super excited to put out into the world.

The first of these was Getting Started in Product Photography, a series of 10 simple and accessible classes designed to fast-track your journey to product photography success.

Portrait by Christin Snyders

Stills from our new series of classes on 'Getting Started in Product Photography'


Getting Started in Product Photography

A 10-class series designed to equip you with all the knowledge you need to start taking amazing product shots.
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Whether you want to know how to make a scrim, how and why to shoot tethered, which cameras, lenses and modifiers you need, or how to master gradient lighting, this course is packed with useful tips.

The same goes for our other big release of the year: the 8-class Getting Started in Fashion Photography series. These classes cover developing concepts, sourcing clothes, networking, building your portfolio, choosing equipment, and much more.

Portrait by Christin Snyders

Stills from 'Getting Started in Fashion Photography', our new 8-class course


Getting Started in Fashion Photography

In this 8-class series, you’ll learn everything you need to know to get started in fashion photography as Karl, his team and other industry professionals share their advice, tips and tricks.
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If you’re interested in getting your foot in the door of the glamorous world of fashion photography, this course tells you everything you need to know.

What else did we cover? Well, we built some studio blocks and frames and then used them for a couple of fashion shoots: A Monochromatic Moment in Time and Dual Lighting.

Our Automotive Product Photography section got turbo-charged with some stellar new content. In  addition to adding new classes from our epic Professional Car Photography shoot, we also brought you Karl getting up close and personal with a Harley Davidson Night Rod – a true masterclass in studio lighting.

That same sexy Harley also made an appearance in the lighting theory class we put out later in the year. If you’ve ever struggled to position a light correctly, or to control a glaring reflection, Angles of Incidence and Reflection will get you up to speed.


Angles of Incidence and Reflection

If you’ve ever struggled to position a light correctly, or wondered how to avoid glaring reflections in an image, this class will answer all of your questions.
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Live and thriving

As if we weren’t already spoiling you with so many new classes, we also streamed a total of 25 live shows. In addition to the Jonathan Knowles interview, these included some epic live photoshoots such as Creative Portrait Lighting 2.0 and 3.0, Technical Tools Tilt-Shift, and some brilliant Beauty Photography.

Karl also shot bottles of beer and perfume, capturing some amazing results. Meanwhile, Emma and Georgie had a blast browsing local supermarkets for overripe fruit in preparation for the Natural Decay shoot. The aroma of all that rotten produce isn’t one we’ll forget for a while!

Portrait by Christin Snyders

We streamed a total of 25 live shows in 2021

Thankfully there was no mould to be found on our Styling and Shooting Burger Photography show. (Though even if there had been, the blow torches would probably have taken care of it.)

A few weeks later, we washed that tasty burger down with one of Karl’s favourite shoots of the year, when he captured a truly sensational shot of some Rémy XO Cognac. Cheers!


Rémy XO Cognac Product Shoot

Follow this product shoot step by step, from start to finish. A true masterclass in bottle and beverage photography.
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Let’s get competitive

Speaking of sensational shots, particularly exciting for us this year was the incredibly high quality of the images entered into our quarterly photography competitions.

In March, Shyjith Cheriyath earned the top prize with this striking piece of work on the theme of ‘Three’.

Portrait by Ian Jacobs

© Shyjith Cherayith

It was all ‘Yellow’ for our summer contest. First prize this time went to Alessandra Centanni for this delicious pair of pears.
Portrait by Ian Jacobs

© Alessandra Centanni

In October, we were searching for ‘Patterns’. We found our winner in this eye-catching shot by Tittu Shaji Thomas.
Portrait by Ian Jacobs

© Tittu Shaji Thomas

If you missed the chance to enter any of the above, don’t be ‘blue’. Instead, show us what you can do with it!

We’ve got one more amazing top prize to give away this year – specifically, a Broncolor Siros Lighting Kit worth $4,700+. The deadline for our ‘Blue’ competition is 31st December 2021, so make sure you’re in it for a chance to win it. Good luck!

Community central

At Visual Education, we’re all about our members. This year, we loved seeing all of your amazing photography, whether you were rising to our weekly challenges, responding to a ‘Working to a Brief’ assignment, or submitting your images to be critiqued by Karl himself.

As the year went on, our community continued to grow. Our Visual Education Members Facebook group now has more than 3,500 members, with more joining all the time. It makes us so happy to see so many of our members sharing their work and giving each other feedback, encouragement and advice!

Members' image gallery
Top (L-R): Kaleb McCubbins, Stephan Jordao Smokou, Flora Hirschmugl, Stephen Andrews. Middle (L-R): Danny Schöning, Michael Muehlemann, Hannu Mononen, Matthew Hull, Whole Bitelover, Marco Viola, mickbobyrobert. Bottom (L-R): Andy Smith, Wayne Densley, Rob Toscano, Doug Mullis, Randy Brogen, Tomaz Zaman. 

Throughout the year we saw hundreds of incredible #KTEWeeklyChallenge submissions, with people using our prompts as opportunities to boost their creativity, experiment with new techniques, and put into practice the skills they’ve picked up while watching our photography classes.

Though our weekly challenges started as a way to keep our members busy during the very first COVID lockdown, they’ve proved so popular that we plan to keep them going into 2022 and beyond. Challenge extended!

Teaming up

As our community has grown, so has our team here at VE HQ. Though we were sorry to say farewell to Ashleigh, who moved on to pastures new this summer, we cheered ourselves up by welcoming video editor Corey and copywriter Ben H.

These two new additions to the team are all part of our constant drive to optimise our offering and provide our members with the very best photography education to be found anywhere online.

We updated our About Us page this year, so if you haven’t already taken a look, now’s a great time to find out who we are, what we do, and what makes us tick.

Portrait by Ian Jacobs

Team VE

As our collective expertise broadens and deepens across photography, post-production, videography, CGI, business and marketing, and beyond, we grow ever better equipped to support you on your photography journey. And more support equals more success!

Looking ahead to 2022

As the end of this year approaches, we’re busy working on lots of exciting new content to bring you in 2022. Unfortunately, some of it is TOP SECRET, so you’ll just have to be patient!

One exciting new feature we can tell you about is LEVELS. Our new, optional certification system will offer a structured, curated learning program to help you reach your photography goals and give you real proof of your achievements.

LEVELS will be included in your membership, which means that if you want to get certified, you'll be able to do so at no extra cost. Watch this space for more details!

Portrait by Ian Jacobs

© Karl Taylor

Meanwhile, in addition to lining up dozens of new photography classes and live photoshoots, we’re feeling optimistic and excited by the prospect of once again welcoming special guests into the studio for live, face-to-face interviews.

Though the dates are still TBC, we hope to be joined by acclaimed photographers Laura Stevens and Paddy Dowling, to name just two.

Another feature we've been working on for a while – and one we're thrilled to be able to launch in the new year – is 'Continue Watching'. Located in My Homepage, this hub will showing your recent viewing history, enabling you to keep track of which classes you've watched. Even better, for any class you've only partially completed, it'll show you exactly how far you got and how much you still have to left to watch.

We’re also committed to making sure there’s always a ‘Working to a Brief’ assignment running. In 2022, we’ll launch each new brief in the same week in which Karl reviews submissions for the previous one. That way, you can be getting professional feedback on your submission while also looking ahead to your next assignment. Seamless!

Of course, as the poet said, even the best laid plans can go awry. What lies in store for the world in 2022 remains to be seen! But whatever uncertainties await us, you can be sure that we’ll keep doing everything we can to bring you world-class online photography education.

See you in 2022.

© Visual Education. All rights reserved. No content on this page may be used or shared by third parties.

Recommended Content

Here's a selection of some our most popular classes and live shows from 2021.

Shooting and Styling Burger Photography

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Still Life

Still Life: Natural Decay

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Sourcing Clothing and Styling for Fashion Shoots on a Budget

Harley Davidson Night Rod

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Fashion Photography

A Monochromatic Moment in Time Fashion Shoot

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