The Year in Review: 2023 at Visual Education

As 2023 comes to an end, it’s the perfect time to look back at another action-packed year here at Visual Education. We’ve been busy – and so have you!

The biggest event of the year was of course the launch of our new brand in February. We began the year as Karl Taylor Education, but we’re ending it as Visual Education. Why?

It’s simple, really. As we continue to expand the range of visual-art genres and contributing experts featured on our platform, we wanted a new identity to reflect our commitment to delivering effective and entertaining online education across ALL aspects of the visual arts – lighting, photography, filmmaking, post-production, CGI, makeup artistry and more.

Want to know more about the rebrand? Check out this Q&A with Karl.


Get Certified With LEVELS

Test and certify your photography and lighting knowledge with Karl Taylor’s expertly curated collection of classes and tests.

Meet your new makeup master

As if to prove our eagerness to branch out, we launched a brand-new Makeup Artistry section this year. Led by experienced and award-winning makeup artist Tamara Tott, these new classes delve into every stage of the professional makeup process, from the basic tools and materials to cutting-edge contemporary techniques.

Whether you’re a budding makeup artist or a photographer keen to get to grips with this crucial aspect of fashion and beauty work, these easy-to-follow classes are perfect.

Tamara tott makeup classes

Tamara Tott's Makeup Artistry Masterclasses

Filmmaking fun

We were also very excited to launch a new Advanced Filmmaking section this year. The star of these new classes is acclaimed director and liquids specialist Barry Makariou. Barry has worked with some of the biggest brands in the worlds, including Coca-Cola, Bailey’s, Nike, and many more.

Freepour Promo Film Shoot (Part 1)

You’ve never seen a film shoot quite like this. Want to go behind the scenes? Feel free…

His promo film shoot for the bartending app Freepour forms the backbone of this series of classes, which gives you incredible behind-the-scenes access to every aspect of the project, from the amazing motion-control robots Barry used to capture stunning slo-mo footage to the precise lighting techniques involved.

To give an even clearer sense of how big promo shoots unfold, Barry delivered a 3-class series covering every step of a filmmaking project he did for Mountain Dew.

Highlights from our 2023 filmmaking classes.

Super CGI

Also bringing exciting new classes to Visual Education this year were our CGI superstars Ethan Davis and Corey Rive. Ethan went head-to-head with Karl in a CGI-vs-photography shootout as the two artists competed to produce the best Dior Savage image. The two also collaborated on a Chivas Regal image, with Ethan creating a CGI background for Karl’s bottle shot.

Aston Martin Sports Car CGI

Turbocharge your CGI skills with this step-by-step Blender tutorial.
Meanwhile, Corey demonstrated how to create and use custom textures, and walked our members step-by-step through his Aston Martin sports car CGI project. He also revealed the Adobe After Effects tool and techniques he used to transform Karl’s infamous 'Mad Hatter' photoshoot into a mesmerising digital animation.
 Highlights from our 2023 CGI classes.

Photography first

We may be branching out into more and more new genres, but photography will always be our first love – which is why we kept releasing new photography classes throughout 2023! For example, Karl Taylor extended (and completed) his popular Wall Art Shells series with White Water, The Black Pearl, Macro and Against the Tide.
Photography classes
A selection of final images from our 2023 photography classes.
When it comes to product photography, in addition to his Dior Sauvage shoot, Karl tackled two other fragrances: Mugler Angel and YSL Libre. He also added two new classes to our fashion photography section in the form of White Blocks and Solar Flair (both of which come with detailed post-production demonstrations).

LIVE-ing it up

On top of all these classes, we also went LIVE a total of 19 times. That’s 19 opportunities to watch experienced professionals reveal their secrets in real time! Several of those saw Karl Taylor demonstrating useful lighting techniques to help photographers capture the best possible images. Popular shows included Photographing Furniture: Modern Chair, Stroboscopic Flash Techniques and Male Portraiture With DIY Canvas Background.

Speaking of backgrounds, our very own creative director Tom Gaudion hosted two super-useful LIVE workshops on Making DIY Canvas Backdrops and Creating DIY Backgrounds and Surfaces. 


Imitating the Satellite Staro

Want to achieve beautiful lighting on a budget? Discover how to make this amazing DIY modifier.
Live shows

A selection of images from our 2023 live photography workshops.

We also added two new episodes to our occasional chat show series. The first was a fascinating interview with commercial and industrial photographer Alex Wallace, who had many interesting stories and insights to share. The second saw Karl and Emma discuss Tackling a Commercial Brief, covering everything you need to know about this crucial aspect of life as a successful visual artist.

On the subject of commercial briefs, several of our LIVE shows were dedicated to our ongoing Working to a Brief project series. Visual Education members honed their skills by responding to briefs including , making the most of the chance to receive Karl’s honest professional feedback on their efforts.

Critiques and Working to a brief
A selection of the images our members created for Working to a Brief projects in 2023.
The feedback was also in abundance during Karl’s LIVE members’ image critiques. This year’s critiques covered food photography, one-light photography, and cosmetics products. Whether or not you submitted an image of your own, watching the replays of these critiques is bound to improve your photography, post-production and/or CGI abilities.
Image critiques
A selection of members' images submitted for Karl's live critiques this year.

Cool competitions

In addition to our critiques, we received a huge quantity of excellent entries for our competitions this year. As always, judging these competitions was both challenging and exciting, with Karl and the team engaging in many energetic discussions as we decided who would be receiving their awesome Manfrotto prizes.

In January, Mariusz Cieszewski took the top spot with this spectacular ‘Shadows’ shot.

Shadow winner

© Mariusz Cieszewski

In May, Alexander Kaiser emerged victories with this ‘Beauty’ of an image.
Beauty winner

© Alexander Kaiser

And in October, our ‘Explore’ contest was won by Gary Collyer, whose winning shot displayed exquisite control of light and skilful composition.
Explore winner

© Gary Collyer

As these talented Visual Education subscribers learned, you have to be in it to win it! So be sure to enter our current competition, which invites you to go ‘Vintage’…

That community spirit

Of course, not everyone has a competitive streak, which is why we offer numerous ways to get involved in the Visual Education community. That community kept growing this year – we love to see it!

Our members’ Facebook group, for instance, continued to expand. We love our group – it’s a terrific place to share your images, ask your questions, give and receive constructive feedback, and more. If you haven’t already joined, come say hello!

Meanwhile, our weekly challenges inspired members to experiment with new techniques and put into practice the skills they’ve picked up from our classes. From eggs to shadows and books to fruit, these prompts are a perfect way to expand your creative horizons. So if you haven’t risen to the challenge yet, why not give it a try?

We also continued to celebrate some of our most talented and inspirational subscribers in our Member Spotlight series. In 2023, we profiled Nicola Redfern, Michele Cozzolino and Masa Usuki – it was a pleasure to showcase these members and their awesome achievements.

Looking forward to '24

As 2023 comes to an end, we’re looking forward to next year and lining up lots of exciting new content to keep you learning and growing.

Naturally, we’ll be releasing regular new classes throughout 2024, covering lighting, photography, post-production, CGI, filmmaking, makeup artistry and more. You can also expect new sections devoted to fine art and generative AI – watch this space…

It should go without saying that there’ll be new Working to a Brief assignments, new competitions, new LIVE workshops, new opportunities to get your work critiqued, and much more. It’s all part of the service as we strive to bring you world-class online education across the visual arts.

Thanks for your support and see you in 2024!

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