Nick Carver Photography Blog

Photography Tips, Tutorials, & Videos


Featured Testimonial: Private Lessons

One of my long-time private lesson students, Cheryl McClusky-Chavez, was kind enough to share a glowing testimonial with me that I wanted to pass along to you. Cheryl is the artist behind Sadie James Photography, specializing in family portraits, maternity, children, boudoir, senior portraits and more. Her work is fantastic and she is truly a great, creative mind. Cheryl hired me to help her out in the technical aspects of photography (understanding shutter speed, aperture, ISO and all the rest) as well as streamlining her workflow so as to reduce processing time behind the computer.

Photo by Cheryl McClusky-Chavez - Sadie James PhotographyAfter Private Lessons

I've been doing photography recreationally for over 12 years. Five years ago, with the birth of my twins, Sadie and James, also came the birth of my professional photography career. They were born extremely premature at 29 weeks and spent 10 weeks in the NICU. Out of necessity I had to take portraits of them as they were not able to go to a commercial studio. The doctors warned us that their weakened immune systems could not handle being around all of the potential germs. With each passing day, I found myself documenting their miraculous journey. I always had a baby in one arm and my camera in the other. As they grew and got stronger so did my passion for photography. A few months later, what used to be a hobby had grown into a part time job, I started doing portraits for family and friends on the weekends. It was at that time that I decided I wanted to hone my photography skills and bring my photography to the next level. I went in search of books, photography courses, and anything that I thought would help me expand my knowledge.

I was so very fortunate to find Nick at Nick Carver Photography. At the time, I don't think I realized just how fortunate I was. Looking back now, over 3 years later, I can honestly say I do not know where I'd be without Nick and all of his teachings. Sometimes when people are experts in the field they are just that...experts. They do not have the ability to teach what they know to others. That is not the case with Nick, he not only takes amazing shots but can also explain how he did them in a language that everyone can understand. In all my years of working with him there has never been a technical question that he was not able to answer. More recently, as my business has grown from a part time job to a full time one, Nick has been instrumental in helping me manage and streamline my workflow. He has helped me shorten the time I spend editing and helped me organization my images more efficiently, which cuts down the time it takes me to get sessions processed for my clients.

I cannot say enough great things about Nick and his work. He is friendly, easy to work with, and has a wealth of knowledge well beyond his years. I would highly recommend him for private tutoring sessions or any of his classroom/online courses. His courses are well thought out and he has spent an immense amount of time developing and fine tuning them for his students. Whether you just got your camera or you have been shooting for years, there is always room to grow your photography knowledge and skills. Having a resource like Nick to support that growth is priceless.

- Cheryl McClusky-Chavez

Here are a couple pictures from right before I started with Cheryl:

Before Private Lessons

Before Private Lessons

Here is the kind of work Cheryl is doing today (and see the image at top):

Photo by Cheryl McClusky-Chavez - Sadie James Photography
If you're in Southern California and need some portraits, check out Sadie James Photography. You won't be disappointed.

Featured Testimonial and Student Images

The following is a testimonial from one of my students by the name of Juli. She started out with private lessons and took my Landscape Photography Class in Irvine, too. From landscapes to portraits to food, she's a very talented photographer with awesome work. See a sampling of her images below and be sure to check out her site at

Here's what she had to say about my services...

Nick is extremely talented both as a photographer and an instructor. Many in his field excel in one area or the other, but he is equally gifted in both.

Private lessons come complete with interactive presentations and customized assistance. Beyond his years of in-depth photography studies and practice, he has clearly put hours of work and dedication into his teaching strategy and materials, which expedites the learning process and connects with various learning styles.

Nick asks what you do and don't already know about photography, but he also feels out which aspects you think you know, but don't really understand properly. His corrections of my misconceptions have provided some of the biggest breakthroughs I've yet experienced, in areas I didn't even realize I was ignorant.

As someone who (self-professedly) eats, sleeps and drinks photography, Nick has a passion for the subject that makes his classes and private lessons engaging and fun. He's a fast talker and keeps the lessons moving at a speedy pace (despite being paid by the hour - you will definitely get your money's worth!), but he also creates an environment where you feel comfortable speaking up when you have "stupid" questions or get lost. And true to his skill as a teacher, when you need clarification on a subject, he will attack it from different angles until it truly makes sense to you, not just repeat the same wording until it's been beaten into your short term memory.

Nick's lessons have taught me to properly utilize the features and functions of my camera, and have made me a more knowledgeable and confident photographer. I would definitely recommend him to anyone looking to get more comfortable with their DSLR, take their photography skills to the next level, discover tips and tricks to reliably achieve the images they want and expect out of each shoot, or simply get a better grasp on all that technical stuff that they tuned out in High School Photography class. Oh, wait… was that last one just me? 🙂

In addition to a generous amount of new knowledge, I have walked away from every single session with one or more "Aha!" moments that have made (and in some cases will make, with more time and practice) a huge impact on my future shoots and photos.

Despite his youth, Nick is an experienced photographer and an adept instructor, who provides more knowledge for your buck than many instructors twice his age. You will definitely be surprised by what (and how much!) you learn.

- Juli

Image by JVD Photo

Image by JVD Photo

For information on private lessons, click here. For a list of upcoming seminars, click here.


Featured Testimonial

A couple of years ago I purchased a DSLR after seeing some breathtaking photographs online and deciding to pick up a hobby. To my dismay, my expensive investment didn't get much use because I didn't know how to take breathtaking photos of my own. I started looking for photography lessons. I don't quite remember how I stumbled upon Nick's website, but I was amazed by his work. More importantly, he offered my area and at a good rate!

Although I was uncertain what kind of learning experience I would get, I quickly found Nick to be easy to get along with and knowledgeable about his craft. Even better, he was prepared with a plan! He began our lessons by discussing the curriculum he had planned for me. For our lessons, he prepared teaching material and examples that would prove useful in explaining concepts. Rather than be told how aperture and shutter speed affect a photograph, he showed me. He was also able to explain concepts to me in various, yet effective ways. Whether it was his ability to convey a clear message or explain a concept through analogy, I found Nick to be a patient and effective teacher.

Since my lessons, my camera no longer sits around collecting dust. I may need more practice before I can take the kinds of amazing shots Nick does, but I can say that I'm making tremendous progress in taking better photographs. I amaze myself with some rather stunning photos I've taken. In the near future, I'll be looking into some of the intermediate and advanced classes Nick offers.


For information on private lessons, click here. For a list of upcoming seminars, click here.