Like so many other photographers, particularly those who follow photography related blogs, podcasts and social media, I was aware of The Arcanum since it’s (not so) humble beginnings a couple of years ago. The Arcanum is, for lack of a better description, a guided / self driven photography education experience created by Trey Ratcliff, Peter Giordano and Curtis Simmons.
For those of you that don’t know about it, the Arcanum follows the master and apprentice model, with approximately 20 apprentices grouped into cohorts being guided and encouraged by a master. The master sets up various tasks and challenges designed to assist to apprentices along a path of improvement. Of course, the subject matter and direction of your photography and what areas you feel need improvement are mostly driven by the apprentice, as is the pace of your progress.
Cohort members post images, questions, information and comments on a private Google+ page, and are required to review and comments on the work of others so that the group as a whole helps each other along. Apprentices also frequently participate in live Google+ hangouts to discuss whatever comes up and review a few images together.
Approximately every 5 levels, each apprentice also has a one on one critique session with the master to discuss a small selection of hand picked images in the Best Work and Needs Improvement categories. The discussion is a recorded Google+ hangout which is later loaded into the Grand Library for others to watch.
The Grand Library (Can you tell these guys played Dungeons & Dragons in their younger years? Who knows? Perhaps they still do!) is a treasure trove filled with recorded videos of all those critiques, along with other submitted informational and educational videos. You could spend many hours absorbing information here without ever paying any fees, as the fees for the Arcanum start after you are selected / invited by a master to join his / her cohort. You spend your first 20 levels within that cohort, so getting an invitation is a great time to go watch some critique videos posted by the master to decide whether to accept.
I joined the Arcanum in April of 2015 and am currently at level 14 in Wes Hardaker’s cohort. Since the first 20 levels are anticipated to take 3 to 6 months, I’d say my progress has been rather slow. It was interrupted somewhat by my preparations to pack and move, then getting our feet under us on our big road trip adventure along with intermittent wifi.
Even though it’s a late start, I’ve decided to post my Arcanum images here in a series of posts with the tag #Arcanum so you can all see them, since the cohort is a closed community. The attached are images from my critique at level 5 and 10. I hope you enjoy them, and I’d be happy to get your comments as well. Hopefully my growth as a photographer is obvious.
Some of these images have been (or will be) re-edited and can be found at my portfolio site linked above.
Arcanum Level 5 Critique
Arcanum Level 10 Critique