Dorene Sykes, photographer | Cape Cod Photography Training

Learn Photography at your Own Pace through Coaching

Falmouth, Cape Cod, Massachusetts


Dorene Sykes taught photography classes from 2008 through 2017 in partnership with Cape Conservatory. While no longer on faculty due to a busy travel schedule, she does accept a limited number of private students, enabling individuals to focus on their specific learning needs (see below). Coaching takes place in Falmouth near Woods Hole. The fee is $60 per hour ($15 per quarter hour after the first hour of each session). Students are welcome to invite a family member or friend to participate at no additional charge. See Dorene's bio and quotes from past students.


 Introductory photography coaching

Are you new to photography? Need a refresher? Or perhaps you have an advanced digital camera that you have been using on automatic mode only... and you'd like to increase the number of "keepers?"

  Cape Cod Photography Class - Basics The focus of introductory coaching is on understanding essential digital camera functions. Students learn how aperture, shutter, and ISO work together to achieve proper exposure and desired artistic results. Topics include lighting, depth of field, motion, perspective, and composition. Through personalized coaching, handouts, assignments, and supportive photo critiques, students gain confidence to move beyond automatic mode and take control of trickier situations.

At our first session, we will review your goals and experience, lay out a plan tailored to your specific needs, and jump right into the first coaching session. A typical session lasts 60 to 90 minutes. Most students grasp the basics within 3 to 5 sessions,with assignments and hands-on practice between sessions. Students can also opt to learn how to mat photographs, a skill that's useful for entering camera club competitions, exhibiting photographs, and creating photography gifts.

 Beyond the Basics photography coaching

 So you have enough knowledge to take your camera off "automatic" mode. And you're composing and shooting better pictures. But now you'd like to get to the next level creatively.

Cape Cod Photography Class - Intermediate Beyond the Basics coaching helps you strengthen your creative and technical skills across a variety of genres. Seeing creatively, composing artistically, and taking control of light - the paintbrush of photography - is the core focus.

Topics that you can choose from include seeing creatively, black & white photography, and portraiture. We can also delve into technical nuts and bolts such as advanced camera features; using built-in, external flash, or studio lighting; and tips on working with digital files and printing. Sessions can take place entirely indoors, or you can opt to go on photo walks as well - your choice. Included are handouts, weekly assignments, and supportive photo critiques. We will start out by reviewing your goals and experience, then tailoring learning to your own needs.             

Completion of introductory photography coaching, or a basic grasp of how to control exposure, depth of field, and motion using aperture and shutter priority modes, is needed before moving beyond the basics.


Quotes from Dorene's students...

Cape Cod Photography classCape Cod Photography class


I thoroughly enjoyed your photography class. I have taken many classes and your teaching style was by far the most effective. I came into class with a good knowledge base and you expanded it considerably. Plus you’re a really nice person, too. - Angelo D., Mashpee

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I'm glad I decided to sign up for your class. The last three classes combined gave me the "ah-HA!" moment I have been looking for for years. - Barry G., Hatchville

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I had a great time learning about my camera and how to achieve results I can be proud of. Each week I was excited to attend and looked forward to gaining more knowledge.
Thank you so much Dorene, I loved both of your classes.
- Dorothy G., Wareham

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Thank-you for such an outstanding class. As a newbie to the world of D-SLR cameras, taking your class was the best thing I could have done. I knew a little about shutter speed and aperture prior to class, but I truly feel like I’m armed with some great core info that will prove invaluable! Trying to learn all this on my own, would have taken many months. Your passion for photography is contagious and I hope to take a class with you again in the not too distant future. - Jim F., Plymouth

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I think you are doing a wonderful job! I have taken two other introductory courses, neither of which provided the practical, technical information which is so important, nor in such a helpful way as you do. - Kathy R., West Falmouth

[Two years after two of Dorene's classes, Kathy R. advises: "I am proud that two of my photographs were accepted into the Falmouth Juried Photography show. I remain grateful to you for your excellent help. I have sung your praises to many and urged them to take your classes."]

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I went into this class feeling I knew how to take photos. Was I surprised to learn what my mistakes were. I recommend this to anyone new to photography, or even as a refresher. And lots of fun, too! - Joe C., Marstons Mills

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I was excited after completing the course - I now understand concepts that never made sense before. I feel I have the tools to take my skills to the next level. I also appreciated that Dorene's mix of teaching not only the technical aspects of photography,
but also training your eye artistically. Thank you! - Stephanie H., Orleans


I learned more about photography in Dorene Sykes' class than I thought possible. The professional presentation of the materials coupled with the attitude and humor Dorene brought to her class melted away years of anxiety that I had about starting a career in photography.  I feel energized, enthused and empowered. And I can state honestly and without hesitation that I cannot wait for the next class to begin!"  Julie F., Harwich

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Before taking Dorene's classes, I would read and re-read the manuals, and it just wouldn't make any sense.  After hearing Dorene explain things it all clicked!  Now it seems so simple!  She really brought it all together. - Cindy D., East Falmouth

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Before your class I tried to learn about photography. I took a deep breath and thought I was going to be over my head. Right from the beginning of your class everything started to make sense. I've learned much more than I could have ever imagined. You helped me improve my skills dramatically and made me think about capturing images in such a different way. You answered all questions, and all photo critiques were positive, professional and helpful. I would enroll in classes instructed by you without hesitation. Thank you for the outstanding class and help! - Marcelo M., Falmouth

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Thank you Dorene for a wonderful basics class! Your simple approach to complex terms and processes really helped me to "pull it all together!" I am so excited to practice what I learned and to take your next course to continue on my path. The matted photo at the end of class was a great way to build our confidence and "show off" what we learned! - Lisa B., Sandwich

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I REALLY enjoyed every class. Thanks for the really good organization and enthusiasm you put into teaching the basics.
It's been a thrill for me to finally learn the things I should have known a long time ago. - Karen H., North Falmouth

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