I am so grateful to now be in the 13th year of my photography career. During this time, I nurtured and grew a successful portraiture business and made an award-winning transition into fine art photography. I have also had the incredible opportunity to teach and mentor hundreds of photographers along the way. Teaching and inspiring is something I am extremely passionate about and I'm excited to be offering two online courses — Embracing Your Inner Artist and Project Development & Fine Art. 

Past workshop students report receiving invaluable information, feeling inspired, tons of growth, having a-ha moments, a workshop experience like no other.

Embracing Your Inner Artist  | Next class begins February 11th, 2019

Recognizing and embracing the artistry in your photography is what will eventually separate your work from the work of other photographers – it is what will make your photographs special, compelling and uniquely yours. In this course, Embracing Your Inner Artist, students will will begin to explore the relationship with their individual creativity and artistry more deeply. Students will reflect and critically think about their photography and who they are as an artist. Throughout this three-week course, I will encourage you to dig deep within yourself through daily lessons and discussions, along with six assignments. I will share personal examples, successes, failures and inspirations. This class is structured to be highly interactive so please come ready to share, with an open mind and heart.

Project Development & Fine Art | Next class begins May 27th, 2019

In this course, students will explore the process of developing a body of work and learn about the necessary skills to move into the world of fine art photography. Students will receive lessons on how to prepare and present a fine art portfolio, to include writing an artist statement, bio and curriculum vitae. Information regarding competitions, portfolio reviews and exhibiting will be discussed. Assignments will be given that will encourage students to reflect and critically think about their current photography journey and the stories they wish to tell. Throughout this two-week course, I will share detailed fine art photography information, while also assisting and guiding students with their individual creative projects. I will share personal examples of my journey from a portrait photographer to a fine art photographer. I will also feature and discuss established fine art photographers who have inspired me along the way.  


How much do your online courses cost?
EMBRACING YOUR INNER ARTIST | Three-week online class
Full-participation (active seat) — $325
Partial-participation (silent seat) — $250
Alumni — $150

PROJECT DEVELOPMENT + FINE ART | Two-week online class
Full-participation (active seat) — $250
Partial-participation (silent seat) — $175
Alumni — $125

What is the difference between an active and silent seat?
Active or full-participation students are able to participate in assignments, ask questions, and receive personal written and video feedback from me.

Silent or partial-participation students have full access to all lessons and assignments; however, they cannot ask questions and do not receive assignment feedback. Within each lesson, there is a ‘Silent Student’ discussion section, where students can discuss, share assignments, and ask questions to one another if they wish. The silent seat option is good for those students who wish to read along and participate at their own pace..

Alumni seats are available to students who have previously taken the course. Alumni interact in the classroom as a full-participation student.

How often are your classes taught?
Illuminate classes runs three class sessions a year (between the months of Jan - Mar, Apr - Jun, and Sep - Nov). Typically, Deb teaches Embracing Your Inner Artist twice a year and Project Development once a year. Classes and dates are fluid and determined prior to each registration launch.

How many students are in each class?
So that Deb is able to provide a lot of individual time and attention, each class has a maximum of 20 active and 20 silent students.

How are the classes presented? Do I have to be online at specific times every day?
New information (lessons) are presented every morning (EST). Deb is in class numerous times each day to answer questions and discuss new information shared by students. Individual written or video feedback is provided for every assignment, to include a website review with the last assignment of each class. You do not have to be in class during any certain time of the day. You can visit the classroom at a time that is convenient for you and go at your own pace. Deb does recommend that full-participation students visit the classroom at least once a day, to benefit most from class.

I teach and mentor other photographers. Can I take your classes?
Deb adheres to Illuminate Classes policy which states "We do think that teachers should be able to take classes but it could be a big conflict of interest if you teach the topics that the class you want to take covers. Our teachers have poured their heart and soul into their curriculum. It is copyrighted material and cannot be shared with others or used to develop workshop curriculum. If you register for a class and you teach a similar topic, your money will be promptly refunded."

If you have any other questions regarding the class, please email me at


All classes will be taught on the Illuminate Classes platform. Seats are very limited and classes typically fill quickly. For additional information or to register for a class, please visit Illuminate Classes. You can also subscribe to the Illuminate newsletter here.


The sheer magnitude of the material covered was beyond my expectations. I am so glad that I completely cleared my schedule for the two weeks. This was by far the most intense workshop I have ever taken. And the feedback from Deb in the final assignment was the icing on the cake. What a wonderful experience this has been!
- Sherri Davis, Project Development + Fine Art

This class is both inspirational and motivating. I found it to be a fantastic window into the world of fine art photography, something I knew very little about. Not only that, but it broke down the steps to make actual progress towards accomplishing goals related to that genre. Great experience! Can’t wait to revisit as an alum.
- Andrea Seider, Project Development + Fine Art

I learned so much from this course on project development and am excited to use the skills in the development of a few ideas that I have in mind. Deb provided so much information, details on the thought process and critique of work, to help you continue to move your project forward. And so much additional context as to why the topics or ideas mattered and how they can improve your work. I really loved this class and am inspired to keep working on all that I've learned!
- Delanie Player, Project Development + Fine Art

Even as a silent student I found this class extremely useful. I am relatively new to fine art photography and I learned so much in a very short time. Deb has provided a lot of links to external resources which I will continue to research now that the course is completed. I have been really inspired by a lot of the photos and the stories other photographers had to share. I would highly recommend this course for those interested in gaining more knowledge of this genre of photography.
- Laura Reid, 'Project Development + Fine Art

I loved this class. I came into it feeling overwhelmed about the idea of where to get started with fine art. Having a new lesson every day allowed me to digest the information at a steady pace. Deb answered my questions quickly. I am so happy that I took this class and I am looking forward to where this new knowledge will take me!
- Christal Houghtelling, Project Development + Fine Art

If one truly wants to be the artist inside of them, this is the instructor for you! If one is looking to push their boundaries to his or her special place, this is the path for that journey! If one is on fire to express any story through visuals with photographic art, this instructor and course are a must do!
- Sandra Reid, Embracing Your Inner Artist and Project Development + Fine Art

Deb's class was great! It felt like Deb was an open book and I appreciate that a lot! She answered all my questions.
There is a lot of information and references! I am now very motivated to continue the journey.
- Patricia Pulido, 'Project Development + Fine Art

I loved this class - I loved it all. At first I felt a little overwhelmed and questioned the artist in me - but the way Deb laid out the lessons and assignments had me hooked and continually looking deeper within myself and at my images. I cannot stress enough how much I think I have grown and improved as a photographer in the 3 weeks I have been doing this class - it’s been an awakening. I feel like Deb has given me permission to slow down and find my own voice - to appreciate other people’s work but silence the constant barrage from social media. This I think has been the greatest lesson - be inspired but continue to find my own way to express myself. To keep practicing - keep photographing - keep improving. I was destined to do this class - at this time.
- Maxine Fider, Embracing Your Inner Artist

I started this class thinking that I was going to use my client work and somehow figure out how to be satisfied with it. After just the first lesson I had my "Aha!" moment and Deb helped me realize I needed to develop my personal work in order be feel creatively fulfilled. My inner artist had been neglected for so long! The assignments pushed me to do work that I wouldn't have created otherwise and it turned out to be work that I love. I'm excited to continue this journey to see what else I create!
- Rachel Zwolenkiewicz, Embracing Your Inner Artist

I had been wanting for a long time to take one of Deb's workshops and it didn't disappoint. It was the much needed reset I so desperately craved. I had been "stuck" for what felt like forever in my journey as an artist. I also felt, as a photographer, I barely had my head above water. Trying to keep up with the Tsunami of social media posts from other photographers I found myself comparing my art to others around me and in turn it was dictating my decisions ...should I post this..or that? Maybe I should try this in color? Everyone seems to be going that direction. Oh my goodness look at her/his amazing work! I will never photograph at that level, I should just thrown in the towel. Crazy right?! Fast forward to this workshop and I paused. Deb said take a break from the noise of social media during this workshop. I did. I have never appreciated a small gift more than I have this one. I exhaled out all the noise and the negative self feedback. In return I was able to inhale all of the quiet and reset my artist heart. I am now looking at my journey through a clear lens. And THAT feels amazing.
- Kelli Kalish, Embracing Your Inner Artist

Deb created a smooth and careful trail for us to walk along, beautiful and subtle reminders to stay true to our own selves, to keep going, to trust in the creative process. I feel a little more confident everyday to claim the title of artist as my own.
- Liz Celeste, Embracing Your Inner Artist

I went into this class frustrated with this struggle of getting into business for myself but not feeling totally satisfied. I learned that there is a difference between photography as a job and photography that feeds me as an artist. The whole concept of needing to nurture and develop the artist in me was totally new. It resonated very deeply with me and began a new thought process and approach to my photography. This class came at the perfect time for me and I leave in a more peaceful place than I started.
- Rebecca Cullimore, ‘Embracing Your Inner Artist

This workshop took so much pressure off me and many of my fears are gone. When I started the workshop I felt stuck but now I understand much more where I am and I can estimate what there is to do to grow into the photographer I want to become. I can put my feelings and wishes into words much better which makes it a lot easier to work towards them.
- Antonia Legand, Embracing Your Inner Artist

Deb's class was really great; she teaches with great care and personal focus. Thank you for being so personal about all your experiences, it really helps. Very inspirational. Thank you!
- Bieb Tuijit, Embracing Your Inner Artist

Deb Schwedhelm is such a great inspiration. I love her perspective on photography, how to develop one's self, and grow as an artist and photographer. This is my second class with Deb and I definitely recommend her classes highly. Both classes inspired me to start projects that I had always wanted to photograph but wasn't sure if and how I should start. Deb inspires you to see your own photography from a new perspective, to improve your portfolio and the upcoming pictures that you will take.
- Sung-Hee Seewald, Embracing Your Inner Artist and Project Development + Fine Art

I just wanted to thank you for giving me the push I needed at this point in my photography journey. Since your class, I am taking risks and seeing my ideas from start to finish. I think before your class, I was culling and editing without looking hard enough. I am now photographing, culling, and editing with greater intent and purpose and feeling liek a much stronger photographer than I did before the class. I still have kinks to work out and projects that need attention, but for now I am focusing on slowing down and really looking. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I am very happy, motivated, and very inspired. In a place that is mine to own. In a place that would have not existed if I had not signed up for your class. You are an incredible instructor and I a truly hope that you continue to share your talents with the photography world for many years to come.
- Lisa Tullet, Embracing Your Inner Artist

This workshop has reignited my passion for photography! I feel more confident and more joy in my work than I have ever felt. My husband even commented on, how he could feel my joy and passion for photography was back! Deb is an amazing teacher. She gives thoughtful and prompt feedback and pours her soul into this! She is honest and raw and just amazing! I can not thank her enough. Thanks to Deb, I feel brave enough to start pursuing my photography dreams. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
- Maibritt Olsen, Embracing Your Inner Artist

Deb is a phenomenal teacher and mentor, gifted & talented in both distinctive abilities. She has a way of guiding you to helping yourself while being there with you all the way..the fog clears, there are more "aha" moments than can be counted. We come in "here" and she helps us get to "there" wherever those places are for each one. It is raw, genuine, real in every way. I've taken lots of photography classes and workshops, but Deb makes it an experience that is absolutely life-changing. No matter individual skill level, one can't help but improve along the journey. By the end, you know you have really just begun and you walk away fired up for tomorrow and continuing what is truly a life's journey. It is just so much, much more than photography although that is the focus, but without an internal focus first, nothing happens in the photographic art we are seeking. I am recommending Deb's classes to everyone I know and looking forward to pursuing personal tutoring with her!
- Sandra Reid, Embracing Your Inner Artist

I wasn't sure when I signed up for this class what I would get out of it or if I had even picked the right course for my first Illuminate class, but it turned out to be exactly what I needed at this moment. It was a great experience and the assignments/feedback I received re-established my love for photography. I was able to recognize my voice and reaffirm my style. It was wonderful. Thank you.
- Beth Rooney, Embracing Your Inner Artist

Deb’s workshop really makes you think. She pushes you to look inward and to find your own answers within yourself. She helps you to see, and makes you realize who you’ve been as an artist all along.
- Russy Feldman Tendler, Embracing Your Inner Artist

Deb has the unique ability to articulate style in a succinct, to the point manner. In a way that three or four words feel like a light bulb moment and suddenly your path forward is very clear. If you have doubt, uncertainty or feel a little bit lost this course is an incredible opportunity to move through it.
- Marina Locke, Embracing Your Inner Artist

This class is for the all photographers. No matter where you are at in your journey, starting a project, or finishing one. There is so much information share by Deb, and her feedback is amazing. She goes above and beyond to assist you in your process. I noticed in doing this project, this has helped fine tune my voice and vision as an artist. I highly recommend this course and Embracing Your Inner Artist.
- Tanya Reeder, Project Development + Fine Art

I attended this class as a silent student and my experience in the class was beyond my expectations! I have taken many online classes in the past and none of them had even come close to what Deb has created with this course! During the two weeks of this course she was online every day answering every question that was asked with thorough and thoughtful responses. Deb’s “live’ thought process of sequencing her photos was amazing! And her video feedback on the assignments were so well done, so incredibly informative, honest, heartfelt and truly inspiring! You can tell that Deb was really invested in the students projects and wanted to help them achieve their goals and create the best final product that they could! Deb was thoughtful, honest, encouraging, helpful, and always suggesting ways to improve upon your body of work! I learned so much from watching the video critiques from all the project assignments.
- Nicholas Brudnicki, Project Development + Fine Art

I wondered if this class would be a good fit for me since I pursue photography as a passionate enthusiast rather than a business professional. As it turned out, the class served to strengthen my belief that I am an artist and the work I make matters. Creating a body of work is such a personal endeavor and regardless of whether I ever sell a fine art print, I've grown and learned from the experience. This class was worth every penny and Deb is an extraordinary teacher, the perfect mix of mentor and friend. I learned so much - about fine art and project development - but also about where I'd like to go next on my own journey as a photographer.
- Donna Hopkins, Project Development+ Fine Art

Thank you Deb for a wonderful two weeks together. I really loved this class! Again, because it was an alumni run for me, I learned even more this time. Deb, you are the best instructor and guide ever! Truly, you take every person and their different journeys into account and manage to make it special for each and every one of us. Thank you!
- Merja Varkemaa, 'Project Development + Fine Art

This class gave me some much needed direction. The feedback I received from Deb was invaluable. She presents her thoughts is a gentle, loving way. It really takes away a lot of the fear you can have when presenting your work to others. I learned a lot from this class and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in fine art.
- Monica Hart, Project Development + Fine Art

I recently had the great privilege of attending Deb's 'Embracing Your Inner Artist' workshop online. I had not picked up my camera much in the last two years and was considering giving up photography for good. Taking her class was my last stop and was my make-or-break moment. I am so happy I decided to take Deb's workshop. My inner artist was beyond revived. Not only did I begin to enjoy photography again, but I started sketching, painting, and writing again also. I could see more beauty in the everydayIt was an awakening and I didn't even know I was asleep. Thank you, Deb for giving me back the joy and love I have for photography.
- Tanya Reeder, Embracing Your Inner Artist

I am so happy that I signed up for the 'Embracing Your Inner Artist' course and with how much it has already impacted me. So much so that I started pushing myself out of my comfort zone and sharing more openly on Instagram and Facebook. It feels so good putting myself out there and being brave. Deb is such a supportive inspiration and anyone would be fortunate to cross her path. 
- Renee Cameron, Embracing Your Inner Artist

This is an incredible class -- the best one I have taken since I started my photography journey. Deb is so kind, honest, passionate, and raw in this class. She gives great examples and outstanding material to find your true self. If you are feeling lost or in a rut or feel like you're truly not going anywhere in your photography, or if you just getting started, THIS is the workshop to take. It is worth every dollar you spend on it. Deb gives honest feedback and pushes you on other levels that you would not expect it. This is definitely a journey and not a destination. I have taken away so much from this class and will continue to apply everything that was taught. Please do yourself a favor and wow yourself with something that is an eye opener on all levels. Thank you so much for the opportunity to be a part of this amazing class!!
- Karina Pavlides, Embracing Your Inner Artist

There is so much to learn in Deb's class, a lot to learn about style, inspiration and more importantly about yourself. I joined the class wanting to do something different. I love photography but it had taken a bit of a back seat in the last 2 years. When I looked at the progression of other photographers, I thought, I can't do this, I will never be as good. Deb made me realise that we follow a journey that is unique to us, that we should believe in ourselves and we should take photos that make our hearts sing, not for likes or praises, but purely because we love the process of creating an image that we love.
- Wendy Alweyn, ‘Embracing Your Inner Artist

I gained a ton during the three weeks I spent in 'Embracing Your Inner Artist. I learned from Deb as well as from fellow classmates. This was a workshop experience like none other for me and I truly feel that this was the right time for me to be there, learning from Deb. One of my biggest 'takeaways' from this course was that it is okay, vital even, to take time for experimenting and shooting with no expectations...this has been absolutely freeing for me as an artist...not every image I set out to take has to be 'album' worthy; I can absolutely grow from experience alone, even if I get no 'keepers' at the end of the day. Also, for the first time in my eight year journey, I truly understand the value in spending time with my own work...This concept is an important part of the class as well as a huge factor in continuing to grow this craft. Deb has such a special way of relaying information and really getting through to the heart of the matter, any photographer will leave her class having experienced many ah-hah moments. I am taking the next couple weeks to go through all course information again, to really let everything soak in and especially in order to put into place meaningful practices that I have learned.
- Julie Fuller, Embracing Your Inner Artist

After taking basically a year off from photography and being sort of stuck in a rut, I really wanted to feel inspired again and try to find and enjoy my own style and voice — and I do feel like that, after taking Deb's course. She gives you a lot of information, so be prepared to have to dedicate some time to it every day, but it's all so valuable and really gets you thinking about what you love about your photography and why you love it. She brought back my creative mind again which had been buried under too many other things for quite a while. I was a silent seat student, but came away from her class very happy to have signed up.
- Teresa Jakubec, Embracing Your Inner Artist

Deb is a great facilitator in the process of self-discovery that is "Embracing Your Inner Artist". Her third person perspective helps to unveil aspects of your work that are just out of the grasp of your consciousness and lead to "aha" insights.
- Yolanda Santiago White, Embracing Your Inner Artist

Where do I start about Deb's course.  It truly is chock-full of so many exercises and challenges to stimulate your creativity.  I've always been told to look at other creatives to  get  inspiration, but Deb helped me understand how to take that inspiration and still make it my own.  My biggest takeaway was realizing I needed to expand my personal work (not just focus on client work) to really grow as a photographer and overall creative.  Her feedback was extremely helpful and she has a great way of providing it, while still giving you the motivation to make it even better.  I'm so glad I bit the bullet and signed up.  The best part is that she connects with everyone -- no matter where you are on your photography journey.  I highly encourage anyone else to do sign up for Deb's class.
- Karen Koenig, Embracing Your Inner Artist

I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a student in Embracing Your Inner Artist. Deb is a wonderful instructor who created a safe, welcoming and inspiring space for all her students. She gives incredibly thoughtful and helpful feedback on questions and assignments, and she always did it super speedy, which was just awesome. The course material is beautiful, filled with inspiration and endless information. The class covered such an awesome wide-range of subjects and topics and I would recommend this course whole-heartedly.
- Kerry Lee, ‘Embracing Your Inner Artist

I signed up for this class as a last minute thought and couldn't be happier. I'm at a point in my journey that I feel stuck and unhappy with my work, even though my clients tell me how much they love it. Deb's lessons and feedback push you to step out of your comfort zone, look inward at where you currently are with your art, and provokes you to challenge yourself in areas that help you grow.
- Donna French, Embracing Your Inner Artist

I've been struggling with feeling quite lost with my photography, and Deb's guidance in Embracing your Inner Artist has helped me reconnect with myself and who I am as an artist. She reminded us to slow down and enjoy the journey, that it's okay to not have all the answers. Deb shared so much of herself with us and I will feel forever grateful for her instruction and words of wisdom.
- Danielle Beck, ‘Embracing Your Inner Artist

This was just the right class for me! It made me think about what I like in photography and what kind of photographs I want to make — and that was just what I was struggling with. I was a silent student but learned so much from Debs assignments and her personal, encouraging feedback to the other students. She was always there to answer questions and wanted everyone to get the best out of the class.
- Kitty de Jong, Embracing Your Inner Artist

I was amazed how much I learned from this class. It requires a real commitment on the part of the student because Deb has a well thought out curriculum that is demanding and is designed to help the student go beyond their comfort zone. I think the most important thing I discovered was my style as a photographer!
- Aimee McCrory, ‘Embracing Your Inner Artist

I can't say enough about Deb Schwedhelm's 'Project Development & Fine Art Class'. She is an excellent instructor – open, informative, kind, intelligent and a wealth of information. The class exceeded all of my expectations and has left me feeling as if I'm at the beginning of an exciting, meaningful and fulfilling photography journey! Thank you so much, Deb!
- Yasmeen Strang, Project Development + Fine Art

This class was packed with information. It answered every question I had without me having to ask. I think Deb went above and beyond what many teachers normally do. I would definitely recommend signing up for this class. It was so thorough and covered so much. I have a whole new level of respect for Deb. She is not only a talented artist but she has a wonderful way with people and educating.
- Sharon Covert, Project Development + Fine Art

I am so glad I took this class! No matter if you are just starting out with fine art or have some shows under your belt, this class will help you create a plan moving forward. Deb is an open book and will thoughtfully answer any question you have, no matter how big or how small. I went in to the class feeling lost in the fine art world and lacking resources of where to even turn to with my many questions. After class I now have a clear vision on what I need to work on to develop my portfolio so I can work toward my goals. I have already recommended this class to friends and will continue to do so for anyone who even thinks they may want to explore the world of fine art project based photography!
- Lacey Monroe, Project Development + Fine Art

Deb is an amazing teacher! She was available daily to comment and answer all our questions. What I most loved about deb was her true honesty and thorough constructive critique. I walked in knowing very little about project development and walked away knowing exactly what I want to do. Immense knowledge and real life examples were shared!
- Reem Alshaikh, Project Development + Fine Art

I met Deb in 2007 when she took our family photos. I have love photography from a young age but this was the first time that I really took notice of how much photography is an art form. She was able to really capture the essence of our children in their portraits within the short hour she was with us. Through the years, I have followed her work via her website and found myself with the opportunity to take her workshop in April 2016. I began my own photography business a year ago and this could not have been better timing. When I signed up for the class, I assumed it would be half technical and half business knowledge. It was neither. Deb provided a little bit of technical information (of course she was always open to questions),  a little bit of business knowledge, and a whole lot of behind the scenes “why do you want to be a photographer/what is your niche?” Deb provided a very heartfelt course of digging deep into what being a photographer means -- why do you want to do it?, what do you want to offer the world? kind of thoughts. Deb introduces you to different photographers that inspire her, connects you to photographers she thinks you might want to reach out to and so much more. The three-week course really got me thinking about how I wanted my business to look to the outside world and made me realize that we are “gifting our talents” to others and to value that. Thank you, Deb, for an amazing, thought provoking three weeks. 
- Robyn Scherer, Embracing Your Inner Artist