Welcome to PhotoTrainer

Learn with a Pro by your side!

Jumpstart your inner photographer.


Jumpstart Evening Class

Manual Mode DSLR Jumpstart. For people who work weekends Or are just really busy on weekdays, I teach a one evening, ultimate DSLR Jumpstart Blitz for you, it is fast, painless, a great value, and even entertaining. Learn the practice of creative photography in there hours. This will stick to your ribs! Read more…


Photographic Composition

Are your photos looking bland? Do you want more from your photos, feeling stuck? In this Tuesday evening course, learn the vernacular of photography and what makes good images work. Then make better photos yourself during the course! Join us for a spirited exploration into the actual nuts and bolts of camerawork, the visual stuff we use to craft images –geometry, figure and ground, master painters, leading lines, rules to break. Get out of the house and away from your computer, Join a Pro (me) and a few other humans for a small intimate in-person photography intensive. What a Concept!  Read more…


Macro Flowers

The Macro Flower Photography class workshop will be held in Palo Alto’s Elizabeth Gamble Garden. We will photograph flowers with an eye for color and composition. Come explore the little hidden worlds that we can only see with close up and Macro lenses. Read more…


Jumpstart Deluxe Class

For those who want it all, all at once! Come in at 9am and leave at 4pm knowing all about the things in your camera that have been vexing you for days, weeks, months! Learn Manual mode for once and for all, get a good grasp of all the modes, and take control for excellent photographs. Read more…


Photo Field Trips

Check our current list of Photo Field Trips. We go Tide-pooling on the coast, Bird Watching on the Bay, Portrait Lighting workshops, and much more. A splendid follow up to The Jumpstart Course, Photo Trips give the opportunity to become intimate with manual mode with my guidance and supervision. A few hours doing this and you are well on your way with great shooting habits. Read more…


Palo Alto Baylands

The Palo Alto Baylands is a work in progress. Come out and practice good exposure, good auto focus habits in an image-rich environment. Maybe we will get lucky and be visited by a giant cloud of fog. Read more…


Speedlight Portraiture

You have seen the Strobist.com posts, the McNally YouTube lessons and maybe you tried it and got stuck. Today’s flashes and speed lights offer a whole new opportunity to get pro grade shots. Join us at PhotoTrainer and learn how to use yours. Read more…


The Jumpstart Course

Our new DSLR Jumpstart course is ready for you and your camera. Learn your camera the right way if you are a beginner, get a sensible refresher if you are an avid user but haven’t connected all the camera dots yet. Break the Full Auto habit and learn Manual mode from an enthusiastic and very patient Pro. Read more…


Lightroom 101

Lightroom is the new darkroom! Join in on our monthly modular Lightroom classes. Lightroom gets you organized, keeps you productive and gets you in the habit of thinking like a Photographer. Read more…


Downtown Natural Light Portraiture

Work with the light you are in right here right now! Learn to think on your feet when photographing people. Join PhotoTrainer, (yours truly) and real live models (our subjects!) in Palo Alto for a mix of urban street settings and great natural light, for a day of spirited photography that will teach you how to love the light. Really. Screw the camera. Read more…


The PT iPhoneOgraphy Class

It’s happened…the point and shoot camera is toast. The iPhone (or the “Smartphone” for the PC crowd)  has taken over and is now the portal to the People’s Art –Photography. Stop using your iPhone like a vacuum cleaner. Take this class and discover the joys of Photography you now hold in your hot little hands. Or not, you decide.  Read more…


Private PhotoTraining

With over 30 years of experience as a Commercial Photographer, I created PhotoTrainer in 2007 to help awaken the inner photographer in people. I love teaching Photography, and for me, it is personal. To that end, my signature specialty is personal one on one training and mentorships. This level of personal contact eclipses the how-to books, the talking head videos, webinars and ballroom seminars. Read more…


Tidepools & Seascapes

Join us for a field photography class shooting tidepools and seascapes on an excellent low-tide day. We shoot early and then head back to PhotoTrainer HQ to review our work in Lightroom. Get a clinical grade dose of Mother Nature; see the benefit from shooting and reviewing your work the same day. Read more…

Learn from a pro!

In my Jumpstart DSLR photo classes, I teach you the way to shoot a DSLR in manual mode. I have personally taught over a thousand people how to do this. Your camera does eight basic things, that I will teach you. After that, all you have to do is practice!
You can do this!

Classes for every level!

In my photo coaching work I bring over thirty years of professional experience for you to learn at your level and get excellent shots. I help beginners with their brand new cameras, I work with avid enthusiasts as a mentor, and consult with professionals, companies and start-ups on targeted problem solving.
Take a closer look!

“There were at least five separate times during the class, where I said to myself, wow that alone was worth the money I paid to be here. One thing Tom has done that allows the student to be fully present during the class, is create high quality hand outs that mimic what he is teaching. Tom’s teaching style combines practical facts, deep knowledge and true passion to put together information that is completely accessible to a novice photographer, while also inspiring you to believe in your own ability. I would highly recommend this class.”

– Shannon L
“Took this class recently and it was fabulous. It’s the easiest way to understand your camera. I have read websites, taken college classes and nothing ever made sense. There’s nothing like being in a small class where you can ask questions when your not “getting it”. The lightbulb went on and it’s made so much sense now. Loved the class. Money well spent.”
– Orlanda Silva

“Have a Ladies Day out with a friend. Old Pro Husband Daycare is half a block away from PhotoTrainer, drop your guy off before class learn all you want about the camera without his intervention, and pick him up after; He wont even have to drive home!”

– Tom Upton, PhotoTrainer

“The DSLR Jumpstart was perfectly utilized. Tom was very patient and even though my camera was not a classic DSLR (I have the Sony Nex 5n, mirrorless), he was prepared specifically for me with a reference sheet and explanations. Besides that I understand better how to use my camera and take better pictures for my food blog. I highly recommend this class.”

– Mark Hassin

Tom, where do I start?

Right here!