Owen was born and educated outside of Philadelphia, grew up in a household
where color, art and design were intrinsically important. Both his mother and
grandmother were painters. In this stimulating environment, he spent hours on
his imaginative projects -- transistor radios, a magic lantern, a puppet theater, etc. Science and new inventions fueled his creativity. After college, Owen
volunteered at Hedgerow Theater designing and building sets and working in light
As a young man he worked in the audio-visual department at Elwyn Institute,
taking pictures of students' lives. It was here that he discovered what would
become his lifelong passion for photography. Since 1983 he has been a
photography instructor at a number of locations including Main Line Center for the
Arts and Main Line School Night.
In his own art Owen often chooses to run counter to photography's strongest
suit: representing things as they are. Instead he follows light and color on their
way to abstraction, aiming for transmutation instead of documentation
The curriculum covers a large range of different aspects of picture-making. The series of courses can bring a student from beginner to advanced photographer. Emphasis throughout is on both technique and composition. This curriculum was developed to provide logically organized and comprehensive instruction in photography. Students may take one photography course, a few courses, or the entire photography curriculum. Here are just some of the classes offered:
Fundamentals 1: Camera Operations
is for students who are just starting out, or want a good review of the basic camera functions.
Fundamentals 2: Applications
is for students who have some comfort with the camera and want to start applying their skills to expand their photographic range.
Fundamentals 3: Composition
will advance your skills for creating really satisfying images using principles of composition.
Fundamentals 4: Lighting Across the Genres is considered an intermediate course and goes deeply into lighting equipment and technique to make your pictures really stand out.
is the class to learn about the advantages of speed-lights. Using both on-camera and off-camera flash, you will learn to control the light to create drama well beyond the existing light in the scene.
will introduce you to the equipment and techniques for capturing tiny subjects with your camera - flowers, insects, etc.
is an assignment-driven course concentrating on projects that document moments of reality and speak to a broad audience.
Photo Assignments from Art History
is not an Art History class; rather, taking inspiration from works by master sculptors and painters in Art History, we develop photographic assignments to stretch our picture-taking in unexpected new ways.
Assignments from Photo History
From Matthew Brady to Richard Avadon, from Cartier Bresson to Ansel Adams, we will investigate the look and feel of the photographer’s world view. The master photographers have so much to teach the modern photographer (both digital and film).
The Critical Eye
helps students sharpen their ability to critique photographs, including supervised practice in providing feedback to others.
is designed to help advanced students define themselves as a photographers and to take them towards independence with their picture-taking. By the completion of this class, students are ready to take on more professional photography projects.
What a few students have to say...
I have taken several classes from Owen. His passion for photography is extremely contagious. He is a great teacher for all levels, from teaching the basics to a beginner to advanced subjects for experienced photographers. Owen's depth of knowledge in all areas of photography is truly amazing. He helped me progress from a complete beginner with my DSLR camera and I highly recommend his services.
-- Barry Bruckman
I have been a photographer for more than 30 years. I understand the technical aspects of operating both film and digital cameras, from large format to 35 mm. I have taken several classes with Owen and have never failed to learn something of significance from him. He never fails to inspire and reenergize my photography. His teaching is clear and thorough. It addresses the needs of beginners as well as seasoned shooters. It is money well spent.
-- John Dolores
I like Owen's approach to photography and his style of teaching. He has a real knack for teaching the essentials of photography while instilling an awareness of the esthetics of good composition and exposure.
-- Pepe Garcia
Owen Biddle is a remarkable and inspired teacher. He is responsible for the passion I now have everyday with my camera. I took many of his classes over the last few years and then took private lessons from him. He cultivated my photographic eye, supported my early efforts, and helped me grow. He is immensely gracious, generous, encouraging, knowledgeable, and kind to every one of his students. I could not recommend him more highly.
-- Kitty Kono
Retired Vice President
Hi Owen and Rachel,
My name is Sheronda Seawright, a former student of yours (so is my husband Derrick). I wanted to reach out because it has been a while since I touched based and so much has happened with my photography that I wanted to share since Owen helped me pick out my first camera at Best Buy (a Nikon D5000) and helped me with everything I know photography wise.
I wanted to let you know that I am focusing on photographing weddings on the weekends and it is going very well. Recently, I gathered a team of local vendors together to do an inspiration shoot for MunaLuchi Bridal Magazine’s online blog and they accepted it as a feature on their online blog.
Also, the team of vendors and I did another styled shoot for a Romantic Tuscan inspiration which was recently featured on Artfully Wed.
Lastly, I just wanted to thank you and Rachel again for all that you both do. I never picked up a professional camera prior to taking your class and now I am able to take everything I learned from your class and apply it to my photographs.
The assignments we did in your class (panning, locating light, shooting in manual, etc.) has been a huge help to me. Again, thanks for everything.
-- Sheronda Seawright
In the years I have been a photography teacher I have realized that technical considerations and composition can be taught simultaneously. My classes have been evolving over the years to resemble more and more a traditional studio
art class where technical skill is never separated from the aesthetic. In my classes students are using equipment and taking pictures right from the start. A critical part of my teaching model is the use of assignments which build on each
other and are carefully designed to provide students practice in whatever skill or concept is being taught in class. I am a big believer in "learning by doing"! Teacher feedback is another very important component in the instructional model in guiding students' progress.
Both as a teacher and as a learner, I appreciate the importance of individualized instruction. Classes are small, allowing plenty of time for one-to-one teacher/student interaction. By getting to know each student as an individual I am able to customize instruction. This is always more satisfying for student and teacher!
My teaching philosophy is based largely on my many years of experience. But another important influence has been reading the book Drawing from the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards back in the 1980's. Her message, simply put, is that we learn best when we are relaxed, feel safe and are willing to experiment, quieting the inhibiting influences of the inner-critic that rules so much of our day-to-day lives. By lifting ourselves out of the mundane we discover that "eating the apple and drawing it are two different things" (to paraphrase Cezanne).
Though the advanced technology of digital photography invites us to shoot quickly, the question becomes how to slow down and to learn to trust our intuitions. In our photography classes we are always aware of the benefits,once we have made this shift and discovered the "flow."
While people take pictures for many different reasons, with many different goals, I must admit that to me the relationship between photography and art is always somewhere near the front of my mind. I love the interplay between photography and the fine arts (painting and sculpture). In my classes, we often look at the photos of the masters, as well as other types of art, to inspire our work. Some of my higher level classes dive into the issues of photography-as-art-form, but from the first beginning classes, we are aware that we each have a unique personal style and way of seeing the world. One of my goals is to help students see the artistic possibilities in what they are learning to do with the camera.
Digital cameras are very complex, even intimidating. By breaking things down into as few variables as possible and carefully building knowledge and skills my goal is to help the student master the technical aspects of picture-
taking, so that, in the end, we know that the picture is always more important than the camera.