THE TCC BLOG: photography, creativity and navigating life as an entrepreneur in the 21st century.

Floral Photography Workshop Writeup

Autumn 2018: Barnsley House, Cotswolds

The atmosphere in the gardens at Barnsley House is almost meditative. Calming and expanding, the perfect place to open the mind and learn. There could be no better place to hold a two-day photography course.

Image by Ria Mishaal

This autumn, The Creativity Collective ran our foundation Floral Photography Workshop at Barnsley House aimed at those who have an appreciation for flowers and those who work as florists. This was a class of 6 students, allowing individual attention. In the past, we have had a whole range of attendees from those who just love to make floral displays and want to capture their work, to those who have been in business as florists for many years and who want to photograph their work with a particular vision for their marketing. Most of our students own dSLR cameras but have very little experience with how to use them and find manuals and technical articles online a little impenetrable.

Images by Ria Mishaal

The conference room at Barnsley house overlooks the countryside; squirrels played outside the window as we worked. It is the perfect space for an open, exploratory and discursive atmosphere, as we sat around a central table with three setups around the edge of the room for practical work.

The content over the two days is delivered with discussion of key technical principles followed by practical application, giving the opportunity to learn first hand and ask all the questions needed to grow in these skills. Every student gets a 150 page fully illustrated course book so there is no need to take detailed notes and they can just concentrate on learning practically.

Images by David Cooke

We began by discussing the practical advantages and disadvantages of different types of cameras including camera phones, and working out where all the relevant settings were and how to change them on each one of our cameras. When everyone felt familiar with their camera, we dived into exploring manual camera settings and how they affect your image. We explored in detail the quantity, quality and direction of light and how to create an inexpensive home studio setup to manipulate available light to photograph your work. To illustrate this, we photographed a display in a light and airy style and in a dark and moody Dutch Masters’ style using the same available light.

Images by Ria Mishaal

On day two, we explored composition and styling and the consideration of working with light outside. Then the students were invited to put together all the principles they had learnt and devise a mini-shoot both inside on one of the setups and outside in the beautiful gardens of Barnsley House. We had invited the students to bring their own floral displays to photograph, so that they could use some of what they capture for their portfolios, but we also supplied some displays for those who didn’t bring work or didn’t feel experienced enough to do so. To conclude our learning experience, we explored live editing in Lightroom and Photoshop of some of the students’ work taken that day, to show what is easy and possible to make the images sing.

Images by Ria Mishaal

On both days, we broke for lunch and wandered over to The Potager for a two-course lunch. We sat around one table to continue our conversation. A real bonus to in-person courses is the people you meet and the friendships you make. The conversation over lunch bounced from photography to floristry and many tips and stories were shared. Our hope is that, in this way, our courses will help to build and support a positive community.

The beautiful course book the attendees receive contains all the technical information they need, illustrated examples and 18 activities for them to advance their floral photography and continue to grow in their skill. They all get membership to a private Facebook group to share their work and ask questions as they practice, and there is a portfolio review available within 3 months of the course.

Image by Ria Mishaal

We are very much looking forward to run the next course scheduled for 27th-28th March 2019 for a maximum of 8 attendees. Will you join us in the beautiful spring gardens of Barnsley House? Book your place here.

We are proud to share some of the students work that they did on they course:

Images by Jessica Burling

Images by Gabriella Shemtov

Images by Emma Norton

What Students have to say about the TCC Floral Photography Workshop:


This course more than met my expectations! I loved being able to shoot in real situations and I learnt so much. Things I knew before finally made sense!


Sarah (Sarah Guild Floral Design)

Thank you so much for a wonderful day – the course met my hopes and aspirations and more! Ria explained everything so well. There’s been so much work, effort and passion to create this course and it shows!


Portia (Flowers By Passion)

This course was really fantastic, I was really impressed with how much ground we covered in such a short space of time. Ria was so patient and clear with her technical explanations. She touched on so many different aspects of photography – my mind is buzzing! The book is absolutely an absolutely amazing resource!


Erin (Flowers By Passion)

It was a really enjoyable day. I feel I have learnt a lot and I can’t wait to go away and start practicing the techniques. Ria was really generous with her knowledge and also gave us a lot of creative ideas too in terms of backdrops and styling. I highly recommend this course!


Claudia (Just Joey On The Moon)

This is so much more than a photography workshop! Not just all the technical learning but I loved the creative styling, set up and composition work. An all round masterclass. It went beyond my expectations and is so much more than as advertised. That BOOK is amazing, what an amazing addition. Ria’s generosity of knowledge, her inspiring technical skills and her all round creative brilliance allowed me to produce images I was really proud of!


The Creativity Collective provides inspiring, interactive photography education for those who want to develop creativity in their work. It was co-founded by Ria Mishaal, an established and experienced full time portrait and wedding photographer, and David Cooke, an internationally accredited visual art photographer with over 30 years experience in adult education. Learn more about them here.

Do join our supportive and positive TCC Community learning group. There we will do regular challenges to improve photographic skills and creative thinking.

Please subscribe here to receive a regular round-up of our most popular photography and creativity tips direct to your inbox. You will also get news of our new courses and products and special offers.

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Our Story

TCC was co-founded to provide inspiring, interactive photography education for those who want to develop creativity in their work. To this end, this blog aims to create a community resource for photography enthusiasts and professionals. Today, I wanted to share a little more about the who and the why behind TCC.

Image by Ria Mishaal


I have been a full time fine art portrait and wedding photographer since 2011, and in that time, I have grown my business to a six-figure turnover and have been named as one of the top wedding photographers in the UK by Brides Online in 2017.

Before 2011, I had a university career in Neuroscience, where I developed a passion for well-structured teaching. I am passionate about authentic, uncomplicated communication, and I believe education should be accessible and supported.

I am largely self-taught as a photographer, gaining my knowledge from self study and workshops. My passion for photography started in my childhood and is founded in capturing my travels and the wild nature where I grew up in rural Hampshire. I have led many workshops for small groups of professionals, both for the Royal Photographic Society and other photography collectives, as well as under my own name. I am a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society.

My co-founder David is an accomplished Visual Art photographer. His images have won over thirty awards in International Salons and Exhibitions and have been accepted in over thirty countries. He is a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) specialising in Visual Art. He was a Trustee and member of the Council of the Royal Photographic Society (2012-2017) and Chair of the RPS Education Committee (2013-2015). He Chaired the RPS Digital Imaging Group (2011-2014) and was editor of the Group’s quarterly magazine, ‘DIGIT’ (2010-2014) as well at the RPS Visual Art Group magazine ‘Visual Art’ (2010-2016)

He is an experienced educator, with over 30 years experience. He was a senior academic at the OU for over 20 years, and was involved in the production and presentation of courses, both as a course team chair and as a writer. This has given him a deep and detailed understanding of adult education and teaching techniques for students in small groups and at a distance. Together we have the skills and passion to lead this collective and hope that it will become a valuable resource for you in your journey to accomplished and fulfilling image making.


For some years David and I have felt a genuine need for teaching resources in photography and the world that surrounds being a creative entrepreneur; resources that are well structured with thoughtful and well designed teaching material.

The world has become bite-sized and instant, and while there is an important and valuable place for that sort of content, we felt a lack of well-developed teaching with the appropriate support for growth.

We discussed our experience of being on both sides of photography education and wanted to work together to create courses that would provide education at a different level. We are both very passionate about effective and accessible teaching. Therefore, we have designed our courses to be supported by in-depth course books to allow continued development with the support of the community and portfolio reviews. We believe this is necessary to achieve real growth. Development of creativity takes time and we aim to nurture that.

As for this blog, being largely self-taught and now having worked as a full-time photographer for over 7 years, I am fully aware of the journey into this frontier. It is incredibly empowering to work for yourself but is a very different landscape to working for someone else. As a research scientist, I was self-motivated in my work, but the level of freedom and responsibility I have working for myself thrills and terrifies in equal measure at times. It suits me down to the ground, but it can be difficult at times and that is when we most need kind and genuine support from others who have or are going through the same thing.

It has been lonely and I have been to my fair share of workshops that were not as valuable as they could have been. During my time as an entrepreneur, I have also become a mother to a vibrant curious little girl with whom I have a deep connection. The deeply fulfilling and complex world of being a self employed parent also made me long for a resource and community that answered my questions. I have found some online communities less than supportive, and for that reason often not participated fully in the online world. I have also found some incredible friends and colleagues along my entrepreneurial journey and they have inspired me to step up and play my part in building a better community.

The first course we launched, ‘Floral Photography‘ is a foundation photography course for those who are visually driven and creative, who work as florists or have an appreciation and passion for flowers. We have run one and two day courses. Most of those who come along have bought dSLRs but have very limited experience of operating them and have been overwhelmed by seemingly impenetrable manuals and technical blog posts online. It has been enormously rewarding working in person with these people to enable them to become familiar with their cameras, no longer viewing them as problematic but instead as useful tools to express their creativity and capture their vision.

I write this blog for students who are beginning their journey. I am also writing to those, like me, who have been in the business for some time by answering questions and exploring topics that are relevant to expanding their creativity.

We both hope that our project will become an established community with valuable courses and daily posts answering questions and meeting the needs of readers. We already have a closed Facebook group for those who have attended our courses to share their work and ask questions, continuing their growth with the support of like-minded others. This is a place for kindness and education:two of the most important elements of a functioning society. In time, we hope to inspire you and champion our members work with competitions and publications.

To build this kind community, we need you. I hope that you are encouraged by our vision and that you’ll choose to join us:

Do join our supportive and positive TCC Community learning group. There we will do regular lessons to improve photographic skills and creative thinking.

Please subscribe here to receive a regular round-up of our most popular photography and creativity tips direct to your inbox. You will also get news of our new courses and products and special offers.

Follow us on Instagram for visual inspiration and community.

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Welcome to The Creativity Collective

Welcome. This is The Creativity Collective’s blog (TCC blog) written by me, Ria Mishaal.

My father David F Cooke and I co-founded TCC to provide interactive and inspiring photography education for those who are passionate about developing their creativity. We saw a need for courses that provided both developed teaching and the support for interactive growth in skills and creativity.

Our focus on great teaching, helping people hone their creativity and achieving excellence is enabled by:

* Developed teaching: in-person courses and course book
* Nurturing creativity: emphasis on developing independent creativity
* Supportive community: focussed and positive community
* Motivating action: activities and reviews to help you get feedback as you grow

To this end, this blog aims to create a community resource for photography enthusiasts and professionals seeking to grow their independent creativity.

Image by Ria Mishaal

The readers of this blog may range from keen amateur photographers (and creative entrepreneurs) who wish to become more proficient in their photographic skills and creative ability, to photographers wanting to learn more about business, productivity and hone their craft. The posts will tackle topics from photography techniques and exploration of the creative process to productivity and business topics as well as ways to live a happier life as a creative entrepreneur living in the world now.

I intend to post three times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays regularly tackling each of the key topics. As this is a community resource, I would love to invite you to become a part of it. If you are interested in writing a guest piece for this blog on a topic close to your heart or skill set, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

We will regularly be sending out a newsletter, featuring our top posts and letting you know about upcoming courses and learning opportunities. We will share promotional rates only available to our newsletter community, so if you want to come along for the ride, please do sign up to the newsletter HERE. To say thank you, you will be able to download our 19-page guide: 15 guidelines for learning photographers.

To make this truly valuable, we need you to be a part of this journey.

In January, we will be launching two interactive exercises:

TCC blog is a community resource, so please let us know what you want to see here, what content is useful and what would support you in your growing creativity in photography. We openly invite questions and topic suggestions, please feel free to email these to us or to mention us @learnwithtcc on social media with your suggestions.

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Photography for Florists {new course}

Over the years, I have been asked by many florists how they can learn to photograph their work and capture their artistic vision for themselves. I have designed a course, specifically for florists, to learn both the technical and the artistic tools needed to make brilliant images of their work for their portfolios in print and online.

We have a fabulous two day course at the stunning Barnsley House in the Cotswolds, and a self led course with a stunning 152 page course book and portfolio review to chose from. Learn more about the new courses on the Floral Photography Courses page.

‘When I started the Flower School, I knew instantly I wanted Ria Mishaal to partner with us on our new venture. This beautiful, gentle soul – the lady I call ‘gaviscon’ (due to her healing, calming qualities) – is crazy talented and she effortlessly slipped into becoming our resident photographer’ – Jay Archer

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The Creativity Collective’s blog is intended as a community resource exploring creativity, the art of photography and tools for happy and productive living.

It’s written by Ria Mishaal, a professional photographer fascinated by light, love and navigating life as an entrepreneur in the 21st century. Learn more about her and the rest of the TCC team here.

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Floral Photography Course: £95

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If you have any questions about our courses or products we would love to hear from you! Please allow 24 hours for a response.

07530 290967