Looking Back… The Gift of Photography

Reflecting back on what I have loved most about my life and photography, I find it’s not really just about the photographs.  Rather, it has been the experiences that went along with those moments with my camera, family activities, the wonderful people I have met, new friendships made, the sights I have seen and the places I have experienced, and the memories that were made along the way.  The value of the photographs, for me, really is to serve as a reminder of the blessings I have experienced in my life.

Every photograph is a two-dimensional snapshot of a moment in time, but there is a rich and deep story behind each image. What was happening at that moment? Who is in the photograph? What were we saying to each other? What compelled me to take that photo? Where was I? What was I doing there? Why was I sitting on the side of that mountain waiting for the sun to rise? Who was with me? How did I feel at the moment when I clicked the shutter? All that remains from that moment is this image I created and the memories I carry with me.

Then, over time, the memories fade, the deeper stories are lost, and we hand over this set of photographs to our next generation.  And yet, the photographs still matter. They become like a keyhole in a door we can peer through, into another world, a world in the past. We can’t step through that door to go into the past, but we can at least peer through the keyhole.

Several years ago, I scanned some old black & white photos of my family, from way back, before I was born. My brother, Ken, said they were photos from a family reunion in Grand Lake, Colorado. I couldn’t ask my mom or dad since they passed away years ago. We weren’t quite sure of the specific location of those photos, and I certainly had no memory of the time since I was not born yet.

After a lot of detective work, I found a clue in one of the photos that had a blurry out-of-focus sign in the background. That led me to some Google searches that ultimately led me to some answers. I then went to Google “street view” and was able to explore further. I found with absolute certainty where the cabins were located! I was so excited to piece together these parts of the puzzle that were long lost.

When I was in Grand Lake recently, I was able to visit those very cabins! Although I’ve been to Grand Lake many times, I had no clue that my family stayed there around 65(ish) years ago. It was so exciting to find the cabins! I now had established a connection to a specific place where my family had enjoyed the mountains of Colorado and swam in the beautiful lake. Knowing a precise spot where my mom and dad and brother had been so many years ago changed how I saw the area. I almost felt like I was stepping into another dimension when I stood in the very spot where my dad stood over six decades ago. It was like a sacred moment for me. I am deeply grateful for this gift the photographs gave me.

You just never know how much someone in your family, many years later, may cherish a photograph you create today. The person who might appreciate it the most might not even be born yet… perhaps a son, or daughter, or grandchild, or brother, or nephew…

OR, it might not be a family member who is grateful for the photographs you take. When I was photographing the cabin there in Grand Lake, I spoke with someone there who knew the owner. He asked me to text him the old black & white photo of the cabin, to share with the owner. The owner was so excited to see the photo!

Ah the gift of photography.

Then and Now

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We had a Great Time on Our Rocky Mountain Photography Workshop!

We were in Colorado this past week, leading our Rocky Mountain Summer Photography Workshop! The weather was spectacular and we had numerous photo opportunities to capture beautiful images of landscapes, waterfalls, lakes, rivers, subalpine meadows, chipmunks, squirrels, marmots, birds, coyotes, deer, elk, moose, and big horn sheep. This is truly a photographer’s paradise in Rocky Mountain National Park. The trick is knowing how to photograph this magnificent park in the right way, knowing the right times, to be at the right places in the summer and fall for the best light and best opportunities to photograph wildlife, and knowing the right camera settings to use for various locations. This is what we offer in our Rocky Mountain Photography Workshops!

If you might be interested in joining us next year, we’d like to hear from you NOW as we consider our plans. It is really important that we hear from you soon though, as we make some important decisions for next year. Email me at:

Here’s the web page with information about these workshops, but note our 2021 options are already sold out. https://www.kgphotoworkshops.com/kgclass2021RMNP.php

Here are a few photos from this past week:

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My New Book – Available on Amazon

My dear friends, I am pleased to announce publication of my new book, available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle versions. It isn’t a book about photography. It’s a book about life.

The book is entitled “Grateful Moments – A Journey with Mom“. I am releasing the book now, in honor of Mother’s Day and I am donating 50% of the royalties I receive for the first 6 months of publication to the American Cancer Society.

Grateful Moments – A Journey with Mom

Sixteen years ago, my mom had a tough battle with a rare form of cancer in her final year of life. I devoted a lot of time helping her, and with me being a writer, I created a blog, as a way of journaling about the experience, the good moments, the hard moments, and some of the lessons learned. Many people said I should publish what I wrote into a book, because they related so much to the insights I shared, seeing a bit of their own experience in caring for an aging parent.

The blog no longer exists, but I finally took the time to transform what I wrote into this new book. It is a very transparent and intimate account of the pain, struggles, sorrow, faith, fear, and yet moments of gratitude I experienced in those last months of my mom’s life.

As I say in the book:
“Grief is another form of love. It is what love looks like after someone you love dies. It is a moment. It is a season. It is a state of being. It is life under a dark cloud, trusting that one day the sun will shine again. This book is my personal journey through grief and loss, sharing some lessons learned and an affirmation of the importance of living with a sense of gratitude for the life you are experiencing right now. Even in the challenging times, find the beauty in the moments you are given.”

Kevin Gourley

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When is it Time to Upgrade My Camera Gear?

I get questions about this topic quite often, so I thought I’d write some thoughts on this topic.

First, note that the answers you get for this question will probably depend on who you ask. If you ask a camera salesperson, remember their job is to sell camera gear. I’m not saying that is bad thing. Many might steer you in the right direction on what you could purchase that will best meet your needs. But let’s step back a bit from the presumption that you need to buy new camera gear, and first assess what your real needs are.

I know slick marketing of all the great cameras and lenses will have you drooling over the ads (if they’re effective, they’ll make you feel like you “just have to have it”). And then if you see your photographer friends with their latest new camera gear, that might just make you feel like you simply must upgrade what you have to be just like them. Or maybe you received a “stimulus check” or you are getting money back from the IRS this year, and that money is “burning a hole in your pocket” and you’re anxious to spend it. Again, I encourage you to pause and first assess your situation.

Know What Problem You Are Trying to Solve

Sometimes the problem with your photography may be a limitation imposed by your camera gear. It might be an issue of some technical limitation, or maybe it is just too heavy or bulky. But many times the problem may be due to you not knowing how to use your camera most effectively, and upgrading the camera might not solve the problem at all.

Here are some reasons an upgrade might be in order:

  • First of all, make sure the problem isn’t YOU. Get to know your camera really well and how to best to use its features to manage exposure settings, aperture, shutter speeds, ISO, metering, focusing, etc. For example, if you are always getting shots that aren’t very sharp, you need to figure out if it is a problem with how you are using your camera. Upgrading a lens or camera body won’t necessarily fix that. Maybe the upgrade that is needed is YOU. First, upgrade yourself to be the best photographer you can be with the equipment you have. THEN, from there, assess what other improvements might be necessary.
  • Image sharpness issues might be due to your choices in how you use the auto focus system of your camera. Get to know that really well. Then, if it turns out that you are doing a great job with focusing and managing depth-of-field and your images still aren’t sharp, also make sure you aren’t having issues with motion blur due to vibration introduced by hand-holding your camera. You can manage that by ensuring properly fast shutter speeds or using image stabilization offered by various manufacturers under various trademarked names.
  • Some cameras have image stabilization built into the camera body, and others have it built into the lenses, and some offer a hybrid combination of camera and lens cooperating together to stabilize motion blur. If you have a camera that only implements image stabilization in the lens, and you happen to own a lens that does not support image stabilization, that might be a great reason to upgrade to a lens that supports this feature. Or upgrade to a camera/lens combination that offers even better stabilization. This is potentially a very big deal in getting sharper shots. Or the alternative is to just ensure you are using faster shutters speeds to avoid the motion blur problem entirely. That is the cheaper alternative, but still, having good image stabilization is a huge plus, often well worth the extra $$.
  • The latest generation cameras have more advanced focusing systems, with more focusing points, more “cross type” focusing (meaning the focus points can discern detail sharpness horizontally and vertically), better tracking features, and some brands offering automatic detection of faces or eyes, and depending on your circumstance, that might be of great value to you. It just depends on the type of photography you do. If you just shoot studio portraits, the demands on the autofocusing system are not nearly as great as shooting birds in flight, for example.
  • Sometimes your images might seem to always be a bit “soft” no matter what you do to ensure sharp shots. It could be a problem with your lens. Not all lenses are equal. Some are sharper than others. If the problem is due to your lens not being as sharp, this might be a very compelling reason to get rid of that lens and upgrade to something better (usually meaning a higher price lens).
  • Sometimes you might find your current lenses never seem to have a wide enough view of the world, or maybe you can never get close enough to photograph that bird in the tree, or maybe you never can focus as close as you want to. This would suggest it is time to figure out what lenses you should get rid of, and what new lenses you might want to buy, going more wide angle, or more telephoto, or maybe getting a macro (close-focusing) lens. There are so many options out there, and every photographer’s needs are different.
  • Maybe you frequently shoot in low light environments, and you are constantly finding your camera doesn’t do well in those environments. That could be a very compelling reason to upgrade your camera to one with a higher ISO capability and perhaps better dynamic range (ability to record details in highlight and shadow areas). This is often a pretty big deal and one of the more practical reasons to upgrade a camera body.
  • Most folks rarely need to upgrade their camera to be able to create images with more megapixels. This is a lesser compelling reason to upgrade a camera, but there might be some circumstances where you need the added resolution, but note you will need to also ensure you do super-accurate focusing, minimize any blur due to hand-held camera movement, and have the very best quality lenses, or having those extra megapixels will not matter very much!
  • Maybe you also want to shoot video and your current camera does not do a good job with video. That would be an obvious reason to upgrade.
  • Perhaps you’re finding your camera and lenses are just too heavy or too bulky. If that is the case, you might look at other lens or camera body alternatives that might be smaller or lighter. You might look into cameras in the “micro four thirds” category, offered by Olympus and Panasonic.
  • The super high-end cameras may look fancy and attractive and will surely impress your photographer friends, but often you don’t need the top-of-the-line camera to take outstanding shots. So, while you might be ready to upgrade, remember the money you spend on the camera body, might mean less funds available to spend on lenses or a flash or a tripod or camera bag. Even if you have almost unlimited funds available, buying the top-of-the-line camera still might not be right for you as it might be heavier or bulkier, so take that into consideration also.
  • Maybe your camera is aging a bit and it is just time to upgrade to take advantage of some of the many features offered in the newer cameras. Cameras are rated to have a certain number of shutter actuations as their expected “shutter life”. Some cameras are rated at 100,000 and some are rated at 150,000 and some at 200,000. Camera “age” is not just measured in years. It is measured in shutter actuations. A camera could be just a couple of years old, yet be way beyond its shutter actuation life if it was used a lot. (Keep this in mind if you purchase a used camera.) You can find software online that can assess how many times your shutter has been fired.
  • You can always upgrade to a different brand of camera or from a cropped sensor to a full frame sensor. Note there are compatibility issues you’ll need to keep in mind. Some lenses (Nikon DX, Canon EF-S, Tamron DI-II) are designed to only work on cameras with cropped sensor (such as APS-C sensors) and won’t work on a full frame camera, so if you upgrade to full-frame, you may have to upgrade your lenses. Or if you move from a DSLR to a mirrorless camera, you will have to buy an adapter if you want to use the same lenses. Or if you move from one brand to another, you may not be able to just upgrade your camera. If an adapter is available, you could possibly use the same lenses OR you may have to buy all new lenses.
  • I could probably come up with some more suggestions if I thought about this more. This is what I came up with “off the top of my head.” Feel free to email me with your questions related to this topic! Send an email to and I’ll post your answer on our blog!
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Our Rocky Mountain Photography Adventure

We are SO much looking forward to our Summer and Fall Rocky Mountain Photography Workshops!

ONLY ONE SPACE LEFT IN SUMMER AND IN FALL!

We are down to our final few days when you can sign up for the Summer Workshop and take advantage of our $200 Early Registration Discount (ends May 1st)!

Some great benefits of joining us on our photographic adventures into Rocky Mountain National Park :

  • We’ll be going into the park at the best times to get the best light for landscape photos and better wildlife photo opportunities.
  • I have many years of experience in leading photographers into this magnificent national park.
  • Since I operate my photo workshops within the National Park legally, my business conforms to all park requirements and we have permits that allow our group to enter the park whenever we want without having to make reservations weeks ahead through their “Timed Entry Permit System” that vacationers must use. This is a huge advantage! 🙂
  • Here are more reasons to join us… the many photo opportunities and adventures you’ll enjoy with us!
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Q&A: DO I really need More Megapixels?

That’s a pretty common question! While it is tempting to buy cameras with more megapixels, you won’t see all that much difference in the resulting images. Yes, is\f you jump from 20 megapixels to 60 megapixels, you might see an improvement in tiny details and you have more “crop room”, but remember you pay a price for that since you’ll need larger memory cards and more hard drive space to store them. Ultimately, in many cases, you really won’t see that much difference in your photographs. What matters more in terms of camera features is the dynamic range of the sensor, ISO range, and low light performance. Those factors are the more important features to pay attention to when considering buying a new camera.

Also, if you go with an ultra high megapixel camera, you’d better make sure you have lenses with excellent optics to even have the resolving power to record the finer details on the sensor. Also you’ll need to even more carefully manage your focusing, aperture, depth of field, and shutter speeds to ensure you get sharp shots. A slightly out of focus shot or a shot with unintended motion blur will not be sharper by simply recording the blurry image on a higher-megapixel sensor. 🙂


Do you have any questions about photography? Feel free to ask Kevin!

Send an email to and he’ll post your answer on our blog!

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Q&A – Answers for Photographers

Do you have any questions about photography? Feel free to ask Kevin!

Send an email to and he’ll post your answer on our blog!

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Photographers: Our Fabulous Rocky Mountain Adventure Awaits YOU!

Join us in the Rocky Mountains of
Colorado this Summer or Fall!

Here are 16+ reasons to join us this year!

There are so many reasons to join us this year on our Rocky Mountain Photography Workshop, including some reasons you may not have even thought of or considered!

  1. Time to get out there! Many of us have endured over a year of being locked down and restricted in our activities due to this pandemic.  Now we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and an ever increasing number of people have been vaccinated!  Make this your escape into the mountains and enjoy the great outdoors! We still keep your safety a priority!
  2. You’ll have so many great photo opportunities to capture great landscape, waterfall, and wildlife shots.
  3. We optimize our adventures into the park to be at the best times for the best light and best wildlife possibilities.
  4. Our groups are intentionally kept small. In fact, this year, we are keeping them a little smaller due to “social distancing” requirements and we care about you having a safe and fun experience as we follow National Park guidelines.
  5. Some people say they don’t like Rocky Mountain National Park’s “timed entry permit reservation system” to limit access to the park by region and by reservation only, a month or two in advance.  That is not a concern for our group.  Our group has a special permit and we are free to go into the park, wherever we want, whenever we want without getting a timed entry permit!
  6. Some people are concerned about all the historic fires that damaged portions of the park last year.  Yes, it was heartbreaking to see those fires in our favorite place on earth, but the vast majority of the places we visit in the park were totally unharmed by the fires!  The one exception is the Grand Lake area, but we’ll still visit that area. The truth is, fires are part of the natural life cycle of forests.
  7. We have many years of experience in leading groups on these fun adventures.  We’ll have more fun adventures this year!
  8. We have great respect for this national treasure we know as Rocky Mountain National Park.  We have always followed all National Park and federal regulations and have required permits and authorizations to operate our workshops within Rocky Mountain National Park. (Anyone who offers workshops within the park but do not follow their requirements are in violation of federal law. Not only do we offer great workshops, we do them legally!)
  9. Our workshop offers over 40 HOURS of learning and photography adventures.
  10. Also two included pre-trip online meetings to help you be fully prepared for the trip plus a post-trip get-together, plus new special add-on options.
    • OptionalPhoto Post-Processing/Editing Techniques Online Class
    • OptionalNature Photography Techniques Interactive Online Class
  11. SAVE $200!  We have held open our EARLY REGISTRATION DISCOUNT pricing past the deadline to encourage YOU to sign up soon!
  12. Summer:
    • Group A: July 10-13 ONE space available
    • Group B: July 15-18 ONE space available 
  13. Fall:
    • Group A: Sept 18-21 ONE space available
    • Group B: Sept 23-26 Sold Out 
  14. TIME IS RUNNING OUT as lodging options start filling up!
  15. If you don’t want to fly there, make it a driving adventure!
  16. Still not convinced? Read the reviews from many of our past participants!

YOUR GREAT MOUNTAIN ADVENTURE AWAITS 

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE OR TO REGISTER

If you have ANY questions or are “sitting on the fence” and are almost ready to sign up, but just haven’t made that final decision yet, LET’S TALK!  Fill out my contact form!  I am happy to answer any questions you might have!  Let’s turn a “maybe” into a “yes” before these options go away!


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LAST CHANCE to Take Advantage of These Special Offers!

Don’t miss out on our final special pricing.

Scroll down to read the full story about the changes we’re making, AND make sure you take advantage of our special offers on pricing before these opportunities end!

Our Pandemic Special Reduced Prices AND “Name Your Own Price” options are coming to an end!

CLICK HERE TO VIEW OUR UPCOMING CLASSES


Photography: Finding Your Way
Creativity Workshop

Whether you are just starting out in photography or you have years of experience, this class will meet you where you are and help you find new directions to head to discover your unique artistic expression in photography! THIS IS THE BEST OPPORTUNITY YOU WILL EVER HAVE TO TAKE THIS CLASS AT SUCH A LOW PRICE!  Why take this class??  Read the reviews on the web page.  Former class participants tell you in their own words why this is a must-take class.

  • Class Starts Next Week!
  • Evening Class: Mon/Wed April 12+14+19+21 +May 3, 2021

Lightroom Classic CC Class
Learn how to organize and enhance your photographs with this powerful program!

  • Evening Class: Tues/Wed/Thurs April 27+28+29, 2021

Photoshop for Photographers Class Series
Learn important Photoshop editing skills and features all photographers need to know in these interactive online classes.

  • Photoshop Level 1+2 NEWNow offered as a combined course!
    • Evening Class: Tue/Thu May 18,20 + Tue/Wed/Thu May 25+26+27, 2021

We encourage you to take both of these classes:
Photography Essentials + Photography Essentials Level 2!

  • Photography Essentials Class
    Start your photography learning here! Or take this course as a refresher on the important fundamentals of photography. Learn important photography essentials! Up to 4.5 hours of learning in this online video conference!
    • Morning Class Tues+Thurs May 4+6, 2021 10am-Noon CDT
    • Evening Class Tues+Thurs May 4+6, 2021 7pm-9pm CDT
       
  • Photography Essentials LEVEL 2 Class
    If you have taken my Photography Essentials Class or Photography 101, this is the next step we’d recommend! Or take this course as a refresher on additional important fundamentals of photography.
    • Morning Class Tues+Thurs May 11+13, 2021 10am-Noon CDT
    • Evening Class Tues+Thurs May 11+13, 2021 7pm-9pm CDT

Remember we have several great destination workshops planned this year!
Safe and fun outdoor experiences for photographers!

2021 Rocky Mountain Photography Workshops
A fabulous photographic adventure in beautiful Rocky Mountain National Park of Colorado.


Texas Bird Photography Ranch Workshop
Friday-Sunday October 15-17, 2021
Sunday-Tuesday October 17-19, 2021
Sharpen your photography skills in bird photography at a fantastic wildlife ranch near Uvalde, TX. RECENTLY ANNOUNCED, SPACE IS LIMITED TO JUST 5 PHOTOGRAPHERS!


Photographers Spring 3-Day Weekend Getaway
in the Beautiful Texas Hill Country

April 15-18, 2021 SORRY THIS CLASS IS SOLD OUT!


FULL STORY ABOUT THE CHANGES WE’RE MAKING…

FIRST OF ALL, I want to express how grateful to ALL of you who have taken our classes.  We survived the most unimaginable year in 2020.

When our world turned upside down due to this pandemic
, my business faced challenges I never imagined.  It was devastating to my studio photography business, and I had to (almost overnight) re-tool all of my teaching to be online.  I had to navigate through so many hard choices in cancelling or rescheduling classes and destination workshops. Many thanks to all of you who were so understanding about that.  Every month has frankly been a struggle as we have placed a priority on your safety in following federal and local guidelines in dealing with this pandemic.

I realize our little business was not the only local small business that suffered and struggled to survive. When we participated in the GoFundMe Small Business Relief Fundraiser Initiative, I was deeply humbled and amazed at the support from so many of you. All I could say was “wow.”  We could not have made it without you

Helping Our Community:  If you have ever been a client of mine, you know me, and you know I very much believe in giving back to the community and I have devoted a lot of effort in helping many others in the community in their attempts to make this world a better place. We continued to keep this as a priority, even during the entire pandemic.

As a part of my helping the community, I took a leap of faith and set up all new classes at much reduced prices AND I set up a pricing model where for many of the group online classes, you could “Name Your Own Price” as my way of helping out any of you who, like me, found this past year to be a painful financial struggle.

All good things must come to an end:  I have decided it is time to starttransitioning back out of “pandemic mode” and wanted to let you all know, the classes I am currently offering at reduced prices and/or the classes where you can name your own price are the last ones I will be offering at this special pricing!  For some of these classes, you will never see prices this low again. 

Check out all of our upcoming classes.  We’ll be adding more, but the ones currently offered still are using our “pandemic special pricing” and we’d love to have you sign up.  (Plus we really could use the business right now.)

Asking a favor:  REFER YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER FRIENDS!

Thank you all!
Kevin Gourley

Kevin Gourley Photography Workshops – Support Local Small Business – Serving the Community 

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Join Our Photographic Adventure in the Beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado!

A FEW NEW SPACES OPENED UP!

We’ve had a rough year with COVID-19 but we’re starting to “see the light at the end of the tunnel.” We had reduced our group sizes for our Summer and Fall Rocky Mountain Photography Workshops to better accommodate COVID-19 restrictions, which were SOLD OUT, BUT we are now able to open up one additional space in our groups, so NOW is YOUR chance to join us on this safe and fun marvelous photographic adventure.

YOU’LL LOVE THIS ADVENTURE!

If you love photography, nature, wildlife, and spectacular mountain vistas, you’ll love this workshop. We have led this workshop for years and would love to have you join us this Summer or Fall.

FLY OR DRIVE

Most of our workshop participants fly to Denver and then rent a car. I live in Austin, TX and I usually drive. We really enjoy the drive there. Check out my blog post: “Making it a Driving Adventure.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE WORKSHOP OR TO REGISTER!

PARTICIPANT COMMENTS

  • “The Rocky Mountain Photography Workshop turned out to be the perfect opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the Rockies while learning with a small group of incredible photographers. I learned every day both from Kevin and other photographers in the small group. I cannot imagine a better opportunity than this workshop for photographers who love nature and want to hone their skills.”
  • “Kevin guided us to a variety of great photographic places when the lighting was ideal. We were able to photograph beautiful lake and mountain sunrises, a lot of wildlife including moose and many herds of elk. Kevin knew when to be at different areas when there were the best chances to see wildlife. Thanks Kevin for a great trip.”
  • “Kevin is an excellent workshop leader. He takes you to the best spots at the right time and gets you set up to get your best photos. Highly recommend.”
  • “The workshop was outstanding because we had total access to Kevin and Gail’s knowledge and experience in photography. We were presented with multiple shooting locations and lighting situations from which to learn. Kevin was always available to provide advice and help resolve any problems with camera settings or answer questions. The availability of daily photo reviews permitted one to make any adjustments to shooting techniques before the next day. This was the most hands-on learning experience I have had and I look forward to more with Kevin.”
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Kevin Gourley Photography Workshops, Austin, TX – Austin Photography Classes