Editing the Visual Story

with Sarah Leen and Bill Marr

Course Description

Visual storytelling is an essential skill set for every photographer to master. Through the fine art of deliberate image selection and sequencing, we can transform a random collection of photographs into a compelling and dynamic visual narrative.

This instructive and inspirational two-week online project workshop led by Sarah Leen, previously the award-winning director of photography for National Geographic magazine and current Founder of the Visual Thinking Collective and Bill Marr, former creative director at National Geographic and former director of photography at The Nature Conservancy, introduce participants to a skill set essential for every photographer: the art of editing their images. Sarah and Bill share the expertise that puts you on a path to achieving your project’s goals. By examining the elements of effective storytelling, we gain a clear, step-by-step approach to refining our narrative skills, organizing our images, and editing our photographs into an exhibit, book, or publishable story.

For this class you will need 50-60 images from a single project that you would like us to work on. We will use these images as the basis of our work together during the workshop.

In a fun, collaborative, and inspirational environment, we learn and grow, through group and individual sessions, from Instructor presentations, editing exercises, and learning from each other’s solutions and successes. We are not about creating new images, but with taking our existing storytelling projects to the next level. As we master the practical editing skills that further our photographic journeys, we put to rest the adage that photographers are their own worst editors!

Testimonial from previous participant in Editing the Visual Narrative, Winter 2022:

“I learned that everyone has a story to tell. And that our stories matter. I learned that a good editor can help tell that story in ways that make it universal. I loved the structure of the course: the building of narrative, types of narrative and examples. I was blown away by the access to examples: from pitch to publication. Sarah and Bill are distinct instructors and having them as a team was really like getting two teachers — and a beautiful way of reminding me that there ARE different solutions to everything. And the access — these guys poured their brains and hearts out to us and then offered private meetings to go over work. I have never ever had access like this. Also, they are master instructors.”


Additional Information

Advanced Amateurs, Professionals
What You Should Know:

Working knowledge of your laptop computer

Portfolio Required:

Please see the Portfolio Section of Registration Information for guidelines on your submission of 20 images from the project that will be presented in the workshop within one month of registering for the class. A short statement about the project is also required.


View Withdrawal and Transfer Policies for online programs.

Professional Development, Storytelling
© Sarah Leen
Sarah Leen

Sarah Leen is the former Director of Photography for National Geographic Magazine, where she worked as a freelance photographer for more than 20 years before joining the publication’s staff in 2004. The winner of numerous awards for her photography and photo editing, Sarah has juried many contests, including Pictures of the Year International, Lens Culture, the W. Eugene Smith Grants, the Getty Images Editorial Grants, and the World Press Joop Swarts Masterclass. Sarah has taught photography and editing at the Missouri Photo Workshops, the International Center for Photography in New York, the Maine Photographic Workshops, and the Palm Beach Centre for Photography.

A popular workshop instructor, Sarah (along with husband Bill Marr) is also part of our Mentorship Program »


Instagram: @roseleen
© Bill Marr
Bill Marr

Bill Marr’s 40-year photography career reflects a dedication to visual content and its presentation in newspapers, books, exhibits, and magazines. His path has taken him from the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked in the 1980s, to National Geographic magazine, where as creative director he led the magazine’s push into digital space with an award-winning iPad app. Most recently, Bill served as director of photography for The Nature Conservancy, and as a freelancer, he has created annual reports, corporate collateral, books, and photo exhibits. A member of the Missouri Photojournalism Hall of Fame, he teams up to teach workshops with his wife and partner, Sarah Leen.

A popular workshop instructor, Bill (along with wife Sarah Leen) is also part of our Mentorship Program »

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