Meet our Awesome Instructors!

Meet our team of enthusiastic educators! We employ professional, creative, and passionate individuals who understand and practice our personal approach to photography. Our teachers are highly qualified and certified in the subject they teach. We make sure that every educator has a vital role in creating a successful learning experience for you. Best about photography is that you can ALWAYS learn something new!


Heather Leyse

Heather Leyse specializes in family portraiture, with a focus in engagements, maternity, and newborns. Heather loves being there to capture each special moment. Nothing makes her happier than to hear people say, “I just can’t stop looking at my images.” Family portraiture and finding the perfect way to capture those precious moments in one’s life truly brings a smile to her face. After studying at Art Institute- North Hollywood, and after a year of intense photography courses, she began to pursue her dreams.

“I am humbled and grateful to be doing what I love, for wonderful people who value it, and become more than just clients – they become friends.”

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Katrina Brown

My name is Katrina and I have been a commercial photographer since 1994. I also teach photography, choreograph pageantry arts, and am a Director of Theater Stage Design but not all at the same time. While I shoot most genres of photography, shooting at night is my true personal passion. Points of light, Milky Way chasing and painting with light are the things I love to experiment with! Join me for some inspiring long exposure photography that will expand your photography repertoire and leave you wanting to shoot more! Get inspired by taking a peek at my work:

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Bill Balcer

Bill Balcer

Bill Balcer has a passion to capture special moments then turn them into lifelong images. His first camera, at the age of 9, was a Kodak Instamatic 104. Later he learned from his Father how to develop 35mm film in a darkroom. Bill is also a current student at the Creative Photo Academy. He truly enjoys working with people to grow their knowledge of photography. This includes managing natural and artificial (flash) light within each picture. Bill leads some of the Photo Walks and Night Hawk meet-ups through the Creative Photo Academy as well.

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Mark Comon

Mark Comon

Mark Comon is founder of Creative Photo Academy, PMA Academy and the PMA Certified Photo Instructor program. Mark has effectively taught photography to amateurs, hobbyists, professionals and other photo instructors. His passionate approach to creativity, simple explanation of technical topics and inspirational images will help your photography take flight. Mark loves to inspire you to take, make and keep better photographs.

Mark teaches Photo Boot Camp, Advanced Classes and is a leader on many Adventures and Workshops. Mark is also available for one-on-one tutoring on any subject.

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Michael Pliskin

Michael Pliskin is an award-winning professional photographer, designer and writer. He was an early digital imaging enthusiast, having been a staff technical advisor at Nikon, Inc. when photography began to go digital. In addition to his photography, Michael wrote a book on Adobe Lightroom and teaches Digital Imaging, Photoshop, and Lightroom at colleges and other institutes of higher education, where he introduces digital photographers like yourself to the wonders of RAW photography.

Michael teaches our Mastering Lightroom series at the Creative Photo Academy and is also available for one-on-one lessons in photo-editing.

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Mark Crase

Mark Crase

Mark is an avid photographer with more than 30 years experience capturing images around the Southland, across the country and around the world.  He is a professional educator, and teaches our Intermediate series at Creative Photo Academy.  Mark’s great appreciation for the art of photography, and for the work of the masters who have influenced it, are readily evident in the passion he shows for his work and his classroom presentations.  He enjoys nothing more than sharing that passion with his students.

In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Mark serves as one of the educator-leaders for our Photo Adventures and Night Photography series, where he enjoys helping participants take the most advantage of the photographic opportunities these great locations have to offer.  Mark is also available by appointment for one-on-one tutoring.

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Chris Cambra

Photography has been a part of my life as long as I can remember.

I was hooked from the first time I saw the magic of an image appearing on a blank piece of paper in the darkroom.

The ability to hold a moment in time and to share it with others is truly remarkable making photography the “Universal Language”.

My personal interests include both Natural Landscapes and Street Photography often exploring them in Black and White as well as Color. I am honored to be teaching Landscape Composition in the Creative Photo Academy and will focus on how rules of perspective, proportion, light and composition can enhance the ability to produce the photograph.


Jill Sanders

I have always been an artist regardless of what I was doing to make money. I painted initially as I started my early college years at Otis/Parsons. I found that I just liked gear and electronics too much to stick with just paint. The sound of the shutter is very seductive. I ended up moving to NYC to graduate from Parson’s School of Design. I was in a class of 8 students from around the globe who have all succeeded with their art. I was mentored by the great Lillian Bassman, Mary Ellen mark, and David Vestal. It was a special, creative, amazing, gritty, life expanding time to love/live in NYC in 1989.

Your teachers exist every day along your path. Learn to really listen.

Photography is my zen. It is my security blanket in which i wrap all my emotions into. I pull out the peace within my images and show how we must seek the focus of resilience in order to truly see and experience the true beauty of our spirit.

Read more about Jill’s story here!


Justin Tedford

As far as I can remember, I have always had a creative bone in my body. I started out painting and drawing as my art. Behind all the canvases, sketch pads, and paint, there was a passion to pick up the camera. I never had the opportunity until my aunt loaned me her 35mm SLR for vacation. On day one of the trip, the shutter went out. That was my introduction to photography. Later on photography was supposed to be an easy A in high school, yet it became more than a grade. It became a passion and drive that still exists to this day.

Nothing is more magical than watching your first print slowly appear under the red light of the darkroom as it sits in the developer. They say your past creates who you are, and I believe it does. I grew up in Harrison county running the hills and back roads of my grandparents’ farm in the Loess Hills, the most magical place in all of Iowa. The Loess Hills and the agricultural communities and the people who live there have shaped my style and passion to photograph what many call a fly over state.

You won’t find me in a studio photographing portraits of seniors. I am the guy whose car you find covered in gravel dust. I am a photographer, husband, and photo educator just driving the rural landscapes and back roads of Iowa looking to photograph Iowa’s agriculture and rural communities before they become a distant memory.

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Duane Cassone

Duane Cassone

Duane Cassone is an passionate night photographer and pioneer in long exposure star trails techniques. He is CPA’s EXTREME PHOTOGRAPHER, and will encourage you to push your art and creative experience to new levels. A keen technical educator with over twenty years’ experience, Duane is able to make the tough topics easy and exciting in order to leave space for creativity and art.

Duane leads the popular Star Trails Adventure, plus Creative Vintage Portraits Workshop and Creative Group Portraits Workshop.