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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Photography Capstone Project by Michigan State University

539 ratings

About the Course

The Capstone Project is your opportunity to take advantage of the knowledge you have gained through our journey in learning about photography, to develop a meaningful project of 10 well formed photographs based in your passion for artistic expression, or a subject for documentary exploration, insightful portraiture, imaging for work-related subjects, or some other aspect of photography. We are confident that it will be a project that you will be excited to share with fellow Learners. You should plan on spending more time on this Course per week than any other in this Specialization, and much of it will be in making photographs. During the entire period of development, you and your fellow learners will be supporting each other as you work independently, by sharing your work-in-progress from the initial Project Plan to the final Portfolio. At each stage, all Learners will share comments and suggestions with each other, helping each other to gauge progress and to learn about different approaches to photography and content. By expressing your own ideas and expectations about quality in response to the work of others, you will be forming your own criteria of excellence as well. Along the way there will be multiple opportunities for sharing pictures and ideas through carefully designed Peer Review. This sharing of photographs and comments with peers, and reflecting on their comments about your photos, will be an exciting learning experience that will help you grow in understanding your own photography and that of others. Your contribution of comments to fellow Learners will not only help them understand their photographs better, but it will give you an opportunity to use the vocabulary of terms that are related to techniques, design principles, and content approaches that you have learned through your success in each of the previous Modules. A unique aspect of this Specialization is that everyone who completes the requirements will receive, in addition to their Certificate of Specialization from Michigan State University, access to substantial discounts on equipment, accessories, and membership benefits through Industry Partners from among the premier manufacturers of photography equipment and related items: Fracture, Gary Fong, Gyst, Lensbaby, LensPen, Lume Cube Lighting, Photo District News, PhotoVideoEdu, Think Tank Cases/Bags....

Top reviews


Oct 7, 2020

It's hard to believe how far I've come as a photographer in such a short time. I couldn't have asked for a better introduction to DSLR photography! Thanks for an incredible educational opportunity.


Dec 1, 2017

Great course structure. Great Professors and Mentors. This course has really help me grow a lot as a photographer. I'm so thankful to Coursera & MSU for putting such a great course for learners.

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1 - 25 of 179 Reviews for Photography Capstone Project

By Kate S

Dec 30, 2018

This course has been great and I have learnt a lot, especially in the earlier 4 courses leading up to the capstone project. BUT considering that I was paying to access this course and then had to pay AGAIN before submitting my final project, I would expect to get feedback from the lecturers running the course. I completed this 3 months ago and the only feedback I've had on my final project has been the peer review from people assumably at the same level that I am at. One of the things I was looking forwards to with completion was getting some feedback from professionals on my photography. This hasn't happened yet. If I was on campus completing a degree this would be unacceptable. I understand that the lecturers would be busy, but if they are too busy to provide feedback perhaps less people should be able to enroll. Or it should be clear in the course description that the final grade and feedback is from your peers. In this case, we shouldn't have to pay for our final project to be submitted.

By Bonnie S

Jun 12, 2020

After the great instruction and learning from courses 1 - 4, course 5 is a great disappointment. There is not enough content to fill 8 weeks. Maybe it was because everyone was home-bound due to the virus, but it was just too easy to get through the instruction and assignment and be ready for the next week. There must have been something wrong with the program, since every time I was ready to rate the peer assignment, I got a message that there were no assignments available. However, going out on the forum, lots of students were begging for feedback. What's with that? Also, too often I would try and respond to someone on the forum by rating their assignment, but I couldn't find their photos. This was extremely frustrating. I got to the point where I totally forgot about the course for days on end. This is something that never happened in courses 1 - 4. Several times the peer feedback just consisted of a word or a few letters, like OK. This was not helpful at all. (To be fair, I also got some great feedback.) Was wondering what the role of the mentors is supposed to be. Would have been nice to get feedback from them since the instructors are non-participants in the course. Overall, I wish I hadn't taken the Capstone. It was a big let down after the first four courses.

By Debora B

Nov 13, 2017

It was a really great course, specially the exchange among colleagues with the peer review system. It is amazing how much hit chances the way you think photography. It also may ruin the way you see some of your photos from before, since you get much more of a critic eye.

If I can make a suggestion, I just believe since it is a very fast pace course, suddenly 10 pictures, it is too much. I could see it was too much form most of my colleagues, since you could notice amazing pictures and some not so great, which is what you have to do in such a short notice. It would be good to know we will be posting 10 pictures in advance, so we can prepare for it since the beginning. Or... maybe give a few more days on the tasks with 10 pictures to post.

The reason it is not a five star course is because our two professors never get to comment our work. I can understand it is too many students and a lot of courses happening at the same time, but at least at the Capstone Project we should get a review from the opinion of the two professionals we have been learning from.

By roberta l

Dec 29, 2016

I learned a lot about how to use my camera from the lectures. The only downside was the feedback which was very limited from other students. The only feedback from the instructors was at the end of the 5 course series and even it was limited.

By Neil A K

Oct 15, 2020

The course content was excellent. The instructors were also excellent. They are clearly highly professional and they promoted sharing and fairness and the highest ethical behaviour by and for all. It was truly an honour to be instructed by them. I know that Michigan State University also promotes the highest ethical standards.

However, that was not what actually happened.The course was based on the concept of peer review intended for students to share ideas, openly critique each others work and thereby learn from each other. This apparently was necessary because the on-line format encourages thousands of students to enrol to generate income for the University and Coursera. Therefore, it becomes impossible for the university to evaluate the progress of their students and it is left to students to review their peers.

The peer review process does not work however when students do not share the ethical behaviour of their instructors or the educational institutions that employ them. In my case, peer reviews consisted of singular grunts (good, nice, has, cesxa, etc.) even on my final Capstone project. When I had opportunity to review 9 students, every one of their assignments were the same, word for word. None of them submitted photographs which were required and therefore I lost the opportunity to review their work.

I hope MSU and Coursera find a way to correct this type of behaviour in the future, but if not, I would recommend serious students to seek their educations elsewhere and leave this course to the lazy, unethical peers that I experienced consistently throughout this specialization.

By Phil S

May 31, 2021

The Capstone Course was probably my least favorite. Much of the course included videos already seen in previous courses. The idea is all based upon peer review. Due to the number of peer reviews, sometimes it tooks weeks to see your feedback. You don't see your feedback until after all reviews have been completed. It took a number of weeks for my midterm and final project to be completed. I quickly went through the first four courses in a matter of about 6 weeks--this last course just went slow. There was no feedback from the instructors. The discount codes in the email have a number of broken links or no longer usable. As the courses went on, they left numerous video mistakes in instead of editing them out. I really appreciated Professor Peter's videos. However, Professor Mark has absolutely no enthusiasm and reads in a monotone voice directly from a teleprompter. Professor Peter has much more enthusiasm in his videos and they come across much better. The Coursera software is glitchy at times. In this final course, I completed it on my iPad and whenever I tried to respond to peers in the discussion forums, I often get the message that the site was down for maintenance. This happened way too often. All-in-all, I learned a lot through this series. It was a great idea, but it also needs to be updated since many of the videos were shot in 2012. Technology changes quite frequently and it has been along time since the iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S6 have been around. I was also excited about learning Lightroom, but that module was poorly done and very outdated.

By Andrej R

Oct 11, 2020


Then 1 year ago I've noticed this course presence in Coursera I was really enjoyed it exists and according explanation it provides lot o valuable and interesting work. Several months ago, then our government officially made a gift for young peoples in form of Coursera tests i was really inspired to finally attempt one. Unfortunately, just after start I've realized how rotten it is. 9 out 10 submissions are wrong, plagiarized. Nothing about this course is true is value and recognition after completing it feels total zero. I respect work you and MSU put in, content, videos and all learning theory is great. Unfortunately all peer review idea is not working in our world, 6-7 submissions filled with same text in a row, photos, project. If I would pay for this course my money, i would definitely be very angry and unhappy about how things working here. Such courses instead of proud and recognition brings only hate and disappointment.

Thanks MSU for content, both professors did great job and preparation and delivery. I learned something new.

Coursera part of business to make it FAIR and its total garbage in output.



By Ronald P I

Oct 27, 2020

Not really worth taking this class. The video production quality has horrible sound issues and there are a lot of bots that make the exercises a pain. I went through the entire specialization, finished the Capstone, and these issues only get worse the further you go. I'm sure there are other photography classes through Coursera that offer the same information in a much more organized way. I Gave the other classes in this specialization 2 stars but I'm giving the Capstone 1 because there were so many bot accounts, it slowed everything way down. Also the peer review/forum exercises were very unorganized compared to other Coursera classes I've taken.

By Robert d B

May 9, 2017

This course has been extremely challenging in more ways than one. Even though the actual photos were the focal point, but all the other elements were very thought provoking. Sometimes I reflected that taking the actual photos and post adjustments were the easy part. It has been a privilege to review some of my fellow photographers and see so many more photos of other photographers during the course. The diversity of subjects and techniques have shown me that anything is possible and that we are limited only by our imagination. I like to thank Prof. Glendinning and Prof. Sullivan for such a great and entertaining and thought provoking course. I like to thank my fellow students who have been with me on this nearly 6 month journey for your kind and helpful comments and I hope that some of my comments have been helpful to you as well and any comments I have made, I made with great consideration and respect.

Wishing all my fellow Spartans every success and lets hope we will meet again on some other great photography course put on by Michigan State University




By Avinash T

Dec 2, 2017

Great course structure. Great Professors and Mentors. This course has really help me grow a lot as a photographer. I'm so thankful to Coursera & MSU for putting such a great course for learners.

By Scott F

Oct 4, 2020

The Capstone Project is a good way to put everything together that you learned in the previous courses of the photography specialization, but I got very little feedback. The requirement to put together a photographer's statement and plan a full project was a good challenge. It made me think and plan. I also learned from looking at the projects others submitted.

That said, I would have learned much more with more feedback. Very often the peer-review feedback I received was a single character or a single word. Not terribly helpful. I also often did not receive as many responses as I should have - based on how many I was required to submit.

The biggest disappointment was no feedback from the professors. The course says they look at all of the final submission and provide feedback. It would have been helpful to receive it, but I did not hear from either of them.

By Aaron S

Aug 20, 2022

While the course did help me with assembling a good portfolio and creating an artist statement with useful contructive criticism classmate feedback which can help me with continuing the project into the future, it has several glaring issues that keep it from being more than two stars in quality.

First, the number of students who do nothing but copy and paste text from the assignment instructions and simply post a random photo, possibly using one from another person's project or takingi t from the internet as their work outnumbers the hardworking students who want to create a quality professional project. It is intolerable that this problem hasn't been resolved when it has been in existence for more than a year based on the message board posts for this course. Neither Coursera or Michiagan State University have done anything to deal with it. That tells me that it is of no real priority for either entity to resolve it.

Second, Week 7 of the capstone course is inaccessible regardless of what computer or browser is used. It will not load the portfolio posts. If a student wants their portfolio images to be seen so that the Week 8 assignment can be used with it, they have to copy the link to the Week 7 post, put it in a Week 8 post along with their Week 8 link to their submitted assignment so that other students can find and evaluate it. The problem with Week 7 has also existed at least a year or more and both Michigan State University and Coursera are aware of this based on multiple reports as seen in the message board by multiple students and yet the problem remains.

Third, it is possible to load the Week 7 posts if the Coursera app is used on a smartphone, however there are two major issues that make that only a partial solution. The photos don't download in a logical manner, they load randomly for each entry and makes the page scroll without warning making the student lose their place. Second, the posts load out of chronological order such as something posted today will be followed by a post from a month ago, then it will be followed by a post made yesterday. That is, say a post made on August 19 is looked at and then one scrolls past it down the page. The next post has a notation that it was posted a month ago. One scrolls past that, then the next post says it was posted on August 18. Then when the photos of other posts load, the student is thrown down the page past numerous posts so that they have to scroll up until they find the post they were on.

Fourth, there doesn't appear to be enough real students to evaluate the assignments as it make take days to have enough of them look at the assignment to have one's work receive a grade. Even if there are enough reviewers in a reasonable amount of time to evaluate the work, it is very rare that anyone provides feedback beyond "ok" or "good." The majorit of the time there is zero feedback.

Fifth, the number of users in the class who have no desire to learn or participate with real effort, real work, or even the desire to follow the instructions given for each assignment is overwhelming when compared with the number of students who put in the hard work to complete a portfolio and artist statement. For one assignment I reviewed one assignment from a student who genuinely cared, then reported over twenty copy-paste submissions before I had another real student who did the work.

Sixth, when one does review the assignments there is rarely a chronological order to the assignments given to evaluate. For Week 8 I had the first assignment to review as one dated for the day before. I submitted my responses and the next student was one who submitted their project a month ago. I finished that one and the next student had submitted their project two days before. Each assignment after that was a random submission date so I couldn't grade assignments in the reverse order of submission so that the most current student submissions would be evaluated first until they had enough reviews to be removed from the queue, then the next student in need of reviews based on submission date would be graded and so forth.

I ended up looking in the Week 8 message board to find the most recent student submissions so that I could grade them in reverse chronological order. Even then, if they only posted the link to their Week 8 submission, I couldn't find their Week 7 post no matter what I did to search for it through the website. I couldn't consistently find the submissions even on my phone. This leaves many students with no meaningful way to have both their photographer's statement and portfolio reviewed. I had several students with only a statement available so I graded them only on that as it wasn't their fault that I couldn't give them feedback on their portfolio.

I think that cheated them out of the evaluation process that they deserved afer they put in the effort to complete the course with weeks of making photographs, sorting and selecting, editing, receiving feedback on them, writing and revising their statements. I apologized to them for not being able to do my job in my response and told them that I evaluated them on what I was able to access. I did that for at least seven or eight assignments that I reviewed.

Seventh, the final thing that made me give this course its low review score is that the "special discounts" that were touted as being a premium benefit for completing the capstone no longer exist. I understand that special offers can expire, but none of them are valid as of August 19, 2022. None. There doesn't appear to have been any revision or update to anything related to this coure or any of the prior four courses in this specialization to account for changes in technology, software, trends, methods, or anything else that keeps changing. I would have thought that any discounts or special offers being promoted would be regularly reviewed for validity and updated so that even if what is offered has to be changed, at least there are some current special deals available for every student who completes the capstone no matter when they complete it.

Overall, if this were an in-person series of courses, I would have given both professors failing evalutions, had a very animated discussion with the chair of the department and even made a visit to the chancellor of the university for the complete lack of academic rigor and professionalism of the classes I took. I know I didn't pay as much for the specialization as I would have in real college credits. Perhaps this is a matter of you get what you pay for. That said, I was told that Coursera certificates are respected by major corporations like Dell, HP, Google, and others. Given the low quality of this specialization, one in an area I really love and have interest in, why would I take any other courses in areas of technology and business when I've seen how poorly done the photography courses are? Seriously, why would I spend any more money with Coursera when the integrity, quality, and rigor of the offerings are so questionable? I would think that a company interested in earning money from their product would care that the quality of it was substandard. There's lots of competition, even from free sources like YouTube for people to learn new skills, perhaps without a capstone project and a certificate of completion, but still one can learn the same and more without paying anything. That's something to think about and think about very intently.

By Andrejus S

Jun 23, 2019

Photography Capstone Project course is a great opportunity to master your photography skills by active participation. It also helps you understand about photo critique which is very helpful in evaluating your own work. I find it very useful when my fellow course learners were giving me feedback on my creations as well as photographers statement. By doing this course i have learned framework of delivering a one theme photography collection.

By Olesya K

Mar 7, 2017

It is excellent course to apply the knowledge from previous four courses and finally put together series of photographs united by theme. It is giant community of learners from all over the world, some are with good skills, while others complete beginners. Everyone of them worked hard towards the accomplishment of a project. I am glad I had this experience. I would highly recommend this course to all the talented people of this world.

By Annesha K G

Mar 7, 2017

Whenever I want to have photo, I remember the words taught by the tutor of this course that "Photographers don't take photos, they make photos". This course changed a lot my eye-conic vision of photography. Thank you Coursera & Michigan State University for this course.

By joy o

Jun 22, 2019

This is a great way to focus on photography skills you want to take to the next level. Fellow classmates are from all over the world and exhibit wonderful art. You will learn from each other and really get to know each other's projects. I was sad when it was over.

By Jason F E

Oct 8, 2020

It's hard to believe how far I've come as a photographer in such a short time. I couldn't have asked for a better introduction to DSLR photography! Thanks for an incredible educational opportunity.

By Soraia G

Oct 4, 2017

This specialization was one of the most amazing experiences. I found out a new passion and had wonderful teachers who guide me from knowing nothing to shoot in manual! Thank you Professors!!!

By Idilia C

May 4, 2018

Perfect capstone for a great specialization! Depending on your project and how seriously you are taking it prepare yourself for a ton of work... but it's totally worth it! :)

By Adler J

Nov 26, 2017

This is a great course, it teaches the fundamentals and all the little nuances which allow students to understand Photography. Now it is the time to execute and expand one

By Rainer H

Aug 22, 2017

Awesome course/specialization. The outstanding content and extreme helpful and constructive critics/reviews help to become a better photographer and broaden your horizon.

By soledad b

May 9, 2018

The Capstone Project was an amazing journey for me, it was fantastic to be a part of a worldwide community that love Photography as much as I do.

The course design is great, really pushed us to practice all that we learn in the previous courses.

Peter and Mark are great teachers and mentors were guardian angels all the step of the way. I cannot be more satisfied with the course.

The help of all peers and Photography friends in our Facebook group. I coudn't do without them.

In the doing of my project I make the firm decision to keep going with my studies of Photography, to keep my passion alive. I am going to study in the Australian Centre for Photography in Sydney.

I will keep my eyes open for any other coursera photography course in the future. Would be so nice to see Peter and Mark again :) Thank you all for such a wonderful opportunity! I cannot recommend this course more. It is Fantastic!

By Ricardo V F

Jun 1, 2017

Both the theory and the exercises proved to be valuable, and I have been able to get a much better control of my camera, using it under many circumstances I had previously no control of. I loved the charisma of both professors, and how they encouraged students to learn on their own, practice and share photos online. The secret group also gives students a chance to share and explore with other peers, and learn from them too. thank you for this amazing opportunity. Not only did I learn about photography, but it also gave me a chance to walk, explore and know my city in a much better way.

By Donna M

Feb 29, 2020

I learned so much from the professors and the peers in this class. This was the final class in a five class non-credit certification. I highly recommend the five class sequence. The professors are wonderful; the skills taught really helped me. Not only were their lectures informative, they provided other resources to explore. What was the best about the class was the interaction with peers in the class. They were conscientious about providing helpful and encouraging feedback. They were talented photographers, and I learned so much from them. Highly recommended!

By Ashok N

May 31, 2017

It has been a highly satisfying course. The five course series has helped me to graduate beyond casual photography. I would like to specially thank Professors Peter Glendinning and Mark Valentine Sullivan for their well thought out course structure and lectures. Their guidance has truly been inspirational and helped me horn my skills. The entire experience of interacting with course-mates has been exceptional and something that I shall cherish.