Frequently Asked Questions


How do the classes work?

Once a week, a new lesson and photo assignment will be posted in a class forum that is accessible only to students. You’ll post your photos in the same forum.

How do we get into the forum?

You will receive a link to the forum when you enroll. You will then create a user name and password.

What equipment do I need?

You’ll need a digital camera (or film camera and scanner) and a computer with internet access. Some classes require a DSLR – if you have an SLR and scanner that works, too

What’s a DSLR?  Can I use a different camera?

DSLR stands for digital single-lens reflex camera. SLR refers to the camera’s mirror system. In an SLR, what you see through the viewfinder is identical to what the lens will record.

For the DSLR classes, you can use an SLR and scanner if you don’t have a digital camera.

Although an SLR is preferred, if you have a camera in which you can change the iso, f-stop and speed, you will be able to do the assignments.

Can I shoot film?

Of course. But you will need to scan your negatives or prints so you can post your photos online. A digital camera is recommended for that reason.

How do I post photos?

To post photos it is helpful if you have photo editing software such as Photoshop (PS) or Photoshop Elements. Online editing is available as well through programs such as and Please resize your photos to no more than 700 pixels wide and 700 pixels tall. Upload your photos to an online hosting site such as or After you upload your image, copy the direct link from below the image, go to your post in the forum and click the box that says IMG, then paste the link.

What version of Photoshop will you be using in Photoshop Bootcamp?

Photoshop Bootcamp lessons will apply to all CS levels of Photoshop up to CS5 as well as Photoshop Elements.  If you have an even older version, like Photoshop 7, most if not all of the lessons will be the same. Some of the tools we will be using are not available in versions older than Photoshop 5.

Can other students comment on my photos? Can I comment on their photos?

Yes, you are welcome to comment on photos posted by students in your class only. (Since the forums are private, you can only see the photos taken by your classmates.)
Only constructive criticism is allowed.

Do I have to comment on other students’ photos?

Sharing your thoughts on classmates’ work is recommended. It’s always fun to hear someone else’s perspective and helps each of us learn. If you are taking a free class, you will be asked to comment on 4 students’ photos a week.

Will the instructor comment on my photos?

Aleks comments on all photos. If you’re in a paying class, you will receive a private critique as a pm on the board (or email by request). If you’re taking a free class, Aleks will comment in your post on the boards.

What is your refund policy?

Polka Photos does not issue refunds for classes. If for any reason you are unable to participate in the class as it's happening, the lessons will still be accessible up to one year after the class start date..


Aleks Bienkowska is an internationally published photographer and the founder of Polka Photos. She studied photojournalism at Boston University, where she was a frequent contributor to The Daily Free Press. Aleks freelanced for several newspapers in the Midwest including the Ann Arbor News, Aurora Beacon News, Joliet Herald, and Elgin Courier before being hired full-time at the picture desk for Copley Newspapers. She established Polka Photos as a studio dedicated to wedding photojournalism and creative portraiture. She loves to travel and has photographed weddings as far away as the Dominican Republic. Aleks currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband Mike of