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The internet is full of courses to learn photography, and we understand that finding the right place can be quite challenging. So, we put together our resources and created a list of some of the best online photography courses.
While this still takes place today, the truth is that nearly everyone has access to a camera and professional-grade editing software these days. And since launching an online photography business is easier than ever, thanks to content management systems like WordPress, anyone can technically call themselves an expert photographer and offer their services through their website.
But just because you have a camera in hand and can manipulate images in Photoshop doesn’t mean you know what you’re doing. And even if you do, the competition is tough, the market is saturated, and getting ahead is challenging.
If you want to compete with some of the top photographers in the industry, you’re going to need to hone your skills, which is time-consuming. But don’t worry, learning photography in 2023 does not necessarily require lots of money and formal training as it used to.
In fact, we’re here to share with you:
- best places on the internet to learn photography;
- advantages and disadvantages of photography school;
- how to learn photography by yourself;
- more information about photography websites.
So, let’s get started!
Table of contents
- Free Places Where You Can Learn Photography Online
- Paid Places Where You Can Learn Photography Online
- The Pros and Cons of Photography School
- How to Learn Photography Outside of the Classroom
- Final Thoughts
Free Places Where You Can Learn Photography Online
1. Ditch Auto – Start Shooting in Manual
This course is designed to help beginners learn how to get a hold of the manual settings and controls of their cameras. The instructor, Jerad Hill, is a wedding photographer with over 6 years of professional experience who understands that when you rely on a camera’s automatic mode, the camera controls you.
With this free online photography course, you’ll learn the basics of DSLR photography and how to shoot in manual mode so you can take professional photos no matter the situation. You will also learn terms like shutter speed, aperture, and ISO.
As a bonus, signing up for this website will get you access to free lessons on Photoshop, black and white photography, and even important information such as how to use WordPress and social media to build your business.
2. The Basics of Photography: The Complete Guide
This free guide is perfect for those wanting to learn how their digital cameras work, the best automatic and manual settings to use, and the most widely used compositional techniques.
It provides five lessons where you will learn how your digital camera works, composition and techniques, as well as different techniques of editing pictures – color correction, touch-ups, and adding fun effects to make your images stand out.
This guide also highlights additional resources that you might need if you want to advance your photography skills.
3. Professional Family Portraits
This intermediate-level course offers tips on how to take successful family portraits. That said, you’ll need to have more than a basic understanding of concepts like image composition, lighting, exposure techniques, and post-processing to follow along.
With this course, you’ll get 5 streaming video lessons, class materials, and access to a virtual classroom while you learn how to work with families of all sizes both indoors and out.
Plus, you find out how to best engage your subjects, no matter their age, how to pose in large groups, and what to do during post-processing to make your family portraits treasured for a lifetime.
4. Introductory to Photography and Related Media
This course, which is available for free through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) OpenCourseWare initiative, features video lectures from an actual semester-long class taken by undergraduates at MIT. Here, you’ll learn the fundamentals of working with both analog and digital SLR cameras.
Not to mention, you’ll also explore film exposure and development, black and white photography, darkroom techniques, digital imaging, and studio lighting.
5. Lighting 101: Introduction
Lighting 101 is an entry-level lighting course developed to help you learn the basics of using off-camera flash to create professional and beautiful-looking photographs. You’ll need to have access to a real camera (no iPhones please) and an understanding of how f/stops and shutter speeds work. In other words, if you know how to use your DSLR camera in manual mode, you should be fine.
Once you finish Lighting 101, feel free to take Lighting 102 and 103 for free as well to continue expanding your knowledge.
6. Reddit Photography Class
Reddit Photography Class is a beginner-level crash course on all things photography. There are 30 lessons that you can take at your own pace that cover the practical applications of photography rather than the theoretical ones.
In other words, you can learn the basics of photography, even if you’ve had no prior experience, and use those lessons in the field right away.
Subjects in this course include camera types, exposure techniques, film versus digital, digital workflows, shutter speed, and more. You can even find out the best ways to share your work.
7. Popular Photography
Also known as Pop Photo, this website provides a lot of useful lessons, video tutorials, and fun contests. If you’re looking for courses that will help you improve your knowledge in this field, this is one of the best photography websites you should start with.
Paid Places Where You Can Learn Photography Online
There are so many free photography classes on the internet today that it would be impossible to name them all. Anyway, if you want to improve your skills and take photography to another level, many websites offer online professional courses, but you will have to pay for them.
1. Digital Photography School
If you want to join one of the most well-known photography communities, Digital Photography School is your match. This website comes with many tutorials, tips, and articles about photography, useful forums, and books as well. Here you will find both free and paid courses.
Do you need an online education marketplace? Well, here it is! Udemy offers some of the best photography courses for both beginners and professionals. Some of their courses are pretty expensive, but they often offer discounts. Here, you will also find even courses about portrait photography, commercial photography, food photography, and much more.
Most photographers around the world label Tutsplus as one of the largest tutorial sites. This website provides how-to tutorials, courses, guides, and ebooks that cover a wide variety of photography knowledge. Anytime you need digital media content, you will find it in this place.
4. Expert Photography
Another great photography marketplace that provides the best information for understanding your camera and equipment is Expert Photography. You will also find amazing video tutorials on this website that will help you acknowledge different photography concepts like the rule of thirds, composition, exposure triangle, and much more.
However, if you want to explore skills even further, here’s a quick list of additional paid courses you may also find interesting:
- Learn Photographic Exposure Best Practices
- Nightscapes: Landscape Astrophotography
- Documentary Photography and Photojournalism: Still Images of a World in Motion
- Beginner Photography Course
- Adobe Lightroom 5 Training Videos
The Pros and Cons of Photography School
You might be asking yourself why not invest in formal training if being a professional photographer truly is your life’s calling.
While attending photography school has plenty of advantages, there are also many downsides to spending thousands of dollars to acquire knowledge that doesn’t necessarily help you implement the skills in practice.
– Photography schools offer lessons that are designed to build upon each other so you have a solid foundation when you graduate;
– Getting a formal education in photography exposes you to like-minded people and gives you a chance to form long-lasting connections with people in the industry;
– Though it’s not required you have any credentials to be a professional photographer, it doesn’t hurt to say you graduated from a photography school
– Sometimes all you learn in photography school is how to be a good photographer and nothing about how to start your own business;
– Anytime you go to school to learn a new skill, you’re going to have to invest a lot of time and money, and photography school is no different;
– Just because you’ve invested a ton of time and money into photography school, doesn’t mean you’ll get a job right away.
How to Learn Photography Outside of the Classroom
While going to photography school or scouring the internet for photography courses can help you expand your skillset and start your own business, there are also other helpful ways to learn photography.
1. Learn About Your Camera
One of the best pieces of advice for aspiring photographers is to read the manual that comes with your camera. Though it may not be the most exciting read ever, it will tell you everything you need to know about how to work your camera.
2. Follow the Best
The internet can offer you more than simple knowledge about being a photographer. By following some of the most well-known photographers in the world, checking out their online portfolios, and learning from their mistakes, you too can establish yourself as a reputable photographer, no matter the niche.
Here are some portfolios we find inspirational suggest checking out:
- Emily Olivia (wedding photographer)
- Jan Erik Waider (landscape photographer)
- Juliette Jourdain (portraits, black and white photography)
Don’t forget about social media too. Some of the best photographers in the world frequent popular social media networks like Instagram (which strongly focuses on imagery as its form of content), such as:
- Adam Senatori (Check out how to start your own drone photography business)
- Simone Bramante
- Richard Koci Hernadez
3. Create a Network
It’s not enough to follow your favorite photographers online and admire their work from afar. If you want to become a successful photographer, it’s important you network both on and offline with like-minded people.
This will open up opportunities for you, garner you more work, and teach you a thing or two. And the great thing about networking is that it’s free.
4. Attend Workshops
Another great way to fine-tune your photography skills without having to get a formal education is to attend workshops. Many workshops are free, and they often offer ways for you to learn very specific skills without having to make a huge time commitment.
Workshops also give you a chance to network, find internships or mentors to help guide you, and discover new niches you can specialize in that you may have otherwise never thought about.
5. Create a Portfolio
After you’ve learned the basics of photography and have started taking pictures of your own, it’s time to share your work with others by creating an online portfolio. But first, you will need a running website. Here you can find a list of the best website builders for photographers.
Even if you aren’t ready to offer paid services to people, you can at least start to get your name out there and establish your brand.
And there you have it – we hope you enjoyed our roundup of the best places on the internet to learn photography, complete with ways to help you build your business from the ground up.
If you find yourself with a ton of photographs being stored on free web applications like Flickr and are ready to make the transition to your own hosted website, be sure to check out our guide to moving your photography portfolio from Flickr to WordPress.
And don’t forget to check out the best hosting for photographers and creatives so that you know your portfolio is secure and your site is always up and running.