Courses To Jump Start Your Photography Career
Photography may be an art form, but it’s also a technical process, and as such, even the most naturally talented shutterbugs need careful training to perform their art professionally. Whether you have years of experience taking pictures or are just starting out, you can improve your art form and bolster your professional credentials with:
Instruction through the Internet
If you are motivated, have a strong work ethic, and need flexible scheduling, online photography courses are the perfect form of training. Some of the most effective online courses include:
- Craftsy.com– Craftsy offers 44 different photography courses, including portrait retouching, photoshop use, lightroom use, and photographing landscapes, weddings, flowers, and wildlife. The classes range in price from $19.99 to $39.99, and there is one free mini-course in professional family portrait photography.
- KelbyOne.com– Formerly known as the National Association of Photoshop Professionals, this site offers its students hundreds of courses in taking, editing, and marketing photos and videos. Membership is available for either $19.99 a month of $199 a year. Members receive a wide range of discounts as well as 10 issues per year of the digital magazine Photoshop User.
- Lynda.com– This private education site currently offers 528 online courses and nearly 25,000 tutorial videos in photography. The site appeals to photographers of all levels of experience, and offers instruction in a plethora of skills, including lighting, color correction, foundations, photo printing, and selecting cameras and equipment. All new students receive a 10 day free trial.
- TakeLessons.com– This site combines the convenience of online instruction with the reliability and regularity of formal lessons from skilled teachers. TakeLessons allows you to compare photography instructors based on price, experience, availability, and other factors, contact them, and schedule lessons over Skype. Besides photography, the site offers lessons in music, visual art, health and wellness, cooking, and a wide range of other subjects.
- iPhotographyCourse.com– Through a series of training modules, iPhotography will teach you a myriad of skills, including the basics of photography, understanding shutter speeds, black and white photography, and advanced editing. Though primarily marketed to Europeans, you can take this course from anywhere in the world. Students can enroll for a flat fee of €499 or for 10 payments of €55.
Free Photography Lessons
If you enjoy photography but aren’t sure whether to make it more than a hobby, free courses are a great way to see just how far you can take your talent. The more you enjoy free lessons and the better you are at them, the more suited you are to pursue a career in photography. Some of the best free courses include:
- MIT Open Courseware– This site offers all of the course materials from MIT’s “Through the Lens” class, an online program held in Fall 2007. The course explores photography in the context of cognitive science, describing the basics of operating a camera, exposing and developing film, darkroom techniques, studio lighting, and digital imaging.
- Karl Taylor’s Course– Available through Udemy, this course teaches the basics of digital photography through a series of 19 video lectures and associated PDF fact sheets. Taught by professional photographer Karl Taylor, this free course has already reached over 90,000 students and currently holds a 4.4 star rating.
- CreateLive.com– Through CreateLive, photography experts offer free, live lessons in their craft. Upcoming lessons include a segment on conceptual portraiture from 29-30 June, a travel photography class from 6-7 July, an outdoor photography techniques lesson on 14 July, and an adventure photography lesson from 15-17 July. Lessons generally last from 9AM to 4PM. If you can’t watch the lessons, you can buy on-demand access to them for $99.
- Cambridge in Colour– This UK-based site provides free tutorials for beginner photographers, which range from basic camera operation to basic editing to more sophisticated photography styles and techniques. The site also provides a number of tools to simplify photography; these include a sunset calculator, a field depth calculator, a shutter speed calculator, and guides on extension tubes and close-up filters.
Despite the convenience of online classes, many students prefer instruction in a physical classroom, and for good reason. In-classroom courses give you hands-on lessons, networking opportunities, and the chance to interact directly with the instructor. Some of the most effective offline photo programs in the US include:
- The New York Film Academy– Despite its name, the Academy operates in Los Angeles, South Beach, and Abu Dhabi as well as New York, offering quality photography courses in all four cities. Students have a wide range of options in terms of the length and intensity of their education; they can enroll in four-, eight-, or twelve-week photo workshops, one- or two-year conservatory programs, a BFA program, or an MFA program.
- The California Institute of Arts– Located in Valencia, the Institute’s Photography and Media program not only offers the best photography training available but also gives students the skills to challenge conventional methods and strive to make them better. Students learn to experiment on their own, debate traditional methods and ideas, and improve upon photography as an art form.
- School of Art and Design– Located in Champaign, Illinois, this school’s Photography BFA program emphasizes the narrative potential of photos. Students learn studio lighting, printing, color photography, digital photography, photographic history, and a wide range of other skills.
Photography Courses Abroad
Make the most of your study abroad session by incorporating brief courses from:
- University of the Arts London- Central Saint Martins– Besides its undergraduate and graduate programs, UAL- Central Saint Martins offers a number of brief photography classes, which range in length from 2 days to a few months. Located at Granary Square in the heart of London, it’s the perfect spot to build your photography knowledge while studying abroad. If you don’t already have somewhere to stay, the university offers temporary housing.
- Speos Paris London Photographic Institute– With campuses in both Paris and London, this school offers a summer-long photography program for €3700 as well as individual workshops for €500 each.
- Travellers Worldwide– Located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this program provides affordable photography classes in English as well as food and accommodations. You can stay for as long as a year or as short as a few weeks, taking photography courses 2 to 3 times a week.
- The College of Digital Photography– Operating in both Johannesburg and Pretoria, the CODP offers two short photography workshops: one in ballet photography and the other in applying professional makeup for a photo shoot. Each course costs R980, or about $80. The COPD also offers a 6 month photography program for those who plan to remain in South Africa longer.
Short Photography Courses
If you’ve decided photography is for you but aren’t sure how much training you need, short courses are a great way to test the waters. The best sources of brief photography courses in the US include:
- The New York Institute of Photography– The Institute’s Fundamentals of Digital Photography course teaches you the basics of operating a camera, composing photographs, and taking light and shadow into account. The Institute lets you complete the course at your own pace and assigns a professional photographer to mentor you and check up on your progress.
- The New England School of Photography– Located in Boston, the NESOP offers a variety of brief workshops in addition to its main degree programs. Classes meet once a week for 8 to 12 weeks. Subjects include photography foundations, digital darkroom skills, studio and lighting principles, and advanced esthetic photography.
- The Chicago Photography Academy– The academy provides brief photography classes ranging from one day to four weeks in length, designed both to get new photographers started and help experienced ones hone their skills. Lessons include digital photography, light-room use, portraiture, wedding photography, and portfolio photography. Classes are also available online.
- The Los Angeles Center of Photography– The LACP offers workshops in over 30 fields, including basic photography skills, digital camera operation, editing, photography business skills, food photography, and photo book production. Besides the adult workshops, the LACP also offer summer and after-school classes for teenagers.
Leaders Throughout the World
- The School of Visual Arts– A member of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design, the Manhattan-based SVA offers both BFA and MFA courses in photography and video design. BFA students gain 72 hours of studio experience and the chance to have leading photographers, photo editors, and photo critics as mentors.
- The Art Center College of Design– Located just outside of Los Angeles, the Art Center College combines a comprehensive liberal arts education with intensive art and design classes. The Photography & Imaging undergraduate program teaches the technical skills, business principles, and ethics for success in both traditional and digital photography.
- The London School of Photography– Based in Camden, the London School of Photography offers courses in photo journalism, stock photography, portrait photography, studio lighting, and a wide range of other skills. The school is designed to appeal to students throughout the world and offers classes for people of any skill level.
- The Art Institute of Houston– The Art Institute’s Digital Photography BFA program is designed to prepare you for entry level positions as a photo journalist, commercial photographer, studio manager, photographic editor, or editorial photographer. Students learn photographic lighting, composition, and equipment skills, and spend much of their study time in darkrooms and studios.
- Columbia College Chicago– Not to be confused with New York’s Columbia University, Columbia College offers six BA programsin photography: general photography, commercial photography, fashion photography, fine art photography, photo journalism, and multimedia photo journalism. It also offers a photography MFA program and a photography minor.