A Guide to Online Photography Courses

I am often asked to recommend online photography courses.  I take a lot of courses.  Below is a summary of different course providers, and my suggestions.  In full disclosure, for my day job I am a corporate learning professional.  I can be picky.  When it comes down to it, its personal preference, and the ability to answer “yes” to one question:  Did the course meet your needs?I started taking online courses to help me understand basic photography technique.  It can be overwhelming to learn the basics.  From how to physically use your camera to what elements make a photograph great.  I now take photography courses to help me stretch and grow into new areas, break me out of my rut, and create new avenues of inspiration.  I’ve taken courses spanning from landscape and nature photography to portrait photography.

When evaluating whether you should take a course or not, look at these aspects:

  • Instructor:  do you like the instructor’s style?  The way they talk?  The images they create?  This is perhaps the most important variable as to whether you will like the course or not.
  • Format:  is the course demo style where you can see the instructor in action?  or is it a recording of a classroom session?
  • Production:  was this course professionally produced?  Will the production quality distract you?
  • Engagement:  does this course have assignments?  Is there a way for you to interact with the instructor and students?
  • Price:  some companies allow you to “buy” the course and have ongoing access.  Others provide a subscription option which allows you to view multiple courses while you have an active subscription.

Most courses provide a short preview at no charge.  I encourage you to look at these.  It is helpful for you to assess whether you find the instructor credible, and if you will hang in there for the duration of the course.  Below are my top three recommendations.

Provider:  KelbyOne

I have been a subscriber to KelbyOne for years. They have a large selection and the production quality is high.  Each course is chunked into short segments that allow you to watch pieces during downtime, without feeling like you have to find 30 minutes of uninterrupted time to watch a new segment.  They have a constant stream of fresh content, and I always find something new to take.  Instructors to check out include:  Scott Kelby, Joe McNally,  Lindsay Adler, Peter Hurley, Matt Kloskowski, and Bill Fortney.

Provider:  CreativeLive

I have just started taking courses from this provider.  The two courses I have purchased  have been filmed with a live audience and include slideshows, demonstrations, and Q&A.  I find the demonstrations to be very valuable.  You can purchase these courses and reference them later.  The two instructors I have seen, and would recommend are:  Lindsay Adler and Kathleen Clemmons

Provider:  Craftsy

I find these courses provide a solid foundation across a breadth of photography skills and genres.  I am now finding the selection a bit limited (after taking 15 courses) and basic.  The production quality is good, but can be variable depending on if the course is shot on location.  They do provide a format for you to ask questions of the instructor and view other students questions.  I have asked a couple questions, but did not receive a response.  You can purchase these courses and reference them later.  I especially enjoyed the courses from Harold Davis, Kurt Budliger, Jad Davenport, and Alan Thorton.

I have also taken a few courses from Udemy.  I find the quality to be variable.  I did take an excellent black and white photography course by David Nightingale that I have referenced back on a few occasions.

YouTube also provides great learning experiences at no charge, especially when you are looking for something software focused.  I like Gavin Hoey and the guest series provided by Topaz Labs.

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