If it’s been a few years since you’ve been to school you’re undoubtedly going to have missed the fact that almost all schooling is now done, to some degree, online. The internet is a vast resource for photographers with countless tutorials, courses, and ways to market your work.
The question is how do you know if what you’re looking at is any good? Most sites aren’t accredited, and blogs can often be too technical for beginners to follow.
Choosing a photography training website isn’t hard. You’ll need to choose between paid or free first, and then within that decide whether or not you want accreditation for the work you’re putting in. If you’re willing to learn on your own without getting a certificate at the end you can find the same materials entirely for free, especially if as a beginner.
But if you’re looking for certification then you’ll need to look at an accredited school and there’s not many of those offering online courses. An accredited school is one that has a certain level of prestige and is considered by many as a stamp of quality. Very few online training sites have accreditation, the reason for this is that if you’re looking for that level then you’re really looking for college courses and those aren’t something you’ll simply be able to get on a website.
For free schools, you’ll need to be careful that you don’t end up wasting your time on the poor quality material. Many free options are simply bloggers and enthusiasts wanting to share their experiences and not professional teachers. Beware any site that says it can guarantee your pictures as photography is very much an opinion, and every viewer will differ.
These sites are a variety of the most popular options on the web, some are free while others you’ll either need to pay for the course or be a member.
Best Photography Learning Websites
New York Institute of Photography
The New York Institute of Photography is one of the biggest sites out there. The company has been around a long time, especially in comparison to some others that seem to have popped up overnight. It’s also accredited, something that most others are not so if you plan on going on to take an associates or bachelors this is something you need to consider.The company has a limited offering of only 9 courses, but in this case, it’s the quality that counts. Not only that but they partner with organizations such as WPPIC to do professional certifications and membership exams. This is the ideal site if you need a little more guidance and aren’t keen on “going it alone”.
As a beginner, Lifehacker has a plethora of resources geared towards getting you more familiar with your camera. The fact that you can link to a selection of lessons and other Lifehacker resources on the same topic is a huge bonus, not to mention the whole lot is free! The site also has an additional resources section where you can be directed to further information and paid courses if you want to go more in depth with each topic.
Udemy is quickly making a name for itself as a great resource for short, cheap and often free courses. Many of the photography courses offered are free and come from a range of different instructors. These courses cover lectures, materials, assignments, and even have forum space within each course just like regular online universities. It’s definitely a resource you want to take advantage of! There are super-beginner level courses and even resources for professionals all at low cost.
If you haven’t yet heard of open course ware you need to get into it. OCW from MIT is essentially the entire course unit of their accredited (albeit a few years old) including materials, lessons, and syllabus online FOR FREE. There are too many courses to list or link to so you’ll just need to search “photography”. This is college level training without paying a penny. You’re talking about one of the best universities in the world giving away their materials once the course is renewed. This does not mean that the material is out of date at all. In fact, much of it is just as relevant and still perfect for learning on your own.
Unlike some of the others, Lynda is geared towards the advanced photographer. Most of the classes are on advanced editing techniques and software rather than camera usage. The courses are short and you have to be a member to join but they are an ideal way of getting more familiar with your post-production editing. It’s a good resource even for experienced photographers too, with over a hundred advanced level courses, and almost 27,000 video tutorials to choose from. It’s a paid membership site but you can try it free for 7 days.
The courses here is all good quality, and they’re worth the price. In fact, the whole 18 part course is almost exactly the same price as that of NYIP, only you print your certificates yourself and it’s not quite so prestigious. You’re eligible for an NUS card, and you’ll be able to say you’re CPD certified. However, there is no affiliation with professional associations like the WPPIC.
If you’re only interested in learning via video this is a free and high-quality class that is ideal. From the National Geographic (an incredibly famous photography institution) you’ll learn all about the perspectives of photographers and how photographers see the world. This isn’t a training course like any other, it’s not going to give you any instruction, but what it will give you is an understanding of the photographer’s mindset.
Of course, there’s just no substitute for a good hands-on class. Look locally and you’re sure to find schools or groups offering classes or photography nights. Online certification is ideal for those who are trying to work around a busy schedule or who can’t go to a traditional school. It’s often ideal for those trying to carve a career in photography but who just can’t afford to make it full time yet. You can even learn photography from instagram or facebook just by picking apart photos you admire.
Thanks to the plethora of online material you can learn in whatever way suits you and start your journey to being a master photographer with one of these great courses.