Back in the day, photographers had to learn their trade as an apprentice or an assistant, or by going to school for photography. While those avenues still hold value, today you also can find online classes and tutorials that provide a wide variety of resources at little to no cost, allowing you to improve your skills within your budget and at your own pace. Here’s a selection of some of the best online learning sites.
GENERAL PHOTOGRAPHY AND TECHNIQUE
CreativeLive, a live-streaming education website, offers online photography classes taught by first-rate instructors. These classes span across all skill levels, ranging from courses such as “Photoshop 101,” which highlights some of the most important basics of Photoshop, like enhancing and correcting your photos, all the way to advanced techniques for “Real World Lighting,” a course that features instruction on colored lighting effects and on-location composition. The majority of classes are broadcast live from one of four in-house production studios, and all are available to stream online. Cost: Free.
KelbyOne offers expert-taught online photography courses and tutorials for both amateurs and pros. The site includes an algorithm when choosing courses, which allows photographers to choose a skillset and specific interest, as well as the equipment they’re intending to use. Courses range from broad to specific, including such titles as “Active Lifestyle Photography” and “Retouching Brides.” Aside from photography courses, KelbyOne also offers instruction in Photoshop, Lightroom and design. Cost: $19.99/per month or $199/per year. Group memberships are available for schools, businesses and government agencies.
At Lynda.com, photographers can choose from an extensive video library, containing hundreds of online photography courses taught by industry experts. A 10-day free trial allows unlimited access to everything in the catalog. Some of the most popular titles included in the 25,937 available video tutorials are “Foundations of Photography: Exposure,” which explores camera modes and lighting techniques, as well as “Photoshop Essential Training,” which covers the entire spectrum of Photoshop basics in order to use the photo-editing program efficiently and effectively. Cost: $25/per month or $240/per year for a basic membership plan.
This free photography resource provides lessons for photographers of all skill levels. PhotographyCourse.net organizes their resources into topics like “Camera Settings” and “Advanced Photography,” with multiple lessons in each course. “Advanced Photography,” for example, includes tutorials in sports photography, the use of gray cards and neutral-density filters, and wildlife photography tips. The site also has an online camera store, as well as a blog dedicated to a wide range of useful topics and tips spanning all aspects of photography techniques and equipment. Cost: Free, with paid classes coming.
Udemy.com provides a place for experts in any field to create courses available to the public for no cost or for a tuition fee. Photography classes are categorized under a large variety of topics, including photography fundamentals, mobile photography, photography tools and video design. Courses range in price; for example, “Master Adobe Lightroom Fast,” a two-hour class on
how to learn to use and edit your photos with Lightroom, is offered for free, while the top student pick, “Photography Masterclass: Your Complete Guide to Photography,” is six hours long and costs $297. All of the classes range in skill level and time length, and offer a free preview before enrolling. Cost: Free or tuition fee.
PHOTOSHOP AND LIGHTROOM
Sometimes the best way to learn is to go right to the source. Adobe KnowHow offers a free “Beginners Adobe Photoshop” course with tutorials to learn the fundamentals of Photoshop. The total duration of the course is 13 hours and 31 minutes, with 26 individual sections that include such topics as “Cropping and Straightening” and “Image Size and Resolution.” The course is entertainingly narrated by a character named Andy, and allows photographers to learn helpful techniques at their own pace. Adobe KnowHow also offers an advanced tutorial guide, “Master Adobe Photoshop CC: A Definitive Guide,” for Photoshop users who want to take their skill to the next level. This guide is structured similarly to the beginner’s guide, but covers a wider spectrum of more advanced topics. Price: Free and $39, respectively.
Photoshop User TV, which is presented by KelbyOne, provides a weekly TV show featuring “The Photoshop Guys,” Scott Kelby, Corey Barker, Pete Collins and RC Concepcion. These humorous, informative videos cover a range of topics related to Photoshop, including “Cloud Brush and Classic Photo Tricks,” which features beginner tips for using Cloud Brush and thorough advice on retouching, and “Lighting and Effects for Portraits,” which focuses on attractive lighting for portraits and wedding photography. Cost: Free.
Another resource from Kelby TV, the Lightroom Show, follows Scott Kelby and RC Concepcion as they provide tips and techniques for using Adobe Lightroom. Cost: Free.
Online educational technology company OpenLearning.com offers a free “Photoshop Training & Tutorials” course, which consists of over 90 video tutorials covering beginner and advanced lessons. Topics include Photoshop, Lightroom and Bridge, as well as Camera Raw. Examples of tutorials taught within this course include separate lessons on hair, lip and skin retouching, and how to use Photoshop to create haze and a blurred filter in your photographs. Cost: Free.
Tuts+ provides a large variety of online tutorials, including photography and photo-editing courses. The site offers an extensive list of Adobe Lightroom tutorials for all skill levels, and covers technological and
conceptual ideas. Some of the classes available include “How to Reduce Noise in Pictures with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom,” “Direct to Desktop: Camera Tethering in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom” and “24 Essential Daily Keyboard Shortcuts in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.” Cost: Free for access to 48 full-length courses; $15/per month for access to all 610 courses; $180/per year for full access; or $360 for Yearly Pro, which includes a $25 credit for Envato Market and a $25 credit for Envato Stu
Cambridge In Colour
Based in the United Kingdom, photography website Cambridge in Colour offers a variety of useful learning tools for all levels of photography enthusiasts, plus an interactive learning forum that allows users to post their photography quandaries. The site boasts a comprehensive list of tutorial guides on equipment, concepts and terminology, as well as photography techniques and styles, among others. These tutorials are focused more for beginners, with such titles as “Understanding Camera Lenses” and “Using Camera Shutter Speed Creatively.” Cost: Free.
Many manufacturers provide excellent tutorials on their websites; here are some of the most notable.
Although B&H isn’t a manufacturer, they have a huge amount of content, and under the “Explora” tab on the homepage, you’ll find a range of helpful news, tips and product reviews. These include a variety of buyer’s guides for new and trending products, as well as videos with tips to help improve your photography. Cost: Free.
Canon features a number of resources on their website, including a range of workshops, their CDLC Blog, which teaches new techniques, with insider tips, and a new video series that features Canon technical advisors. Cost: Free; workshop prices vary.
Lighting company Elinchrom provides an in-depth blog, with articles, interviews, reviews and behind-the-scenes looks, as well as access to a variety of workshops that take place all over the world. Cost: Free; workshop prices vary.
The “Learn & Explore” tab on the Nikon homepage includes a glossary of general terms, as well as a list of Nikon photography workshops in your area. Cost: Free; workshop prices vary.
On the Olympus homepage, you’ll find a “Learn & Share” tab, which offers photography tips, an image share app and an “Ask Olympus” page that includes real questions from Olympus owners answered by product experts. Cost: Free.