Take a few thousand bad photographs.
The good ones will come in good time.
This advice still holds good. We can hop, skip, and jump from the bad to the moderately good with some help. Just a Google Search gives us all the tips on digital photography. We can choose to drown ourselves in the many good photography blogs and websites that have mushroomed around this popular hobby. We can also go through the chaos of learning with some order – like an online course.
These six open online photography classes could be just the thing if you like to do your learning more systematically. Enroll, join, try them…but keep your camera close by.
Udemy — Karl Taylor’s Photography Course [No Longer Available]
Karl Taylor is a well-known name for his photography courses, many of which cost a pretty buck. He is also a professional photographer, so his advice is very practical. The good thing is he offers free courses too, which can sensitize you to the basics of photography.
The micro-course on Udemy is a perfect starting point if you just picked up a new DSLR. The course takes you through 22 lectures (including seven bonus lectures) and 2 hours with online videos and downloadable PDFs you can keep ready for reference. The short tutorials cover all the aspects of photography from understanding light to studio photo shoots.
One of his facets is that he doesn’t bore you with jargon and the technicalities of photography. You feel that you can learn and then go out and do your practice shoots. Don’t forget, Udemy also gives you a discussion board to interact with fellow learners.
If you have to take your photography to the next level, you will just have to move beyond the deceptive comforts of the auto mode. This is where things start overwhelming you if you don’t learn and practice systematically. One way to do it – with camera in hand – is through these 37 lectures. Four hours later, you could be better versed with all the camera menus and the maze of DSLR options. Give this free course on Udemy a part of your weekend.
You can run through the videos on Udemy or YouTube where Jerad Hill has his own channel.
MIT is of course one of the big names in Massively Open Online Course platforms. Photography finds a place in the real-world curriculum of this famous institution and you can take advantage of this undergraduate level course for free…and at your own pace. There are translated versions too in Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese.
Barring the field trips in the original real-world class, you can learn the concepts behind basic black and white techniques, digital imaging, fundamentals of camera operation, lighting, film exposure, development and printing. You can download the course files and also check out the field projects done by the students who took the class at MIT.
Open2Study is a MOOC platform from Australia built on a collaboration between Australian universities. One of the 49 courses on offer at the site is The Art of Photography. The four-week course will begin on June 2 and run until the end of the month. You can sign-up on the site to access the free courses from anywhere in the world. The online classes run synchronously but you can always revisit the video lectures in the Completed section of your profile.
This is not a self-paced course (yet), but Open2Study says that courses run periodically. The course has four modules with ten videos each that explores the visual language of photography. It ends with an assessment grade and you will have to clear it one to three attempts.
Udemy — Photoshop & Lightroom for Photographers [No Longer Available]
Even beginners have to get their snaps off the camera and into a post-processing tool like Photoshop or Lightroom (or any other image editor). This duo of industry standard software comes with a steep learning curve. It is easier because you limit yourself to only retouching your photos rather than going through the gamut of graphic creation on Photoshop for instance.
The free Udemy course is a primer that familiarizes you with the techniques and workflow. The requirements read – you should have Photoshop CS3 or above, and/or having Lightroom 2 or above.
The 58 video lessons (6 hours of content) are not complex and are short enough for you to hold your concentration. This is one of the concise and well-packed free online class I could find on the two tools. Remember, many of the retouching skills are transferable across photo-editing programs.
Learn along with the excellence of National Geographic — a photographic institution in its own right. iTunes University gives you 77 video podcasts. The video podcasts are not lessons and tutorials but rather perspectives of photographers about the themes they cover. It is more of a behind the scenes look. It is a valuable learning experience if you like to understand that shooting photos is more than pressing the shutter on the right frame.
Some More Inspiration – How Photography Connects Us
If you sat through this article and reached here, then it’s a really positive sign that like me you are interested to learn everything about photography. This 17-minute inspiring TED Talk by David Griffin (the photo director for National Geographic) could help to turn up that pulsating interest. As he says, every one of us has at least one or two great photographs we can take in our lifetimes.
Are you doing enough to master it? You can learn from the best photographers by just using Instagram or just fiddle with the basics on some cool camera simulators. You can even go and learn with our free digital photography guide for beginners. Thanks to the Web, we can learn photography in different but all interesting ways. For all the lessons one takes – the best way is to just go into the world and shoot. A few thousand bad ones.
The good ones will come along. In the meantime, tell us about your photography journey. What inspired you to begin? Are you aware of any other good free learning classes on photography?
Image Credit: George Hodan