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Photography is an invaluable medium that allows us to capture the incandescent beauty of the outside world, something many of us haven’t seen in… well, a hot minute. Global pandemics will do that. But that certainly doesn’t mean that beautiful photos can’t be taken indoors, out of windows, or in secluded outdoor locations (safely socially distanced, of course). And perhaps now is as good a time as any to gain some helpful tips on how to do just that by taking an online photography course.
Whether you’re looking to major in photography in college or just want to learn how to take some cool pics, there are plenty of places online that can help improve your photography skills. Here are a few of the best.
Learn photography on YouTube
There are a number of popular photographers on the site who can help give a boost to your photo game. Find them by typing “photography for beginners,” “photography lessons,” or similar queries in the search bar. Take a peek and see which photography tutorial might be a good fit for you. And don’t forget to like, subscribe, and follow on Tw – er, um … sorry. Power of suggestion.
David Manning started his channel with vlogs but has been posting helpful photography tips for almost two years now. He has more than 160,000 subscribers tuning in to his handy photography tips for beginner and intermediate photographers. There are also plenty of tips for vloggers on his channels. Check out: “Photography Basics in 10 Minutes,” “How to Vlog – Cameras and Tips!”
Peter McKinnon has been posting photography tips for four years on his channel, which has racked up over 5 million subscribers. McKinnon has info for photographers and photo editors of all levels, even if you’re just shooting on your iPhone. Check out: “Beginner Photography Mistakes — What to Avoid to Take Better Photos,” “Take Better Shots With Your iPhone,” “How to Edit Amazing Landscape Photos with Adobe Lightroom & Photoshop”
Jessica Kobeissi has been posting photography and editing videos for seven years and has garnered over a million subscribers in that time. Her channel is great for photographers and editors, especially those using Photoshop who are looking to add skills to their editing arsenal. Check out: “Best Camera, Lenses & Photo Editing for Beginner Photography,” “How to Edit and Color Fashion Portraits – Photoshop Tutorial”
Nigel Danson has been posting vlogs and photography advice for over three years with 278,000 subscribers. His channel is great for beginners and intermediate photographers, as well as those with a passion for landscape photography and an appreciation for the outdoors. Check out: “7 Simple Photography Tips I Wish I Knew Earlier,” “5 Tips to Take Awesome Landscape Photos on Your iPhone,” “Best Composition Advice I Was Given When I Started Photography”
Jamie Windsor has been uploading photography tips and advice for over five years now. His channel has over 370,000 subscribers and offers content for photographers of all skill levels, including the most basic. Check out: “8 Important Composition Tips for Better Photos,” “22 Hidden Photoshop CC Tricks & Hacks,” “How to Ask Strangers for Photos”
Take a free online class from Harvard University
Yeah! You really can. Harvard Extension School’s “DGMD E-10: Exposing Digital Photography” was taught by instructor Dan Armendariz, a software development engineer with a passion for photography, from spring of 2008 through fall 2015, and it’s available online for free. Yes, this online photography lesson is free! Check out the course page for recommended readings, assignment descriptions, and other class materials. You’ll learn how to work with software tools, light, exposure, digital cameras, and more. If you want to do the projects, you can find their explanations and instructions on the projects page. You won’t be able to submit any projects for grading or participate during in-class discussion (which for some of us may be a relief), but all class lectures are available on the course schedule and linked to YouTube where you can watch and follow along. It’s the class without the pressure of the class. You’re not taking it for college credit, so there’s no stress, no grades, and no set schedule. Work at your own pace and see what you can learn about the art of digital photography.
Learn from Annie Leibovitz on MasterClass
MasterClass offers online courses for US$15/month, and they just happen to have a photography class taught by none other than iconic Rolling Stone photographer Annie Leibovitz. If you’re gonna learn, why not learn from one of the pro-iest pros out there? Go here to check out the 15-lesson course, which includes tips on how to work with light, differences in studio photography versus shooting on location, and even the importance of photographing your loved ones. Sign up anytime for this photography masterclass.
Watch video lessons from Nikon
Photography company Nikon offers online video lessons from a variety of photographers, like Reed Hoffmann, who started teaching at the Nikon School of Photography in 2002 and has a career that stretches over 40 years. Get helpful pointers on landscape photography, learn how to take better holiday pics, brush up photography fundamentals, and more. You can learn how to take great photos with these free courses.
Try Canon Connected
Canon, another photography company, also offers free video lessons on YouTube through their Canon Connected initiative, which allows you to “Join our Canon Ambassadors, community, and experts as they challenge their own creativity to adapt to the ever-changing world, to develop, inform, and entertain our Canon Connected community.” On the site you’ll also find a collection of articles on specific photography tips: How to shoot the moon, how to shoot food, self (portrait) help, and of course, how to capture incredible abstract images by shooting soap bubbles. Ya know, standard stuff.
Check out online public forums
The internet is overflowing with people trying to learn things! People tend to find and create spaces for their interests, so public forums about photography, like this one from Reddit, are bound to provide some insight into the art form. Other photographers (both pro and amateur), as well as photography appreciators, will be there to discuss anything and everything photography-related. The cool thing about this style of learning is that you have a voice in these forums, too. If you have a question or an observation, you can engage directly with the community. Someone may just chime in to answer your question or have a conversation with you. So go out into the wild world of the internet and find your people!
Follow photographers on social media
What does a writer do to improve their writing? They read. What does an aspiring filmmaker do to improve their craft? They watch movies. What does a chef do to improve their cooking? They eat food. You get it. One of the most basic yet necessary ways we learn is by following and studying the work of others and picking up bits of information from them, sometimes without even realizing it. So identify your favorite photographers. Find them on social media. Study their work and reflect on what you like about it. Follow artists of all levels, from amateur to professional to celebrity. Some are pretty transparent on their processes and the nature of their work. Bonus! Cinematographers are also great people to follow for photography insight. A few names to get you started:
Mary Ellen Matthews (photographer, Saturday Night Live)
Marcus Yam (photographer, Los Angeles Times)
Ike and Tash Haynes (wedding/family photography duo)
Steve Yedlin (cinematographer, Knives Out, Star Wars: The Last Jedi)
Rachel Morrison (cinematographer, Mudbound, Black Panther)
Whether you’re a photography rookie or a seasoned pro, there are endless online resources to help teach you something new. If you’re looking for photography help in a flash, the internet is here for you.
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