Online Photography Courses Learn the art and science of photography online

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Peggy
Peggy Farren Peggy Farren has been a full-time professional…Read full bio

The old adage tells us that a picture is worth a thousand words, and with the increased access to cameras in recent years, more and more people are using photographs to tell their stories. Online photography courses help people learn the principles of the craft, whether they want to open a photography studio or simply master the art of the selfie. Courses provide guidance on everything from choosing equipment to polishing the final photographs. Use this guide to find out what’s offered through online classes, and where to find them.

Browse Online Photography Courses

Whether students are picking up a camera for the very first time or interested in learning advanced techniques to enhance their skills, the right class is out there. With so many choices, though, finding it can be challenging. The search tool below lets hobbyists and professionals alike filter courses by factors such as topic, price, length, and institution.

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What Types of Online Photography Classes Can I Take?

Online photography classes are designed to help students meet specific goals, both personal and professional. Depending on the course, students can learn specific techniques like eliminating redeye, or the fundamentals of opening a small photography business. Some classes cater to those who want to complete a degree, while others are strictly for independent learning. The table below describes the types of available courses.

Certificate For-credit Informational
What is this type of course?
Certificates are available to those who have completed one specific course, or a group of courses. Certificates may focus on a particular skill (such as photo editing), learning to use a specific kind of camera, or an area of photography (e.g. wedding or landscape photography). Online for-credit photography courses are offered through colleges and universities. Students learn the art and science of photography in order to develop the technical skills and artistic eye needed to work in the field. Informational courses are designed to teach online students the basics of photography, or to delve more deeply into learning a specific skill. Some classes are offered at no cost.
Who takes this type of course?
Photography professionals who want to keep their knowledge and skills current, and demonstrate their expertise to employers and clients. Students who are working to complete a degree program on the undergraduate or graduate level. Shutterbugs of all levels who want to become proficient in photography, but are not necessarily interested in becoming professionals.

In Focus: Top 10 Online Photography Courses

Hopeful photographers can find a wide array of courses online, many of which are aimed at those who want to learn the craft from the ground up. Here we spotlight the top 10 online photography courses that giving budding photographers a look at life behind the lens.

The Art of Photography
  • Offered by: RMIT University
  • Price: Free
  • Length: 4 weeks
  • Format: Video, quizzes and assessments
  • Eligible for college credit?: No

Targeted to novice photographers, this course teaches the fundamentals and techniques used by contemporary photographic artists. In addition to practical skills, students also practice developing the creativity and artistic eye that allow them to express themselves through visual imagery. Editing and post-production techniques are also covered.

Photography Techniques: Light, Content, and Sharing
  • Offered by: Michigan State University via coursera
  • Price: Free to audit, $79 for course certificate
  • Length: 4 weeks
  • Format: Videos, readings, and quizzes
  • Eligible for college credit?: No

This course is geared toward those who have some knowledge of photography, including an understanding of basic camera controls. Students then build on those fundamental concepts to master advanced techniques in lighting and storytelling.

Fundamentals of Digital Image and Video Processing
  • Offered by: Northwestern University via Coursera
  • Price: Free to audit, $49 for course certificate
  • Length: 12 weeks
  • Format: Videos, readings, and quizzes
  • Eligible for college credit?: No

This class covers how digital images and videos are processed based on mathematical principles. Students learn how to analyze two- and three-dimensional images, as well as remove degradations. In addition, the course teaches methods for compressing, storing, and sharing video and digital images on different online platforms.

Seeing Through Photographs
  • Offered by: The Museum of Modern Art
  • Price: Free to audit, $49 for course certificate
  • Length: 6 weeks
  • Format: Readings, videos, discussions, and quizzes
  • Eligible for college credit?: No

Using the museum’s photograph collections, students look at how pictures are used for artistic expression, to create a narrative, and to disseminate information. Students expand their visual literacy by examining the work of renowned photographers like Ansel Adams, Susan Meiselas, and Martha Rosler.

Kids Photography: In Parks at Play
  • Offered by: Lynda.com
  • Price: Free with Lynda subscription
  • Length: 1 hour
  • Format: Videos
  • Eligible for college credit?: No

Photographing children is trickier than simply asking them to pose and say “cheese.” In this course, students use a park setting for a tutorial on how to work with children of different temperaments, and how to adjust photographic techniques based on a child’s activities. The course also offers tips for photo processing.

Foundations of Photography: Composition
  • Offered by: Lynda.com
  • Price: Free with Lynda subscription
  • Length: 5.5 hours
  • Format: Videos
  • Eligible for college credit?: No

Students learn to apply the principles of composition to make photographs look their best. Topics include how to work with light, control depth, compose photographs of landscapes or people, and use objects to create lines. The class also offers hands-on practice assignments based on course lessons.

Photography 101: Beginner to Intermediate
  • Offered by: Universal Class
  • Price: $70, $95 to earn class certificate
  • Length: 17 hours
  • Format: Lessons, exams and assignments
  • Eligible for college credit?: No

Beginners are introduced to the different kinds of modern cameras and how to use them, as well as film types, light metering, filters, the principles of flash photography, and photo enhancement techniques.

Night Photography
  • Offered by: CreativeLive
  • Price: $29
  • Length: 1.5 hours
  • Format: Video and PDF
  • Eligible for college credit?: No

This course explores the techniques that photographers use for taking good night photographs, as well as how to use the absence of light to explore a creative vision.

Landscape Photography
  • Offered by: Udemy
  • Price: $30
  • Length: 1.5 hours
  • Format: Videos
  • Eligible for college credit?: No

Intermediate students learn the basics of using a digital, single-lens reflex camera to capture outdoor landscapes. The course covers the basics of working with light, the sky, and other elements of nature, as well as how to use the unique features of digital cameras to take compelling pictures.

Discover Digital Photography
  • Offered by: ed2go
  • Price: $149
  • Length: 6 weeks
  • Format: Videos and PDFs
  • Eligible for college credit?: No

From choosing the right digital camera to editing images, this course provides an overview of digital photography to those who are not familiar with the technology. Students learn how to select and use digital equipment, store images, edit photographs with different kinds of software, and print pictures.

Snapshot: 3 Key Benefits to Online Classes in Photography

Even though photography is by nature a hands-on activity, it’s also well-suited to online study. Myriad course options let students focus their interests, whether it be on a specific technical skill or a type of photography, and specialize to a degree that traditional classes might not support. The online format also is ideal for letting students learn a technique and then practice it on their own time. Following are the three top reasons for taking an online photography course.

1 Increase technical knowledge of modern photographic techniques

Especially with the advent of digital photography, the technical skills and knowledge used in photography are ever-changing. Students who take online photography classes can learn how to use the latest technologies, as well as how to apply existing skills in new formats. In addition, taking these courses gives students access to experts who can assess their progress and give them suggestions on how to improve.

2 Sharpen artistic eye

Photography skills are just the first step to taking great photos. Students also must be able to use their fundamental knowledge in an artistic way. Online courses are tailor-made for visual instruction, and can offer access to numerous resources that let students hone their creative visions.

3 Look beyond the familiar to find inspiration

An online classroom is not limited by geography. Although any photography class will involve working with instructors and other students, individuals who take online photography courses are often exposed to a broader array of students—not all of whom are headed to the same state park every weekend. A greater diversity of subject matter and approaches can foster experimentation in photography techniques, locations, and subjects.

Essential Apps & Podcasts for Photographers

Apps

Unless you’re a professional photographer, expensive equipment is a perk, not a prerequisite. Average—and even flawed—photos can be transformed into good ones with multiple apps that can be downloaded and used easily on a mobile device. The apps below bring useful photography tools to users’ fingertips.

Afterlight

$0.99
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Afterlight

Fifteen unique adjustment tools—including texturing, cropping, filtering, and framing—give users convenient ways to edit photos.

Camera51

Free
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Camera51

Camera51 is like having a photography teacher looking over users’ shoulders and telling them how to keep an image within the frame. Real-time guidance advises users on how to perfectly frame an object and eliminate objects that interfere with a shot.

Darkroom

Free
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Darkroom

Darkroom simplifies the editing process by eliminating the hassle of importing pictures to the app. In addition, users can create and share their own filters to make all of their photos meet specific criteria.

Camera+

$2.99
See Description
Camera+

This app provides advanced tools that aren’t standard on a mobile phone, including continuous flash, touch-focus adjustment, and 6x digital zoom. In addition, Camera+ allows users to easily share their photos on social media.

Slow Shutter Cam

$1.99
See Description
Slow Shutter Cam

Photos taken on a mobile phone can look like they came from a much more advanced digital camera using this app, which provides shutter-speed tools that create motion blur and lighting effects.

Podcasts

Learning photography isn’t limited to the confines of a course. Podcasts are an excellent way for students to augment what they learn in class, look at something from a different perspective, or get help with an area that’s giving them trouble. Following are some helpful podcasts for photography enthusiasts of all levels.

This Week in Photo Frederick van Johnson Recent Episode to Try: Q&A and Street Challenge

In addition to tutorials, this podcast discusses issues that are relevant to the field, such as plagiarism.

Tips from the Top Floor Chris Marquardt Recent Episode to Try: Shabby Luggage

Covers a range of topics of interest to photographers, and answers questions from listeners.

The Candid Frame Ibarionex Perello Recent Episode to Try: Art Wolfe

Features interviews with photographers. The online version allows listeners to browse photos as well.

History of Photography Jeff Curto Recent Episode to Try: The Cyanotype

Discusses different eras of photography history and the notable photographers of those times.

On Taking Pictures Jeffery Saddoris, Bill Wadman Recent Episode to Try: Moon Rocks Down Here Cost a Lot of Money

Explores photography from scientific, artistic and philosophical perspectives.

Covers issues related to the photography and the professional photo business, with topics such as creative block, exporting for web from Adobe Lightroom, and more.

Expert Advice for Taking Online Photography Courses

What can students expect to learn in an online photography course?
Peggy Farren

Most photographers struggle for years because so many classes focus on the creative and fun parts of photography. We have those fun classes too, but first we have a four-week program that gives beginner/intermediate photographers a solid foundation in the concepts and technical side of photography. That sets students up for success and confidence to experiment in lighting, exposure and composition techniques. Once you have a good grip on the technical part of photography, it becomes really fun.

How can these classes help those who do not have a photography background?
Peggy Farren

It’s actually easier to teach photographers with no experience. More experienced photographers often have bad habits, or they think they understand something but have it wrong. Since we baby-step people through the online course, beginners race ahead with their comprehension.

What skills can students gain from studying photography online?
Peggy Farren

You can learn pretty much any photography concept online. Learning online gives you so much more time, and a lot more support from your instructor. I believe you can become an advanced photographer through online courses, as long as you do the homework and apply the lessons, especially when you are first starting out. Our homework and exercises are designed to help students understand one concept at a time.

How can students apply photography course material to their daily lives?
Peggy Farren

Every time a student picks up a camera, they can apply what they’ve learned. Our four-week course is structured with a live class each week, homework, support, and daily reminders to keep the students learning.