Going from simply pointing and shooting whatever is in front of you to taking control of the settings and framing the composition is a long journey. And this journey begins with a few small steps in the right direction.
Whether it’s applying a few filters, experimenting with brightness and saturation, or buying a digital camera, the spark of creativity can stem from anywhere. And learning from professionals and practicing different styles will help you take those first crucial steps which turn that spark into flame.
With online classes and video lectures available at a fraction of the cost of physical workshops, it has become easy to access top-notch lessons and learn from the best. Getting to do this from the comfort of your home and at your convenience is a bonus.
To make things easier for you, this list compiles a few online courses that will benefit both beginner and advanced photographers and cover not only the artistic and technical aspects of photography, but also the business side of it.
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Best Online Photography Courses
Many of the online photography classes below offer a money-back guarantee or a free trial. If you’re looking for a completely free online course, then check out Wolf Armi’s channel.
1. Photography Masterclass: A Complete Guide to Photography
Designed for beginners who want to start from scratch, A Complete Guide to Photography is a comprehensive course that teaches how to shoot images and how to sell them. It has been created by Phil Ebiner, Sam Shimizu-Jones, and Will Carnahan — all professional photographers themselves with years of experience.
Beginning with the basics, the course will take you through the types of camera and lenses, the meaning and impact of the various camera settings, shooting in manual mode, and principles of composition. By the end of the course, you would have also learned how to build a professional portfolio and begin a business using your images.
Including almost 23 hours of video lessons and 31 downloadable material and notes — all with lifetime access on your mobile or laptop — this complete guide represents a comprehensive package. Further, Udemy offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, no questions asked. So, you can be sure that your investment will not go to waste.
- Videos and notes accessible on mobile for lifetime
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Covers manual shooting, principles of composition, and tips for building a portfolio and selling your images
2. Fundamentals of Photography
CreativeLive’s course on Fundamentals of Photography is not the usual tutorial on camera settings. Going beyond the manual mode and choosing the right equipment to use, this online course also explores the motivation and creativity behind captivating photography, making it beneficial for beginners and professionals looking to add to their skills.
The instructor John Greengo specializes in travel photography, and has 30 years of experience. Therefore, when he teaches how to identify the best natural light and analyze your own thought process and workflow, you can be assured that he knows what he’s talking about.
Spread across 107 video lessons — which range from 4-minute videos to 30 minutes — and are available for streaming and even offline downloads, this course covers unique topics like negative space, speedlights, visual drama, setting up an editing workflow, and much more.
- 107 video lessons totaling about 24 hours
- Includes unique topics not usually covered by other workshops
- Discussion on critically evaluating one’s own photographic process and identifying areas for improvement
3. DSLR and Mirrorless: The Fundamentals of Photography
Aimed at absolute beginners who have probably bought their first digital camera, this Skillshare course is a short introduction to the manual mode.
The DSLR and Mirrorless course has 15 lessons and 7 hands-on assignments to help you practice.
The lessons are available for viewing online, and run up to around 3 hours. Therefore, it works perfectly as a crash course which you can complete over the weekend, and directly go out for a hike and put everything into practice.
The modules cover topics like aperture, shutter speed, ISO, white balance, and the pros and cons of shooting in RAW format. Although not highly comprehensive, these lessons are enough to get you started, and since Skillshare has a free trial, you can begin without having to worry about money.
- You can get started for free
- Covers all the basics of manual mode in just 3 hours
4. Travel Photography
Developed by John Greengo again, this class is focused purely on travel photography. And this does not mean simply clicking photos of whatever you see on vacation but actually planning it all as a ‘photography trip,’ where you have only limited time and resources.
Travel photography involves much more than a camera and a fancy hotel. This course is designed to help you pack the right gear, plan ahead while taking weather into consideration, approach the locals and build trust and, of course, learn camera techniques for different types of shooting scenarios. You also get to see John’s trips to places like Istanbul and Prague, where he explains how to scout perfect locations.
Since the course is specific in its theme, the 32 video lessons total to about 5 hours only. Along with lifetime access, you have the option of purchasing bonus reading material and downloading the content for offline use.
- Focused on the planning and preparation aspects of travel photography
- Lifetime access
5. Landscape Photography
Landscape Photography is one of the most demanding styles of photography. You have to battle the weather, reach remote places at the right time, and always have the required lenses and filters, along with high costs and travel. This is why a course that helps you with those techniques is valuable.
The instructor for the landscape photography course is Charlie Borland, whose images have been published in Nat Geo Adventure, Time, Sports Illustrated, and more. His clients include big names like Nike and Blue Cross.
The course comprises lifetime access to 10 hours of video lessons and 7 articles, including topics like exposure triangle, visual strategies for composition, image editing, and hands-on assignments for practice. You will even find a few unique topics like winter photography, using telephoto lenses, and designs in nature.
- Lifetime access with content available on mobile and TV
- Covers techniques like depth of field and designs in nature which apply specifically to landscapes
6. The Art of Wildlife Photography
Wildlife photography is highly technical and requires mastery over settings like continuous autofocus and subject tracking. Although lessons on these are available all over the internet and even the camera’s own manual, very few courses talk about animal behavior, identifying locations for wildlife photography, and the ethics involved in disturbing an animal’s habitat.
The Art of Wildlife Photography course is excellent for beginners and advanced because it teaches you these principles that go beyond camera settings. The 24 video lessons of more than 10 hours include interviews with experts, analysis of portfolio of other photographers, and a look into the equipment used by wildlife photographers.
This course is taught by Tom Mangelsen, whose work has appeared in Nat Geo, BBC Wildlife and Life. For anyone looking to learn about the philosophy of wildlife photography and what goes into creating compositions of wild animals, this is a perfect start.
- Unique lessons like wildlife ethics, critique of images, interviews with photographers, and scouting locations
- Option to purchase offline access
7. Portrait Photography
The best thing about portraits is that you don’t need a fancy camera to get a good image. Since portraits are purely about your subject’s face and the lighting, the same principles apply whether you are using a smartphone or a DSLR.
The Portrait Photography course comes with 36 lectures of about 4 hours. It starts with lessons on exposure and depth of field and includes posing techniques and guides for different scenarios like group photos, corporate headshots, and weddings. The course also includes special sections on mobile portrait photography and image editing.
If you are planning to shoot a friend’s graduation photos or thinking of starting a wedding photography business, this course will serve as a good introduction to the basics. With lifetime access to the content and a 30-day money-back guarantee, your investment will be safe.
- Aimed at beginners, with specific sections for mobile photography
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Includes real-life examples and guides on posing
8. Wedding Photography Bootcamp
As the name suggests, the Wedding Photography Bootcamp is a comprehensive course designed for wedding photographers planning to start a business. Rather than focusing on the camera settings — for which any beginner course is sufficient — this one deals with the business side of it.
The 43 video lessons total more than 20 hours and are delivered by Sal Cincotta, a photographer, author, and business consultant. You will learn about pricing, creating a business plan, and seeing an actual consultation between a photographer and his clients.
Instead of simply going from one topic to another, the course goes in the order of a wedding: from bridal prep and wedding day to the cake cutting and creating the final album.
- Focuses on building a business for wedding photographers
- Useful topics on pricing and event-wise tips for the wedding day
- Streaming access on mobile, with option to purchase offline access
9. Night Photography (Astrophotography)
While it’s possible to get the hang of different photography types simply by practicing and experimenting, night photography and astrophotography are tricky. They require different types of settings and a completely different style of editing and processing. Therefore, when you get a course that offers lessons on all this and comes with lifetime access, you should go for it.
Created by the trio of Phil Ebiner, Sam Shimizu-Jones, and Will Carnahan, this course will teach you what equipment to take, the settings to use, capturing star trails, and photographing the moon.
The 2.5 hours of lessons with 6 articles and 11 downloadable resources also cover editing techniques like graduated filters and HSL panels. Even smartphones are used in the tutorial to capture some amazing low-light images.
- The topics cover both the shooting process and the editing process
- Lifetime access on mobile and TV
10. Product Photography
If you are a budding photographer looking to get into commercial photography and work for big brands, learning product photography is a must. With a free trial from Skillshare and 13 video lessons in this course, you can get a quick start.
The instructor for this course is Olena Hassell, a photographer, and stylist who creates images for designers and businesses. She covers fundamentals like composition, shooting angles, and color theory, all using basic equipment like smartphones, white posters, and cardboard.
You also get to see Olena’s home studio set-up and the props she uses, along with a few tips for image editing on your smartphone and building an online presence on platforms like Instagram.
- Quick course that requires only 1 hour 35 minutes
- Teaches how to use things you can find at your home for professional-looking images
- Skillshare offers a free trial
11. Mastering Architecture and Real Estate Photography
Taught by Charlie Borland, the class on architectural and real estate photography is for intermediate-level photographers who already have a camera kit and are familiar with a few Photoshop techniques.
The course of 14.5 hours comes with 12 downloadable resources and lifetime access on your phone and TV. This genre of photography requires a good understanding of light and white balance since the subject needs to be well-lit without looking unnatural, and you’ll be gaining that understanding here. Charlie covers color correction, mixing flashes and strobes with natural light, interior and exterior shooting, shooting specific scenes like the kitchen and stairwell, and much more.
With sample photos provided for practice and a critique of real-estate photos taken by a student, this course is comprehensive and perfect for anyone looking to enhance their skills.
- Brings almost all types of real-estate scenarios under one roof
- Detailed explanation on fixing light and colors
- Lifetime access on phone and TV
12. Annie Leibovitz Teaches Photography
The legendary Annie Leibovitz was named the Chief Photographer for Rolling Stone, becoming the first woman to hold that position in 1973. In December 1980, she had a photo shoot with John Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono. Lennon was shot and killed five hours later, making Annie the last person to have taken his portrait.
She also has the distinction of being declared as one of the Living Legends of American culture by the Library of Congress.
This famous photographer brings her unique perspective and decades of experience to the table in her Masterclass course. In 3 hours of lectures, she teaches her process of building a concept for portraits, working with natural light, connecting with your subject, and case studies of famous personalities she has worked with.
Additionally, once you get a Masterclass membership, you get access to more than a hundred courses, all of which can be viewed using your phone or TV.
- Get an insight into the thought process of a true master of portraits
- Masterclass membership includes other courses too
13. Jimmy Chin Teaches Adventure Photography
A widely recognized and heavily awarded name in landscape and adventure photography, Jimmy Chin has had his images published on the cover of Nat Geo.
In this Masterclass course of 4 hours with 20 video lessons, he teaches principles of photography aimed at winning clients and magazines, and analyses his photoshoot from Everest.
Using the correct camera settings, finding your voice as a photographer, leading a brand campaign, creating a narrative and a strong portfolio — all these lectures give a holistic view of not just photography, but photography with a message.
- Focuses on valuable topics like creating a photo narrative and planning a theme
- Masterclass membership includes other courses too
- Contains tips on making a pitch to commercial clients
14. iPhone Photography
Most of us use our smartphones to capture momentous events like weddings, family vacations, and birthday parties. And with better technology and social media, it’s easy to take beautiful shots which can be shared online and sold as stock images.
With this short crash course of 1.5 hours, you can begin taking better photos instantly. It starts with basics like changing the iPhone camera settings, a few principles composition like the rule of thirds, and creating a feeling of depth. It also teaches how to edit photos and enhance exposure using the Lightroom mobile app.
- Aimed at beginners who use their iPhone for photography
- Requires only 1.5 hours to complete
15. The Business of Photography
Each lecture covers a specific aspect of building a photography business, including when to hire an agent and how to work with photography producers. Almost all the videos are in an online lecture format, where you will be watching the instructor explain the points.
For photographers looking to expand their business, the lectures on building a team, the different revenue streams available to a photographer, and setting rates for your work are beneficial. Wildist gives you lifetime access to the lessons, although there’s no option to download the videos for offline viewing.
- Teaches how to expand your existing business and work with agents and producers
- Answers practical questions like setting a price, when to hire an employee, when to work with a photography representative, etc.
16. Lightroom Photo Editing Masterclass
Designed as a follow-along course, all you need is Lightroom CC installed on your laptop and a few photos. With more than a dozen tutorials using different images like portraits, landscape, architectural photos, product photos, macro, and long exposure, you can watch full editing sessions from start to end.
The course is created like a photographer’s actual workflow: from importing the files, organizing all the images, cropping, adjusting the color and exposure to adding lens correction and making fine adjustments using brushes and layers. The 16 hours of videos and 22 downloadable resources will turn you into a Lightroom expert by the end.
- Contains start-to-end editing sessions with different types of photos
- Demonstrates use of advanced tools like brushes and creating presets
17. Photoshop Essential Training
Much more than an image editing tool, Photoshop can be used to create drawings, graphic art, and images with special effects. This Photoshop Training course is available on Linkedin and across its smartphone apps with a free 1-month trial, making it a fool-proof investment.
Conducted by Julieanne Kost, a digital imaging expert from Adobe, this course contains lessons on various hidden gems of Photoshop. The topics include the basics — using adjustment layers and smart objects, creating double-exposure effects — and complex ones like simulating long exposure, creating composites, creating a hand-painted look, and creative typography and watermarks.
It can be challenging to explore Photoshop in depth by yourself. This beginner’s step-by-step guide simplifies it for you.
- Goes beyond simple exposure adjustments and explores artistic effects and techniques
- Linkedin allows a free trial
Such online courses are available from the comfort of your home, and most websites offer deep discounts and free trials. And because there is no deadline, you can complete the lessons at your convenience. From the basics of manual exposure and smartphone photography to advanced editing techniques and astrophotography, there’s a course tailormade for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, Skillshare is excellent for online photography courses. The platform has several courses taught by professional photographers. You can learn anything from the basics to advanced techniques including starting a wedding photography business.
Unlike many college and university programs, photography doesn’t require a certificate or degree. You learn the theory and the rest is practice. That’s why we recommened taking an online photography course to reduce tuition costs. There are also courses available to run a photography business.
Platforms like Udemy and CreativeLive have paid photography courses with free trials or money-back guarantees. If you want a completely free photography course, then YouTube is your best option.