Most of us enjoy taking photographs at important events or when we're having fun with friends and family. But for some, photography is more than just a way of recording great memories -- it's an avocation, a job and even an art form.
While snapping pictures is a lot of fun, learning how to do more sophisticated photography can be intimidating for beginners. There's a lot to learn about camera equipment, the proper settings to use and lighting, among other things. That's why photography classes are a great way to take your skills to the next level.
Photography classes can cover just about every subject. Whether you're just interested in sharpening your general knowledge or you want to shoot something more specific, like a wedding, the right course can get you on your way to taking fantastic photos.
These classes are offered at local colleges and universities, community centers, adult learning annexes, camera stores and through city programs. Classes can range from one day a week to intensive 20-hour programs. It all depends on your level of commitment and how proficient you'd like to become. Additionally, the classes will usually tell you what kind of camera you need to bring, whether it's a digital point-and-shoot or a more complex single lens reflex camera with manual settings.
There are lots of ways to find great photography classes. Besides searching online, you can check with your local schools for extension courses, or look into whether your city offers courses, often through its parks and recreation department.
In this article, we'll learn the ins and outs of finding good photography classes. We'll also learn how the Internet can be used to sharpen your picture-taking knowledge.
Find Photography Classes for Your Skill Level
How do you find photography classes in your area? A Google search is a great way to start. You can find classes offered at local schools and camera stores. Remember, every course is different, so the types of skills taught at certain levels can vary from place to place.
Even if you have some experience with taking pictures, it's not a terrible idea to start with beginner classes that lay down these fundamentals:
- Photography techniques
- Photography terms
- Camera settings
- Proper exposure
- Depth of field
- Close-up shots, also known as shooting macro
They can also teach the basics of developing film, if it's a nondigital course, and photo editing [source: Precision Camera & Video]. Some courses may also teach you how to transfer your photos onto a computer and send them via e-mail.
Intermediate classes offer insight into more advanced techniques. According to Singapore Photography Course, which offers classes such as these, you'll learn about the following:
- Image composition
- Flash and lighting
- Taking pictures indoors
- Thinking like a photographer
Finally, advanced photography classes can help you turn your hobby into a business. Skills taught in classes such as these include techniques for professionals:
- How to shoot models
- Shooting in darkness
- Taking pictures at various speeds
- Advanced photo-editing techniques
If you've built up your skills, classes at this level can be a great investment [source: The Expat Learning Center].
For more specific photography topics and how to find courses that will give you the right skills to take them on, check out the next page.
Find Photography Classes with the Right Theme
Your camera can capture everything from breathtaking sunsets to action on the football field -- but you as a photographer have to know the best way to shoot them.
First, decide what subject piques your interest. From there, you can locate a local class -- or one online -- that offers pointers on how to take pictures of that particular theme.
Some courses specialize in training photographers to shoot weddings. When it comes to shooting a wedding, you only get one chance to get things right, so proper training is essential. It means learning how to work with couples and their families, finding the right locations for photos, using different lenses for different events throughout the big day and not intruding on the festivities when you're shooting [source: Digital Photography School].
If taking photos of nature is more your thing, consider a class on outdoor photography. These courses offer training in natural lighting, bringing the right gear into the field, focusing and metering properly, and observing wildlife safely without causing a disturbance [source: Bushwhacker Climbing Club].
Want to get back to basics? You could sign up for a class in black-and-white photography. To make it even more authentic, you could use a traditional, film-based camera instead of a digital one. These courses teach you how to see the world in black-and-white hues; how to use contrast, light and shadow; and how to print and develop your own photos. Learning to shoot black-and-white photos properly will give yours a classic, artistic look [source: School of Photography].
Specialty courses cover many more subjects, so find something that interests you and see what you and your camera are made of.
In this next section, we'll talk about how to learn great photography techniques on the Internet.
Finding Good Online Photography Classes
The Internet has become an incredible resource for budding photographers. A variety of Web sites and online videos can help you learn a lot about your camera's proper settings and the right techniques to use. Taking online courses is a great way to go if you don't have time to attend classes in person, or if you live in an area where classes aren't easily within reach.
First, Web sites like Online Photography.net offer loads of informative articles, videos and products you can buy to improve your picture-taking prowess. The benefit to sites like these is that their resources are completely free. You can get tips from professional photographers, like what filter to use to capture great sunsets and how to use the camera's f-stop properly [source: Online Photography.net].
Tips and informative articles are great, but they can't always measure up to actual instruction. A number of Web sites offer true courses in photography where a student works with a teacher, performs assignments and gets feedback on work. Betterphoto.com is one of the biggest providers of such online photo classes. Their courses cover a wide range of subjects, from basic picture taking to the use of Adobe Photoshop, and they usually last from four to eight weeks and cost between $200 and $400 [source: Betterphoto.com].
Other Web sites even offer courses that deal with turning your photo artistry into a business. Interested in doing stock photos or taking high school portraits? The Perfect Picture School of Photography offers courses in those areas and teaches skills that will enhance your expertise with the "digital darkroom," where you use computer software to make your shots the best they can be.
Once you're all set with the courses you need, there's a vast online community of blogs and forums where you and other photographers can communicate and share ideas. These are a great way to get support and discuss ways to improve your photography even further.
If you want to learn more about photography classes, check out the next page for lots more information.
- Betterphoto.com. "Find Your Course by Category." (Dec. 30, 2010) http://www.betterphoto.com/online-photo-course-categories-rcJ.asp
- Bushwhacker Climbing Club. "Outdoor Photography Course." (Dec. 29, 2010)http://www.bushwhackerclimbingclub.org/photo_course.html
- Digital Photography School. "Wedding Photography - 21 Tips for Amateur Wedding Photographers." 2010. (Dec. 29, 2010)http://www.digital-photography-school.com/wedding-photography-21-tips-for-for-amateur-wedding-photographers
- The Expat Learning Center Shanghai. "Advanced Photography." (Dec. 28, 2010)http://www.shanghai-classes.com/photography2.htm
- Online Photography.net. "Photography basics." (Dec. 28, 2010)http://www.onlinephotography.net/category/photography-basics
- The Perfect Picture School of Photography. "Courses." (Dec. 29, 2010)http://www.ppsop.net/courses_darkroom.aspx
- Precision Camera & Video. "Beginner Workshop (Taught by Sony)." (Dec. 28, 2010)http://www.precision-camera.com/classes/sony-beginner-workshop.html
- School of Photography.com. "Black and White Photography Course." 2009. (Dec. 29, 2010)http://www.schoolofphotography.com/courses/black-and-white-photography.html
- Singapore Photography Course. "Intermediate Photography Course." (Dec. 28, 2010)http://www.fotocourse.com/our-courses/intermediate-photography-course/