From learning how a digital camera works and understanding how to compose a shot, to editing photos and making money from them, these online photography courses are a perfect way for enthusiasts and career photographers to go from beginner to pro.
Update, 12/11/21: Verified picks and links still good; updated Bluprint to Crafts and Lynda to LinkedIn Learning.
All you really need to get started is a digital camera and an SD card. Across all brands, cameras are broken down into three categories: consumer, prosumer, and professional. Consumer cameras are where you should start, as they’re the least expensive. For Nikon, this means anything within the 3000 range, and for Canon, this is the EOS Rebel line. Prosumer, the next category, is the largest digital camera market, but it’s more expensive than you need to start with (as is professional-level gear and mirrorless cameras).
Also consider accessories, like a neck or wrist strap, an easy-access case or bag, a tripod, one or two SD cards, and a UV filter for your lens. As for lenses, the kit lens is just fine for beginners, but if you want to push yourself, buy a prime lens. These lenses don’t zoom, so you’re forced to move around more to take photos; this can help you quickly learn how close or far to get from your subject and how to frame your shot just right.
As Nikon (starts at $15/course) makes some of the best cameras, it’s no surprise the company also offers classes on how to use them. It is also regularly adding new content to its inspiring Creator’s Hour series.
Nikon has two classes for beginners: “Getting Started with Your Nikon DSLR” and “Fundamentals of Photography;” the classes cover topics like focus and manually adjusting ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. The latter also covers basic metering, dealing with your pop-up flash, shooting in different formats, and addresses photo composition, choosing different lenses, and more.
Once you’ve spent more time taking photos and are feeling more comfortable with your camera, come back and enjoy some of Nikon School’s other video courses, including a part two for “Fundamentals of Photography.” All courses are taught by professional photographers and are designed to be easy to follow, no matter your experience level.
Learn basic photography skills and how to use your camera from expert camera makers.
Some people learn better in a classroom than from random tutorials, and that’s okay. Although The School of Photography (starts at $20/month) doesn’t have a literal classroom for you to go learn in, it does offer a wide variety of professional courses, each with structured lessons that make you feel like you’re learning in a traditional classroom setting.
Check out the “Complete Guide to Photography” to start with, then work your way up to more advanced classes like the “Guide to Studio Lighting.” If you want to learn about photo editing in Lightroom, you’re covered as well. The School of Photography doesn’t have a ton of courses, but the few it has are thorough and well designed. Plus, you’ll receive an official certificate once you finish all of the courses!
The School of Photography
Learn photo fundamentals, advanced techniques, and digital photo editing.
Udemy (starts at $9.99/course) has a ton of courses for all things photography, but the courses offered for beginner digital photography are exceptional. Courses range from about $10 up to $150, and cover anything from complete digital photography guides to classes on more granular topics. Most courses offer certification as well. It’s worth noting that there are a couple dozen free courses available there as well.
The recommended bestseller course, “Digital Photography for Beginners with DSLR Cameras,” is a great place to start, as it’ll teach you how to hold your camera, choose the right lens, and the basics of composing a great shot. However, there are several other courses focused on everything beginner photographers need to know, from how your camera works and how to use it, to basic photography principles and composition techniques that are also worth your consideration. Once you’ve learned the basics, Udemy also has courses for intermediate and advanced users, with topics like night photography, street photography, and turning photographs into digital paintings in Adobe Photoshop.
Learn basics, take complete courses, or learn about granular photography concepts.
If you’re thinking about learning photography for your future career rather than as a hobby, Skillshare ($19/month) is a great place to begin your journey. A good course to start off with is “Fundamentals of DSLR Photography,” but there are dozens of other beginner-friendly courses to choose from. If you already happen to know photography basics and want to learn intermediate techniques, check out videos covering topics like fashion photography, photojournalism, and building your brand on Instagram.
If you want to branch out into digital photo editing, cinematography, or selling your photographs, Skillshare also has your back, with its robust course library for anything having to do with photography, editing, and marketing.
Learn digital photography, and how to turn it into your career.
As you’d expect from a premium education site, LinkedIn Learning ($29.99/month) offers a nice wide range of quality photography courses. Of course, the site (formerly called Lynda) offers terrific beginner courses, like “Introduction to Photography” and “Photography Foundations: Lenses,” to help create a solid foundation for your photography knowledge. It also offers tons of courses on intermediate topics like masking and compositing, lighting, and shooting in black and white.
One of the best things about learning digital photography online through LinkedIn Learning is that there are regular community photography challenges as well as weekly content containing tips, inspiration, discussion over new tools, and more. The site also offers Learning Paths, where you can get a curated set of courses aimed specifically to help you “Become a Photojournalist” or “Become a Portrait Photographer,” so you don’t have to poke around hoping you find the right courses for your needs. Plus, the monthly fee covers any courses on the site, so you can even check out any of the other 5,000 courses.
Learn the basics, enjoy weekly tips and challenges, and choose a learning path.
Whether you want to learn photography for fun or you’re hoping to make a career out of it, you’ll want to learn everything about the field, from how to use your camera to how to market your work on social media, and Craftsy can help. You can purchase a single course through Bluprint starting at $29.99 a pop, or subscribe to the site for $7.99/month or $79.99/year.
Start with the “Basics of Digital Photography” course, where topics like light and exposure, shutter speed, and lenses (among many others), are broken down into individual videos so you can learn more in-depth about each topic. Bluprint has a stellar selection of niche photography courses. There’s plenty about the basics, of course, but it also covers topics and techniques you don’t find on many other sites, like food photography, natural light for macro photography, boudoir photography, close-up nature photography, and even pet photography. Bluprint makes it easy to explore the possibilities of photography, then learn about them.
Learn to take digital photos for fun, or also learn editing and marketing for your photography career.