No matter how long you’ve been shooting or how accomplished you are as a photographer, you need to continually keep up with your education and training. This is vitally important, because the last thing you want to do is fall behind the curve. In this business, if you’re not constantly improving and pushing your creative and technical boundaries, then you’re falling behind.
You should build the time and cost of educating yourself into your yearly photography budget. Training is just important as any piece of gear that you’ll buy, and amortized over the course of a year, these costs are actually less than coffee every day.
Without a doubt, one of the best ways to learn photography is to attend a workshop or take an online photography course. There’s a big difference between reading what someone does and actually watching them do it. Seeing firsthand how to apply a certain technique or creative style from an effective instructor or experienced pro is like a shot of adrenaline to your own photography.
Plus, with an online workshop, you can run it on your own schedule, no matter where you live and you can start and stop at your convenience. Most courses and seminars can be viewed on just about any device, including the iPad, which means that you don’t have to be stuck in front of your computer to learn.
Here are a few of the best online photography courses that I’ve found. I’d recommend giving them a look and seeing if they match your learning style and budget. It’s easy to get complacent about this, so take it upon yourself to stay on track with continuous training throughout your photography life and/or career.
1. Kelby Training
Kelby Training is probably the best site for professional photo instruction. All the top names are there- Joe McNally, Dave Black, Tom Bol, Moose Peterson, Syl Arena, Jay Maisel, Scott Kelby and many more. There are hundreds of courses offered that vary in length between one and three hours. (Check out the entire course listing.)
On average, 1-2 new training classes are added to the site each week. Also, a few times each year, Kelby Training offers a few live seminars in select cities. This summer, Kelby Live Seminars include Joe McNally’s One Light Two Light seminar tour across Canada and a few US cities, and Scott Kelby’s Photoshop CS6 for Photographers workshop tour, which hits five cities in July and August.
Kelby Training works on a subscription system. For $199 a year, or $24.95 a month, you get unlimited access to all the online photography and Photoshop classes. The Live Seminars are $99 each.
I’ve watched a few of the videos on the site and they’re generally very well done. Obviously each photographer has his or her own teaching style and you may prefer one person’s courses to another, but the beauty of having a subscription is that you get to watch any and all of the videos that you want 24-7, whenever you want.
Overall, Kelby Training is an incredibly valuable training resource that I’d highly recommend checking out. It costs less than a buck a day, and whether you’re a novice or a pro, you’re sure to get alot out of the program.
Get $10 off an annual subscription by clicking through this link and entring code KTCJQ12
2. The Compelling Image
Here’s how it works: Sign up for a course, and you’ll receive a new lesson each week via email, which includes an accompanying assignment. You then have 10 days to complete and upload your assignment, where it will be personally critiqued and commented on by your instructor. During the length of the course, (most are 4-6 weeks), you’ll have the opportunity for open message board discussion with your teacher, as well as with other students who are also signed up for the class.
This social-interactive aspect is what makes The Compelling Image unique, and it’s what makes it a very effective teaching environment. If you value one-on-one training, personal commentary on your imagery and the ability to ask direct questions about any aspect of the class, then this may an ideal format for you. Course offerings at TCI cover just about every type of photography. Read a student review of one of my courses.
creativeLIVE, has a unique approach to teaching. Each course is a full one to three day workshop that’s offered in a live setting, and filmed on location in the company’s studio in Seattle. At anytime during the live workshop, you can visit site and watch for free. Then, when a course is complete, it gets added to the course catalog and is available as a paid download.
Essentially, you have three options. One, tune in and see what course is currently being offered LIVE right now. Yes, I said ‘now.’ Tune in and see what’s running at this very moment. Two, check the course calendar, find a course you’d like to watch, and then schedule yourself to watch it. Or, three, check the course catalog for archived workshops, and find courses that you’d like to buy.
It’s true, an all day workshop on your computer may not work for everyone. If you don’t have time to sit down and watch the whole thing, you can always keep it running in the background, or in another browser window. I’ve watched part of a few of the creativeLIVE courses, and while they can drag on a bit over the course of many hours, they generally get great instructors and present relevant material. Hence the beauty of the paid download; watch what you want, when you want.
4. Steele Training
Steele Training offers just a few courses that are aimed at the novice and intermediate photographer and those who are somewhat new to the world of digital imaging. His Lightroom Made Easy and Photoshop Basics For Photographers are great tutorials that get you up to speed with your computer skills, quickly help you build an effective photography workflow and teach you how to manage and edit your images with speed and efficiency.
Phil also has a couple of flash courses- one that that teaches you how to shoot headshots, and one that’s geared towards event photography. These are good workshops, but less geared around outdoor photography.
Phil’s courses run from 2-5 hours, and are presented as a number of short tutorials that each cover a specific topic. Once you purchase a course, you log on and watch right in your browser.