Free Photography Classes Online

Category: Education , Photography

A reader asks: 'I want to learn more about photography, but I don't have the time or money to take classes at the local community college. Are there any free photography courses online that I can explore at my own pace?' Well, yes! Read on...

The Rankin File

Learn Photography With Online Classes

Many people want to move beyond amateur point and click snapshots, and the reasons are varied. Perhaps you have your eye on a career as a photographer, or you're interested in selling stock photography.

Maybe you just want to take better photographs of birds, your kids, or the sunset.

Whatever your reasons for wanting to sharpen your photography skills, you can take advantage of some excellent websites offering free online photography classes. Here are some places where you can begin your quest to become a better photographer...

Free Online Photography Classes

• is one of the most prominent and comprehensive sources of photography education. It includes lessons and tutorials covering the basics of film, optics, cameras, and lighting. Lessons on Web page layout and digital photography are also available. Novices and professionals will find course materials relevant to their needs. The site is ad-supported, so all of the lessons are free.

• bills itself as "the online library of digital photography." Its free online lessons are organized in short chapter-like formats covering the choosing of digital photography equipment; the basics of using a digital camera; and ways to display your digital photographs.

• has a beginner's photography course with step-by-step lessons that include sample photos and photo assignments. After an intro to DSLR cameras and how they work, lessons include Understanding Exposure, How to Compose a Photograph, Basic Composition Rules, Understanding Camera Lenses, and How to Read a Histogram.

• TribalCog is a travel-related site that offers free photography tips geared for tourists. There is an introduction to the basics of photography; tips on buying the right camera; advice on caring for cameras, lenses, film, and other accessories; photographing people and landscapes; creating a documentary; and technical subjects like lighting and light meters.

Free College Courses in Photography

M.I.T. offers some photography classes as part of its Open CourseWare initiative. Introduction to Photography and Related Media covers the fundamentals of analog and digital camera operation, film exposure and development, darkroom techniques, digital imaging, and studio lighting. Photography and Truth is more philosophical than instructional; discussing the uses, functions and meanings of still photographs; and how they shape and are shaped by politics, economics, and society.

Stanford offers Digital Photography, which provides an introduction to the scientific, artistic, and computing aspects of digital photography. You'll learn how to take good pictures with digital cameras, and how to manipulate them with software. Topics include lenses and optics, light and sensors, perspective and depth of field, sampling and noise, and the camera as a computing platform. The course also delves into the history of photography and highlights the work of some famous photographers.

Cornell University's Lab of Ornithology offers a free course in photographing birds entitled "Developing the Artist's Eye." It covers lighting, framing the image, composition, camera angle, and focus effects.

Many free online photography lessons require registration. If you provide an email address, you can probably expect to receive offers from the site operators and third-parties for cameras, film, lenses, tripods, processing services, and other accessories. To avoid getting buried in unwanted emails, consider using a "throwaway" webmail address.

Do you have a favorite online photography resource? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Free Photography Classes Online"

Posted by:

17 Apr 2015

This article looks great! I plan to explore further because I need to master the technical issues. I'm saving this, so thanks, Bob.


Posted by:

Frank Cizek
17 Apr 2015

Hi, Bob!
I'd like to suggest a few threads from a free photography forum that I'm one the moderators for. It's the best forum I know & we keep the kids & aholes in line so it's a pretty friendly place to learn, too.

[URL=""]Help me get off the green square[/URL]

[URL=""]Photoshop Beginner: where to start?[/URL]

Best to you!

Posted by:

17 Apr 2015

If you love photo imaging for itself, still or motion, and have near-unlimited funds to devote for equipment and a life-style that boils down to putting yourself in the perfect place at the perfect time, train to be a photographer.

If you are a computer or mathematics wizard bored with microcircuits or fiber-optics, one wonders what dreams may come with a glimpse of color theory or optic design/application.

But don't pay money or expect to earn any in photography. There are perhaps 500 individuals in the US who earn a living by it outside portraits, weddings, and news or studio drones; no disrespect to any of them but all my love.

Just sayin, rgds Curie

Posted by:

Frank Stowers
17 Apr 2015

Thanks, Bob, for this very useful information which will be most helpful to anyone interested in photography.

Posted by:

18 Apr 2015

Thanks Bob. This is something I've been looking for. Thanks also to Frank for his links.

Camera Sim "" is great to check the effect of camera settings.

Posted by:

18 Apr 2015

Bob, thanks for the on-line sites for learning more about photography with free classes. I've been thinking about that since I've retired and just haven't dug into it much. Thanks for the kick in the butt, I needed that.

Posted by:

21 Apr 2015

Thanks, Bob, for the great article. Thank you, Kerry, for that great simulator site!

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Free Photography Classes Online (Posted: 17 Apr 2015)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved