Try a Free Online Photography Class

Category: Photography

An AskBob reader says: 'I am retired and want to learn more about photography, but I don't have money to take classes. Are there any free photography courses online that I can explore at my own pace?' Well, yes! There are some awesome (and free) online photography classes. Read on...

Learn Photography With Online Classes

Many people want to move beyond "auto mode" or simple 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 family, 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...

• 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. Some lessons are free, and others are paid.

Free Online Photography Classes

• 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. You might want to start with "Curtin's Guide to Digital Cameras and Other Photographic Equipment".

•  With Udemy's Introduction To Photography Course you'll learn the basics of how your camera works, 10 tips for framing up great photos, the rule of thirds, and what to look for in a background. The instructor also delves into what makes photos come out brighter or darker, how to control exposure, and camera terminology.

•  This free 2-3 hour Introduction to Digital Photography course from Alison promises take you beyond the "auto" setting on your digital camera, and get you one step closer to taking the perfect shot. It includes an introduction to the basic features of digital cameras, and a guide to different styles of photography such as landscape photography, street photography, and wildlife photography. Alison is one of the world’s largest free learning platforms for education and skills training, offering courses in Technology, Language, Science, Health, Humanities, Business, Math, and Marketing.

•  If your primary camera is a new iPhone 12, check out DHTV’s How To Use The iPhone 12 Camera Tutorial on Youtube. There are tips and techniques to take great iPhone photos, including night mode photos, how to set photo exposure, how to set a photo timer, optical and digital zoom options, portrait mode options, how to edit videos on the iPhone, slow motion and time-lapse videos, how to take panoramic photos, and iPhone 12 camera tips and tricks.

If you want to move beyond the basics of iPhone photography, the iPhone Photography School has both free and paid lessons.

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. See my article Here's Why You Need a Disposable Email Address.

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

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Most recent comments on "Try a Free Online Photography Class"

Posted by:

02 Nov 2020

I have found to be very good. When they first air a lesson, it is free. The lesson is repeated, free, for 24 hours. You can buy it if you want to watch it again.

Posted by:

Jay R
02 Nov 2020

Imaging the surroundings
It's easy if you try
No Pentax for us
We're shooting for the sky

Imaging all the people living now today
Imaging all the countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to Photoshop for
And no real bad prints, too
Imagine all the people living life with pix,

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will buy Canons.

Unless, of course, you're related to Paul Simon. Bob, I have always pictured that you would write the perfect email one day. Congrats!

Posted by:

02 Nov 2020

Thanks, Bob! You were reading my mind!

Posted by:

Murray White
02 Nov 2020

Also, there are many sites in YouTube related to cameras, photography of a variety of genres and of course lots of videos related to digital imaging editors.
Lots of freeware available and some pay that are not expensive at all. Some that I can suggest I actually use are Affinity Photo (small cost) with lots and lots of tutorials on YT.
PhotoScape X (free to do most that folks will want and small charge for upgrade) Both of these are one time costs.
After that is Luminar which is coming out with an advanced Ai program and more and more Ai imaging programs are being marketed for quite reasonable prices.
I have never used GIMP but it is freeware with tutorials on YT available.
There are a number of other freeware such as Fotosketcher with its intent to allow creative edits for folks wanting to have fun for Social Media content.

Posted by:

Ken H
02 Nov 2020

I can recommend the iPhone Photography School, free and also their paid lessons.

My only problem is not taking the time to actually make use of all that I have paid for. But the content is excellent and very well presented. Lots of great tips that pertain to the iPhone camera and the available camera and editing apps as well as accessories.

There is a lifetime of lessons available online that are updated as new iPhone models come out.

Posted by:

03 Nov 2020

Thank you for the excellent resources! I do a lot of photography work, and some of it has been published in magazines. With that, I am aware that there is still a lot more that I am learning, and having additional resources can help one improve and refine their skills, regardless of the level of experience. Live and learn! Thank you for this informative article!

Posted by:

howard o
03 Nov 2020

there are many community colleges that offer free classes to seniors, some might charge for books, usually can buy used books tho, some might charge a small "lab" fee depending on the class subject, probably could even try full colleges one never knows until they ask!

Posted by:

22 Nov 2022

Another great place to find online courses, such as photography is your local library. Their online site probably has access to one or more online learning options providing courses with great content on everything you can imagine - free to you, but paid for by your tax dollars. You might as well use them! I found an excellent online photography course through ours.

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Try a Free Online Photography Class (Posted: 2 Nov 2020)
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