10 Best + Free Photography Courses & Certification [2020][UPDATED]

Learn photography with this comprehensive list of the web's best photography courses, ranked by 1,000+ student reviews.

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10 Filtered Courses
Best Free Course

1 )

CS 178 Digital Photography (2016)

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This course takes a deep look at techniques that optimize digital photography tools. It covers exposure, angles, lighting, chromaticity and more. Students who complete this course will be equipped to take high-quality photographs in a wide range of settings.
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Pros
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Cons
    • Teaches timeless techniques to capturing great photographs.
    • Assignments give students real-world practice at taking the pictures.
    • The tapestry of knowledge allows students to explore their own ideas in advancing their photography skills.
    • Course has not been changed since it was designed in 2016. While some concepts are universal, photographic technology is progressing quickly.
    • Course seriously neglects photographic software, considering its a digital class.
    • Course spends time on equipment that is in some cases dated.
Best Practical Course

2 )

Digital Media E-10: Exposing Digital Photography (2015)

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This course tries to combine the art and science of digital photography. It looks at tools, techniques and philosophies, enabling students to craft their own approach to photography that produces unique art with consistent quality.
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Pros
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Cons
    • Class is run by Harvard and comes with Harvard prestige.
    • Class does a good job of covering digital hardware and software.
    • The final project ensures that students are building a good portfolio while taking the course.
    • If the instructors created the website, it does not speak well of their aesthetic skills.
    • Photographic theory is light. Students can succeed in the course without a deep understanding of how to capture a great photo.
    • Class has in-person practicals that make it inaccessible for many potential students.
Best Crash Course

3 )

Beginner's Guide to Photography - Free 3 Hour Online Course (2017)

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Steve Young Photography built this YouTube tutorial to take true beginners through the steps of learning deliberate, informed photographic methods. Its split into 14 video lessons that cover equipment selection, editing basics and environmental considerations.
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Pros
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Cons
    • A great place for people brand new to photography. Advice on equipment selection is helpful rather than promotional.
    • Content stays away from too-advanced topics to help beginners master the fundamentals.
    • Entire tutorial can be completed in a matter of hours, making it easy and accessible.
    • Videos have some audio problems.
    • There is no support community whatsoever. Students are on their own.
    • Information is valuable but disorganized.
Lighting 101: Introduction
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Best Text Based Course

5 )

Lighting 101: Introduction (2006)

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This entry level lighting course was developed to teach the skills I learned in the process of completing over 10,000 assignments as a working photojournalist. Here, you'll learn the basics of using off-camera flash to create beautiful light and professional-looking photos.Lighting 101, 102 and 103 are all completely free. And the gear required to turn your small flash into a wireless studio is very inexpensive compared to the cost of your camera.This is not a course for iPhone photographers. You'll need a real camera that gives you control of the shutter and aperture settings, and has a hot shoe to accept a flash on top. Almost any DSLR or mirrorless camera will be fine.You'll also need to have a basic understanding of how f/stops and shutter speeds work and the effects that they each have on your photos. If you have ever used your camera in manual mode (where you are in control of both the f/stop and the shutter speed) you'll be fine.And that's it. If you already have a flash, we'll show you how to tell if it is right for off-camera lighting. (It's probably fine.) If not, we'll show you a solid, inexpensive choice for beginners. The same goes for the related gear you'll need to turn your flash into a wireless studio. More on that in a minute.
Best Advanced Course

6 )

Computational Photography (2014)

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This class explores how computation impacts the entire workflow of photography, which is traditionally aimed at capturing light from a 3D scene to form a 2D image. A detailed study of the perceptual, technical and computational aspects of forming pictures, and more precisely the capture and depiction of reality on a (mostly 2D) medium of images is undertaken over the entire term. The scientific, perceptual, and artistic principles behind image-making will be emphasized, especially as impacted and changed by computation.Topics include the relationship between pictorial techniques and the human visual system; intrinsic limitations of 2D representations and their possible compensations; and technical issues involving capturing light to form images. Technical aspects of image capture and rendering, and exploration of how such a medium can be used to its maximum potential, will be examined. New forms of cameras and imaging paradigms will be introduced.
The Practicing Photographer
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7 )

The Practicing Photographer (2013)

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In The Practicing Photographer, photographer and teacher Ben Long shares a weekly serving of photographic instruction and inspiration. Each installment focuses on a photographic shooting scenario, a piece of gear, or a software technique. Each one concludes with a call to action designed to inspire you to pick up your camera (or your mouse or smartphone) to try the technique for yourself.Note: Because this is an ongoing series, viewers will not receive a certificate of completion.
Fundamentals of Photography
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8 )

Fundamentals of Photography (2018)

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As a photographer, you will need to master the technical basics of the camera and form an understanding of the kind of equipment you need. The Fundamentals of Digital Photography will also teach something even more important (and crucial for success) - how to bring your creative vision to fruition.Taught by seasoned photographer John Greengo, the Fundamentals of Digital Photography places emphasis on quality visuals and experiential learning. In this course, youll learn:How to bring together the elements of manual mode to create an evocative image: shutter speed, aperture, and image composition.How to choose the right gear, and develop efficient workflow.How to recognize and take advantage of beautiful natural light.John will teach you to step back from your images and think critically about your motivations, process, and ultimate goals for your photography project. Youll learn to analyze your vision and identify areas for growth. John will also explore the difference between the world seen by the human eye and the world seen by the camera sensor. By forming an awareness of the gap between the two, you will be able to use your equipment to its greatest potential.

9 )

Photo Recipes: Dramatic Light (2016)

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Discover a cool recipe for a dramatic lighting look with Scott Kelby! Join Scott as he shows you, step-by-step, how to configure your camera, arrange the lighting, position the subject, and create a very nice, yet dramatic lighting look. Youll learn the full process, from the initial setup to the subject direction to the retouching of your best photos at the end, and all throughout the class Scott shares additional tips and tricks to help you nail the shot when you try it on your own. This look can be achieved with studio strobes or speedlights, and Scott discusses the gear youll need for both situations, so theres no reason not to add this recipe to your bag of tricks.

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