With people all over the world self-isolating at home due to the coronavirus outbreak, many are taking advantage of their newfound free time to learn a new skill or hobby. As a result, many businesses have decided to offer their online courses for discounted rates, or even for free! If you have a lot of time on your hands and you’ve been wanting to dip your toe into photography, these are some of the best online photography courses available now.
Online Photography Courses
Also known as the PPA, the world’s largest nonprofit photography association is offering over 1100 free online photography classes, usually available for members only, until the end of May as a way to offer support during COVID-19. In addition to a large collection of free online photography courses, they also offer videos and webinars led by industry professionals, entrepreneurial tips for photographers, recommended reading and more.
For those who are loyal to their camera brand and want classes specifically tailored towards your Nikon DSLR camera and accessories, these free online photography courses by Nikon are being offered for free for the month of April. Not only do they have some of the best online photography courses for beginners, but they also offer lots of classes teaching specific styles of photography and ideas that you can practice from the comfort of your home.
If one of your goals as a photographer is to create punchy images that catch viewers’ eyes as they scroll on social media, this free online photography class led by Anna Devís and Daniel Rueda through Domestika is a great place to start. Spanish speakers will feel right at home, but don’t worry if you aren’t fluent: subtitles are available in English, Portuguese, and Spanish as well.
If you’re a Canon user, check out the free online photography courses Canon has available on their website. They’re not as in-depth as some of the others on this list, but they can help you with everything from taking a great selfie to snapping a drool-worthy pic of your latest home cooking adventure. Most of the articles are quick and easy to get through, making these a great option for beginner photographers who just need some guidance on getting started.
If you’re looking for free online photography courses with certificates, why not get your diploma in digital photography from Alison? Completing this 10-12 hour course will earn you an official diploma that you can show off on your photography portfolio website. Alison is also offering a few other courses for free in over 100 languages, including learning skills to work from home like Excel and project management.
Skillshare has thousands of online classes across a range of disciplines, including animation, fine art, web development, business analytics and of course, photography. They are offering 2 months free for new users, so take this opportunity to learn about photography and a ton of related topics all in one place.
Offered through Class Central, this hands-on photography course explores a variety of techniques as well as the scientific foundations behind them in order to improve students’ techniques and teach them how to effectively use photographic software tools. Class Central is also giving free access to over 400 Ivy League Courses, most of which will earn you an official certificate.
For those who want a more in-depth learning experience, Photocritic offers a one-year free online photography course, completely free. This course is perfect for those who have never picked up a camera before: they will walk you through all the basics, even if the only camera you have on hand is your smartphone. Photocritic will send students a new lesson every ten days, and you’ll get personalized feedback on every assignment you submit.
Even though physical libraries are closed due to coronavirus, many public libraries offer free access to Lynda through your library card. You’ll get access to over 900 free photography courses, covering a wide range of topics like effective storytelling through your photos, using Photoshop, and choosing the right camera gear for your desired outcome. If your library card doesn’t give you access, don’t worry! Lynda also offers one month free for new users.
Udemy has more than 2000 online photography courses, of which over 150 are completely free. With some of the best online photography courses for beginners, you can pick up all sorts of skills like working with Adobe Premiere, commercial photography and filmmaking. In addition to free photography courses, Udemy has 100,000 online courses covering topics including economics, yoga, and music fundamentals, so you can explore all kinds of new hobbies.
If you’re looking for a source for hundreds of free online photography courses as well as all the latest photography news, inspiration and product reviews, DIY offers tutorials on all sorts of topics. Use the search bar to find answers to your specific questions about your camera or photography techniques, or just browse the tutorial section to discover topics you haven’t even heard of yet.
While Short Courses might appear slightly outdated, it’s a great resource for a ton of free online photography classes like how to use your digital camera and digital desktop lighting, as well as a detailed guide on choosing the right camera if you haven’t made the investment yet.
This library of free online photography courses covers everything you could ever need to know about using your digital camera. Complete beginners can learn about aperture, ISO, and shutter speed and how to adjust those settings as well as learning about white balance, image noise, and dynamic range. There is a detailed section on camera lenses and filters as well as tips for cleaning and keeping your camera, equipment, and photos safe. They also offer free photography courses on photo editing and post-processing, color management and printing, and photography techniques and styles including composition and photo lighting.
If you already know the basics of taking photos on your DSLR, Phlearn has some great free online photography classes that will help you with advanced photo editing and creating presets in Lightroom Classic, color matching in Photoshop, and even how to create patterns and vectors from your photography. Their tutorials are often under ten minutes long, making these a good option if you prefer to learn in small doses based on your specific interests.
PetaPixel has a huge variety of free online photography courses for beginners and experts alike. Whether you need to learn how to preserve the highlights in your images in post-production, how to pack your gear when you’re out on a shoot, or how to photography reflective products, this catalogue of free tutorials is packed full of value, and they’re constantly adding even more awesome new tutorials.
If you’re interested in learning more about photography from an academic and scientific perspective in order to fully understand how to take a good picture, this Stanford Professor Emeritus has a series of his lectures based on a digital photography course he taught at Stanford University. The courses are designed for those with no prior knowledge of photography, so you definitely don’t have to be a professional photographer to take this course. You will, however, need a digital camera (not a smartphone) if you wish to take part in the optional weekly assignments.
If you want to learn how to get perfect lighting in your photos no matter what the circumstances, this free online photography course is the place to start. This course is more geared towards intermediate photographers who already understand the main functions of their camera. In addition to your DSLR camera, you’ll need to purchase a flash for this free photography course if you don’t have one already.
Photography Business Online Courses
You may think that due to the COVID-19 pandemic closing down businesses all over the world, this isn’t a great time to start your own photography business. However, there are lots of ways to make money from photography that don’t involve working or interacting with other people in person, and it makes sense to invest your time in a skill that you can do from anywhere, even while under quarantine. In addition to some of the best online photography classes being offered for free right now, there are lots of free courses available that will help you with the business side to being a working photographer. Since there are so many resources to help set up your photography business to be profitable no matter what happens with COVID-19, why not take on a new project like learning SEO or how to market your business? Here are some ideas for other skills you can develop using these resources while you’re stuck under quarantine.
Work on Your Photography Portfolio
If you don’t already have an online photography portfolio website, now is the ideal time to make one! Even if you don’t have a single photo to share yet, why not use one of the free online photography courses above to create images for your portfolio? Use a website builder made for photographers to make sure your online presence represents your aesthetic as a photographer.
Whether you’re a total beginner to SEO or you’ve been using the basics but want to learn more, Moz Academy is offering their full library of courses and series entirely free through to May 31. They even have some free online photography courses with certificates for photographers who want to add something official to their resume.
Create Passive Income
Let’s be real, who wouldn’t want to find a way to make money by doing nothing? There are plenty of ways you can use what you learn in the free photography courses to create digital items that you can upload to your online shop and forget about. You never know who might come across your work, especially if you put your SEO training into use. Lots of photographers make passive income by selling lightroom presets, filters, Photoshop brush packs, or Photoshop actions. As you build up your online photography portfolio, why not sell your photos as digital downloads? With everyone stuck inside right now, lots of people are looking for ways to make their homes more personalized by hanging art. You’ve already uploaded your photos to your website anyway, so it just makes sense to make them available for download. Another way to create passive income as a photographer is to create and sell stock photography. Plenty of websites allow users to upload their stock photography for free, and then you’ll make a small amount of money each time a user downloads your images.
Find Your Niche
Businesses are most successful at marketing when they have a clear idea of who their target market is so that they can sell directly to that audience. As you practice the skills that you picked up in your free photography courses, start thinking about what kind of photography you might be interested in pursuing. Here are just a few ideas of the types of photography you could specialize in to get you thinking about the possibilities.
- Portrait photography
- Real Estate Phography
- Wedding photography
- Still Life Photography
- Key Light Photography
- Night Photography
- Landscape photography
- Newborn photography
- Fine art photography
- Drone photography
- Long exposure photography
- Film photography
- 3D photography
- Wildlife photography
- Food photography
- Skateboard photography
- Abstract photography
- Pet portraits
Promoting and Marketing
Now that you’ve got your photography portfolio website SEO optimized and your passive income products listed in your online shop, it’s time to start promoting your work and your business. As you develop a personal style when it comes to how you choose the subject and mood of your photography, you can transform that into a strong brand identity. There are plenty of free online resources to teach you how to use photography hashtags on social media to get your photography noticed. You can also learn about using social media for business and how to market your art. Take a course on Facebook advertising
Apply to Calls for Submissions
Lots of publications and brands are still hiring photographers for their online content in spite of COVID-19, so don’t stop applying to calls for submissions! They can offer a great creative prompt to get you thinking about how to create a photography project that responds to a specific theme. And wouldn’t it be awesome to get your work published? You can also apply for art jobs—even though COVID-19 is keeping us at home for now, many businesses are still functioning remotely.
Good luck with all your learning, you go-getter!
Want more tips on leveling up your photography business?