Unlike other fields where experience comes with practice most of the time, becoming a good photographer requires some previous knowledge on cameras, different types of portraits, and composition, to name a few. There are hundreds of photography courses online, but a bit of research will make you think the best online photography courses cost hundreds of dollars when, in fact, you can gain the same level of knowledge and understanding from a few free photography courses online.
Free Online Photography Courses
We’re not saying paid online photography courses are not worth their money because that’s simply not true. However, we strongly believe that if you truly are passionate about photography and dedicate yourself to becoming one of the best, photography online courses that do not require payment will be enough to give you a head start as an amateur or professional photographer.
Here are the best photography course online, free of charge, which you can find linked at the end of this article:
Free Online Photography Courses by PhotographyCourse.net
If you are looking for a well-structured and complete photography course online, try out photographycourse.net. You can choose among beginner, intermediate, and advanced, or you can go through all of them to make sure you become an expert in photography. The only thing you need to spend is time since these online photography courses are completely free. These three courses cover basic and advanced principles of photography, like:
- Camera settings;
- Field depth;
- Post production;
- Focal length;
- Techniques for different scenes or types of photography.
Although covered by the three main courses made available through PhotographyCourse.net, you can also explore in-depth techniques for photo editing, composition, and camera settings by choosing one of the three specific courses.
A total of 6 courses will give you deep knowledge on photography with no prior experience required. It’s our favorite choice of free online photography courses for beginner or amateur photographers who want to become experts since they cover every matter a photographer might struggle with and explain it very well.
What we appreciate the most about them is their structure. Unlike other courses which feature concepts like camera settings and focal length as individual lessons, the experts behind PhotographyCourse.net chose to get this information across in a more practical manner, for each type of photograph like macro, portrait, landscape, or travel photos.
Alison’s Digital Photography Course by Harvard
Given the popularity and convenience of digital cameras, Harvard created one of the most comprehensive online digital photography courses you can find for free. The course is hosted by Alison and is structured into 13 modules and covers basic principles and notions like:
- Digital cameras;
- Photographing different objects;
- Software programs for digital photography and processing photos.
The course uses a diversity of materials and media to get the information across, like presentation, text-based lessons, or videos. If you want to learn more about advanced digital processing of photographs, Alison also features free Photoshop courses.
Among the few free online photography courses with certificates, Harvard’s is by far the easiest to follow. While the course is free, acquiring the certificate requires a certain payment; However, it is completely worth it. The last module is an assessment of your knowledge and comprehension on digital photography, which you need to pass with an over 80% score to get your certification. Naturally, your course progress needs to be a clean and perfect 100% for this to happen.
MIT’s Free Online Photography Courses
The open courseware platform developed by professionals of Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers a multitude of photography courses featuring video and audio lectures, notes, assignments, projects, and examples of what to seek and what to avoid when taking a photo. At the moment of writing, MIT’s open courseware made 16 courses available to aspiring photographers, covering concepts like:
- Introductory notions;
- Photography and related media;
- Documentary photography and photojournalism;
- Science and technology photography;
- Numeric photography;
Each of these courses takes place over a period of a few weeks and is lectured by MIT professors in a manner similar to their own classes at MIT. Any photography online course made available through this open courseware can be taken by you no matter your location or education status. If you are looking for a fresh perspective on photography and photo processing, any of these will not disappoint.
Sean McHugh’s Cambridge in Color
Developed by a Cambridge graduate and member of the Cambridge University Photographic Society, this learning community is dedicated exclusively to photographers. It’s a comprehensive guide to cameras, photography concepts, shooting and editing techniques, plus a multitude of useful tools for beginners. The structure is intuitive, featuring essential and advanced notions every photographer needs to know.
In addition to these tutorials and resources, Cambridge in Color also offers these great tools to get you started in the right way:
- Timing and finding a good location for a photo: sunrise, sunset, night photography.
- Resolution and depth of field settings: calculators for depth of field, tilt/shift lens depth, hyperfocal distance, diffraction limit, sharpening radius and resolution.
- Size and speed of your subject: focal length and shutter speed calculators.
- Macros: size and magnification of a subject, extension tubes, close-up filters.
- Panoramas and photo stitching: mosaics, 360° requirements, tilt/shift panoramas.
Although more of a resource since it’s not presented in the form of a course, Cambridge in Color can be confidently used by amateur photographers who think about entering the professional field. Given it’s a learning community, a learner can also receive support from professionals or intermediate level photographers through forums.
What we liked most about Cambridge in Color was its interactive learning program, through which users can submit photos for professional revision and personalized feedback – a trait that is not often found in free online photography courses.
Online Digital Photography Course by FreePhotoCourse.com
Addressed to SLR owners who struggle with using their new camera, this online photography course comprises 4 lessons to help you decipher what every button and function do. It covers aspects like:
- History of photography;
- Introduction to digital cameras and their functions;
- Zoom, focus, macro, and other modes;
- Shutter speed and special effects;
- Light meter;
- Depth of field.
Apart from these straight-forward lessons, the website also features tips and tricks for high-quality photos, how-to guides and tutorials, or composition basics. In addition, the forum section offers support to different issues you might encounter while discovering your digital camera and its functions. Similar to our previous recommendation, FreePhotoCourse.com also makes contests available for its users, which can be a great incentive.
Bonus Resource: Lifehacker’s Basics of Photography: The Complete Guide
If you are looking for some reading material to supplement your knowledge or want to get a grasp on what photography is about, this complete guide is what you need. It addresses most of the questions an inexperienced photographer with a digital camera might have:
- How digital cameras work;
- Automatic and assisted settings of a digital camera;
- Manual settings;
- Photography composition and techniques;
- Photo editing.
Navigating through chapters and articles will walk you through hundreds of Lifehacker pages on photography and image editing. If you take the time to read them all, you might end up more experienced than after finishing a basic photography course.
Given the wide array of free online photography courses the internet offers it would be a pity not to take advantage of them. If you are at the beginning of your photography career or an amateur photographer who wants to take vacation photos worth framing, try out these free tools before diving into all the paid courses. Chances are, after completing one or more free course, you won’t feel the need to pay for expensive ones.
Links to the free online photography courses and resources mentioned in this article:
- Courses by photographycourse.net
- Harvard’s Dgital Photography Course on Alison
- MIT‘s Online Photography Courses
- Sean McHugh’s Cambridge in Color
- Basics of Photography: The Complete Guide on LifeHacker