Online photography classes are a fun and inexpensive way to improve your photo skills at your own pace. The best of these classes are taught by accomplished photographers via recorded video lessons. You can choose from courses covering everything from camera basics to subjects such as portraiture, nature or night photography.
Here are my top five picks…
The Art of the Photo (instructor: Annie Leibovitz). In her first-ever online class, one of the world’s most famous photographers and a master of portrait photography provides a behind-the-scenes exploration of her creative process. Leibovitz’s lessons focus more on human interaction and how to get the best from your subject rather than technical jargon. But make no mistake—she’s great technically as well. Topics include telling a story with photos…shooting in a studio and on location…lighting and other technical aspects of portrait photography. Skill level: All. Fee: $90. MasterClass.com/al
Introduction to Photography (instructor: Ben Long). If you’re just starting out, this course on digital photography basics is a great class. An easygoing, award-winning photographer, Long explains the different types of cameras and lenses, exposure, composition, portraiture tips and how to edit digital photos. Skill level: Beginner. Fee: $19.99/month. (The site offers a 30-day free trial.) Lynda.com
The Art of Seeing (instructor: Frans Lanting). If you’ve ever wondered how National Geographic gets such extraordinary shots, this class shares a lot of secrets. Lanting is one of National Geographic’s most prolific contributors. While there’s a fair amount on equipment and shooting technique, the emphasis is on composition and observing wildlife to get the best shots. Skill level: Some experience with manual cameras. Cost: $99. CreativeLive.com
Night Photography (instructor: Lance Keimig). While most of us put our cameras away once the sun goes down, many photographers are just getting started at sunset. Keimig, among the world’s most innovative night photographers, is the author of Night Photography: Finding Your Way in the Dark. Students learn to convey the passage of time with long exposures, use colorful light-painting techniques and enhance night images after they’re shot. Skill level: Advanced. Cost: $19.99. Craftsy.com
Food Photography (instructors: William Carnahan and Phil Ebiner). This is a fun and practical class to help you capture great photos of your culinary creations with any camera (including cell-phone cameras). Topics include choosing locations and backgrounds, lighting and composition. The course also features demonstrations that you can re-create and follow along with at home. Skill level: All. Cost: $14.99. Udemy.com/food-photography