CHAPTER 3-: This is the third chapter of “A Beginner’s Guide to Becoming a Professional Photographer.” – Do you want to go from amateur to professional photographer? If Yes, here are the best online digital photography courses / tutorials to help you get started.

Before you can view photography as a profession, you need to start thinking about it as a craft. When people talk about crafts, they usually conjure up mental images of handicrafts. That’s a very narrow description of the word craft itself.

Any specific task that requires a specialized skill to be completed and perfected can be labeled as a craft. This is the reason why some of the most delicate forms of art such as sculpting, painting and clay modeling are referred to as crafts.

Although primitive in nature, these crafts are not too different from photography itself, which happens to be entirely dependent on modern day technology. The similarity lies in the culture of learning that is an integral part of primitive crafts as well as photography.

Do You Need to Take Photography Courses to Become a Professional Photographer?

No one can become a great photographer overnight, let alone achieve success and renown on a national or international level. Similar to how sculptors and artists spend years honing their craft and picking up crumbles of knowledge left behind by their predecessors, photographers too need to spend a considerable amount of time mastering the art of photography itself.

With that being said, you do not necessarily have to be a child prodigy to be a world class photographer in your adulthood. Photography can be taken up as a profession at any point in your life. However, regardless of at what age you decide to pursue a career in photography, you need to remember that a good number of years must be spent in learning and training. If you expect to pick up a DSLR and take a million dollar picture on your first attempt, then you are sadly mistaken.

  • Time and Tuition

Time and tuition, these are the two things that are fundamental to your development as a photographer.  There may be a lot of photographers who claim to be self taught. However, the reality of the world of photography is that you cannot simply acquire knowledge about the tips and tricks of photography on your own. You need a helping hand to guide you on your path to success. You can spend an eternity with a camera and discover 10 specialized photography techniques on your own.

The same number of techniques can be learnt in a much shorter period of time if only you allow yourself to be taught by the experts in photography, who themselves have sacrificed years in their careers, to stumble upon the gems of photography knowledge. Their skills, expertise, and experience will be a huge asset for you moving forward in your career as a photographer.

Finding the Best Place to Take Digital Photography Lessons

  • Photography School Is Not Always Feasible

The problem with learning photography is the amount of time it takes. A lot of young aspiring photographers do not have the luxury of time in their hands. They need to understand their craft in a short period of time and perfect it within a year or two before their can activate their professional careers and start working for a company or doing a bit of freelancing on their own.

The need to be financially independent often makes it difficult for young, aspiring photographers to pursue a photography degree from a college or a renowned photography institution. Not everybody has three or four years in their hands before they can land a job and start earning a living for themselves.

Furthermore, not only do they have to spend their valuable time in learning the lessons of photography in a photography school, but they also have to pay a decent sum of money to support their education in the school. Once again, young photographers do not always have the capability to finance their photography education at a renowned photography institution or school.

Therefore, you may find yourself in a situation where you need an alternative, short term and speedy method of learning the art of photography so that you can attain financial stability through your work within a period of 8-12 months.

Online Digital Photography Courses – A Faster Way to Learn Photography

This is where online digital photography courses can play a pivotal role in kick starting your career as a photographer. Academic courses on the internet are available today for almost every area of study and photography is not an exception.

We are living in the world of digital photography today, since it provides much more lucrative and profitable opportunities for photographers than film photography. This is the reason why most of the online photography courses that you will come across nowadays are catered to meet the requirements of those who are pursuing a career in digital photography.

3 Critical Problems with Online Photography Courses

In hindsight, it seems as though online digital courses are a lifesaver for aspiring photographers who have limited time in their hands before they can initiate their professional careers. However, there are plenty of problems that you are likely to face with online digital photography courses.

a. Deceitful Courses

First of all, plenty of these courses are designed by insincere, inexperienced and dishonourable entrepreneurs who are simply looking to make a fast buck by deceiving people with their faulty curriculum. Some of the courses are so mediocre that they educate people on the basics of film photography without covering any of the details about digital photography.

This puts a lot of hopeful photographers in hot water, wastes their time as well as their money. If you end up in the hands of a deceitful photography course on the internet, your career will be off to a horrendous start and you may just lose the inclination to continue your pursuits in the field of photography.

b. Expensive Tuition

The other problem that you may be facing with these online digital courses is the amount of money that you will be spending on them. Given the mammoth demand for these courses, it becomes very convenient for the designers of the course to charge high fees to the aspiring photographers who enroll in the online courses.

Learning photography and being taught the basics is important, but not nearly as important as holding on to your life savings which will turn out to be instrumental later in your career as a photographer. In other words, you cannot simply afford to be breaking your bank and draining your pocket for a simple online digital photography course.

You should also not be taking bank loans to enroll in any one of the online digital photography programs. As significant as they are in shaping you up as a star photographer of the future, they are not worth taking loans and putting yourself in debts that you may or may not be able to pay off.

c. Incompetent Instructors

One another major problem with online digital photography courses that are often overlooked is the incompetence of the photography instructors. There are some courses where instructors are assigned without having their credentials and qualifications carefully examined or evaluated. Many of the times, these instructors are simply photography school students or people who have recently passed online photography courses.

Although such instructors are more skilled and knowledgeable than you, they do not have the ability to clearly explain to you the basics of digital of photography and prep you up to take yourself to the advanced levels of photography. Instructors of online digital photography courses need to be well trained, highly experienced and full of expertise that they can share with the students.

  • A Major Setback to Avoid in your Quest for Photography Knowlegde

So what happens to you when you end up in the hands of the wrong instructors? You become a mediocre and below average photographer without even realizing it. Online photography courses as mentioned before can play a very important role in making or breaking your career as a photographer. If you are not taught well about the fundamental procedures and techniques of photography, then you will always have a shaky foundation as a photographer.

Regardless of your passion, exuberance and enthusiasm towards photography, you need to master the basics in order to progress in the field of photography and climb up the ranks to stand toe to toe with the biggest names in the industry.

If you take a look at some of the works of the best photographers in the country or the world itself, you will notice that they hardly ever err with the basic steps of photography. Flamboyance, uniqueness and flair can wait. You need to get your basics right in order to even be considered a person worth of being called a professional photographer.

  • Compromising Future Success

An improper start to your career will put you in the sandbox or at the bottom of the deck for the rest of it. You need to realize that the world of photography is highly competitive. You have insanely talented individuals coming from different parts of the country in their pursuit of reaching the top of the photography mountain.

The higher this mountain goes, the narrower it gets and the room for mediocre photographers is rapidly diminished. Besides, it’s not just about thriving in the competition, it’s about surviving in this unforgiving and fast paced global economy.

Do you really think that people will be willing to pay for your photography services if you can’t even get your basic positioning, lighting and zooming correct? If you get blacklisted by a client or a group of clients, then chances are that you will hardly ever be offered any photography “gigs” in the future.

Digital Photography Courses Are Essential If You Must Turn Pro

Taking all of this and more into consideration, it is imperative that you pay the utmost attention and be ultra selective when choosing digital online photography courses. You also need to realize that one single course may not be enough to do the trick and turn you into a world class photographer. If you want to take online courses as a substitute for photography school, then you need to consider enrolling in a number of different courses that will allow you to make an all round improvement in your skills as a photographer.

4 Types of Online Digital Photography Courses

Below are some of the common courses that can help you complete your training as a professional photographer. Notice how the word “training” has been used instead of the word “learning”. This is because the end completion of your courses will never mark the end of your learning. A true professional photographer never stops learning, innovating and discovering.

1) The Beginner’s Course

This is a short and concise photography course that will require no more than two weeks of your precious time to be completed. The fundamental learning aspects of this course include understanding the functionality of the camera, the handling of the device and why you need to conduct in depth research about it.

This course is recommended for all photographers since it acts as an introduction to the wide world of photography. If you have problems dealing with your camera, then this course is perfect for you.

2) Intermediate Level Course

The intermediate level photography courses can also be seen as a beginner courses, the difference being that these courses usually take a little longer time to be completed. The prolonged duration for the course is due to the increased size of the curriculum as a lot more about photography is covered here as compared to the beginner courses.

These courses act as the perfect training grounds to improve your photography skills and broaden your horizon as a photographer. Picture composition, digital imaging, light and artificial light and portraiture are just some of the subjects that you will learn about in the intermediate courses.

3) Advanced Level Courses

These courses are designed to be a platform for rapid and drastic improvement for those who have already undertaken the beginner and intermediate level courses. You cannot and should not attend these courses unless you have sound knowledge about photography and have a clear understanding of cameras and the vast variety of their operations.

Advanced subjects and topics of photography are covered in these courses in depth. The standard time for an advanced course is about six weeks, and in this duration you will be exposed to advanced knowledge on portrait posing, location portraits, paranomic digital shooting and painting using light techniques.

4) Digital Imaging Courses

Digital imaging is something that you should not concentrate on during the initial stages of your training as a professional photographer. Once you have gone through all the different stages of photography courses, only then can you start contemplating about taking a digital imaging course.

In such a course, you will be taught about exposure adjustments, multi-layer montage, contrast and colour, all of which will be superb additions to your arsenal of skills as a photographer. Some of the most complex subjects of photography are often covered in these courses and you may need several weeks to be an expert on all those subjects. Needless to say, it is a highly interesting course which is strongly recommended for all aspiring photographers.

Ajaero Tony Martins