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Home > Should You Take a Photography Course or Learn By Yourself?

Photography, like every art form, is very personal and as you get better you will develop a style that is unique and true to who you are.

Should You Take a Photography Course or Learn By Yourself?

Ultimately that journey is yours to make, but on your way you might be wondering if you should go it alone or take a photography course.

When the idea of getting serious about photography first crept into my head I was living in a town where taking classes was not an option. I figured that with the wealth of resources available online, I could teach myself technique and composition.

The first step was to read my camera manual. I sat down with good intentions, but manuals aren’t exactly page turners and, within minutes, reading turned into skimming, until finally the booklet found itself back in its original packaging.

I wanted to learn bigger picture stuff like composition and lighting. If you search the internet you’ll find thousands of results ranging from online photography courses (some free), to enthusiast forums and YouTube channels dedicated to the subject. It’s all there. Literally all of it: composition, lighting, history, equipment; anything you could want to know.

I spent hours watching videos and reading forums and blogs until I had a series of go-to sites and instructors (people whose videos I found engaging and entertaining).

The next step (as everyone online course or in-class instructor will tell you) was to go out and take pictures. Take your camera everywhere; live and breathe photography and the rules will come. Of course if you’re as impatient as I am, and you expect results after having dedicated weeks of your life to YouTube, you might find that your photography won’t improve quite as drastically as you’d hoped for. In fact, you might have to re-watch a few of those instructional videos, then go back out and try again.

What I did thoroughly enjoy was seeing where other people – tourists mostly – were going wrong with their photos. I could now smugly explain terms like leading lines and rule of thirds. What I still could not do, however, was get my own photos right.

I regretted not being enrolled in a course with fellow photographers with whom I could engage and ask questions. I would go out with my camera, and a flood of questions would just rush through my mind, questions which I somehow was never able to recall long enough to search for the answers. By the time my tired feet found their way back to the sofa my mind had wandered to Netflix.

While my photos have improved, there’s no doubting the value of enrolling in a photography course, where I know someone can give me guidance, structure, insight specific to my ambitions and challenges, and – step by step – the confidence to achieve my creative visions and explore and stretch my limits. You can learn anything you set your mind to, but nothing online compares to intelligent conversation, interaction and supervision.

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