Photography is one of those skills that comes in handy for any creative career. If you know how to take and edit a great photograph, then you can save yourself some time and make a little extra money. Of course, some jobs will simply require the work of an experienced professional, but very often as a graphic or web designer, your client may not be able to afford the high costs. And you can offer photography as an extra service to add on to the invoice. First, though, you will need to find some learning resources for DIY photography before advertising this service, and photography tutorials – both videos and articles – are an excellent place to start.
But what about stock photographs? Can’t you just use those? Of course you can! Stock photography is an excellent resource for when you are short on time, need a basic photograph you want to render unrecognizable, or need a photo for a tutorial or a blog post. But a client’s website needs original visuals of their place of business and the staff. A brand photograph that the client will use on every piece of marketing material should be original. When creating a design that you want to completely call your own with no need of attribution, you will need your own photograph. These instances are just a few examples demonstrating that taking the time to learn photography can be very beneficial to you as a graphic designer, web designer, brand identity designer, artist, and any other creative professional. All of this is broken down more in 5 Reasons Why Every Graphic Designer Should Also Be a Professional Photographer.
The good news is that you don’t have to take formal classes from your local community college to learn photography. There are plenty of cheap or free learning resources to easily teach yourself photography in no time. Just set aside some time every week for reading about and practicing a new technique, and you’ll be confident behind the camera in no time. The following resources for learning photography include both free and paid ones. Although the free resources do include both basics and advanced tips and tricks, the paid photography resources offer the advantage of grouping it all into neat, guided lessons.
This is an excellent free guide for learning photography – definitely the perfect place for a beginner to start. Lifehacker provides links to lessons on everything a beginner photographer needs to know, from understanding digital cameras to technique to editing. At the end of the introduction article are included extra resources for better learning a camera, composition tips, editing, and more.
While the Lifehacker list above does mention Lynda, I felt this resource too important not to mention. Lynda does cost: the basic package gives you unlimited access to all videos for $25/mo or $250/yr. If you’d like to take Lynda on the road with you to practice your photography, you can pay the Premium cost for offline viewing ($37.50/mo or $375/yr). In comparison to a formal education, Lynda’s photography tutorials are still quite cheap, especially since you get access to other design and development tutorials as well. In addition to the Photography 101 video above, you may also want to preview Foundations of Photography: Exposure or any other photography tutorials that catch your eye before you commit to signing up.
If you complete a search for the keyword “photography” on Instructables, you’ll see an overwhelming list of Instructables from which to learn photography for free. Now, this can be a problem to some since you may not know where to start. In fact, it may be better if you use Instructables for learning a certain type of photography or do a more specific keyword search, such as photography 101 or beginner photography. Here are a couple of photography tutorials to get you started:
The Free Beginner Photography Course on this site is a great place for those completely new to photography to start. The material is organized into easy to follow lessons so those who are unsure of where to begin can simply follow along in this free course. And for those who are a bit more advanced, this site also provides intermediate and advanced courses. PhotographyCourse even includes lessons on professional sports photography and portrait photography.
The Cambridge in Color website has a some very in-depth tutorials for learning photography. If you really want to learn the nitty-gritty about how to use your camera and equipment for free, then you’ll definitely want to check this site out. It also contains some great tools, such as a Moon and Night Calculator for Photography, a Depth of Field Calculator, and much more. Highly technical information on this site will turn you into a true pro.
The photography channel on TV.Adobe.com contains lots of very useful tutorials on learning photography editing techniques…using Adobe software, of course. But for those who do own Photoshop or Lightroom, Adobe TV is probably one of the most extensive collections of tutorials for editing photographs in these software applications. And, even better, all of the photography tutorials are free. You may want to start by viewing some of the tutorials in The Complete Picture with Julieanne Kost.
This website is not free but it includes some awesome courses in photography, Photoshop, Lightroom, and more. You can subscribe for $25/mo, $249/yr, or even simply pay a $99 fee for a 5-month access. KelbyOne even offers group memberships. The learning photography courses include almost everything a beginner or amateur would need to improve his or her skills, from the basics to lighting to more specific topics such as photographing children and family or food photography. And all of the courses include several lessons to really make sure you are an expert by the time you finish the last lesson. A fun course to check out is Time Lapse Photography with Tom Bol.
This free online “school” contains a very large collection of tips, tutorials, and how-to articles for improving your photography skills. With tons of information on cameras and equipment, including reviews, you’ll be able to handle your camera, lenses, and filters like a pro in no time. Post-production tips include Photoshop, Lightroom, and GIMP help for getting the most out of your software. The Tips and Tutorials section even includes Tips for Beginners, a great list to start with. And if you still can’t get enough, DPS also has a large collection of ebooks for sale with all the information you’d want to keep handy on a photo shoot.
Sometimes free learning resources don’t offer much guidance as to where to start, but this website has a Start Here button right on the homepage just for beginners. This site also includes a list of recommended equipment, a free flash photography course, and lots of tips for portrait photography, wedding photography, and much more. For those who want free weekly tips, the Improve Photography Podcast is an excellent one to follow. If you still feel like you want more, you can purchase some of the online classes for $98 each and then follow along at your own pace.
This is another website with a Start Here link to help you better navigate the site. One of the first suggestions is to sign up for free for the Explorer’s Club to receive lots of freebies and email updates announcing new tutorials, freebies, etc. The guide then suggests some articles for starting, such as The Essential Guide to Photography Slang and the Gear & Software Guide. The photography tutorials do come with a cost but include so much helpful information that purchasing a few of them may be something you will want to do once you are ready to go beyond the basics. Plus, you can return them before 60 days if you aren’t satisfied.
Enter “photography” in the search bar on Udemy.com, and you’ll see too many courses from which to choose. You can filter by price if you’d like, and there are actually several free courses available, including Karl Taylor’s Free Photography Course which includes 22 lectures. Or you can filter by instructional level. And, of course, you can always be more specific with your keyword search. Different courses available at a range of prices include ones on street photography, tabletop photography, green screen photography, iPhone photography, liquid photography, and much more.
One of the most popular resources on learning photography lighting techniques, Strobist is one you’ll definitely want to visit. Start with the Lighting 101 link. At the end of each post is a link to the next article in the series, so it’s easy to just follow along. Be sure to click on the images too to see how the photographer handled the lighting in the photo. Once you finish the 101 series, you can move on to Lighting 102. This blog also includes lots of articles in the series “On-Assignment,” in which photographers display a photograph and explain their process of getting the shot right.
The TutsPlus photography blog includes tons of articles for help on fine-tuning your photography and retouching skills. If you’d rather go through more of a formal process to learn photography, you can start with one of the Learning Guides, such as this one on Exposure. Or you can browse through the photography tutorials and posts by choosing one of the main categories, which includes everything from Adobe Photoshop to Shooting to Speedlights and more.
While the layout of this site is a bit confusing and the design not much to look at, the content is valuable enough to mention. Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about different photography equipment and tools can be found under the “Equipment” tab and the “Reviews” tab. Or you can browse through tips, tricks, and photography tutorials under the “Learning” tab. This site also has a gallery for inspiration and a community forum so that you can post questions or photos for other photographers to critique. Some great posts to start with include “Basic Photo Tips: Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO” and any from the Missing Pages column, which includes advice on everything that should have be included in a camera’s owner manual but isn’t.
Do you have any learning resources to teach yourself photography that you’d like to share? Or maybe you have used one of the sites above to help you learn photography, and you’d like to share your thoughts. Leave a comment below!