With the prices of digital cameras steadily dropping, now is the best time to get into photography. Fifteen years ago, you would need around $1,200 for a mid-level digital camera.

Today, you can buy some of the best DSLR cameras for less than $500. However, owning a camera is not enough to be called a photographer. You would need to learn how to take excellent pictures. Fortunately, there are free photography classes online that can help you.

These free photography classes allow you to learn stuff and upgrade your skills. Some courses allow you to learn at your own pace, while others even offer college credits if you take them. There are a lot of them out there, but not all of them are equal.

How We Chose the Classes on Our List

Since the lines that define artistic photography are quite blurry, breaking into the field of fine art photography can be a challenge. If you’re a beginner keen on pursuing artistic photography as a career or as an interest, the following tips can help you get started on your journey.

To create this handy guide, we looked at several free photography classes suggested by photography blogs, forums, and articles. We considered which ones offered everything you need to know conveniently collated together all in one place. We also examined the credibility of the instructors as well as how easy to understand the lessons are. Then we broke our list down to help you find the right level of class for you.

Free Photography Classes for Beginners

Since the lines that define artistic photography are quite blurry, breaking into the field of fine art photography can be a challenge. If you’re a beginner keen on pursuing artistic photography as a career or as an interest, the following tips can help you get started on your journey.

camera on laptop

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If you are a total beginner to photography, then these classes are the best places to start your learning. After these courses, you would have a thorough understanding of the different parts of your camera.

You would also know the different settings that you could use to take excellent photos. Further, you would know how to get the best conditions that would make your photographs stand out.

Basics of Photography: The Complete Guide

"Basics of Photography: The Complete Guide" is a very comprehensive course. It allows you to learn everything about photography. You can get some tips and tricks, as well as help in developing your techniques. It is also modular, allowing you to skip some topics that you already know.

With this tutorial, you can get a better understanding of how your camera works, its various settings, composing your photo, and editing images. Pay particular attention to the Composition and Technique module, where you can learn the standard guidelines to composition, including how to use the rule of thirds, taking perspective shots, and framing your subjects.

This Lifehacker tutorial also has a section that gives you a long list of additional resources. These resources include books, blog posts, videos and other online tutorials that you can access for free or for a small fee.

Introduction to Digital Photography

"Introduction to Digital Photography" will teach you everything you need to know about photography. This certificate course will tell you more about the history of photography, the parts of your DSLR, and the sensors you are working with, along with other topics.

You will also learn more about copyrights, the rule of thirds, and basic camera settings. This free online class takes about two to three hours to complete and includes assessments and a certificate upon completion.

Your Road to Better Photography

"Your Road to Better Photography" is a free Udemy course that you can get if you are sick and tired of shooting only in Auto mode. The video takes 30 minutes to finish and will help you be familiar with your camera's setting, controlling the lighting, and learning to use your DSLR in full manual mode.

The free class includes the on-demand videos, four related articles, and two field assignments. You will also appreciate the bonus tutorial on Adobe Photoshop retouching.

  • Where to go: Udemy
  • Format: Video

Lighting 101 by Strobist

Lighting can spell the difference between having just a cool Instagram snapshot and creating a work of art. Once you have learned how your camera works, the next thing you should learn is how to get the perfect lighting for your shots. "Lighting 101" is a series of blog posts available at Strobist. These posts help you learn the ins and outs of the topic and use it to get better photographs.

close up photo of the camera lcd

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The content is a bit dated, with the tutorials written way back in 2006. However, the tips and lessons still hold true. You will learn more about how your camera's flash works. Know when you need to use a flash or how to get a basic lighting kit. Further, you will also get some quick and easy lighting techniques, tips, and tricks.

Free Photography Classes for Non-Beginners

Having mastered the basics, you are ready for more advanced lessons. These free photography classes focus more on particular topics and even deal with post-processing. What are the best free online courses for non-beginners?

Contact Sheets: Begin to Take & Select Great Street Photos

"Contact Sheets: Begin to Take & Select Great Street Photos" equips you with the skills you need to think like a good photographer. You will go through the entire photography process including working with a contact sheet.

Learn how to frame a great shot, and getting the most out of any outdoor setting. You will also get some tips on how choosing your best photos. You have two hours of on-demand video content, and you will receive a certificate once you have completed this course.

woman photographer sitting in the road

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Street photography can be a little challenging for some people. With this course, you will get insights on how to approach and work a specific street scene. Part of what you will learn is how to edit and improve these photographs. There are definite examples included in this course, making it easier to understand the discussion.

  • Where to go: Udemy
  • Format: Video

Lectures on Digital Photography

Stanford professor Marc Levoy also works as an engineer at Google. In the spring of 2016, he conducted a series of lectures on photography and recorded all of it. These videos are now available on his website, along with the course materials he used.

These 18 lectures will teach you everything from what's inside your DSLR camera and how it works. Discover how to calculate both the depth-of-focus and depth-of-field values. You can also learn how to create an HDR scene even with a smartphone camera.

Further, you will get to study the works of some of the best photographers in the world to see what makes their photographs great. Additionally, you will also learn why some photos are just wrong so that you can avoid making the same mistakes.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

Photographers know that image editing is a skill that they must have. If you want to improve on a photograph, you can use Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom to tweak images that would otherwise look wrong or lacking. Fortunately, Adobe created a YouTube channel where you learn how to use both programs for your image enhancements and editing.

The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom YouTube channel has a wide variety of free photography classes that teach you how to do specific post-processing tasks and hone your image editing skills.

Some of the videos included in the channel include overview and introduction of the Lightroom interface; importing images from your camera; how to add copyright information into your photos; travel photography tips; and, how to use Lightroom's many features and tools. The best thing about these videos is that they are short so that you can sneak a lesson or two if you have the time.

  • Where to go: YouTube
  • Format: Videos

Professional Family Portraits by Kirk Tuck

Professional photographer Kirk Tuck will teach you proven techniques in taking excellent family portraits. You can learn how to make your subjects feel comfortable, how to compose great shots and even how to get the lighting right, among other things. Tuck will share with you his secrets as to how to make a toddler sit still and look cute, or how to take flattering photos of seniors, wrinkles and all!

This free online class has five lessons all in HD quality videos, with an opportunity to ask your instructor some questions and clarifications during the Q&A session.

  • Where to go: Craftsy
  • Format: Videos


PHLEARN is another go-to site for those who want to learn how to use Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. This site has some informative and free online classes on how to use Photoshop or Lightroom to change colors in a photo, how to add facial hair, or how to remove acne, among other things. With these videos, PHLEARN can teach you how to make your shots even more stunning.

  • Where to go: PHLEARN
  • Format: Videos

How to Find Other Resources

Aside from these free online classes, there are others that you can check out. First off, there is Udemy.com. As an online learning platform, Udemy has a variety of photography classes. Some of these are available for free, while you might need to pay $11.95 or more for the others.

Then you have the courses at CreativeLife On-Air Classes which you can find here. CreativeLife has both free and paid online photography courses. You can catch at least one free photography class per day. These free photography classes cover a wide variety of subjects including video, art, design, photography, image enhancements, and others. The only downside to CreativeLife is that their free content is not available on demand and you would need to RSVP to attend their classes.

ongoing photoshoot

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Alison Free Online Courses and Online Learning is yet another source of tutorial content. This site offers free certificate and diploma courses, including free photography classes that allow you to improve your skills. You can start searching for a free class at this page.

Lastly, you also have the free courses available at PhotographyCourse.net. There are free online courses here for all skill levels, as well as tutorials on various aspects of photography such as composition, flash, and iPhone captures. You will also get introduced to landscape, portrait, travel, and other types of photography.

This site also offers tips and articles that are of interest for budding photographers. Further, you can get a heads up on the paid courses that are available online, including information on photography classes taught by National Geographic and other well-known photographers.

Enjoy Yourself

People have different ways of learning. That is why it would be challenging to pick which one of these free photography classes is the best. When starting out, some beginners prefer going through text-based materials. This way, they would not be forced to pause a video several times so that they could catch up. Others are more visual, and they learn faster when watching a video.

More complicated topics, however, are better taught using video. For instance, it would be tough to write about the various icons and tools that you see on Photoshop's user interface. In cases, like this, it is quicker to show the user what to do.

However, if you are a beginner, you can upgrade your skills and understanding with Lifehacker's "Basics of Photography: The Complete Guide." If you have mastered the basics, then you should learn from Harvard's Armendariz and watch the "Exposing Digital Photography" videos.

Lastly, every photographer should know how to use Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom. For this, there is no better source for tutorials than Adobe itself. Nevertheless, there is no shortage of free photography classes to help you learn. Just remember to enjoy yourself. Photography is fun to learn!

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