Best Photography Lighting & Flash Online Courses

Whether you're just starting to explore the world of off-camera lighting or are an experienced strobe user looking to try some new techniques, here are some of the best places to find online photography lighting courses.

Off-camera lighting can be intimidating to get into, and it’s a hard area to get started with just trial and error. It’s much more effective to have a guided start. Whether you’re just starting to explore the world of off-camera lighting or are an experienced strobe user looking to try some new techniques, here are some of the best places to find online photography lighting courses that I’ve come across.

We can’t be out and about shooting at the moment, so it’s a good opportunity to make productive use of the time by learning something new or diving deeper on an existing photographic skill. All from the safety and comfort of our own homes.

I’ve previously posted a more general list of some of the best online photography courses and another on Lightroom tutorials and classes, but I thought it worth putting something together on using flashes, speedlights, and off-camera lighting.

Lighting, of course, is a huge topic. I’m focusing here on using off-camera lighting of various types, from speedlights, LEDs, and strobes. And the courses below are aimed at various lighting skill levels, from beginner to advanced. So whether you’re just starting to explore the world of off-camera lighting or are an experienced strobe user looking to try some new techniques, here are some of the best places to find photography lighting courses that I’ve come across.

Some of these are good places to find individual, bite-sized tips. Others have more structured courses and classes. But they’re mostly go-at-your-own-pace, on your own schedule, and there are no exams. Most of these are video courses–online teaching has come a long way in recent years. But I’ve added some extra analog resources (or, at least, text- and image-based, at the bottom of the page).

This is a running list that I’ll add to and update over time. By all means, please suggest any that you think would make worthy additions.

Westcott University

No, Westcott University is not really an accredited university. It’s a library of lighting tutorials created by one of the leading brands in lighting gear, Westcott. While the focus is on making creative use of their gear, there’s some really impressive content on there from a bunch of leading photographers.

There are some suitable for beginners, but many of the tutorials are geared more toward working photographers. They’re free.

Lighting tutorials worth a look:

Strobist

A few years ago, Strobist was the place to go for off-camera speedlights. Most of the content there is text-based, but the information is still top-notch. But there’s since been a boom in online learning elsewhere making use of higher production values and expensively-sourced content.

That said, for free resources on using off-camera flash, Strobist is hard to beat.

Lighting 101 from Strobist focuses particularly on minimalist lighting setups. It doesn’t have the fancy interface of some other newer options, but the information is top-notch. And once you finish Lighting 101, you can follow up with Lighting 102 and Lighting 103, both also free.

CreativeLive Online Lightroom Courses

CreativeLive, unsurprisingly based on the name, focuses on courses in creative fields such as illustration, art, design, music, and photography. They have a broad range of top-notch photography courses, but I’m focusing here on courses related to off-camera lighting. And that’s something that they’re especially good on. They even have some with Joe McNally.

These are slickly produced classes, and you can watch them online through a web browser or on a mobile device using the CreativeLive app.

It’s mostly a paid service (there are some free classes, with the offerings rotated fairly regularly). Courses are sold individually or as part of an all-access Creator Pass (TIP: You get a better deal if you prepay for a year).

Lighting courses worth a look:

Profoto Academy

Put out by another leading lighting gear brand, Profoto Academy has some high-quality lighting classes across a range of different fields of photography.

In this case, they’re paid courses—and with premium pricing. But with some of the higher-priced courses, you get more than just the video–you also get direct feedback from the instructor. But Profoto is a premium lighting brand, and the higher prices of these courses overall probably make them a better fit for working photographers and aspiring professionals. You can also buy individual classes from a course (the courses are structured as bundles of classes, each of which is also sold individually).

They’re not all just about using high-end lighting equipment (although there are, of course, handy lists of the Profoto products you’ll see in action in the course). For example, one area you might not expect is their series of lighting smartphone photography.

Lighting courses worth a look:

SkillShare Online Lightroom Courses

SkillShare is another course library that has very high-quality classes and is especially geared toward creative fields. They don’t have as many lighting-specific classes as CreativeLive, but there are still some good ones worth checking out. (They also have several focusing specifically on natural light, if that’s more your style.)

It’s a paid service. There’s a 2-month free trial, after which it converts to a paid subscription.

Lighting courses worth a look:

KelbyOne

Scott Kelby has built a mini-empire teaching photography. He’s also the author of some of the best-selling books on digital photography.

His main website, KelbyOne, has some very good online courses on all manner of photography topics. The lighting/category, for instance, currently comes up with 245 results. They’re offered as a paid subscription plan, so once you become a member, you get access to everything.

Lighting classes worth a look:

LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn Learning is the new name. You might know it better by its old name: Lynda.com. It’s a paid service, but some local public library systems maintain a subscription for their users, so it’s worth checking that out.

Lighting courses worth a look:

Gavin Hoey’s Fearless Flash Photography with Speedlights

I’ve long been a fan of Gavin Hoey’s work. While he sometimes ventures out into the field, his specialty is making the most of a small home studio, particularly with lighting. He has a knack for explaining lighting in straightforward and friendly ways.

This course is right up his alley: explaining in a straightforward and approachable way a topic that can seem intimidating: using off-camera flash. Commendably, he doesn’t do it with thousands of dollars worth of expensive studio equipment; the things he shows in this class will work with even the most inexpensive camera flashes and help you produce results quickly.

I’ve posted a more detailed review of this course here. It’s best for those just starting out with off-camera flash.

You can find the series here (on Vimeo). It’s $35 for Stream + Download Anytime access.

YouTube

Of course, the first place most of us go for videos these days is YouTube. And you can find some great how-to guides on there. Much of it is bite-sized rather than structured courses, focusing on specific problem-solving or a specific task. The quality and reliability can be hit and miss, but there’s some really helpful content on there mixed in. So it’s worth exploring on there to see if there are any particular channels that you like.

Here are some channels that have very good content on lighting:

Share