Best Online Photography Classes & Courses

Whether you’re looking to brush up, dive deeper, or learn a new photographic skill, here’s a roundup of some of the best online classes and courses for photographers.

Online Photography Courses
Last Updated:
Filed Under: Tips
Topics: Learning

I MAY get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

It’s always a good time to learn something new from the comfort of our own homes. Whether you’re limited in where you can get out and about (like we all have the past couple of years), you’ve got some downtime between clients, or the weather is just cold and uninviting outside, learning something new about photography is a wonderful way to turn that time into something productive that makes you a better photographer and improve your photography skills.

Books are certainly good–I’m a big fan of books–but there’s a lot to be said for online video classes, where you can watch the processes in action and see the results. Video is just a good way to learn photography.

Whether you’re looking to brush up, dive deeper, or learn a new photographic skill, here’s a roundup of some of the best online photography classes and courses. I’ve also posted a companion rundown that focuses specifically on the best Lightroom tutorials and online classes and another on lighting and flash online courses.

These are go-at-your-own-pace online photography courses. So you can do them in pieces, 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, so it’s a much better and more interactive experience than simply binge-watching YouTube videos (not that that’s a bad thing either!). And they work on desktops, laptops, tablets, and phones. I’m particularly a fan of taking my iPad along while I’m working out on the treadmill or elliptical.

And I’ve included a range of examples here–you can find anything from an introduction to digital photography course, to specialized classes on landscape photography or portrait photography, to classes gear to aspiring photographers looking to break into a new career, to courses geared more toward established professional photographers. Some focus on technical aspects, some on business aspects, and you can even find ones to help you overcome a natural hesitancy to approach subjects on the street.

It really is quite amazing how the offerings have blossomed in the past few years.

This is a running list that I’ll try to add to and update over time.

CreativeLive Online Photography Courses

CreativeLive online photography courses and classes screenshot

CreativeLive is one of my favorite sources for online photography courses. I’ve been a paying subscriber for a couple of years now. As you’d expect from the name, their overall focus generally is on creative fields, including art and design, craft and maker, music and audio, and, yes, photo and video.

You can sign up for a free trial here. And you can find the full listing of CreativeLive’s photography classes here.

For creatives, and especially for photographers, their offerings are particularly rich. They’re aimed at us, and they speak our language. There are instructional how-tos on technique such as lighting and technical guides, to engagement photography and documentary photography, and an entire course on how to start a photography business, something that’s especially well-suited for anyone who dreams of quitting their job and going into a career change in professional photography.

Topics range from fundamentals of photography—including the basics of exposure and depth of field—to advanced lessons on techniques to post-processing in Lightroom to how to start a photography business and win new paying assignments. There are classes on portrait photography, studio lighting, tabletop photography, and posing models. There are even fast-start guides for some camera models.

Highlights for me include the classes by Joe McNally where you get to shadow him in a street portrait shoot, but there are many other excellent photographers leading the classes.

You can buy photography classes individually, in topic bundles, or an all-access subscription. If you plan to take advantage of more than a few classes, the Creator Pass is a good value—that’s what I have—and you can be billed monthly or get a substantial discount if you prepay for an annual pass.

There are plenty of courses suitable for anyone from those just trying to get a handle on learning photography basics to professional photographers.

If you’d like to try a class out, they offer quite a few free photography lessons that give you a good taste.

You can watch the classes online on your desktop through a web browser or with the mobile/tablet app (I often watch them on my phone at the gym).

Here are some of CreativeLive’s digital photography courses that are worth a look:

They also have some very good bundles suited to photographers of different levels and interests. Here are some examples:

Beginner Classes on Digital Photography

SkillShare Online Classes for Photographers

SkillShare Online Classes for Photographers screenshot

SkillShare is another very large library of online courses with an emphasis on creative fields. I’m a new subscriber to SkillShare, and I’ve been very impressed so far. The videos and interfaces are high-quality and easy to use. And the content has a freshness and relevance that I like.

You can try it out for two weeks free, after which it converts to a paid subscription. You can find the photography classes here. You can get 1 free month of Skillshare to try it out, after which it converts to a paid subscription.

Their offerings are diverse and have a very fresh and lively feel. And rather than multi-part courses, as such, they focus more on individual classes. Some might be as short as 20 minutes; others run an hour or two. So it’s less of a commitment, and it’s much easier to fit in between all the other stuff you have going on.

That means that in addition to broader topics like photography essentials, street photography techniques, or studio lighting, you can get bite-sized classes on some very interesting and specialized topics (e.g., Portrait Photography on the Street: Connecting with Strangers, DIY Concrete-Looking Backdrops for Product Photography, or Cafe Photography for Instagram: Telling Visual Stories with Emotional Cafe Photos).

They have a broad range of courses suitable for beginner photographers through professional photographers.

Classes worth a look:

KelbyOne Online Photography Classes

KelbyOne Online Photography Courses

KelbyOne is a learning hub created by Scott Kelby. Something that sets it apart from the other options here is that it specializes only on photography.

Topics run the gamut of photography niches, from commercial photography, to wildlife photography, to sports to family to fashion to food to portraits, and more. The course offerings are particularly deep on Photoshop and Lightroom. At the time I’m writing this, there are 917 courses listed in the catalog.

There’s plenty of content by photographers like Joe McNally, Moose Peterson, Dave Black and a host of other great photographers. Much of it consists of courses, but there are also interviews and workshops. There are plenty of short tutorials–some only seconds long–for features of Photoshop and Lightroom, the areas where Scott Kelby originally rose to prominence. And, of course, Kelby’s webcasts (The Grid and The Gallery). So it’s a good mix of content, ranging from in-depth courses to topical conversation.

The content is excellent overall. It is let down a little by the user interface–the web browser version is okay, but still not as polished as some of the others listed here. And the mobile app is poor. But the unique content makes up for it.

Courses can be bought individually, or you sign up for membership. Plus membership gives you access to roughly half the courses; the Pro membership gives you unlimited access and has a number of other perks. You can go month-to-month or annually (which gives you a better deal). You can find the current rates and benefits here.

Udemy Online Photography Classes

Udemy Online Photography Courses

Udemy takes a more crowd-sourced approach to its courses, but it’s still nowhere near the free-for-all you get on something like YouTube.

You can find their photography courses here.

Courses are sold individually, and you can get a sense of the quality of each of them through student enrollment numbers and star ratings. The a la carte approach means you’re not on the hook for a subscription, and you don’t have the obligation to use it hanging over you.

LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn Learning Photography Courses

If the name LinkedIn Learning doesn’t ring a bell, that’s because it’s much better known by its old name: Workplace-focused social media platform LinkedIn bought a while back and rebranded it.

They have a 1-month free trial, which leads to a monthly subscription (it’s cheaper if you pre-pay a year at a time).

It has an enormous library of courses spanning diverse types of work. They’re especially famous for their business (Excel spreadsheet tips, anyone?), web development, coding, and marketing courses, but they also have deep libraries of material on photography.

There are sections on lighting, compositing, and retouching, and they’re especially strong in the software-focused fields of post-processing, editing, and digital asset management.

One area where LinkedIn Learning stands out for photographers is in the non-photography classes that can be put to good use. A perfect example is the web development section. While some of it is too advanced to be of much interest for the average casual photographer user, there’s much there that can be put to good use in sprucing up and optimizing a photography website.

Tip: Some local public library systems maintain a subscription to LinkedIn Learning for their patrons—mine does. So it’s worth checking whether that’s an option in your local area–you might be able to get full access for free!

MasterClass Online Photography Courses

MasterClass Online Photography Courses

MasterClass goes for highly selective and the high-end of the market. They don’t have the same kind of breadth and depth of offerings as some of the other options on this page, but what they do have is quite unique.

Their focus is on a select group of superstar masters in their fields. Think Ron Howard for filmmaking. Or Dr. Jane Goodall conservation. Or Anna Wintour on creativity and leadership. Or Gordon Ramsay teaching cooking. So in any given field, the range is somewhat narrow, but it’s unusually rich and unique. They’ve gone to a lot of effort to focus on true leaders in any given field—a kind of dream list of teachers.

For photography masterclasses, they have top-tier talent like Annie Liebovitz and Jimmy Chin.

Access is sold as a monthly subscription that gives you access to all classes across all fields.

It’s suitable for photographers of any level, but the approach isn’t so much practical hands-on nuts-and-bolts as it is more general insights into the approaches and inspiration. So you’re not going to get much help on what camera settings to use, but you might pick up some great big-picture insights on vision and approach.

Summerana Photography Academy

Summerana Academy

Summerana is an especially good option for established or aspiring portrait, family, engagement, and wedding photographers. Their classes and focus is especially strong in that area.

In addition to their video course and workshops, they also have a lot of products such as Lightroom presets and Photoshop actions, digital backdrops, and so on.

You can check out their courses here.

Best Online Photography Classes: Specialized Topics

There’s an enormous number of online photography classes on specific topics. Here are some that have caught my eye that focus on the shooting that can be done without venturing out and about.

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 get you results quickly. And I particularly like that he strips things back to basics with manual mode, something that, counterintuitively, can often make the results from flash photography much more reliable and consistent.

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

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

Best Online Photography Courses: Free Classes

Several of the paid options mentioned above include trials or a smattering of free samples. What I’m focusing on here are classes and courses that are mostly or entirely free.

YouTube. The first stop for free instruction, as true for photography as just about any other field, is YouTube. You can find an enormous range of

As with everything on YouTube, quality varies, and it can be a bit hit and miss, but it’s well worth subscribing to some channels to try them out. As they say, what do you have to lose?

I’ve found some excellent guides put up by individual photographers, and there are great collections sponsored by channels such as AdoramaTV and B&H Photo.

Alison Online Courses on Photography. Alison focuses more generally on certificate and diploma classes. They have some useful free courses ranging from beginner to advanced.

Commercial Photography: Still and Moving Image from Norwich University of the Arts is a certificate course spanning four weeks with 3 hours per week. As you’d expect from the title, it’s quite specialized and is best suited to someone already in the sub-field or trying to break into it.

Introduction to Photography and Related Media from MIT’s Open Courseware initiative. This is an online version of MIT’s nuts-and-bolts photography course focusing on fundamentals. It’s more self-directed than some of the other options here in that you can download the syllabus and course materials but will have to figure out how to best make use of them yourself.

Documentary Photography and Photojournalism: Still Images of a World in Motion at MIT. Part of MIT’s Open Courseware initiative. It is geared toward aspiring photojournalists and documentary photographers. Like the introductory class above, you can download the syllabus and course materials but will have to rely on self-guided discovery.

Lighting 101 from Strobist focuses on lighting, with a particular focus 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.

Wrap Up

Whether you’re trying to become a portrait photographer or break into the world of fashion photography, there’s an incredibly rich selection of online photography courses available. And they range from catering to complete beginners, to intermediate photographers, to working photographers. So whatever your current expertise and knowledge, there are plenty of great opportunities to take your photography to the next level and take better photos.

FAQs for Online Photography Courses

Are these online photography courses suitable for beginners?

Some are. And some are aimed at more advanced photographers. The courses listed here cater to a wide range of skill levels, including beginners. Many courses offer foundational instruction in photography techniques, camera settings, and composition. Whether you’re looking for guidance on how to use ISO or shutter speed best, or trying to structure your professional photography business more efficiently, the odds are good that you’ll be able to find some good courses.

Do I need any specific equipment or software to take these courses?

The equipment and software requirements vary depending on the course. Some courses focus on using specific cameras, while others may require image editing software. Course descriptions will provide the necessary details.

Can I complete these courses at my own pace?

Most of the online photography courses listed on the website are self-paced, allowing you to complete them at your convenience. However, some courses may have specific start and end dates or deadlines for assignments.

Are there any in-person components to these courses?

The majority of the courses listed are completely online, with no in-person components. Any exceptions will be clearly indicated in the course descriptions.

How much do these online photography courses cost?

The cost of each course varies. Some courses are available for free, while others require a one-time payment or a subscription fee. Pricing details can be found in each course description.

Will I receive a certificate upon completion of a course?

Some courses offer a certificate of completion, but this varies by course provider. Please refer to the specific course description for information on certification.

What is the duration of these courses?

Course duration varies depending on the content and format. Some courses can be completed in a few hours, while others may take several weeks or months to finish. The course descriptions will provide an estimated time commitment.

Can I interact with the instructor or other students during the course?

Some courses provide opportunities for interaction with instructors and fellow students through forums, live Q&A sessions, or group projects. The level of interaction depends on the course format and provider.

David Coleman / Photographer

David Coleman

I'm a professional freelance travel photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. My images have appeared in numerous publications, and you can check out some of my travel photography here. More »