Photography classes

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by NickCyprus, Sep 8, 2014.

  1. NickCyprus

    NickCyprus Super Moderator

    Oct 11, 2012
    Cyprus
    Nick
    I'd like to hear everyone's opinion about photography classes and for those who've taken some what you feel they offered you...
     
  2. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Austria
    You asked for opinions, so ...

    I think they're not worth a penny. Yes, I like learning from more advanced photographers to improve my art. So why do I think photography classes are pointless?

    1. Many of the teaching photographers are not very good photogs either. I've seen some of the portfolios of teaching photographers where a friend of me took classes, and they were mediocre at best.

    2. Many classes are simply stupid. The teaching photog sets up the lights, tells the model what to do, tells you which settings to choose and how to edit the shot. So what are you doing? Right, pressing the shutter. A monkey can do that. And while the teacher will explain to you why he does, with such a setup I can as well watch a YouTube tutorial for free rather than investing time and money in a class.

    So I'm convinced that most photography classes are not worth the investment of both time and money. This does not mean that there aren't any classes I'd attend. Trey Ratcliff's landscape class seems quite impressive. And Luminous Landscapes Alaska photography tour looks totally stunning. But I can't afford flying to Australia, and I don't have €15k for the LL class either. So I'll just stay at home - or rather go out and practice myself. I learn more this way than by attending any class of a wanna-be pro photog around here, and I save time and money.
     
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  3. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    Dave
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  4. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    I think it depends on what you're trying to learn. I agree with Poki that learning "how to be a photographer" classes are often less than useful. But like Dave, I've learned an awful lot by taking online seminars at the Nik Software website, and from the tutorials at the AdobeTV website. I might consider a photography class that would take me to some place that I've always wanted to see (like Antarctica, if I could afford it), but chances are that I would have more fun if I just went by myself.
     
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  5. shotupdave

    shotupdave TalkEmount Regular

    114
    Jul 22, 2014
    Torrance, CA
    Dave
    Years ago when I was still shooting film, I want to one the the now defunct "Great American Photography Weekend" classes with a very well known nature photographer. I could not have been more disappointed. The lecture and the photos he showed us was just a repeat what I had read in his book. When it came to being in the field he disappeared only to reappear during the critique period. I ended up leaving after the first full day to explore Austin on my own.

    Now I see many well known photographers running seminars, writing books and pushing gear that will not actually help photographers or is out of the price range of the average photographer. I will not say any names but how many people can afford to have 6 to 10 nikon speed lights on a c-stand!
     
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  6. shaolin95

    shaolin95 TalkEmount Top Veteran

    942
    Jul 3, 2013
    This is an interesting topic as I considered classes before then decided not to.
    Although I am still trying to figure out the best way to gain experience for wedding photography.
    Maybe thought about tagging along as an "intern" for a wedding or 2 with some good photographer in the area or something..not sure. :)
     
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  7. MizOre

    MizOre TalkEmount Regular

    84
    Jan 18, 2014
    Nicaragua
    The unfortunate thing is that many people can make more money teaching inspirational classes to people who want to become professionals at one thing or another. I know more about the writing end of this, but can't imagine from the other comments that photography is that much different, and had a neighbor who went into debt for an associates degree in photography that misrepresented what she'd be making after she graduated.

    For some people, going to workshops is their hobby, being around someone famous in the field, spending time with people who share the hobby.
     
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  8. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    Dave

    Once you get the basic down like many of the online tutorials offer, then what?

    One of these popular classes might be fun and a way to socializing, but you don't get a lot of personal time. Many Community Universities offer classes, these might be helpful. The best would be what shaolin suggests. Try and find an experienced photographer and see if you can take along.

    I could see taking one of those adventure photography trips, but then again, I might not want to be surrounded by a bunch of "Photography" buffs:p
     
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  9. quezra

    quezra TalkEmount Top Veteran

    916
    Aug 22, 2012
    I think some of us here (and you particularly Poki ;-)) have exceeded what you could learn from a "photography class". My actual worry back in the early days of learning was that I didn't have a DSLR, so I never went. And by the time I was using an A7 I was already a M mode user so it's not like I needed tips on setting my exposure triangle. The only thing that is really hard to learn is composition I think - nowadays exposure is pretty easy to figure out between Zebra, Histogram and the EVF "live view always on". And just like anything you learn in school, not all teaching styles suit all personalities. But I can see why DSLR users need some help with setting up the camera to shoot well through an OVF.

    Personally, if I signed up for a Photography class, it would be more to observe the thinking process behind framing, and I would look precisely for classes featuring composition high up on their list of things they teach.
     
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  10. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    It's a well-known rule that when traveling in groups, there will always be the one who turns out to be "the a**hole." And the corollary to that rule is that, if after a couple of days you can't easily determine who the a**hole is, then it must be you. ;)
     
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  11. NickCyprus

    NickCyprus Super Moderator

    Oct 11, 2012
    Cyprus
    Nick
    Thanks for all the replies :thumbup:


    Here's a short story of my situation which made me think starting this topic:

    I got into photography about 2 years ago. I took the online courses like Dave suggested above which like Joel and Dave said pretty much covers the theory/basics of photography.I have some good friends that are pro photographers. I'm not in any way a pro photographer but I mostly like my photos ( lol :D ) and feel confident with myself about the theoritical stuff so I'd hate to be in a class and just listen about aperture, ISO, exposure etc (ie. the basics). What I want to gain from a photography class is improvement of my composition and technique so I develop my own personal style.

    So I asked a photographer friend of mine. I have two options: one is the local club's photography class (significally cheaper but unfortunately cause it has so many students - most of who are newbs that don't even know the basics - it consentrates more into the basics/theoritical and not so much practise). The other one is a private photographer class which is twice the cost but because there are 5-10 people attending (most of which are amateurs that know the basics) the teacher is more helpful individually and the class offers lots of field/studio practise.

    Now while until here it sounds like an obvious choice my problem is that I've seen work of the teacher and can't say that I'm astonished/insiped with it (if you know what I mean :D ). Her classes start end of September (so I have about 10 days to decide) and I attended today her "open day" meeting where we talked a bit about what she does, the cost etc but I'm still not quite convinced I want to spend the money, energy and time and if it will be worth it for me...
     
  12. José De Bardi

    José De Bardi Assistant in Virtue

    Aug 31, 2013
    Dorset, UK
    José
    I wouldn't pay any money to anyone for any class - photography or otherwise. There is so much free info out there, and always a friend, or a friend of a friend if you want some face to face advice. I have taught myself photography simply through trial and error, asking friends to be models, and asking the couple of pro tog's I know for a bit of advice once in a while. So far I'm quite happy with what I have produced, I like it, and I get nice comments from friends/family/you guys - what else matters!

    You take some great shots Nick, not sure why you feel the need to line someone else's pockets to advance yourself, especially as you are so unsure about it and you already know the principles, just go and practice.
     
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  13. markoneswift

    markoneswift TalkEmount Veteran

    390
    Oct 17, 2012
    This is an interesting thread, so I will share my thoughts for what they are worth :) I'm now capable of taking photos that please me ( and hopefully others, occasionally lol ) and I've had no classes what so ever. I learned quite a bit from my dad, who has a set of 35mm Pentax bodies and lenses which had always fascinated me as a kid.

    I joined a local 'camera club' which was run by a retired 'professional' ( aka does weddings on a weekend ) photographer and it wasn't very good. The guy who ran it basically rubbished everything that wasn't Nikon and told most of other older club members that they should throw out their P&S cameras and buy a real one ( as long as it was Nikon ). When I rocked in with my NEX, I was nearly laughed out of the room because I had 'downgraded' from a more superior Canon 500D ( which was still inferior to the Nikon boys - yeah, right !).

    So all I have learned about photography has either been handed down by people genuinely enjoy sharing their knowledge and experience ( such as the fine folks on this here forum ), relatives, friends and most of all - Google. If I want to know what something does, I Google it. Or I ask a question in a Flickr group, or post on here. I've learned heaps and still got lots to learn, but I don't need expensive classes and so-called clubs run by wannabees :)
     
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  14. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    USA
    Based on the closing paragraph above...IMO, the old saying applies: "Trust your instincts"
    I believe you already know your answer
    :)

    For me personally, I like the challenge of trying to pretty-much learn and get up to speed by myself as best I can, without being told "now do it this way, now do that", etc. And as others have mentioned, the good news is there's a wealth of information at our fingertips on the Internet...to say nothing of good Forums like this one. So I personally have no interest in pursuing any classes to teach me "about" photography.

    In the case of "applying" photography to an activity or event where there are customer expectations...ie: shooting weddings"...I could see the need to learn about that "market" and "customer expectations" so to speak...the traditional types of shots that all weddings usually have as a minimum set, then get other ideas for some new non-traditional shots.....but that's really "applying" photography skills to a market, as opposed to leaning photography.

    So no...I wouldn't be interested in taking a class to learn to take photographs...not trying to sound "corny" but Mother Nature is my classroom every day...I just need to show up and keep at it.
    :)
     
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  15. markoneswift

    markoneswift TalkEmount Veteran

    390
    Oct 17, 2012
    Bear in mind that as photography is 'painting with light', there is no right or wrong. There's no right or wrong way to sketch a bowl of fruit, or paint a sunset. It's subjective and if it makes you happy, you're doing it right :)
     
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  16. shotupdave

    shotupdave TalkEmount Regular

    114
    Jul 22, 2014
    Torrance, CA
    Dave
    I had a photography teacher in college who told me, he can create a photography technician but he can never create a photographer. That comes with practice and someone with a artistic eye.
     
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  17. Bill

    Bill TalkEmount Veteran

    339
    Oct 22, 2012
    Brisbane, Australia
    Bill
    Try "free" first

    There's a wealth of material on YouTube. You have to kiss a few frogs (more like a peck on the cheek), to find the better stuff.

    Some videos are about photographers, but have some nuggets inside. I've highlighted a couple of my blog pages that have embedded YouTube videos.
    For Lightroom and Photoshop, Julieanne Kost (of Adobe) has a blog with many instructional videos.
    Luminous Landscape has four categories under the heading "articles" that are very useful: "Essays," "Techniques," "Tutorials" and the "Understanding Series."
    As DPReview reported, MIT has material available for free:
    "Independent learners and photo course leaders are invited to take advantage of a range of educational materials prepared by professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Via the institute’s Open Course Ware (OCW) program, selected reference materials, syllabus structure and lesson plan guidance is published and free to download so that motivated individuals can teach themselves."


    Almost forgot Bambi Cantrell. She a wedding photographer (and there's nothing wrong with that), but most of her advice is general,-- particularly to portraits:

     
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  18. ChangshaNotes

    ChangshaNotes Super Moderator

    Aug 15, 2012
    China
    Colin
    It's always good to have the voice of experience.

    Thank you sir.
     
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  19. ChangshaNotes

    ChangshaNotes Super Moderator

    Aug 15, 2012
    China
    Colin
    I have no experience with classes so can't comment on whether I think they are worth it or not. However, I don't believe I could learn anything more about the technical aspects in a class than I can from forums like here and online information as well as trial and error. As for the artistic side; I can't imagine why I would take a class in any form of art if I didn't think the artists own work wasn't any good or even just a style that I wasn't interested in.

    Now a photoshop workshop might be useful. I haven't got a clue how to use that @$%#^& thing at all.
     
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  20. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    What a pleasure it must be for everyone else when they see you board the bus. ;)
     
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