Photography is an incredible art form that uses captured images to portray emotion, a moment in time, or other human characteristics. Whether you’re a high school student or a professional photographer, this article will reveal some of the best photography courses and degree programs for any level of photographer.
Creating a Portfolio
Before applying to a photography course, it is a good idea to create an online portfolio. If you are already familiar with web design or web development, this will come in very handy. If not, then don’t worry, there are plenty of website builders that can help you create a site that showcases your photography.
When creating your online portfolio, you will want to include your best photography and videography work, write a professional biography for your “About” page, and include links to any social media profile you have that showcase your photography skills, such as Instagram.
A great portfolio will not only help you get into your chosen photography courses, but it can also help you secure scholarships and even get jobs as a freelance photographer. To build your portfolio, start with around 30 to 50 images, and make sure they all succinctly show your style. Then build upon this portfolio throughout the course you are taking by adding relevant photos from classwork and from shoots outside of school that you feel reflect your best work.
Best Beginner Photography Courses
The courses below are for beginner photography students. They are a mixture of online or on-campus education offered at a range of prices. These are the best beginner photography courses.
Introduction to Photography Free Video Tutorials
Introduction to Photography Paid Photography Certificate
This online course will help beginners get a grasp of photography basics. Udemy has a vast range of photography courses for all different levels, but this particular one is for complete beginners.
This might be a good course to take as a high school student if you want to learn basic camera setup and review terms like composition, aperture, white balance, shutter speed, ISO, exposure compensation, and more.
Columbia College Chicago
This on-campus course is also aimed at beginners. Columbia College Chicago is committed to helping students produce fresh images. Students will have access to high-quality equipment, including cameras, studios, lenses, digital software, and printers. This course is great for students of all levels, and also has numerous dark rooms for students to use if they are interested in film photography.
Columbia College Chicago is an excellent place to study photography for several reasons. It is the home of the Museum of Contemporary Photography, where students can enjoy showcases of world-class photography, the school has high-end facilities, and it also offers interesting concentrations in commercial, fine art, and fashion photography.
The University of Arizona
This bachelor of fine arts program teaches a mixture of business and marketing skills and visual arts. Not only will students learn art history, but they will also take courses in traditional darkroom techniques, digital technologies, large-scale photography, color processing, and videography. This well-rounded course will prepare students to become skilled content creators and will give them the entrepreneurial skills to succeed in a career as a photographer.
Best Intermediate Photography Courses
For our intermediate courses, we have chosen a mixture of master’s degree programs and other courses aimed at helping photographers further their careers.
New York Institute of Photography
The New York Institute of Photography is one of the top accredited online photography schools out there. Its online photography classes cover everything an intermediate, professional, and even a beginner photographer needs to know. These courses are also more affordable than a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
The institute has even begun to offer a new graphic design course for those interested in incorporating their photography skills with graphic design. This is a one-stop online shop for all levels and photography interests, so it comes highly recommended if you’re looking to become a well-rounded photographer.
Rochester Institute of Technology
Rochester, New York
The RIT College of Art and Design focuses on photography as a conceptual art form. Graduate students will learn photography history and will create exhibitions and artwork installations. This is an intermediate course for graduates whose passion is a combination of art and photography.
Gnomon School of Visual Effects
Gnomon’s Digital Photography course is for students who want to learn the basics of digital photography within visual effects and the video game industry. This is for students who are more interested in computer software programs like Adobe than holding a camera.
Students will learn color grading, color correction, photographing textures for use in 3D, working with raw camera files, spherical panoramic photography, high-dynamic-range imaging, and post-production workflow.
Academy of Art University
San Francisco, California
This private art academy has a fully online photography course in which students can gain either an associate of arts, bachelor of fine arts, master of arts or master of fine arts degree, or a certificate. Students will learn the history of photography, will practice Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, and will study lighting, portraiture, digital printing techniques, portfolio building, business practices, and more.
Parsons School of Design
New York City
Master of Fine Arts in Photography
This graduate degree is an on-campus course. Parsons has long-standing ties to New York City’s photography and art community, which means that while attending, students will have world-class opportunities for internships, exhibitions, and research.
The course also gives students the ability to work with other students in related programs such as graphic design, fine arts, technology, and illustration, to collaborate on interdisciplinary projects.
The Best Professional Photography Courses
For photographers who already professionals, here are some key courses that can help you learn new skills to advance your career.
Advanced Digital Photography (Online)
PhD in Film and Visual Studies (On-campus)
Harvard’s online photography course uses cutting edge technology to further students’ knowledge. Students will learn software, workflow, color management, and photographic storytelling through photojournalism, documentary, and art photography.
Online Subscription App
MasterClass is an online app that provides masterclasses by talented professionals. This is great for anyone looking to brush up on some skills and learn from one of the masters, Annie Leibovitz, in this 15-class video content course.
You can attend the course with a monthly subscription payment that you can end when you have finished the class. In this portrait photography class, Annie brings you into her studio and on her shoots to teach you everything she knows about portraiture and telling stories through her images.
International Center of Photography (ICP)
ICP is one of the best photography schools in the world, with thousands of classes and more than 700 exhibitions under its belt. Whether you want to learn about color, tone and contrast, or photojournalism within vulnerable communities, or techniques of the lumen print process, ICP has an online course for you. It is open to all levels of photographers and has some of the most in-depth professional-level courses.
Should I Sign Up for a Photography Course?
There are plenty of paid and free courses online, as well as in-person degrees and certificate courses for photography students. Whether you should take a photography course depends on how much you love photography.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a photographer with only a high school diploma earns a median wage of $36,280 per year. So, if you gain more specialized skills, your income will also rise.
If you love photography, from the processes of lighting and editing photographs to working with people, then it may be a great idea to study photography. Use this guide to the best photography courses to help steer your research, and we wish you a picture-perfect career.