Free photography courses for beginners

Keen to take better photos? Learn all the basics and more from experts in the field themselves

Black and white image of a young man taking a photograph indoors

by Emily Farquhar |
Updated on

The new year has just begun, and word has hit the street of the perfect lockdown remedy – beginner photography courses! Yes, that’s you with the smirk and the smartphone. No need to get embarrassed. We all like a nice photo from time to time. Maybe of ourselves, maybe of our dog, or maybe of our new and improved WFH setup. Whatever it is, these courses will certainly get you going and are designed to help you get those angles and just the perfect lighting setup. If it’s not for the gram, I’m sure your partner or friends won’t mind you doing it.

To find out more information on the benefits of online courses, especially during lockdown, read this article: Best online photography courses

Free to complete beginner courses:


Free to complete beginner courses

Reddit - Introduction to Photography Class1 of 4

Reddit - Introduction to Photography Class

This free text-based 'Introduction to Photography Class' course by Adventure Photographer, Alex Buisse, is a simple and fast way to get a basic understanding of the principles of photography. Completely done at your own pace, this course is comprised of 30 lessons perfect for individuals with no prior knowledge and interested in practical over theoretical explanations. Topics range from gear and camera basics to post-processing and photography vision.

School of Visual Arts Video Series2 of 4

School of Visual Arts Video Series

The School of Visual Arts YouTube is another great platform for beginner photographers as it features a series of free and regularly updated presentations from digital photographers, hardware and software developers and industry experts. Full of ideas and inspiration, these experts share their first-hand experience in the industry, giving you plenty of insight and knowledge. I highly recommend watching these tutorials before deciding on of what kind of online course you want to do and the area which interests you the most.

Udemy - Introductory Photography Course3 of 4

Udemy - Introductory Photography Course

Udemy's 'Introductory Photography Course' by Chris Bray is another highly rated free photography course for beginners. With more than 233,000 students, this is a quick under three-hour course ideal for individuals who want to learn how to use the manual settings of their camera and some very basic principles. The overall course is divided into 10 sections, each containing a variety of easy-to-understand examples and demonstrations.

Alison - Introduction to Digital Photography4 of 4

Alison - Introduction to Digital Photography

As part of Alison's Personal Development Activities and Hobbies section, there is a free to complete 'Introduction to Digital Photography' course. With more than 194,000 enrolled students rating it 4.2/5 stars, this credible course will introduce you to the many digital techniques and features of the camera. It should only take two to three hours to complete and offers a digital certificate for an additional €21 on completion. In order to achieve this however, you do need to receive at least 80% on the course assessment.

Paid beginner courses:


Paid beginner courses

Craftsy - Basics of Digital Photography1 of 4

Craftsy - Basics of Digital Photography

Rick Allred in partnership with Santa Fe Photographic Workshops currently has a 'Basics of Digital Photography' course available for $29.99. This too is not including the 40% off discount which brings it down to $17.99. In just over two-hours, you could have a highly rated extra accreditation on your CV with access to the videos and online resources at any time. What stands out to me most with this course is Rick's breakdown of each section, whereby he really goes in depth about lighting, detail and zoom, and teaches you how to maximise these components.

Kelbyone - Beginners Start Here2 of 4

Kelbyone - Beginners Start Here

Scott Kelby at Kelbyone has a 'Beginners Start Here' photography course available. The course usually costs $29 but with the current 50% off all classes, this comes down to just $14.50. Scott covers all the basics and unlike other classes, he gives you recommendations on his favourite camera settings (F-stops) and accessories, making your photos look sharper and better quality. Although there are no reviews of this course, Kelbyone is known for his credibility and stand-out classes.

Skillshare - Fundamentals of DSL Photography3 of 4

Skillshare - Fundamentals of DSL Photography

Skillshare has just partnered with Fashion and Lifestyle Photographer, Justin Bridges, to create a 'Fundamentals of DSL Photography' course shot in New York City. This fresh, up-to-date course gives you an insight into all the best photography techniques, the importance of the exposure pyramid (Shutter Speed, Aperture and ISO) and balancing the exposure triangle. What I love about this course is that you see him in action on the streets and in the studio demonstrating exactly what has been taught. It's real and very practical. With over 84k students and 244 projects, he has been most liked for his 'clarity of instruction', 'helpful examples' and being an 'engaging teacher.' Although you can get a free seven-day trial, this course, alongside many more, will cost a monthly membership fee of £7 per month billed annually or £13 per month billed monthly.

Coursera - Cameras, Exposure, and Photography4 of 4

Coursera - Cameras, Exposure, and Photography

Coursera, being one of the main online learning platforms, it provides an extensive range of internationally recognised courses with some of the best universities in the world. This 18-hour 'Cameras, Exposure, and Photography' course by Michigan State University caught my attention as a great introduction to the full 'Photography Basics and Beyond: From Smartphone to DSLR Specialization'. Read more about this course in the 'Best online photography courses 2021' article. Out of the 4022 total ratings, 96% of the students gave it a thumbs up. If you're a fast learner, Coursera gives you a seven-day free trial to complete the course. However, if not, there will be a running monthly cost of £36 to complete it including a certificate.

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