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Best online photography courses on Udemy

An online photography course is a great way of becoming a better snapper

Want to be a better photographer? Of course you do. And while there’s no substitute for hands-on experience, a little expert assistance never goes amiss – and an online photography course is a great way to get that.

Udemy – the global marketplace for online learning – has more than 65,000 expert-led courses, of which no small number focus on photography. Need to get started with the more technical elements of snapping? Want to learn about off-camera flash, or landscape photography? Udemy has you covered.

But with over 300 courses covering a wide range of photographic disciplines – and at prices ranging from literally free to around the £200 mark – it’s worth giving a little thought to which one you want to sign up for. Here’s our pick of the best tutorials across a range of photographic disciplines, to help you find the one that’s perfect for your skill level and your ambitions.

How to find the best online photography course for you on Udemy

A good photography course, whether online or in person, will take your photography up a level. Even if you’re relatively experienced in a particular genre, you should hopefully still be able to get some decent tips or a fresh perspective, so courses that seem to cover familiar ground could still be worthwhile.

The important question is what you want to learn. Udemy is particularly useful for the more technical aspects of photography: snappers looking to take better pictures of food, or of architecture at night will find rich pickings. If you’re already comfortable with your camera, Udemy also offers a wealth of courses in processing your images in Lightroom and Photoshop courses. And for those looking to go semi-professional, there are plenty of courses aimed at helping photographers take the next step into the commercial side of photography.

How long should the course take?

Of course, the value of a photographic course isn’t solely measured in hours – but length is a clue to how much ground you can expect to cover, and for beginners, a longer course is likely to be better value for money than a short one. However, if you’re looking for specialist, specific techniques, a concise, hour-long course by a tutor with in-depth experience and knowledge might be of more use to you than a 12-hour course in general photography.

Can I share notes with other students?

Udemy’s star ratings are a great way of seeing how a course is received – but it’s also worth checking the size of the community you’ll be joining.

If a course has many thousands of subscribers, that’s not only a sign of quality, it also means there’s a decent-sized community of students, who can leave questions for instructors and discuss the topics among themselves. A large community can be just as valuable as the course itself.

READ NEXT: Found the perfect photography course on Udemy? Put what you’ve learnt into practice with these amazingly affordable DSLRs, from just £350

The best online photography courses on Udemy from £20

1. Travel Photography: Take Beautiful Photos on Your Adventures

Price: £89 | Take the course on Udemy

Hosted by Phil Ebiner and boasting a packed audience of almost 25,000 students, this guide to travel photography covers far more than just how to keep sand out of your camera. Its 38 lectures – taking around five hours in all – cover a huge variety of topics, and are ideal for beginner photographers who want to get the most from their travels. Ebiner covers general questions such as choosing the right camera and beginning to use its manual mode, then moves on to specific advice on shooting nature and landscapes, portraits of people and so on. There’s also a chapter on image editing, which focuses almost exclusively on Lightroom.

The format isn’t groundbreaking – it’s mostly example images with Ebiner as a talking head – but the videos are easy to understand and cover a good range of styles, making this a great one-size-fits-all course. While the emphasis is on travel, it’s instructive and enlightening no matter what sort of photography you’re interested in.

Key specs: 38 lectures across five hours; 24,800 subscribers; automatically closed-captioned

2. Beginning Family Portrait Photography: Shoot Like a Pro

Price: £19.99 | Take the course on Udemy

Many learners are keen to get “better pictures of the kids” – and twenty quid is a small price to pay for two hours of professional tutelage. Hosted by Valerie Goettsch in a straightforward talking-head-and-slides format, Beginning Family Portrait Photography covers everything from the difference between crop- and full-frame cameras to the effect of aperture size on depth-of-field.

The best bits are where Goettsch speaks specifically about portrait photography. A wealth of made-for-the-course examples illustrate her points clearly, and her advice about understanding and making use of natural lighting is hugely valuable for all types of photography. There’s also a section on Lightroom which covers the basics of importing and organising images, plus portrait-related skills such as getting white teeth, natural skin tones and so on. Quizzes at the end of most sections of the course allow you to check you’re making progress, and since each section is only around three to five minutes long, it’s a great course to dip in and out of.

Even better, Goettsch herself is active on her course’s message boards, providing students with direct, simple answers to a wide range of questions. Money well spent for anyone looking to sharpen up pictures of their family.

Key specs: 36 lectures across two hours; 2,000 subscribers; automatically closed-captioned

3. Mac Photos 2: Organize, Edit and Share Photos On Your Mac

Price: £49.99 | Take the course on Udemy

Fifty quid for a course relating to a free app might seem a little steep – but macOS’ built-in photo-organisation and editing software is deeper and more capable than you might realise. Gary Rosenzweig’s course comprises 41 lectures over three and a half hours, and covers all the common photographic tasks: importing images from a camera, using iCloud’s photo library, organising images automatically, using face recognition and manually adding keywords or using smart albums. There’s a comprehensive section on Photos’ editing tools too: even experienced snappers might be surprised to learn just how powerful the app is when it comes to advanced touch-up jobs.

The format is straightforward – what you see is basically a screen recording, with the occasional zoom to focus on exactly what’s being done. There’s no talking head presence from Rosenzweig himself, so there’s less personality to this course than some others. But Gary is very present on his course’s message board, providing answers as well as follow-ups to questions. If you’re not interested in splashing out on a full-blown editing package, this is a cheaper alternative that will help you get the best from Apple’s Photos app.

Key specs: 41 lectures across three and a half hours; 2,700 subscribers; automatically closed-captioned

4. Adobe Lightroom CC: Photo Editing Masterclass

Price: £199.99 | Take the course on Udemy

If you’ve exhausted the potential of Photos, upgrading to Lightroom is the obvious next step. There’s a lot to it, though: Phil Ebiner and Jon Haase’s top-to-bottom course lasts seven-and-a-half hours, over the course of no fewer than 72 lectures. That explains the relatively steep price – although there are frequent price cuts and sales, so keep an eye out for a bargain.

The format is fairly familiar: Ebiner and Haase appear as talking heads, this time overlaid on the bottom corner of a Lightroom window. The course takes in everything from importing images to editing and exporting them. One standout part is the chapter on “Putting it all together”: sample images are provided, so you can follow along with the instructors – and experiment for yourself if you so wish.

The only aspect we’re not so fond of is the quizzes, which ask just a few questions at the end of some quite large chapters, so they’re not ideal for gauging your progress. However, if you’re just taking your first steps in Lightroom, this course can take you from zero to hero with a moderate time investment. The instructors also provide plenty of help on the course’s Q&A page.

Key specs: 72 lectures across seven and a half hours; 17,000 subscribers; automatically closed-captioned

5. Photography – The Ultimate Guide to Using Off-Camera Flash

Price: £34.99 | Take the course on Udemy

Udemy is well stocked with courses for beginner photographers. There’s not quite so much for more advanced photographers looking to challenge themselves – but this professionally presented course is a worthwhile next step for anyone who’s ready to move on from their little pop-up flash.

Hosted by Brit Bernie Raffe, and lasting just under four hours in total, it takes you through a shopping list of the first few bits of kit you’ll need, then explains how to bounce, soften and shape light both indoors and out. Raffe covers not just light positioning, but also the various accessories beginners might need to get their pictures looking right, using models to demonstrate his points. Crucially, you also get to see how his light setups translate into finished images, and his explanations are direct and easy to understand.

In all, it’s a phenomenally useful course for those who are comfortable with a camera and want to start pushing themselves further. And it’s particularly pleasing to see plenty of makeshift homemade kit as well, such as the home studio cobbled together from scrap cardboard and tracing paper, rather than oodles of high-end expensive kit.

Key specs: 36 lectures across three and a half hours; 3,500 subscribers; automatically closed-captioned