“Photography is a love affair with life.”
- Burk Uzzle

These days, as smartphone technology continues to advance, being able to take good photographs is becoming more and more accessible. Even so, to be able to take an outstanding portrait or landscape photograph still requires skill that goes way beyond the point and shoot capabilities of a mobile phone.

Photography is literally a hands-on art that requires technical ability. So it stands to reason that the best way to learn how to take professional photographs is to learn from a professional photographer.

If this is something you have always wanted to learn and if you are looking for photography tutorials for beginners, this article is sure to answer a few important questions.

Why Photography Courses Are Best Taught by Photographers 

Photography is a very practical skill that requires technical knowledge that needs to be demonstrated. And while there is definitely a place for online photography courses, the best person to offer photography tutorials for beginners is, without doubt, the professional photographer.

Whether you are using a digital or analogue camera, the principles of photography are the same – your next step is deciding on how to go about your lessons because there are options.

You could take photography courses in a group or class situation, or find a private tutor on an online tutoring platform to teach you the basics.

Here are some of the benefits of investing in private photography tutorials for beginners:

  • One on one tutoring at your own pace.
  • Flexibility with regards to time and locations.
  • A relaxed and informal atmosphere.
  • Ability to revise and practice the sections that are more difficult for you.
  • Ability to discuss subject matter that is of particular interest to you.

While so many things can be self-taught these days, even via online YouTube videos, photography is definitely one of those skills where engaging with personal tutoring, preferably by a professional photographer, will get you the best results.

How to Prepare for Photography Courses 

Learning photography ideally requires owning your own equipment.

If you are embarking on photography tutorials for beginners, it would be wise to consider second-hand equipment, or entry-level equipment until you know whether you are the next Ansel Adams or not.

Here is a list of basic gear that most photography courses require:

  • A DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) or SLR (analogue) camera
  • A tripod
  • A standard wide-angle lens – e.g. 24-70mm
  • An external flash, also known as a Speedlight
  • For digital photography, editing software, e.g. Photoshop
  • For analogue photography you will need a few rolls of film.
black SLR camera on white surface
Analogue photography is experiencing a revival. Why not learn to take photos the old-fashioned way? - Source: Unsplash

Your tutor, who should really be a professional photographer, will show you around your camera but here is some really good advice – study your camera manual, thoroughly, before you even get to your first lesson. This will really save you time to get onto more exciting course content.

Photography courses usually comprise of the following basic themes:

  • An introduction to the course and an outline of the course contents and objectives
  • Understanding your camera
  • Composition
  • Photography genres, e.g. portraits, landscapes, sports photography, documentary
  • Light and how to control light
  • Critiquing your images
  • Editing.

Your tutor will give you a theoretical overview for each section and an assignment to complete for your next lesson. Take your time to review the theory, do additional research by referring to online photography courses in between your lessons to bulk up knowledge, and practise, practise, practise.

How to Find a Professional Photographer to Tutor You

It is not uncommon to find a professional photographer willing to offer private photography tutorials for beginners.

The best place to start is always with a personal recommendation, but you could also look for a photography studio near you and make enquiries about photography lessons.

Another excellent place to find a tutor would be colleges and universities that offer photography courses – many advanced students are more than capable and also willing to offer photography tutorials for beginners.

Here’s a full list of where to try and find professional photographers that offer photography courses:

  • Universities and photography schools
  • Private photography studios
  • Social media
  • Photography associations
  • Art galleries
  • Classifieds
  • Word-of-mouth.

Another excellent option is a private tutoring platform like Superprof that offers tutors for just about anything based on locations near you. The great thing about this platform is that tutors in every price range are available depending on their qualifications and level of experience.

Not only that but very often the introductory lesson is free so you can make a more informed decision before you commit to their photography courses.

If you are in a big city, your search for a professional photographer or photography tutorials for beginners is likely to yield fantastic results. You’ll have many options.

If you don’t live in a big city and your options are limited, but don’t despair. These days, as long as you have an internet connection, many platforms, like Superprof, are actually global, so you have the option of finding a tutor who will teach you via webcam from anywhere in the world!

Choosing Your Photography Tutor

Once you have established whether you want to do online photography courses, learn in a group via a photography studio, or find a private tutor, there are other things to consider before you make your decision regarding your tutor.

female photographer taking photo in a field at golden hour
Never miss an opportunity to practise your photography. - Source: Unsplash
  • The profile of your tutor in terms of their reputation, experience, and qualifications
  • The price of the tutor’s photography courses
  • The tutor’s personal specialty
  • The location of their photography studio
  • The option of learning in your own home
  • The course outline.

Another benefit of using a platform where the first lesson is free, is that you could try out a few tutors if necessary to make sure that you find the right one.

Remember that while the subject of photography is full of technique, it is also a very subjective art form. This subjectivity may result in robust discussion over images, so make sure you connect with your tutor and really enjoy their personality.

Personality aside, if you appreciate the teaching method of your tutor; you will progress quickly and perhaps become a professional photographer yourself!

Specialise Your Lessons with the Right Professional Photographer

As with learning any new skill, it is always advisable to learn the basics and then specialise from there.

Perhaps you already understand your camera and how to work with light and are ready to specialise, this is when you need to find a professional photographer who is willing to offer photography courses that concentrate on a particular style or genre of photography.

Here are some of the exciting, different genres of photography on offer:

  • Black and white photography
  • Documentary or photojournalism photography
  • Macro photography
  • Landscape photography
  • Fashion photography
  • Wedding photography
  • Portrait photography
  • Wildlife photography
  • Interiors photography
  • Architectural photography
  • Culinary photography
  • Nude photography.
camera set on tripod on a hill at sunrise
Learning to work with light is one of the most important skills a photographer can learn. - Source: Unsplash

The specialty that you are interested in, will dictate the additional equipment that you will need. And this is another good reason not to rush into investing into expensive camera equipment as a beginner.

How to Go from a Novice to a Professional Photographer

To go from being a novice to a professional photographer takes talent, skill, and practise.

One of the first things photography courses for professionals will insist on – is how to ditch using the automatic function and learn how to manually control all your settings. Take time learning the basics because no matter what area you choose to specialise in, these will serve you well.

Once you know the basics, the world of photography is just full of the most exciting techniques and expressions.

You can expect to learn so many new skills, here are just a few things, in no particular order, that you can get excited as you progress through your photography courses:

  • Taking low depth of field portraits
  • How to take great photographs in low light conditions without any flash
  • How to create sharp landscape images
  • Taking photographs of moving objects
  • Creating mood
  • Composing your images using the rule of thirds
  • Using your flash or Speedlight
  • Using external lights in a studio
  • Post-production and retouching
  • Making the most of natural and ambient light

With all this technical knowledge you should be able to shoot great pics in almost all circumstances and give your images that professional edge that comes with the knowledge gained from professional photography courses.

Regardless of which path you choose to improve your photography, remember that even with all the theory in the world, your technique will only improve with practise and trial and error.

Most importantly, it is the photographers who are able to look through the viewfinder with their hearts that stand out from the rest. So if that’s you, enjoy your studies and expect to make a mark in this world by touching many lives through the wonderful art of photography.

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Niki is a content writer from Cape Town, South Africa, who is passionate about words, strategic communication and using words to help create and maintain brand personas. Niki has a PR and marketing background, but her happiest place is when she is bringing a story to life on a page.