“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”
— Ansel Adams

Whatever your reasons for wanting to take professional-looking photographs, remember that photography does require some technical skill. So whether you are a journalist or blogger who wants to take your own pictures for your stories, or are considering photography for a career, it is important to be taught by a professional.

There are so many types of photography, but like learning anything new, it’s important to learn the basics. If this is you, look for a course that covers photography for the beginner and you will be on the road to a very exciting journey.

Techniques You Can Expect to Learn with a Professional

Most photography for beginners is taught with digital photography in mind, however, if you have an analogue camera, remember that the basics of photography apply to both.

As already mentioned, photography is a technical skill. So while there are many online photography courses available, it is really preferable when learning photography for the beginner to supplement these types of courses with a professional photographer to tutor you and really show you the way.

Here are some of the techniques you can expect to learn in a course aimed at photography for the beginner:

  • Composition and framing
  • Lighting, using aperture and shutter speed
  • Depth of field
  • Manual functions of the camera
  • Retouching and post-production
  • Long exposures and shooting in low light conditions
  • Using your tripod.

Not only will your tutor explain all of these techniques but you can also expect to find out exactly how to use your equipment with confidence.

As a professional who has worked in the field, professional photographers are also able to provide invaluable tips and tricks that come up during conversation and that you would not necessarily pick up through online photography courses.

Types of Photography Styles

During any photography for beginners course, you can expect to be exposed to a number of types of photography.

woman in blue coat standing in front of carousel
If you're a blogger or influencer looking to create great content, consider photography lessons. - Source: Unsplash

If you don’t already have a preferred genre in mind when it comes to types of photography styles, as you progress in your basic knowledge of photography, one is certainly bound to emerge.

Some of the specialties that you can expect to be introduced to during your photography courses include:

  • Black and white photography
  • Documentary photography
  • Portrait photography
  • Landscape photography
  • Studio photography
  • Fashion photography
  • Wildlife photography
  • Macro photography
  • Wedding photography

All of these genres can be studied using an analogue SLR (single-lens reflex) camera that requires film and perhaps the exciting world of darkroom printing, or a digital SLR (DSLR) where you will also learn how to manage your images through an editing programme like Photoshop, for instance.

Finding someone to teach you darkroom techniques these days is slightly more difficult in the digital era that we are living in. It is highly unlikely that this yesteryear art form will be covered in any online photography courses.

However, if you are keen to learn the art of digital photography, you should have absolutely no problem finding a photography for beginners course near you.

The Advantages of Learning Photography with a Tutor

Digital photography has become incredibly popular especially with all the neat apps that come with most smartphones these days.

If, however, you desire to follow commercial photography as a career then you should consider learning through a reputable photography school, art school or university that offers photography as part of a fine art degree.

For people who are looking for an introduction to photography for the beginner, group or private lessons are the perfect way to learn.

Photography for the beginner is often tackled through private lessons with a professional photography tutor. Here are some of those advantages:

  • Flexibility in terms of location and classes
  • Learning at a pace that suits you
  • Focusing on the types of photography that you are interested in
  • Revising sections that are more difficult for you to grasp
  • A more relaxed atmosphere than a classroom set up
  • The opportunity to progress quickly if necessary

In some cases, finding a private tutor on a platform like Superprof, for instance, may come with the option of being taught digital photography in the comfort of your own home.

Also, one of the great advantages of a private tutor or photography studio is that they will offer photography for the beginner, but also other courses for students as they progress and begin to identify the specific types of photography they are interested in.

black camera on white desk
It is important to understand the workings of all the features of your camera and other photography equipment. - Source: Unsplash

So you could join a private tutor that offers photography for the beginner, only to end up doing other photography courses with them much later when you are an advanced student.

Choosing the Right Photography Tutor for You

The great thing about Superprof is that there are tons of available tutors and you have the benefit of finding one that is not only near to you but also suits you.

So while it might only take minutes for a tutor in a location near you to respond, remember that choosing the person who will give you your photography lessons is important, so here are a few things to consider.

  • The average hourly rate of photography lessons
  • The level of the course
  • The location of the course
  • The length of the tutorial
  • The number of lessons offered in a digital photography course
  • The types of photography covered
  • Experience of the tutor
  • Qualifications of the tutor
  • The course outline for photography for beginners.

There is a lot to discover in the world of photography so it’s really important to find the right person to tutor you. Online photography courses are available, but the powerful thing about having a tutor is their engagement with you, which is invaluable.

On Superprof, over 92% of the tutors offer their introductory lesson for free, which means you can try someone out before you commit to paying for the whole course.

If you are not in a big city like Johannesburg, Cape Town or Durban, it might not be as easy to find a professional photography tutor near you, but if you are using Superprof to search, you could actually choose a tutor from anywhere in the world. All you need is an internet connection and a webcam.

What to Expect from a Photography Class

Photography is one of those skills best learned from a professional photographer. And if the photographer has decided to also become a teacher, you can expect their classes to be structured and organised.

In terms of equipment, your photography teacher will advise students who are signing up for photography for beginners to not rush out and buy expensive, brand new equipment. It is advisable to start with entry-level or second-hand cameras and lenses until you know what types of photography you are really interested in.

Once you have the correct equipment, you can expect the following structure from a digital photography course.

  • Introduction, course content, and objectives
  • Technical skills
  • How to critique work
  • Post-production and processing
  • Final assessment.

Photography for the beginner can be learned over four or 40 hours, it really depends on your own end goals, time and budget.

professional photographer taking photo with zoom lens
There are professional photographers who specialise in every photography style imaginable, so you're sure to find the right fit. - Source: Unsplash

If you are simply looking for someone to help you understand how your DSLR camera works, a weekend may be sufficient, but if photography is going to be a lifelong passion and perhaps even turn into your livelihood, consider investing more time and money into your lessons.

Will a Photography for Beginners Course Turn You into an Artist?

Will an entry-level digital photography course improve your artistic ability? Probably not.

The first step to becoming an artistic photographer is gaining the technical know-how through a photography for beginners course. It’s a bit like developing any ‘motor-skill’ – once the basics come naturally to you, without needing to think about it, you can begin to get creative.

Once all these basics are in place, you will see your own unique style start to emerge.

And this is really the exciting part.

The key to finding this style can only come through practise and practising on your own. Keep shooting and be open to constructive criticism from your professional photography teacher.

As with learning anything new, how fast or slowly you progress is completely up to you.

Learning photography for the first time is no different. It is highly recommended that in between your weekly photography tutorials for beginners, for instance, that you practise the techniques shown to you by your tutor.

You could also consider the following resources in between your lessons to increase your knowledge and inspire you:

  • Professional photography blogs
  • Online photography courses
  • Recommended photography textbooks
  • Recommended photography websites
  • Professional photography magazines
  • Photo editing software.

By putting in the extra effort in between your tutorials, you will improve quickly and begin to develop your own style. Once you know your own style, you will also know what types of photography to specialise in and this is really where one’s passion for photography grows.

As with anything, what you put in you, you will get out.

If you are interested in learning about the wonderful world of photography, your first step is to learn the basics from a professional photographer while supplementing with free online photography courses.

From there, anything could happen.

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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.