Anyone with an interest in photography will hear a lot about having a good "eye." This, of course, has nothing to do with one's eyesight - though that is a prerequisite for the job. Rather, having a good eye means being able to capture an image in a way that conveys, well, a thousand words. With that in mind, is it realistic to learn something like photography online? Can a good eye be taught – and can it be taught without direct, personal interaction with teachers and classmates? Well, there are a few schools out to prove it can.
"I think you can learn some skills online," said Jason Cox, a full-time photojournalist and freelance event photographer in upstate New York. "But you miss out on bouncing ideas off other people, working with your classmates, and making those connections."
But for those with talent, it can work, he said.
Programs and How They Work
Those looking at studying photography online will find a variety of online classes available, from beginner to advanced. Many online classes are geared toward hobbyists and involve learning in online lectures, shooting your own photos, and then uploading them and getting feedback from your instructor.
But if you want to pusue photography professionally, you'll need a degree.
When trying to decide on a program, take a close look at the topics to be covered. The following are essential for those who want to make a career in photography:
- Parts of the camera,
- How to choose the right camera and lens,
- When to use digital versus film,
- The intricacies of exposure, aperture, focusing,
- The principles of lighting,
- The properties of color,
- Composition techniques,
- How to use filters, and
- Darkroom skills
There are many specialties in the field of photography, including photojournalism, wedding and event photography, medical and scientific photography, commercial photography, and portrait photography.
Of those who work in a salaried position, most are employed in portrait or commercial photography studios. Others work for newspapers, magazines, and advertising agencies. It is also common for photographers to be self-employed. In fact, U.S. Department of Labor statistics show more than half of working photographers are self-employed.
Photography is fairly unique in that often no formal education is required -- though a bachelor's degree helps in advancement. Essentially, your work has to speak for itself, so your portfolio is the key to getting work. And to build a good portfolio, coaching -- whether online or in class -- and dedication are key.