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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk 
Thread started 04 Jun 2012 (Monday) 14:50
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POLL: "Have you ever taken any kind of photography course?"
Yes, it really helps and would do it again.
Yes, but in hindsight, I wouldn't do it again.
No, and I don't see much value in it.
No, but I would like to if I had the time and/or money.

127 voters, 127 votes given (1 choice only choices can be voted per member)). VOTING IS FOR MEMBERS ONLY.
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Have you ever taken a photography course?

Cream of the Crop
6,694 posts
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Joined Sep 2010
Location: Silver Spring, MD
Jun 04, 2012 19:26 |  #16

For me, that hardest stuff to learn is the the numbers or Fstop principles. Its just the way to do a photo shoot. The flow, posing, changing locations, getting a variety of shots , subject interaction etc. Thats the stuff that is pretty much impossible to learn online and probably difficult to learn in a classroom.

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Clean ­ Gene
1,014 posts
Joined Nov 2010
Jun 05, 2012 00:04 as a reply to  @ post 14531379 |  #17

I'm taking photography courses right now. Have I been taught anything which I couldn't have learned on my own? So far, not yet. But I have learned a LOT of new stuff, my work has gotten better as a result, and the overall environment is a lot more conducive to growth than reading books or hanging out on forums such as this.

Another nice perk: in at least some instances, being enrolled in courses allows for almost-unlimited use of their facilities. That's just my experience though (and even that varies for me). Probably won't be the same for you. But stuff like access to a darkroom or studio was a very nice perk for me when I could take advantage of it.

Anyway, you certainly don't need formal classes to become good. And in any case, you're only going to get out of the experience what you're willing to put into it. If you approach it from the mindset that you're paying to get better, then you'll probably just trudge through the classes and work towards a grade without really learning anything. And at that point, I'd wonder why you'd even bother. But if you really take it seriously, it can be IMMENSELY beneficial.

Still...having a good chance of helping you to improve doesn't mean it's "worth it". You might be better off taking that tuition money and putting it towards better lenses or something. Just do your research and make an informed decision. Photography courses can very well be a damned good use of your time and money, but that also sort of depends on what other needs are demanding time and money. If you think that buying good lenses and studio lighting is going to be more beneficial than spending that money on photography courses, then why spend that money on photography courses?

1,208 posts
Joined Mar 2012
Location: Chesapeake, VA
Jun 05, 2012 07:20 as a reply to  @ Clean Gene's post |  #18

I got my first DSLR in late January and took a Basic Digital Photography course at a local high school (night classes) a few months ago from February to April. The class wasn't what I expected but that was my fault because I should've paid more attention to the course description. Still, I did pick up a thing here and there. I read Bryan Peterson's "Understanding Exposure" during the same timeframe and got more out of that than the class.

A couple of weeks ago I took the "Up and Running with Lightroom 4" from and that was great.

Right now I'm reading Bryan Peterson's "Understanding Flash Photography."

I'm considering some college courses; maybe even an Associates of Arts with focus on Photography but am not 100% sure if I'll go for it.

nathancarter wrote in post #14530710 (external link)
I took one in-person Scott Kelby workshop (Light it, Shoot It, Retouch it LIVE) which I found pretty useful, and have a subscription to that I continue to use pretty extensively.

I've never taken anything in the vein of a college course, though.

What courses you've taken from What do you recommend I take for a basic understanding in Photoshop? Essentially I want to retouch my RAW files in Lightroom and PS (smooth skin, etc) and not feel too lost while doing it.

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Jun 05, 2012 08:31 as a reply to  @ AvailableLight's post |  #19

I found taking college classes both informative and fun.

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1,664 posts
Joined Jun 2007
Location: Central Ohio
Jun 05, 2012 10:19 |  #20

harcosparky wrote in post #14531379 (external link)
It made me slow down and really think a shot through and I could see a marked difference in the work I was producing.

This was the other big factor that I noticed as well. Even though I was in a "digital" photography program, there were three courses that used (B&W) film; two were 35mm, and one was LF 4x5" film on a view camera. With that view camera, if I didn't do everything exactly right/the way I wanted it to be, I just wasted $1 and - normally - about 20 minutes of my time. There is nothing better to slow you down than having to pay for each and every shot, especially if it was a mistake!

When I was new at my program, I remember shooting a band's performance on night; it was a three-hour set, and I took somewhere around 2,300 photos. I got a fair amount of keepers, but the rate was really, really low compared to how many photos I took. After the first quarter (which included the first B&W film class), I shot the same band again, same amount of time, same amount of keepers, but I only took ~1,200 shots. I attribute that solely to taking my time, and waiting for the right shot thanks to slowing down with the film class.


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Senior Member
714 posts
Gallery: 1 photo
Likes: 554
Joined Apr 2011
Location: State of Confusion
Jun 05, 2012 10:37 |  #21

I have taken a few courses, always learn something.
They have always been fun.

I have learned from books,
I have learned from friends in my photography meet up group.
I have learned from POTN
I have learned from trial and error

Do a little research first on courses, I do, it pays off. usually you can find someone who has experience with the course instructor.
read the course outline carefully before signing up. make sure it applies to you. the last course/seminar i took was a little boring, way too much time was spent on covering the basics. shutter speeds f stops etc. My mistake, after the first class i re read the class outline, if i had read it more carefully i would have not signed up. i still learned things though.

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Cream of the Crop
5,013 posts
Likes: 27
Joined Feb 2011
Jun 05, 2012 10:47 |  #22

You don't have an option for me. I have taken two courses in photography - they did not really help, but I did do it again (taking the 2nd one). Mainly because these were B&W film classes and I had never done darkroom work and was interested in that. So it was nice to do everything from loading my own film to extracting it, developing the film, making and developing prints, etc. It didn't really help my photography though, but it did give me more of an appreciation for the film days.

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Senior Member
481 posts
Joined Apr 2012
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Jun 05, 2012 13:00 |  #23

In high school one summer, I took a pinhole photography course. Can't remember much from it except that I briefly liked a girl from it and the instructor was creepy.

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Cream of the Crop
6,725 posts
Likes: 6
Joined Feb 2008
Location: Maryland
Jun 05, 2012 16:06 |  #24

I agree there is not much you cant learn on your own. But school will compress the time it takes to learn it. It forces you to produce on a schedule. When learning on your own you may go months and not pick up the camera. Where school had a weekly deadline. A year of school is about the same as 4-5 years of shooting on your own.

School will also help you be that one step (or more) above an average shooter. It is way to easy to fall in love with your own work and think you dont need to get any better because your mom loves your stuff. When the truth is, you love it because you took the picture, or because of who is in the picture, or because of all the work it took to make the picture, NOT because it is a good picture. A professor will push you past this and make you able to look at your own work as final images and see if they are good regardless of the who, what, and why, behind the image. (external link)

75 posts
Joined Jul 2010
Location: Virginia Beach, VA
Jun 05, 2012 19:18 as a reply to  @ Mark1's post |  #25

I take classes every once in a while. It usually gives me that kick in the pants I need to improve.

5D Mk II
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1,839 posts
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Joined Mar 2008
Location: somewhere in Oregon trying to keep this laptop dry
Jun 05, 2012 19:41 |  #26

access to
1) large printers
2) student discounts
3) possibly free transportation to feild trip shoots
$) possible access to studio lighting
6) possible use of hot boxes
7) possible exposure to hands on use of gear owned by fellow students

plus you earn credits and make friends Why wouldn't you?

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isn't this answer a stickie yet?
12,450 posts
Likes: 11
Joined Feb 2007
Location: Back in the 757
Jun 05, 2012 19:56 |  #27

Certain classes sure. I plan on working with a model photography after deployment. He offers workshops and I'm going to go to those but he also offered to let me learn with him. Experience is best and workshops are great, but generic college classes and whatnot I do not see much value in. You can buy books or use the internet. POTN is an insane place to get some info. There are perks but to answer, I don't see a use in them.

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5 posts
Joined Jan 2012
Jun 05, 2012 19:59 |  #28

I have taken a few classes. They were pretty basic and I didn't necessarily learn a ton of new information, but being around other people interested in photography was great. I learned a lot from other students, made some connections and got some project ideas. I think it was well worth it.

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Gallery: 8 photos
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Joined Dec 2005
Location: East Texas
Jun 05, 2012 20:41 |  #29

About 30 years ago a local photographer offered a class in basic photography and I signed up but he proved to be very unorganized and unreliable and the class fell apart. I did attend a weekend workshop once and learned some things but mostly it was material I already knew from reading.

I think the big advantage of a formal class is that it forces you to take pictures and at least the class my daughter took required the students to take many different styles of pictures. Also the photos are critiqued almost immediately in class which allows the student to dialog with the teacher. You can get the same things from POTN and there are a lot of photographers here that are more knowledgeable than some of the professors but I think the one on one relationship with the teacher, especially if he/she is a good teacher, can help a student progress a little faster.


2,835 posts
Joined Jun 2010
Location: Westchester County, NY
Jun 05, 2012 20:52 as a reply to  @ Sparky98's post |  #30

There is nothing like taking classes and hearing what others have to teach. There are tons of online locations for learning, including free stuff. I have been through a bunch in the last few years. But now I am taking classes locally to see what others are thinking, and I am very happy to do so. I am currently enrolled in both paid for classes and some free ones as well. I would say they total about 7-10 hours per week. I will continue to do this until I tire of the classes and do not see that happening for a while.

Yesterday and today I spent a total of 8 hours with Vincent Versace...he has a head full of information, is not afraid to let anyone know his working processes, and had my head spinning for most of the time. I did pick up some interesting information that I have not seen elsewhere so far.

just a few of my thoughts...

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Have you ever taken a photography course?
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