13 Best Online Photography Courses (2020)

So you’ve decided you want to improve your photography, but where to start? There are so much information and so many photography courses available online that choosing just one, or even starting to research, can be daunting. To help you out, we have found the 13 Best Online Photography Courses available. We’ve chosen our favorite Best Online Photography Courses for Beginners, Canon Photography Courses, Nikon Photography Courses, Free Online Photography Courses and more!


Stock image from Coursera Website for the Best Online Photography Courses

Coursera: Photography Basics and Beyond: From Smartphone to DSLR Specialisation

Created by the Michigan State University, Photography Basics and Beyond covers everything from photography’s fundamental principles to the foundations you will need to hone your style. Technically a course for beginners, this 5-module online photography course is also ideal for advanced photographers wanting to revisit the basics.

The specialization is an incredibly thorough introduction to photography, making it one of the Best Online Photography Courses available. The five included modules are:

  • Cameras, Exposure, and Photography
  • Camera Control
  • Principles of Photo Composition and Digital Image Post-Production
  • Photography Techniques: Light, Content, and Sharing
  • the Photography Capstone Project

From choosing the right camera for you to creating a portfolio of 10 well-formed photographs, you can be confident that this course will improve your knowledge and skill dramatically.

Photography Basics and Beyond is available for free and goes for six months. There is also the option to subscribe to the Specialisation, which will give you the valuable opportunity to learn from your peers. The Peer Review Process is introduced in the First Course and involves giving and receiving feedback. You should be practicing what you have learned throughout the course by taking photos. Peer Review is the perfect opportunity for receiving constructive criticism and feedback on this work. While it might seem a little scary, the encouragement and feedback that comes through having many other sets of eyes view your work will help you to learn so much faster.

Photography Basics and Beyond: From Smartphone to DSLR Specialisation is available through Coursera. The course is available for free or with extra features for paid students.


For photographers looking for the Best Free Online Photography Courses, Udemy is one of the best resources available. With 31 different photography courses available free of charge, there is plenty to learn without spending a dime.

Udemy is a site that offers ‘learning on demand’, enabling users to take courses on web development, health & fitness or even home improvement. Part of the sharing economy, Udemy courses are created by people who sign up themselves, ready to share their knowledge with the world. Don’t worry though, courses are rated so being sure a course is of great quality is easy.

Some of our favorite Best Free Online Photography Courses offered by Udemy are:

No matter what it is you’d like to learn, it’s likely you’ll find it on Udemy!

All Udemy Free Online Photography Courses are available through udemy.com. Courses are free and extra courses are available for paying students.


Photo of a camera to demonstrate one of the Best Online Photography Courses for Beginners

Image by Creative Live

Creative Live: Fundamentals Courses

If you are looking for the Best Online Photography Courses for Beginners, you can’t go past Creative Live’s Fundamentals Courses. Creative Live is well-known in the creative community for its large range of courses in creative fields. These range from Photo & Video, Music & Audio and even managing Money & Life as a creative. Creative Live’s range of Photography Fundamentals courses is a one-stop-shop for everything a novice photographer might want to know.

The obvious first choice is the Fundamentals of Photography with John Greengo. With a 5-star rating and over 350 reviews, students can be sure that this course is informative and interesting. It goes beyond just the basics to teach novice photographers how to realize their artistic vision. The course is taught in three parts:

  • How to bring together the elements of manual mode to create an evocative image
  • Choosing the right gear, and developing an efficient workflow
  • How to recognize and take advantage of beautiful natural light

Once students have these fundamentals mastered, there are plenty more courses to take to improve skills! From complete guides to Adobe Photoshop CC and Adobe Lightroom Classic, to Posing 101: Essentials, there is sure to be a course for you.

All Creative Live courses are available through www.creativelive.com. Courses range in price from $9 US to $199 US.

A photo of a butterfly from one of the Best Online Photography Courses

Image from the Define School by Courtney Zimmerman

The Define School

There is a simple reason that the Define School is our number one choice for Best Online Photography Courses, being the high level of interaction. Where many online photography courses offer incredible opportunities to learn, they lack in the hands-on, interactive education students benefit from in a traditional classroom.

The Define School offer a range of specialized online photography courses. Courses start from beginner level, like Shooting in Manual or Foundations of Black + White. There are also courses suited to professional photographers looking to improve their business or push their style. The diversity is just another reason we think the Define School offer some of the Best Online Photography Courses.

The courses are run in blocks throughout the year because the interactive courses necessitate retaining a little more structure than a regular online course. Each course lasts for a month, and you can work as independently as you’d like or get as involved as you’d like! This added structure is also great for photographers who love the idea of taking an online photography course, but who struggle to keep up without set deadlines.

Some of our favorite best online photography courses offered by the Define School are:

  • Foundations of Personal Projects
  • Everyday Light Clinic
  • Visual Storytelling
  • Driving Your Business.

For those who don’t have time to commit to deadlines or set workshops, however, never fear! The Define School also offers a series of Independent Study Courses, creating options for those with less flexible schedules.

All Define School courses are available at thedefineschool.com. Courses range in price from $45 US to $475 US.


MIT Open Courseware: Introduction to Photography and Related Media

The Introduction to Photography is one of the Best Online Photography Courses because it is perfect for those wanting to explore analog and digital photography. Now offered as a free online course, the Introduction to Photography was originally taught at MIT in Fall 2007. You can be sure this course is informative given it has such a hefty institution behind it.

The Introduction to Photography and Related Media starts with the basics, with courses based on different types of cameras. From 35mm film cameras to Digital SLRs, large format and even pinhole cameras, you’ll leave this course with an impressive knowledge of photographic technology.

We chose to recommend this as one of the Best Online Photography Courses for Beginners because of its focus on the aesthetic appreciation of photography. While most online photography courses for beginners end with the technicalities, MIT’s course also teaches students the critical awareness of photography as art.

The course is hands-on, with students encouraged and expected to experiment with the art form. Take inspiration from the photographs you witness and try out the new techniques you have learned. Whether you are taking photos or developing a roll of film, there is always something new to try!

In the end, not only will the Introduction to Photography provide an impressive kick-start into the world of photography, but it also gives students a chance to develop their unique style.

Introduction to Photography and Related Media is available through MIT Open Course Ware. It is free.

Photo by Dr Shane Hulbert, teacher of one of the Best Online Photography Courses for Beginners

Image by Dr. Shane Hulbert

Classepert: Find and compare online courses from multiple providers

Whether it’s for improving an existing skill, learning something totally new or even finding an interesting hobby, education and training never really stops.
A whole industry of e-learning platforms has emerged and, with so many options, it can be a hard task finding out which course to choose, including the photography ones. In this sense, Classpert.com was designed to help people find the courses that most suit their professional and personal interests.


Canon Online Learning: Photography Courses

If you are a Canon user looking for the Best Canon Photography Courses online, the best place to go is Canon itself. Canon Online Learning Photography Courses is a great resource for Canon photographers, although photographers using other systems could definitely learn from these courses as well. Learn about your Canon Camera, managing your workflow and how to get the best quality prints from your Canon files.

The selection of courses is limited compared to industry favorites like Creative Live, but all the basics are covered. There are even some courses covering niche topics. Some of the best Canon Photography Courses include:

  • Understanding EOS Camera Operations
  • Getting Started with External Flash Photography
  • Child’s Play: Simple Tips for Photographing Children
  • On Location in NYC: Improving Your Travel Photography
  • Intro to Macro and Close-Up Photography

Canon’s series of Best Online Photography Courses are intended to be completed in a student’s own time, with content material lasting from 30 minutes to 3.5 hours. Once students have access, there is no limit to how many times they can review the course video. This means students can revise as much or as little as they’d like!

All Canon Online Learning Photography Courses are available through shop.usa.canon.com. Courses range in price from $19.99 US to $59.99 US.

Screenshot of Lynda.com Canon Photography Class

Image from Lynda.com

Lynda.com: Canon Training and Tutorials

At Lynda.com Canon Photographers can find specific Canon Training and Tutorials. This complements Canon Online Learning’s general courses perfectly. From general tips, tricks & techniques for Canon Digital SLRs to courses for specific models, Lynda.com is home to some of the Best Canon Photography Courses.

Lynda.com is a LinkedIn platform designed to help professionals reach their full potential. Whether a student is looking for the Best Canon Photography Courses because they are a photographer, a business person needing photos for their venture or a parent wanting to take betters photos of their child, these courses can help. After all, the first step to taking great photos is knowing how to use a camera!

A few of the Canon Photography Courses offered by Lynda.com include:

  • Canon Digital SLR: Tips, Tricks & Techniques
  • Flash Photography: Canon Speedlites
  • Learning the Canon Rebel SL1 (100D and Kiss X7)
  • Canon 5D Mark III Essential Training.

With 10 Canon-specific courses on offer, Lynda.com is the perfect place to find some of the Best Online Photography Courses for Canon.

All Lynda.com: Canon Training and Tutorials are available at www.lynda.com. Courses are available either via a month-long or annual subscription and start at $24.99 US per month.


Nikon School: Online

Whether you are a novice photographer or a professional, Nikon offers the chance to take your photography to the next level with their Nikon School online course. While the Nikon School only has a few courses available, these online photography courses are well thought-out lessons that any photographer, shooting on any system, could benefit from.

For example, the School offers two courses titled Fundamentals of Photography and Beyond the Fundamentals of Photography. Where Fundamentals courses often have no follow-up options for students, Nikon and photographer Reed Hoffmann takes things one step further with their Beyond the Fundamentals course. Instead of just teaching exposure through ISO, shutter speed and aperture, Hoffmann goes on to teach students about exposure compensation and metering. The advanced tips and tricks don’t stop there! With this additional knowledge under a student’s belt, their photography is sure to improve rapidly.

Of course, the Nikon School also offers some of the Best Online Photography Courses specific to Nikon. These include Getting Started with Your Nikon DSLR and Hands-on with SB-5000 Speedlight. These are especially valuable for new Nikon shooters who, let’s face it, probably don’t want to read their DSLR’s long, confusing manual.

Whether you’re looking to level up your photography or you want to learn the general principles of a Nikon DSLR, the Nikon School is a great place to start.

All Nikon School: Online courses are available through online.nikonschool.com. Courses range in price from $14.95 US to $49.95 US.

Screenshot of a Camera Screen taken during a Nikon Photography Class

Lynda.com: Nikon Training and Tutorials

Lynda.com once again offers some of the best Nikon Photography Courses, with their Nikon Training and Tutorials coming highly recommended. Just like their Canon Training and Tutorials, Lynda.com’s Nikon Photography Courses include general tips & tricks to video tutorials on specific Nikon DSLR models.

One of the Best Online Photography Courses for Nikon offered by Lynda.com though is their Capture NX 2 Essential Training. Capture NX 2 is Nikon’s own brand photo-editing software. While editing can be a scary thing to learn, Lynda.com makes it easy with this course taught by Ben Long. Learn how to navigate Capture NX 2’s interface with ease, correct color, reduce and enlarge images, and so much more.

A few more of the Nikon Photography Courses offered by Lynda.com include:

  • Learning the Nikon D600 and D610
  • Nikon D800 and D810: Tips, Tricks, & Techniques
  • Flash Photography: Nikon Speedlites

Just like Canon, Lynda.com offers 10 Nikon-specific courses ranging from beginner to advanced.

All Lynda.com: Nikon Training and Tutorials are available at www.lynda.com. Online Photography Courses are available via either a month-long or annual subscription, starting at $24.99 US per month.


Photo with text overlay saying Outstanding Composition from one of the Best Free Online Photography Courses

Image from Udemy’s Free Online Photography Courses, Outstanding Composition

Photo of the ISS flying across the moon demonstrating for one of the Best Free Online Photography Courses

Image by PetaPixel

PetaPixel: Tutorials

Another great resource for finding the Best Free Online Photography Courses is PetaPixel. PetaPixel offers short, abstract guides, making it perfect for photographers with a specific question in mind. While some are humorous, like How to Photoshop Portraits in the Style of Pam Dave Zaring’s Family Photos, others offer fantastic advice like an Intro to Three-Point Lighting.

While most of the best online photography courses we have recommended are ideal for people interested in actively improving their craft, PetaPixel’s tutorials are great for regular internet browsing. What do we mean? Well, the courses tend to be short tutorials that one could complete easily. So for photographers, regularly checking PetaPixel’s new tutorials could be a great way to improve knowledge, skill, and creativity without investing too much time (and zero dollars!).

Some of our favorite PetaPixel Free Online Photography Courses are:

  • 5 Wedding Photography Tips for If You’re Just Starting Out
  • How to Shoot Magical Portraits in the Pouring Rain
  • 30 Composition Styles for Taking Good Pictures
  • How to Shoot the ISS Flying Across the Face of the Moon

All PetaPixel Free Online Photography Courses are available through petapixel.com. They are free.


Photo of a boy to demonstrate some of the Best Online Photography Courses for Studio Photography

Image by Strobist

Strobist: Lighting 101

Of course, the easiest way to learn photography is by going out and taking photos, but what about photographers wanting to learn the ins and outs of studio photography? The lights, the equipment, and the backdrops can all be a little daunting. That’s where the Strobist’s Lighting 101 course comes in.

The Strobist’s guide is incredibly popular with photographers worldwide and is easily one of the Best Online Photography Courses for Lighting available. The course states upfront that it is not for iPhone photographers, but then those interested in studio photography will need a “real” camera in any case. It’s also recommended you only start Lighting 101 once you have basic knowledge of Aperture and Shutter Speed.

Once you’re ready to go, Lighting 101 teaches how to use off-camera flash to ‘create beautiful light and more professional looking photos’. From the basics of flash and how to turn your flash into a portable wireless studio, to making cheap light modifiers, this course is an excellent introduction to lighting and studio photography.

And of course, if you want a real studio to practice in, MisterLocation is always here to help you find a location!

The Strobist’s Lighting 101 online photography course is available at strobist.blogspot.com for free.

Digital image of a studio set up to demonstrate Best Online Photography Courses for Studio Photography

Image by Skillshare

Skillshare: Cinematography: Intro to Studio Lighting

Don’t let the word Cinematography throw you here, Matt Workman’s Cinematography: Intro to Studio Lighting is a fantastic place to learn the basics of Studio Photography.

This course is run on Skillshare, a platform where users can learn through courses uploaded by the users themselves. However, there is no doubt that Workman’s course is of the highest standard. Workman has shot videos for Justin Bieber and 50 Cent and created commercials for Facebook, Google, and BMW. Not to mention his lighting tips are all things you can bring to your photography.

It’s recommended for users who are already somewhat comfortable with their camera, but with only 16 minutes of content, it wouldn’t hurt beginners to take this Online Photography Course in any case.

The course runs over 7 videos:

  • Introduction
  • The Project
  • Seamless Paper 101
  • Blocking Talent And Camera
  • Lighting the Seamless
  • Lighting the Talent
  • Wrap Party!

Each video lasts just a few minutes, making it ideal for students looking to gain a basic understanding of the principles of studio photography and lighting.

Do you want to learn more about the history of studio photography? Make sure you check this article!

Cinematography: Intro to Studio Lighting is available for Premium Members of Skillshare.

Have you taken one of these Best Online Photography Courses, or is there another you’d recommend? We want to hear your thoughts! Sound off in the comments below.