Choosing the right photography course provider

You decided to make the first serious step to improve your photography, now wondering how to choose the best school.

Consider these questions to find the best program for your goals.

There are several options available in almost all cities:

  1. Online video courses and articles (see our recommendations here)
  2. A single independent photographer
  3. A non-certified school in your area
  4. A certified school in your area

Here is a quick comparison of each option:

Provider Best For Pros Cons
Free online videos Get an answer to a specific question Quick, easy, free Too many offers, contradicting advices, no personal feedback
Online degrees People with very hectic schedule that changes all the time
Can learn from information alone
Cheaper, available on demand Only 3% complete an online course
No networking
Lack the “human touch”
Workshops by non-certified photographers / schools Learn a specific subject from an expert Direct interaction with an expert in that subject No guarantee on teaching skills or structure of content
Register in advance, less flexibility
Workshops by certified schools Photography as a hobby Direct interaction
Structured content
Photographer & Educator
Certification after course
Register in advance, less flexibility
More expensive than online
Long term workshops from certified schools Photography as a job or a serious hobby Learn from multiple people who have succeeded in the business
Great mixture of theory and practice
Structured progress
Learn business side
Certification
Cost
Time dedication

What makes the best learning experience?

Overall, keep in mind that teaching photography is a completely different job vs taking good photos. For a successful learning experience, you need:

  1. Well-structured content: Look for schools who provide the teaching content to their instructors, rather than leaving it completely to the photographer. This is especially important for general courses like beginners, intermediate, Lightroom and Photoshop courses. It is very rare for a single instructor to come up with a full blown teaching content.
  2. An instructor who is also an expert in teaching: Knowing the subject is not enough. Teaching is effective with passionate instructors who can explain concepts clearly and feels the “pulse” of the group at all times.
  3. A learning environment that is pleasant: Check if you can see the photos of the classroom / facilities of the school. Otherwise you might end up squeezed in a Starbucks trying to hear the photographer from the background noise J
  4. Practice exercises that will allow you to try, make mistakes, try again and get constructive feedback.

Check real ratings

Check social media for real ratings from real people. Usually available on the Facebook pages of the provider, that is very hard to fake. Don’t be fooled by claimed ratings on the provider’s website or some beautiful photos from the photographer, these say nothing about the quality of the education you will get.

On our Facebook page, you can see what our previous students had to say about Swiss Photo Club.

Single photographer vs photography school:

Trusting a single photographer can be cheaper, however it has many risks. Great photos do not necessarily mean a great learning experience.

We recommend this route in case of celebrity or expert photographers who excelled in a specific subject and received great ratings. An example could be to join a studio workshop by an expert photographer where you can observe his/her methods, shoot together, ask him/her direct questions and get feedback on your photos.

Bigger photography schools choose their teachers based on teaching performance and knowledge. They should provide the instructor the structure and content to go through, that has been tested and modified over hundreds of classes and students.

Certified photography schools are also obliged to submit their teaching materials to the certifying agency for quality control. A single photographer doesn’t have any of these to worry about.

Swiss Photo Club has centralized content that is deployed to all the instructors, to ensure quality structure and content. The instructors only update the example photos with their own work to tell their own story about each example.

Swiss Photo Club instructors are selected based on the following criteria:

  • Experts in their fields, have a great portfolio

  • Very passionate about teaching photography