Learning Photography: Online vs Classroom

Decided to learn photography but not sure whether to learn “for free” online, get a cheap online course or follow the classical classroom teaching?

With thousands of online learning programs offering incredible prices, you might be wondering why pay a school.

We have been teaching photography for a very long time so we prepared the following guide for you to recommend when to best use online vs when to take proper classes.

Overall, we recommend a mixed approach: Learn from traditional classroom courses, then close gaps and address specific questions via online materials.

In classroom, you get to ask questions when you’re not clear, make your learning fun, create a network and get feedback on your own work. Especially in photography, feedback on your work and having somebody around when you have a question is extremely important.

Online videos (e.g. on YouTube) are only recommended when you have a very specific question (e.g. how do I turn on auto ISO on my Nikon D5500?). For more general questions, you will find too many contradicting advices and no structure, which can be very frustrating.

Online Articles: Best for following the latest trends, equipment reviews etc. A must if you’re already intermediate level.

Online degrees offer attractive prices and loads of information. Recently have a bad reputation, for a very good reason: 97% of the people who buy online programs do not complete those programs: They get stuck, get frustrated and walk away. Why? Because people don’t learn from information alone.

Inside of our brains, there’s the limbic system, who loves to win. When we’re moving towards our goals and getting those wins along the way, it shoots this powerful cocktail of happy chemicals like dopamine and serotonin that propels us to want to do more.

The way that so many online programs are structured is to present you with loads of information and expect you to go through all of it and learn yourself. In reality, when people encountered by all this information, their reaction usually is “I don’t have time for this, I will come back to this later”. Therefore, an incredibly low completion rate.

Here we put together the pros and cons for each.

Pros and Cons

Online videos
Time Flexibility +++

Hope you find this comparison useful. See our how to learn photography article for a big picture overview as a next step.