Sometimes, a photographer wishes they knew just a little bit more. Whether you are beginning as a hobby or thinking about trying to make money at it, there are avenues that can aid you in improving.
The best free online photography courses with certificates will help you learn more and can get your foot in the door of employment opportunities or gigs.
A course will help you see not merely what to improve, but how to keep on learning about improving your photography skills and art.
A short, free course just might start you out on a continuing journey of photographic improvement.
Ok, let’s get stuck in!
7 Best Free Online Photography Courses With Certificates In 2023
1. Udemy – Introductory Photography Course
Udemy is an online community of instructors and students that offers a wide variety of courses in a whole lot of different categories, not merely photography.
Once you’re through with this class, check out all that they have to offer. Some of the courses are free, most of the others are at very reasonable low prices.
For this class, all you need is a camera and about 90 minutes or so. You will gain a good understanding of basic photography principles and camera operation.
A certificate of completion is available for download once completed.
Other photographic subjects on Udemy include courses specific to a particular type or model of camera, portrait lighting, macrophotography, posing, small product studio work, landscapes, weddings, wildlife, and the list goes on and on.
However, most of these aren’t free, but the cost is usually quite low.
Udemy is one of the better online resources for instruction in subjects ranging from business, marketing, health and fitness, music, and academics, to name a few.
Additionally, search through this site and see what else you can use.
2. Open2Study – The Art of Photography
The total time required for this course is about 4 hours. You will learn basics of photography as an art form and as a technical craft.
Some of the things covered are RAW files, what they are and how to use them, how aperture, shutter speed, and ISO work together for exposure and some basics of image editing programs like Photoshop.
Open2Study is a gateway for all sorts of learning, even for degreed programs, undergraduate and postgraduate.
Of course, those modules aren’t free like this one is, but it is interesting to browse through all the instructions available.
This particular course even has a sort of vocational guidance at the end of the course. It can help guide you to further studies and interests.
3. Alison – Diploma in Digital Photography
This diploma course covers basic subjects such as the settings of modern cameras and what they do. It will also go over elements of photography like rules of composition, exposure bracketing, and flash photography.
In about 10 or 12 hours, you finish and get a certificate stating such. Alison is another large community of instructors with courses in business, the humanities, and even personal improvement.
The interactive assessment portion of the diploma course lets you know how well you are progressing. From there, you can continue on to other courses or just finish and take the diploma.
4. Lynda – The Practicing Photographer
A longer course, 37 hours of video, but very full of good information. Individual installments focus on a photographic shooting scenario, a particular piece of equipment, or a photographic technique.
It begins very basic, helping you to decide on what kind of camera to purchase, if you haven’t already. Some subjects may not appeal to you or even be necessary, but you can fast-track through those if you want.
It’s a fun course, with certain aspects of basic photography covered in amazing detail. Practical application is made of the instruction, too. This is easily one of the best free online photography courses with certificates!
5. Alison – Intermediate Digital Photography
A shorter class than the Alison diploma course listed above, about 3 hours or so, this learning module takes you into aspects of digital photography beyond the beginning stages.
A lot of course time is given to camera settings that let you take control of exposure and focus. It will give you the confidence to come off of automatic and use manual.
Additionally, it will show you how relying on the automation of modern cameras is sometimes a very good thing to do.
Other aspects of this course deal with image editing programs. How they work, what they are capable of, and why you still need to start with good image files to get the best results.
If you are already past the stage of knowing what an f-stop is and why RAW gives you options JPEG can’t, then this lesson is probably a good choice.
6. Shaw Academy – Professional Diploma in Photography
Shaw Academy is based on a low-cost subscription, but the first 7 days are free, so it’s included in this list.
Importantly, a certificate from Shaw Academy can show that you are well versed in any number of subjects, from basic camera operation to in-depth image editing.
If you sign up for the free seven days, you can take two courses in that time frame. A good place to start would be right at the start, What is Photography? and then Camera Functions and Lenses.
After that, if you decide to pay and stay, look at the deeper lesson plans such as advanced exposure, color theory, and processing RAW images.
Come for the appetizer, stay for the full course.
7. Alison – Advanced Digital Photography
If you are well past beginner level, maybe even beyond intermediate in your skillset and knowledge, this 3-hour free course may be for you.
Concepts such as bracketing, flash and strobe use, composition, how focal length relates to perspective, and correctly implementing hyperfocal distance are discussed.
Also covered are Photoshop techniques and tools, from the clone tool to filters and plug-ins. A well-rounded class that is sure to get you past any initial reservations you may have about these deeper photographic subjects.
How a certificate in photography helps your Resume and job prospects
1. It deepens your resume
What is a resume anyway, but a sales brochure about you and what you can offer an employer or client.
There are many job prospects online for doing some form of digital photography. Virtual tour sites, realty photo providers, newborn photography, environmental portraiture, and events such as concerts, parties, sporting events, and weddings.
Though these may be contract positions, most of the firms will still require a resume and probably an online portfolio for you to even be considered.
Deepening your resume with accomplishments and education isn’t padding, but it helps a prospective client or employer see who you are and where you stand as a photographer.
2. It shows your level of commitment
Having any sort of additional education shows a level of commitment. Sometimes, an employer is looking for education relevant to the job being sought, sometimes they simply like to see additional education and training.
Either way, a certificate from a good source may put your resume in the keep pile.
The proven ability to stick to something through to the end is good to highlight to prospective employers.
In the new world of gig work and indeterminate term contracts, both workers and the people hiring like to see that there isn’t a negative pattern, but rather a positive one in regards to how likely one is to complete what’s expected.
3. Specific instruction may be preferred or required
A job source may require you to provide a certificate of completion to ensure that you have the qualifications to complete their work as required.
Therefore, this may necessitate you to enroll in a specific or targeted course, or something general may suffice.
4. It gives you peace of mind
A little confidence can go a long way. It can give you a talking point for when you get the call to interview, either online, via phone, or in person.
You know you’re qualified. The certificate could be your cushion, more or less. Anything that helps you present yourself in a positive light is advantageous during a live interview.
5. It gives them peace of mind
No one wants to waste their time. Nor do they want to get taken advantage of. Seeing the certificate is something the client or employer can actually verify.
This is where having a website or an online portfolio is beneficial. If desiring to break into working for pay in the field of photography, having a website to direct people to is every bit as important as verifiable education and work experience.
Are online photography courses worth the time?
Time is a valuable commodity. Taking time out from paid work, family responsibilities, or even rest and recreation should gain you some real benefits.
There are real benefits to online photographic education and instruction. Obviously, one of the first things to look at is the training itself. These online courses have instructions that is usable in the real world of actually doing photography.
Even if you are already a skilled photographer, expanding our understanding of a subject could strengthen our skill set. It can advance us to the next level of proficiency.
Sometimes, a course can take us into an area that we weren’t aware of. For instance, taking a Photoshop course will probably make us aware of how useful certain tools and techniques may be for us.
Or, it could tune us into new trends in photography, such as what happened some years ago with HDR and panoramic photography.
Free courses in photographic subjects can also give us the push to dig even deeper into a subject that intrigues us.
Taking a course in portrait lighting can open up our minds to possibly looking into cinematography. Without a basic grounding in lighting, advancing to cinematographic lighting could prove difficult.
Wrapping It Up
One other benefit to some online courses is the network you build with other photographers or people in industries other than photography.
Either way, having contacts is a good thing. These contacts could lead to employment opportunities or to places and ways to further our education.
These contact networks can also be just plain old fun. It’s refreshing to talk about what interests you with someone who is also interested in those things.
Any time we get to talk about a hobby, past time, or ideas with someone else who has similar thoughts, we tend to gain something.
Plus, it allows us to give back to the photographic community, since the other person may benefit from us.
Any way we look at it, attending the best free online photography courses with certificates is a good idea for photographers of any skill level, beginner, intermediate, or advanced.
For a lot of photographers, it’s simply about confidence. You want to try your hand at something, like product or wedding photography, but you’re nervous about getting in over your head.
Especially if you’re considering asking for money for your photography. Even a total beginner can benefit from a short course, though.