Photography is a blend of art and technology. There are continuous learning and experiments required to acquire and advance to make stunning photographs. Which means, photography education is not one-time affair, you need to stay tuned with technology and adapt creativity. Hence, I advocate to find avenues to learn photography for free and this post will guide you with resources and habits which will make your photography education free!
I won’t advocate something which I haven’t tried myself. I’ve read dozens of books, watched hundred hours of videos, and read thousands of articles to keep myself updated with the art and technique. I’m continuously invested in my learning from the free sources I’m about to share.
Can free photography learning replace formal degree, diploma, or certification?
Just so we’re clear, I don’t disrespect institutions and masters who teach photography for their living. A well-structured, established, and pedagogical approach in any area of studies – arts, science, or technology – is required to graduate from beginners to masters. This post is meant for those who didn’t get time to join photography studies nor they’re able to devote time/ money for such studies. The free learning tips can’t substitute a structured education, it’s complemented to what institutes teach you and help you stay abreast as you progress with your upcoming projects.
Secondly, it requires a great deal of motivation and discipline to gather knowledge from unstructured free sources and make sense of it.
Thirdly, an informal, free, and open sources of knowledge can’t provide you degree, diploma, or certificate. So, if you need a formal certificate to advance professionally, look for appropriate courses.
Lastly, if you find more comfortable in signing-up with an institute for a course – feel free to ignore what I’m about to share here. But it’s worth a read to keep the options open.
How does free learning sources of photography help you build and advance skills?
Free sources don’t mean it can substitute hard work. In fact, you need to put-in more work. You’ll get tons of resistances to give-up on those knowledge sources and either drop photography or enroll in some academic courses. But the pleasure of learning it hard way is amazing! Let me share benefits of zero cost resources to feed your motivation.
The fact that these sources are free, you don’t need to invest any money to acquire knowledge. Photography is anyways a costly passion – you invest in camera, lenses, accessories, and editing softwares. More investments will keep draining your account.
You can self-pace your learning. Decide how much time you want to slot in a day or week for understanding a specific concept, experiment with it, and gain expertise. A formal education won’t provide you this flexibility.
These sources help you stay abreast with latest advancements in technology, photography technique, and art trends.
Freedom of time
Learn when you need it. For example, if you’re not interested in advanced editing and you believe in doing only subtle editing then a packaged course encapsulating advanced editing techniques is waste of your time. If you need to know advance editing, these resources will help you when you’re keen to acquire new skills.
Practice, practice, practice!
There’s no substitute of hard work and practice of what you learn. No one can charge you to practice your skills, right? It’s free. Get your gear out and keep shooting.
The biggest challenge is to find such sources… Which I’ll help you with in this post.
What are the free photography learning sources?
These sources always existed and will continue to do so strongly in future also. Let me help you navigate it better to make your learning free!
Search appropriate keywords, keyphrases, or queries on Google. For example, you want to learn photography composition rules, then type the phrase and it will show you plenty of free articles, videos, and scholarly papers. You may argue that there’s nothing new here… We’ve been doing this and it’s frustrating to search and spot right links.
There are three ways to read photography books for free on Kindle. One, if you’re subscriber of Kindle Unlimited, you can get plenty of photography books. Two, there are free books available on Kindle look for its free book section in this category. Three, read only sample of the book. With my years of binge reading, I’ve realized, authors pour their heart in first 10% of the book. Doesn’t mean rest of the book is not valuable. But reading sample on Kindle will help you read for free and enable you decide whether you absolutely need to buy the book.
There are hundreds of YouTube channel and thousands of videos available for free on YouTube to help you improve photography. Once you start browsing photography tutorials, you’ll start getting recommended videos. Trust YouTube algorithm, you’ll get targeted videos based on the keywords, channel, and photographers you’ve watched.
I found following channels teaching the art and editing seriously: Peter McKinnon, Phlearn, B&H, PiXimperfect, and Adorama to name few. If you spot any other channel and videos, look for number of views, likes, and subscribers to trust that video has great content.
Photography blogs are another great source of reading and advancing your skills whether you’re a beginner, amateur, or professional photographer. Here are few compiled lists of websites that invest in sharing knowledge with the community and they’re doing a real great job in keeping pace with changing trends in photography. Here are few such sites which I’ve followed: Digital Photography School, Petapixel, Fstoppers, SLR Lounge, Expert Photography, and Strobist.
Pinterest is a great source of inspirations and ideas for creative people. Keep pinning the artwork that you like for your own experiments. With your own personal touch to those ideas, take creativity to the next level.
Instagram is not only a photo sharing app, you can learn from stories of expert photographers and behind the scene stories.
Help the community with your knowledge
While you strive for free learning resources, share your knowledge also with the community. The reason these sources are free is because someone took pain to pour their experience and understanding in the form of video, images or blogs. They care about the community. They feel that knowledge is free for everyone and shouldn’t stay with only a privileged group. Embrace this mindset and share your knowledge also with the community.
Don’t feel that you know less than many experts and your knowledge is not worth sharing. There are always few people who’re behind you in the learning curve. You’re closest to them to connect, relate, handhold and help them with your skills.
You can not only learn photography for free but can also advance your skills for free. Tap and leverage these open sources for better understanding of art and technology. In return, contribute to the knowledge pool for others to get benefited from.