Here’s what we’ve come to realize after more than four years in the business: our customers don’t fit any one particular mold. We have rank amateurs, passionate about photography and picking up a DSLR for the first time. We have photographers about to go into business for themselves after years of shooting for pleasure. We also have high-end customers for whom a ten-camera shoot is just another Tuesday.
Whether you’re that rank amateur or that budding professional or that seasoned veteran of the industry, the one thing you can never stop doing is learning. Constant education is a requirement in this industry and those who don’t evolve are doomed to extinction. With that in mind, we put together a small list of educational resources that we go to constantly, be it for a quick lookup on a specific technique, or for inspiration when we’re in a rut. There’s a little something here for everyone regardless of your skill level.
So, here are our top five learning resources, in no particular order.
The brainchild of photographer Chase Jarvis, creativeLIVE has, arguably, one of the most unique business models in the industry. Chase brings in marquee names like Vince Laforet, Gale Tattersall, Mark Wallace, Tamara Lackey and Bambi Cantrell to do classes ranging from one to four days in length (and sometimes longer). The classes are broadcast live, completely free of charge. During the broadcast period, you have the option of purchasing the downloadable video files for a reduced price. That price usually goes up at the end of the broadcast period.
The educators are top-notch and the classes are filled to the brim with information. Of particular note: Zack Arias‘ Studio Lighting session, Vince Laforet’s two HDDSLR video classes (here and here) and Tamara Lackey’s Children’s Portrait Photography workshop.
Most people in the industry have heard of Scott Kelby. The man behind NAPP, the National Association of Photoshop Professionals, the world’s largest Photoshop training association, Scott is no stranger to the business of educating artists. KelbyTraining.com hosts classes from some of the biggest names in the world of photography, like Joe McNally, Jay Maisel, Jeremy Cowart, Moose Peterson Vincent Versace and David Ziser. Scott himself leads a few classes, including his tremendously popular “Light It, Shoot it, Retouch It” class, which he’s taking on tour now as a one-day live demo and lecture series.
Our favorite classes: The “Day with Jay Maisel” series, Joe McNally’s “Setup and Shoot: Location Lighting for Challenging Situations” class, and Bill Fortney’s “Intimate Landscape Photography” class.
While primarily a technology training website with a heavy emphasis on creative arts, Lynda.com nevertheless has some impressive photographers on their roster as well, like Derrick Story and Natalie Forbes. More importantly, however, is the site’s aforementioned emphasis on technology and creative arts. From Photoshop to Final Cut, Lynda.com has often been the default site that people go to for technology training. Few other sites can claim to cover the breadth and depth of subjects like Lynda.com.
Videographers should pay close attention to the Final Cut Pro X Essential Training class as well as the Premiere Pro CS5.5 New Features class. Photographers will get some good stuff from Derrick Story’s classes and iconic photographer Douglas Kirkland has a series worth checking out as well.
Less a school and more a community of photographers of all experience levels, DPS is chock-full of tutorials, reviews, and an active reader forum. Whereas our three previous picks have been paid resources, DPS is completely free. The site does release the occasional product for sale, like Rachel Devine’s eBook on photographing children, but the online content is available to everyone at no cost. From tips on flash photography to articles on post production, the site is a comprehensive and impressive resource. The tutorials are well-illustrated and clear-cut and there are some real gems to be found here. The weekly challenges will inspire you to get out and shoot and the “How to Photograph…” section has pointers for specific types of photography in an easy-to-find format.
Ever wanted to know what a digital camera’s sensor sees through a Bayer Array? Wanted to understand the difference between additive and subtractive color mixing? Needed to understand what color spaces are and why they matter? Then Cambridge in Colour is the site for you.
On the surface, it might seem like a site devoted to the geekier, more technical side of photography. Dig deeper, and that suspicion is fully confirmed. This is a site that you go to when you’re tired of reading articles and tutorials that use words like sRGB, AdobeRGB, dynamic range, bit depth and diffraction, but don’t explain thoroughly what those terms are. Cambridge in Color breaks those complex concepts down beautifully, with plenty of diagrams and images to illustrate the meaning behind the jargon. Even for the non-technical amongst us, it will help you understand why you shoot – or should shoot – certain subjects in certain ways, why camera settings can completely change an image and why and how those millions of pixels coalesce into the cohesive image you see on screen or hold in your hand.
So those are our top 5 learning resources for photographers. Like all lists, it’s a subjective one, but it’s the one we go to every single time when we want to learn something new or brush up on an old topic. Watch for our list of top photography-related blogs next week.