50 Awesome Opencourseware Links to Effectively Get Your Photography Degree for Free

Whether you are a first time digital camera owner, or someone looking to start a professional photography business, knowledge is key. Utilize these 50 courses, guides, and more to bring out the best in your photos.

For Beginners

These courses are a must for the first time photographer, or those looking to brush up on their camera skills.

1. Photography Course: This site offers free photography lessons ranging from the basics of film, optics, cameras and light to web page layout and digital photography. These courses contain 30 years of photographic techniques and information that will help you become a top-notch, award-winning photographer. With three levels and nine courses to choose from, this site is well worth a visit.

2. Introduction to Photography: Start at the beginning with this master class, which is part of MIT’s OpenCourseWare. This class explores the relationship of image to language and issues of interpretation and personal history. The same class as taken by MIT graduates, you can even view finished projects.

3. Photo Tips & Techniques: Offered for free by Kodak, learn how the professionals take pictures. With lessons broken into categories, you can choose from the top ten tips, photographing people, events, travel, tricks for camera phones, and much more. You can also view photography samples and learn techniques for the advanced user.

4. Digital Photo Guy: Although he hasn’t updated in a while, this is a comprehensive list of videos on photography. With 28 videos to choose from, these easy to understand courses are broken into lessons. Learn the basics of digital photography, how to create greeting cards, and more.

5. Curtin’s Guide to Digital Cameras: Taught by Dennis Curtin, a photographer who has written many books on the subject, he hopes to share his experience accumulated over years of observing, practicing and writing about digital photography. This short course is taught as chapters in an online textbook. Learn everything about digital cameras from the basics to additional complex camera equipment.

6. Photo 101: This lesson contains information and tips for beginners. Topics include the art of seeing, the best photographers, and how to photograph a subject using various techniques. You can also view member portfolios, enter a contest, or visit the 3D workshop.

7. Michael The Mentor: Michael is a professional photographer and offers quick and easy to understand photography lessons for beginners. With 30 videos to choose from learn about shutter speed, compression, and much more. There is even a link to his site where you can ask questions and learn more about photography.

8. Picturing the Family: This free, twelve hour course is offered by The Open University in England. It covers the basics of family photography, including how to avoid damaging your photos, the history of photography, the portrait tradition, and camera culture.

9. Photo Seminars: This is a comprehensive list of free seminars. Click on the desired seminar to get details on the lessons taught. Choose from Buying a Digital Camera, Garden Photos, Photographing for Children, and much more.

10. Digital Photography Course Tutorials: Hypergurl pulls together some of the best online tutorials to make her own custom photography course. Begin with shutter speed, fast versus slow lens, and bulb modules to learn the basics. Then move on to SLR tips, editing tutorials, and more.

11. Night Photography: Taking photographs at night is the focus of this course. It will show you how to take top quality night images with basic skills. Lessons include equipment, how to expose the night, using flash, and more.

12. Using Your Digital Camera: This online textbook teaches beginners how to utilize their digital camera. Chapters include camera controls and creativity, sharpness, capturing light and color, using the flash, and more.

For Advanced Users

Now that you know the basics, learn how to truly master everything from setting up a photo, mastering the complex SLR, and more.

13. Sensing Place: Photography as Inquiry: You will learn photography as a disciplined way of seeing, investigating landscapes, and expressing ideas. Using their cameras as tools, students explore everyday surrounding and capture them in unique ways. You will also find video lectures, assignments, and even an image gallery.

14. Lexar Digital Photography: This website is full of useful information for the photography student. You can view dozens of tips, video tutuorials, and recommendations from experienced professionals. Best of all you can get lessons on locations and behind the scenes photo shoots from some of the best in the industry.

15. Media Art II: Offered through Capilano University, this course covers a multi-disciplinary approach to art. Students will learn black and white photography, digital imaging, and new genre public art. Visit this site to get a syllabus, calendar, lectures, and assignments.

16. Language of the Image: Part of News University, this is a free, self directed, online course. Students will learn the elements that transform a photograph into an image that tells a story. With the help of interactive exercises students are taught about quality of light, juxtaposition, point of entry, mood, emotion and a sense of place.

17. Stories Without Words: In this course, MIT freshmen were shown how to capture their first year of college through photography. Through this course, students will develop a body of work through a series of assignments, and then attempt to describe the emotions of their new environment in a final presentation. You can read notes, see projects, or even view the completed gallery on this site.

18. Free Photography Ecourse: This course is offered for free by the Not Your Normal Photography School. This six day course comes with a free e-book that will show you the secrets of making money taking photos over the weekend. Links to each lesson will be sent to you via e-mail along with other bonus materials, and you can opt-out at any time.

19. Photography and Truth: This course explores photography as art, a research tool, and a form of communication. Students will learn to explore photography as an anthropological tool. Resources for this class include a syllabus, calendar, and an extensive reading list.

20. Audiovisual Production Learning Club: This course will show you how to produce and distribute all forms of multimedia. This includes skills such as photography, videography, music production, communications, and more. In addition, there is a forum where you can interact with other students.

21. Photoworkshops: This is a comprehensive list of workshops specializing in photography. Each has five to fifteen lessons, many of which have one or more free to view. Choose from photographic design, light, and much more.

22. Sensors, Pixels, and Image Sizes: If your camera captures an image that is 3648 x 2736 pixels in size, what does that mean when you e-mail it, post it to a Web site, or make a print? In this course you find out how to answer these kinds of questions using various calculations. Also available is an Excel chart that breaks down the various equations for the everyday user.


For those looking to go into reporting, learn how take pictures like the professionals do from the stunningly beautiful to the deftly haunting.

23. Documentary Photography and Photo Journalism: By studying the work of past photojournalists, students will create a portfolio of their own. This course will show you how to reduce a tiny area of the moving world to a set of still images that convey what they saw. Materials include notes, resources, and an image gallery.

24. Best of Photjournalism: Go behind the scenes of the NPPA’s Best of Photojournalism 2006 contest, and see what the judges saw. Through interviews and video, you’ll learn what to look for in photojournalism excellence. You can also view 25 entries to see first hand what a top photojournalist does.

25. Multimedia Reporting: Using six different news agencies who covered Hurricane Katrina as a model, students will learn how to cover news the multimedia way. This online course takes approximately two hours to complete and is offered by News University.

26. Good Shooting Guide: Offered by the BBC, this course is for everyone who wants to learn about the basic principles of good shooting. Amateurs and pro’s will learn about what to do before you shoot, how to get the picture you want, and preparing for edit.

27. Photojournalism: Rob Miracle is an experienced photojournalist and has shot for various U.S. publications. This course outlines the basics of this field, including its importance. You can view the first lesson for free by visiting this site.

28. Handling Horrible Images: This online seminar addresses the tough choices journalists face as they decide whether to run visually explicit images. You will also learn the best way to display these photos in newspapers, on television and on the Web. Taught by Janet Weaver, of The Poynter Institute, this free course takes approximately one hour.

29. PhotoEthics: This book is available as a free download. It examines the implications of today’s technological upheaval, rapidly changing media landscape, and other changes. Learn how to utilize photojournalism as a credible source of visual information through this informative book.

Free Guides and Tips

These resources are ideal for those who would like to read more about photography and take their art, hobby, or profession to the next level.

30. Digital Photography for Dummies: This comprehensive site offers guides and tips specifically for the camera user who has trouble getting it. Topics include the basics of photography, cameras & gear, as well as utilizing the computer. You can view many subjects by category, most popular, and more.

31. Digital Photography Pocket Guide: Chapter Three of this comprehensive guide is available for free download. It focuses on tips and tricks for shooting and sharing. You will learn how to take outdoor portraits, get useful tips, and much more.

32. InFocus: This is a useful collection of photography tips and articles. Choose from topics like composition, choosing an SLR camera, print vs. slide, and much more.

33. Learn Digital Photography Now: Just type in your email and you will be sent a guide that reveals professional tips and tricks for taking photos with your digital camera. You will learn how to capture the moment, the basics of shooting quality pictures, how to fix problems, print, and more.

34. SLR Photography Guide: Learn how to use an SLR with this guide that is ideal for beginners. It will show you how to use this complex camera including tips on RAW format, focusing, exposure compensation, and even which SLR to purchase. Also useful is the FAQ section which highlights user’s most common problems.

35. Digital Photography Guide 2009: This free guide is available from Free eBooks. After a brief registration, you will receive the Digital Photography Guide, which is full of tons of tips and advice for the digital camera user.

36. Digital Photography Expert Techniques: Chapter Three of this book is available for free from O’Reilly. This downloadable pdf contains professional tips for using Photoshop and related tools. You will learn how to use the browser, image management programs, and more.

37. Digital Photography Guide: A free sample of this comprehensive guide is available through Access Now publications. Learn the latest technology, without wasting time or money. This guide will show you how to choose the right equipment, how to use those tools to their maximum effectiveness, and share some additional secrets.

38. Photography Business: If you enjoy taking photos, then starting a photography business might be for you. Visit this site to read free articles and sample a portion of the ebook. It will tell you the basics of starting your very own photography business.

39. Photoshop CS2 RAW: Chapter Seven of this informative book is available for free download. It will show you how to use Adobe Camera RAW, Bridge, and Photoshop. Topics include noise, chromatic aberrations, and more.

Specialty Courses

These photography courses were designed with a specific student in mind.

40. Information Law and Policy: This course introduces students to copyright and other forms of legal protection for databases, licensing of information, consumer protection, privacy, and more. Offered by UC Berkeley, students can learn how to protect their images from misuse. A key note of this course is that all lectures are available in video or audio format.

41. Digital Desktop Studio Photography: This course is intended for small business people, artists, naturalists, collectors, writers, and anyone else who wants to take high-quality studio pictures under controlled conditions. Learn how to light small objects on desktops for that professional feel without the cost. There are tips on zoom, flash, lighting, and much more.

42. Adobe Sample Course: These free, seven day sample courses are for the latest Adobe products and give you an idea of how an online training course works. By registering for a free trial you can try out Adobe Photoshop CS2, and learn how to edit multiple layers and use RAW. You can also try Adobe InDesign CS2, Adobe Acrobat 7.0, or Adobe Premiere Elements.

43. Photography and Related Media: This course emphasizes a critical awareness of how images in our culture are produced and constructed. There is instruction in basic black and white techniques, digital imaging, fundamentals of camera operation, lighting, film exposure, development, and printing.

44. Adobe Photoshop Basics: This free, online class consists of eight self-paced lessons that will get you up and running on this essential software. It will give students a solid foundation they can build on though online tutorials, third-party books, and more. For use with Adobe Photoshop 5.0, 5.5, 6.0, and 7.0.

45. Image Compression and Packet Video: This course provides an introduction to the basic concepts and techniques used for the compression of digital images as well as video. Offered by John Hopkins University, topics include two dimensional sampling and quantization, coding techniques, and vector quantization.

46. Numeric Photography: Students learn from an exhibition of digital artworks which blend photography and computation, in the context of scene capture, image play, and interaction. Equipped with low end digital cameras, they created weekly software projects to explore aesthetic issues. Read assignments, or even view completed projects by visiting this site.

47. Displaying & Sharing: This short course is a gateway to the hundreds of exciting possible ways to display and share photos. Whether you are using digital photography in business, as a hobby, or as a form of artistic expression, you’ll find all sorts of ideas from this course.

48. A Fair(y) Use Tale: Watch this humorous video to learn more about copywriting and fair use. This is a great resource for introducing these topics, which are a significant part of photography.

49. Reading Visual Images: This eight hour course gives a history on how social scientists utilize images. Learn how a photograph can document a historic moments and other applications to this art by taking this free, online course.

50. Holographic Imaging: Learn holography from a scientific and analytical point of view through this course. Students are taught about moving from interference and diffraction to imaging of single points, as well as the display of three-dimensional images. This course comes with handouts, problem sets, and labs.

From the basics to becoming a paid professional, from lighting to displaying and sharing, these 50 resources are essential for anyone looking to learn about photography. Students, travelers, professionals, and the average individual can learn a great deal on just about everything related to photography by visiting these sites.