Wednesday, March 23, 2005

5 Places to Find Digital Photography Classes

Now that you have made the transition from film to digital, you might want to consider taking some classes in digital photography. Taking classes led by an experienced photographer can help you learn about the various functions and modes of your digital camera, help you discover some timing techniques to assist you in overcoming any shutter lag in your camera, and help you understand basic visual concepts in photography, such as composition and lighting. Since digital photography doesn't require a darkroom in order to view the resulting images, classes can be held almost anywhere. To help get you started, here are 5 places in your community that are likely to offer digital photography classes.

1. Community College
Your local community college is a wonderful resource that you should take advantage of. Community colleges often offer a whole series of classes, ranging from basic to advanced levels. There may also be classes with a specific focus, such as Wedding Photography or Action Photography. You can take non-credit classes, usually held in the evening or on weekends, or you can opt to officially enroll in the college and earn academic credits. Instructors for community college classes usually hold degrees or other certifications in the field, especially in cases where academic credit is offered, so you can rest assured that you will have a knowledgeable teacher. In addition to regular tuition rates, be prepared to pay for extra materials or services such as a textbook or computer lab fees.

2. Cultural Center or Art Museum
Cultural centers or art museums are excellent places to find digital photography classes, since they are already dedicated to the advancement of fine arts. Classes offered by one of these centers would probably be more focused on the creative aspect of photography. Therefore, you might be able to experiment with unusual subjects, settings, or techniques that a class offered through a different outlet wouldn't cover. Additionally, cultural centers and art museums often hold exhibitions to display students' work or competitions with various prizes at stake. This would be a great opportunity for you to give your work additional exposure in your community, if that is what you are after.

3. Internet
You can find online classes in almost any discipline these days, including digital photography. If job or family commitments make it impossible for you to regularly attend classes outside your home, you might want to consider online learning. With an online class, you can access the instructional materials at any time of the day or night. You are not limited by location, either. Because everything is done online, you can take a class from a school in New York City even if you live in San Diego. You can use email to submit your photographs to the instructor for evaluation, or you might be allowed access to a special website where you can directly upload your work for the duration of the course. One drawback to online classes is the lack of face-to-face interaction with the instructor and your fellow classmates, although you will be able to communicate through email or through postings on a class message board.

4. Public Library
A lot of people don't know that public libraries often hold free or low-cost classes and workshops for local residents. To find out if your library is planning to hold a digital photography class, just pick up an events brochure or visit the library's website. If your library doesn't currently offer a photography class, ask if they would consider doing so. Most libraries are open to suggestions for new classes. Classes sponsored by public libraries are usually very short and may consist of only one or two sessions. Keep this point in mind as you look for a digital photography class that best suits your needs. If you just want to learn about the basic functions of your digital camera in order to get the best performance possible without delving into photographic techniques, then a class at the public library would be great for you.

5. Private Lessons with a Professional Photographer
If you want to make the most of your lessons and feel that you would benefit from one-on-one instruction, you might want to consider taking private lessons from a professional photographer. The biggest advantage to taking private lessons is that you will be able to tailor the curriculum to fit your needs and learn exactly what you want to learn without having to waste time on aspects of photography that don't interest you. Check your local Yellow Pages or your newspaper's classified ads to get names and numbers or photographers in your area. Then call them and do some comparison shopping regarding their hourly rates. While private digital photography lessons are sure to be more expensive than the other options listed here, this might be the best route to take if you are serious about learning the craft.

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