By Christina VanGinkel
Learning to use your camera to its fullest potential may require you to take a class or two, but that is not always as simple as it may sound. If you are like me, you may live in a rural area where classes of any type are far and few between, let alone a class of value. Thanks to the Internet community, lack of classes in your local area does not have to be a roadblock. A quick search online will provide you with numerous options for both free and paid options.
For example, I have been interested in learning how to more effectively photograph silhouettes. Besides the fact that you need to almost happen upon the perfect photo opportunity for a great silhouette, as they would be difficult if not near impossible stage, I wanted to ensure that when the opportunity did come up, that I knew the right techniques to ensure I captured the shot. Calling around to the few places in our area that I thought might be able to connect me with a class; I was sadly disappointed with every single response that I received. They were either not currently holding any classes at all, they were only offering a basic class on digital or regular photography, or if they had any plans in the near future to hold a class, there was nothing in the works for a class that even included anything about taking great silhouette shots. A search online though offered me two classes and several do it yourself sheets for those wanting to go the self-learning route with detailed instructions.
Digital photography for example has enabled the average person to produce some fantastic shots, if one is just willing to take the time to learn the ins and outs of perfecting their picture taking. The lack of having to put out enormous amounts of money for developing roll after roll of film, or having to put out the time to learn to develop the film themselves, which again brings around the money issues for their own darkroom if they do not have access to one at a school or through some other means. Even then, they would still need the funds for the developing supplies. By providing near instant access to the pictures they take by uploading them to a computer, digital photography has opened up the field of photography to many who before were excluded by a cost issue. Lack of classes can be a hardship though. For instance, what if you are unsure about what techniques you even need to learn because you are that much of a novice? Then the Internet can still be a haven of information. Visit the different camera sites themselves, such as Kodak and Canon. Most sites that manufacture cameras want you to succeed in taking pictures as that means more business for them. On the other hand, visit online photography boards and chat rooms where you can find others who love the craft of photography enough that they are often willing to share their expertise and answer questions by novices. While these may not be suitable replacements for a full-fledged class on different photography techniques, it can be a start to understanding what type of classes you need.
Some other places you might find an instructor willing to teach a class in the field you are interested in include your local paper. Call their art department and inquire if any of the photographers on board ever give classes, maybe through the local school district or adult learning centers. Call your local high school also. If their art department offers classes to the regular student body, they may open up a night class for adults if they know they would have enough students to fill it. Phone any local photography studios and inquire if they ever offer any classes for either groups or individuals. These places may not realize that there is even a market for their knowledge, so by inquiring, you will have at the least, opened the door to a possible class in the future. Online, check scrapbook sites, wedding planning sites, even travel sites, as these all often offer photography tips and tutorials for snapping the perfect pictures.