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THE PHOTO ACADEMY, the world's largest and most popular online platform, provides live and online photography courses taught by numerous experienced photographers around the world (in many cities and languages). Everyone looking to develop their photography skills can find a course. Take your first steps towards using correct camera settings, being more artistic (Black&White, Portrait), editing your photos, and broadening your photography skills. Our live photography courses are taught by experienced photographers around the world. Live courses will physically take place in locations near you.
Photography courses can be useful at a personal level, or for professional photographers looking to learn new skills, or even businesses wanting to create photography-related events (using cameras as well as smartphones). You can also join us for our free Photowalks to discover your own city with a local photography teacher and gain a new perspective of your local environment with the right camera and photography techniques.

THE PHOTO ACADEMY's strength lies both in our photography teachers (there to help you improve your skills during one of our courses) and our admin team who can help with the booking, payment and location of the courses and training sessions. Thanks to our Customer Success team, THE PHOTO ACADEMY is able to analyse, identify and improve the development of your photography skills with courses designed to your needs.

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Beginner's Guide to Photography Courses


Are you eager to improve your photography skills but not sure how? This essential photography guide will break down the key techniques, rules and terms for beginners. If you are thinking of starting a photography course, or just want some quick tips, then this photography guide is for you!
Although there is a lot to learn and remember, photography is not as complicated as you may think. Once you’ve understood the rules and techniques, it's easy to start shooting fantastic photographs. Famous photographers aren’t born great; they dedicate time to learning and practising in order to hone their craft. In fact, if you are just starting out, it’s better to invest in learning rather than fancy, expensive equipment.
Mastering the basics, knowing how to control your camera and understanding the technical terms are the most important steps in your journey.

Education is king!

So with that in mind, let’s crack on!

Cameras look complex, don’t they? There are so many different buttons, functions and confusing terms like ISO and RAW. Well, in order to progress with your photography, understanding the functions of your camera is essential. Here’s what you need to know:

JPEG vs RAW
JPEG and RAW are the types of files used to save your photo. JPEG is a compressed file that leaves little room for retouching the exposure. RAW will offer a raw, uncompressed image, allowing for more in-depth retouching of the shot. Go to your camera settings to choose between the two. Photography courses - JPEG and RAW format
White balance
Don’t neglect the white balance setting! This determines the dominant hue, or its absence, in your image. Does a yellowish or bluish image sound familiar to you? This is the result of a bad white balance! You can adjust the white balance either by selecting a "preset" (adapted to a certain light environment), or manually.
Photography courses - JPEG and RAW format Examples of "bad" white balances.

Histograms
The histogram is extremely useful. Use it to check the exposure of an image to make sure that it is neither too dark nor too light. Although a little scary and convoluted at first glance, this graph is actually quite simple to read. Displaying the histogram of an image is usually child's play, and can be done with a single button.
Photography courses - Manage histograms with camera settings The histograms of a correctly exposed image and an image that is too dark.
The P mode
When looking at your camera for the first time, you can't miss the different shooting modes: manual, A/Av, S/Tv, and the P mode. This last mode is best suited for a beginner wishing to get out of automatic. It allows one to manually control the sensitivity (expressed in ISO), whilst the camera automatically decides the aperture value and the speed. Did that sound like complete gibberish? Don't worry, we'll come back to the aperture and speed later!
Photography courses - Manage histograms with camera settings Increasing sensitivity causes "digital noise" to appear.


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There’s still a lot to learn when it comes to your camera. To step up your knowledge, check out our photography course
Camera Settings


You’ve probably heard of these terms before. But what actually is aperture and depth of field?

To understand how aperture works and how it affects an image, let's look at the human body, specifically our eyes. Hopefully you remember some high-school biology, because we are about to get a little scientific!

The pupil of our eye has the capacity to reduce or increase its aperture to let more or less light through to our retina. The "pupillary reflex" allows our eye to regulate the influx of light to either limit glare or maximise our perception in a dark environment.

When it comes to photography, the aperture works in the same way as our pupil. Effectively, a part called the diaphragm can vary its aperture to control the amount of light reaching the sensor (photosensitive surface - which records the light). Therefore, the aperture is a crucial parameter in image exposure.

Photography courses - Aperture of a lens The diaphragm of a lens; small blades are used to open or reduce the aperture.


But what about the depth of field?


Well, the variation of the aperture will also lead to a change in the depth of field. In other words, the plane of sharpness will be more or less deep, and the blur outside this plane will be more or less pronounced. Have a look at the images below to see what we mean.

Photography classes - Depth of field and blur The smaller the aperture, the greater the depth of field.


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Want to learn more about this crucial subject? One of our photography course dives into it in much more detail Aperture and Depth of Field


Capturing movement is an important skill to have. If you want to ‘freeze’ a fast moving object, or make your images more dynamic, you need to know about the shutter speed.

Like aperture and sensitivity, shutter speed affects the exposure of an image by bringing more or less light to the sensor.

The shutter controls the passage of light, and remains open for the necessary amount of time for a good exposure of the image. While only a few fractions of a second will be needed to expose an image of a bright subject, several seconds (or even minutes) will be required for a dark subject.

Beyond the influence on the exposure, the shutter speed will also have a significant effect on the aesthetics of the image. A slow shutter speed will allow one to record the movements of a subject in the form of a blurred "trail". A fast shutter speed, on the other hand, will freeze a moving subject precisely and clearly.

Here are some examples of images whose aesthetics depend mainly on the shutter speed used:

Photography Class - Freeze movement To freeze a drop of water in suspension, a fast shutter speed is required.

Photography Courses - Fast shutter speed To capture the subject in focus, a fast speed was used.

Photography Class - Slow shutter speed It takes several seconds to record the trails left by car headlights.

Photography Courses - Slow shutter speed The shutter was left open for a few seconds to create this effect.

Photography Courses - Star photography To capture the rotation of the earth, a shutter speed of a few minutes may be sufficient. If you want to try slow or fast speed shooting, you will need to use the "speed priority" mode (S or Tv mode). You can then choose speeds ranging from 1/8000 of a second to 30 seconds!

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There’s so much more to explore! Take a look at our photography course Shutter Speed and Movement

Light can drastically change the emotion of your image. It can make a subject seem more intense, scary, relaxing, etc. But understanding and reading light is a challenge. Essentially, a "successful" light ambiance photograph will be the result of:

  • Good observation/analysis of the environment by the photographer.
  • The photographer's ability to transcribe this light onto the image; thanks to the camera's settings.
  • Ultimately, it is down to the photographer to locate the light which will refine the subject of the photograph; even if the light itself makes up the principal subject of the image.

    Here are some examples of light that make for aesthetic photographs.
    Photography class - Play with the light Shadows cast on a surface. Particular attention should be paid to the shadows of dusk and dawn.
    Learn photography - Play with light example A subject photographed against the light, forming a bright fringe around the character.
    Photography class - Light element on black background A bright element in a much darker environment.
    Managing light - photography course Filtered light in a dusty or humid environment (water vapour).

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    Light is such a vast subject. If you are eager to learn more, sign up to our photography course Light and Focus

    What actually makes a good photo? A lot of it has to do with the composition and layout of the image. Although beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, there are still aesthetic rules to follow to create a truly captivating image. You can eventually break these rules if you want, but only once you’ve learnt them! Here’s what you need to know:

  • Rule of thirds
  • Lines of force
  • Environment
  • Natural frame


  • The (famous) rule of thirds.

    Simply place the subject, or another striking element of the image, in one third of the frame. This method of composition makes the photograph more dynamic.

    Rule of thirds - Composition in photography A very strict example of the use of the rule of thirds.
    Lines of force.

    The lines can be horizontal, oblique or curved. Each type of line leaves a different impression on the reader of the image: "dynamism" for oblique lines; "calm and stability" for horizontal lines; "softness" for curved lines.

    Composition course - Photography -  Lines of force example Example of lines of force (1)
    Photography course - Lines of force example Example of lines of force (2)

    The subject's environment.

    A minimalist setting or a blurred, uncluttered background will highlight the main subject of the image. On the other hand, a busy, sharp background will help blend the subject into the composition, making it less obvious.


    photography course - subject and background A clean but uncluttered background; the subject is highlighted.
    photography class - subject and background A busy but blurred background; the subject is highlighted.
    Look for natural frames.

    This is not one of the "big rules" of composition, but it is extremely effective nonetheless! It simply consists of framing your subject within a frame present in your environment. This trick, in addition to creating a particular aesthetic, will also highlight the subject. Here are two examples:

    courses of photography - A frame within the frame example Example of natural frame (1)
    classes of photography - A frame within the frame example Example of natural frame (2)

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    For more creative ideas and tips on how to frame your images, head to our photography course Composition for All


    Once you’ve mastered these essentials, it’s time to start thinking about what you want to photograph. There are so many different genres within photography and choosing a direction can be overwhelming. But it does not need to be! The best advice we have is to experiment. Try out different types of photography: landscape, portrait, architecture, abstract, etc. See what genres you like the most!

    Landscape.
    Landscape photography - Ansel Adams Yosemite Valley, 1934 © Ansel Adams
    Ansel Adams is without doubt one of the most famous landscape photographers. He was a fervent environmentalist who wanted to capture the wild beauty of nature and encourage the general public to protect it.

    Portrait.
    portrait photography courses - Example of Philip Lorca diCorcia Brent Booth, 21 years old, Des Moines, Iowa, $30, circa 1991 © Philip Lorca diCorcia
    Philip Lorca diCorcia is an American photographer, born in 1953 in Connecticut. He is considered one of the most brilliant portrait photographers of his generation. His photographs combine elements of the documentary style with those of the fictional image.

    diCorcia used to pay his models, often met by chance on the street. Thanks to the title of this photograph, we learn that Brent Booth was paid $30.

    Architecture.
    Architecture Photography Course - Example of Becher Silber-Gelatine Abzüge, 1965-1992 © Bernd and Hilla Becher
    In the early 1960s, the photography couple Bernd and Hilla Becher began a rigorous architectural inventory of European industrial buildings.

    They documented the functional constructions of industrial sites objectively and head-on: silos, mine shafts, blast furnaces, gasometers and water towers.

    Street Photography.
    Street Photography Course - Example of Bruce Gilden USA, New York City, Man walking in Wall Street area. September 18th, 2001. © Bruce Gilden / Magnum Photos
    Bruce Gilden is certainly one of the greatest representatives of street photography.

    Without even a word, and at less than two metres from his subject, he freezes his characters with a big flash.


    Continue your photography journey with The Photo Academy today!


    At The Photo Academy, we have lots of options for our students who want to explore and experiment. Professional teachers will help you develop as a photographer and boost your skills in crucial areas. Take a look at all of our photography courses if you want to improve your photography quickly and easily! In addition to the technical side, we also teach the history of photography and the influential photographers that shaped genres over the decades. Knowing the history of photography as well as studying famous photographers will broaden your knowledge, inspire you and ultimately improve your photography.