Looking for affordable or free courses on product photography? Here is a short list of free or low cost courses to get started.
Like most subjects, product photography has a learning curve. Between the camera gear, lighting equipment, shooting techniques and post-processing, there is a lot to learn. You can pick up specific tips by searching on YouTube but the concepts will sink in better if you take a course that teaches you the basics well.
Luckily, there are a number of online courses available on the internet for the beginning product photographer. Many of these courses function just like classes: you have access to the instructor, there are projects to do, etc. Others are more like comprehensive tutorials–just a video to watch. If you’re serious about getting the best product shots possible, taking some of these courses would be worthwhile…
CreativeLive – Free to $100’ish price points
CreativeLive courses are free – but there’s a catch! You have to watch them while they are being taught live. If you can’t watch it while they’re broadcasting it, they sell the recordings so you’ll have to pay to watch it. Their material is great, however, and if you can work your schedule around it, it’s a great value. If you can’t make their live classes and you can afford the $100’ish price points, it’s well worth it. You can even preview the first few lessons of each class to see if they’re for you.
Udemy – Free/$19
Udemy is offering Alex Koloskov’s Studio Product Photography course for free. This course is best for folks who already have a DSLR and have some idea of how to work in manual mode. In the course, Koloskov covers everything from basic and advanced camera settings, to learning how to manipulate light, and from basic strobe lighting to post-processing. Although Koloskov does use some professional gear in this tutorial, he also addresses how to create DIY and low-cost light modifiers. He’s a little quirky, but he knows his stuff and you can’t beat the price!
Shooting with a smartphone or tablet? Udemy is also offering a course on Easy Product Photography with your iPhone or Smartphone for just $19. it’s only two and a half hours long, but it covers the best smartphone techniques and apps, post-processing, setting up a DIY product shoot, proper lighting techniques, and much, much more in that time. If you haven’t yet upgraded to a DSLR, this tutorial is a must-see!
Lynda – $24.99/month unlimited courses
One of the first training libraries to come online, Lynda.com offers well over 2100 courses, over 20% of which are dedicated to photography. They offer a free 10-day trial (more than long enough to take their Product Photography Fundamentals course), and if you have other things you need to learn it might even be worth having access to their full library ($19.99/month a year at a time or $24.99 month to month). They also offer free previews so you can see if the course is for you.
This course covers everything. Smartphones, DSLRS, techniques, lighting, post-processing–and since you can take it in the 10-day free-trial window, you can’t go wrong.
Summit Online – $29
Need some outdoor or active product shots? Summit Online has a great lesson on setting up product shoots, both in the studio and out on location. In it, Tim Kemple will take you on a mock commercial running assignment for Adidas at the base of the Grand Tetons, showing you how to get great outdoor shots to complement their studio counterparts. The price is reasonable ($29.99) and this subject matter isn’t covered in any of the other tutorials.
From smartphone product photography to outdoor product shots, from free to a little over $100, there’s something for everything here. But just remember, these courses are just the beginning of the learning. To get really excellent photos quickly and efficiently, you’ll need to take what you see here and practice, practice, practice. As Henri Cartier-Bresson, the father of photojournalism, once said, “Your first 10,000 photos are your worst.”
Know of any other excellent courses we haven’t listed? Let us know!