Learn Photography: A Simple System for Photography Starters
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Learn Photography: A Simple System for Photography Starters

How to start creating and making amazing photographs like a super-awesome photographer
4.1 (78 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
2,872 students enrolled
Created by Joseph Phillips
Last updated 1/2016
English [Auto-generated]
Current price: $10 Original price: $50 Discount: 80% off
5 hours left at this price!
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  • 1.5 hours on-demand video
  • 2 Supplemental Resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • Photograph with confidence and understanding
  • Hold your camera steady for better photographs
  • Apply the mysterious rule of thirds
  • Make - not take - great photographs
  • Explain how aperture affects the depth of field
  • Set the shutter speed for the subject matter
  • Choose and ISO setting based on the lighting conditions
  • Build a solid foundation to take great photographs
View Curriculum
  • How to turn on the camera
  • How to get digital photos from the camera to the computer
  • How to make coffee (not really, but it helps)

Are your photos boring? Blurry? Out of focus? Or just plain ol’ ugly? Are you getting frustrated with your camera’s results being different than what’s in your mind’s creative eye?

I understand what you’re experiencing and I can help – I promise. This course will help you first build a rock-solid foundation of the photography basics. Then I will show you how to take control of your photography experience.

Once you’ve mastered the fundamentals we’ll dive into the really good stuff: how to compose your photos to make them more interesting, more likeable, and more enjoyable for you and all the people who’ll look at your art. You’re going to shift from just another person with a camera to an accomplished photographer… and you’re going to love the process of getting from here to there.

You are going to quit taking photos – and you’re going to start making great photos.

In this course I’ll show you how. You’re going to love my simple system for taking great photos – and it’s easy to remember and apply.

Finally, this course will ease into the technical jargon that scares many creative people away from photography: aperture, depth-of-field, shutter speed, exposure, and all those special settings away from the AUTO button on your camera.

In this course I’ll breakdown all the technical mumbo-jumbo into easy-to-digest and apply photography principles. In each section you’ll have experiments – not exercises – to practice, explore, and create new photographs on what you’ve just learned. And the best part? You can keep this course forever as a handy reminder of what you’ve learned.

You can do this. I’ll help! Let’s get started right now.

Who is the target audience?
  • Beginning photographers
  • Photographers looking for a solid foundation
  • Photographers who are afraid of leaving AUTO mode
  • Professional photographers for Sports Illustrated, National Geographic, and the New York Times should NOT take this course.
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Curriculum For This Course
21 Lectures
The Very Basics
7 Lectures 32:22

This course is about making great photos. It’s about you, the wonderful photographer that are, becoming an even more wonderful photographer. And how are you going to do that? By completing this course and, yes, there’s an “AND” doing all of the experiments in this course.

So what’s an experiment? An experiment is what some stuffy people might call an exercise. Not in this course. This course has experiments that are fun learning challenges to test what you’ve learned. And let’s be honest, when it comes to photography experimenting is a key to learning and discovery.

The "Big Picture" of this Course

Welcome to the first section in this fantastic course on learning photography. Are you as excited as I am? Good!

In this section we’re going to cover some very basic stuff. You might already know some of this stuff, but it’s covered to make certain I’ve filled any gaps. I don’t want you going out making photos with gaps. In this section we’ll learn all about:

  • Any camera will do
  • About Your Camera
  • How to hold your camera
  • KISS
Preview 01:16

You don’t need the most expensive camera in the camera shop to take great photos. You can (honestly!) take some awesomely good photos with your cell phone, a cheapie digital camera, or a fancy-schmancy high-end digital camera. It’s not the equipment, it’s how you use the equipment.

In this lecture I’ll:

  • Set some ground rules
  • Talk about cameras
  • Cover the need for camera knowledge
  • Assign you an easy-to-do experiment
Any camera will do - Really!

Alright, maybe you don’t have a camera addiction, but I bet you at least have a liking for cameras. Cameras are fun to hold. Fun to press the shutter button. Fun to mess around with all the settings. It’s all that fun that can lead us away from a photography addiction to a camera addiction. We don’t need camera addictions.

In this lecture I’ll discuss with you:

  • The back of your awesome camera
  • The front of your camera
  • What’s on the bottom of your camera
  • All cool the features on top of the camera
  • Assign you an experiment
Let's talk about your camera addiction

So be honest: have you dropped your camera yet? It’s something that we all have done at least once. And then your heart pounds and you hope and pray all equipment is working just fine. You hope you don’t hear any pieces rattling around inside. Scary stuff.

This lecture is all about:

  • Finding your dominant eye first
  • How to steady the camera
  • Find support for your camera
  • How to hold your camera like you mean it
  • How to hold a phone camera
How to hold your camera like you know you're supposed to hold a camera

I like to KISS in photography. Oh, that means I like to keep it simply simple.

Simple, however, doesn’t mean easy. Simply photography means that I reduce the number of factors that will affect a great photo. And that’s what I’ll talk about in this lecture. Specifically, we’ll cover:

  • Completing an equipment check
  • Holding the camera like a pro
  • Leaving fear behind
  • Why you need a tiny notepad for big photo outings
Preview 05:24

Great job finishing this section on the very basics of great photography! I hope you did the experiments as you worked your way through this section. You did do the experiments, correct? Good.

In this section we covered:

  • Any camera will do
  • About Your Camera
  • How to hold your camera
  • KISS

Now let’s keep going – some really interesting stuff in the next section, I promise.

Section Wrap: I've Talked Enough. You've Listened Enough.
Making Great Photos is More Fun Than Making Great Soup
7 Lectures 26:26

You don’t take photos – you make photos. That’s something my old, college photography professor told us on the first day of class. It was one of the best things I ever learned from that guy – mainly because he’d say it all the time.

In this section we’re going to put that good advice to good use. You are going to make some great photos in this section. The greatness in these photos isn’t that they’ll necessarily be art exhibits, but they’ll be great because by doing the experiments herein you’re going to really learn this stuff:

  • Get closer for great photos
  • Rule of Thirds
  • Change your Elevation
  • Finding the Golden Hour
  • Take lots of photos
Section Intro: This is the Really, Really Good Section

Get Closer!

In photography it’s okay to get closer – in fact, it’s one of the best secrets of making great photos.

Getting closer to your subject matter makes your subject matter immediately more interesting – most often. Getting closer gets rid of the photo closer and lets your subject fill the frame and brings us, the viewer, right into your view, your perspective.

In this lecture I’ll discuss:

  • Why getting closer is a secret weapon
  • Some examples of getting closer
  • Before and after shots of getting closer
  • Assign you a fun experiment
Preview 05:04

No one wants to come in third place. Wait, that's not the Rule of Thirds... sorry.

The magically Rule of Thirds is a way of slicing your photos into three sections both horizontally and vertically. The Rule of Thirds is a grip approach to line up your subject matters into a visually-appealing photo. And you’re going to master this technique super-fast in this lecture.

This lecture is about composition – though I never really say “composition.” It’s about lining things up. Being creative. Telling a story. And making a great photo. Let’s get started!

Why everybody is doing the Rule of Thirds in photography. Ain't No Big Deal.

We all see everything right where are eyes are – even non-photographers. So, when we look at a photo that’s captured at the same level as our own eyes it’s boring! We’ve seen that view before! Nothing special… yawn!

In this lecture we’ll talking about changing your elevation to change your perspective. By changing your viewpoint, you’re seeing the photo from angles that nobody else sees. Now a boring eye-level photo becomes an awesomely creative capture.

In this lecture we’ll discuss the idea of getting low, getting high(er), and we’ll look at some examples of elevation. And yes, yes, there’s an experiment in here for you!

To change your perspective you need to change your elevation. Going down?

What’s the Golden Hour and why should you care? The Golden Hour (sometimes referred to as the Magic Hour) is often defined as the first and last hour of sunlight in the day when the special quality of light yields particularly beautiful photographs.

It’s magical for landscape and portrait and random photography.

In this lecture I’ll share some of my “golden hour” photos and the challenges I have with the sunrise golden hour – mainly getting out of bed that early.

The Golden Hour happens twice a day everyday and it's the Photographers' Time

When I first started in photography, when I was about 12 years old, I had to pay for the film. Then I had to pay to have the film developed. Sometimes weeks might go by before my allowance would be able to afford the film development. Weeks!

Taking lots of photos wasn’t something I wanted to do. I sweated over each shot knowing how much the photo would cost me. Take a bad photo and you’re paying for that loser.

Well, not anymore! Thanks to digital wen can take and take and capture and make great photos (and stinkers) and have that immediate satisfaction. In this lecture I’ll talk about the benefits of shooting lots of photos – and assign an experiment for you to complete.

Preview 04:07

As I mentioned at the start of this section, you don’t really “take” photos, you make photos. It’s the creativity within the standards that allow you to make great photos. It’s the doing, the experimenting, the adjusting, and the re-shooting. Again and again.

In this wonderful section we covered:

  • Get closer for great photos
  • Rule of Thirds
  • Change your Elevation
  • Finding the Golden Hour
  • Take lots of photos
Section Wrap: I've Talked Enough. You've Listened Enough.
Nerdy Technical Stuff About Making Your Photography Even Better
7 Lectures 29:07

This section is all about the scary (ha-ha) technical stuff that some new photographers are afraid of. Not you though! You’re brave. You’re willing to take chances, to experiment, and to play around with these technical settings. These technical settings are the secret sauce, well, not-so-secret, but they’re saucy and will help you understand what your camera wants you to do to make better photographs.

In this highly-accessible technical section we’ll cover:

The big aperture in your camera

All about your camera’s shutter

Why your digital camera still loves film

Putting all of the technical know-how together in one nifty spot

Preview 02:16

Did you know that your camera has a big hole in it? It’s true – that’s where the light comes into your camera.

That hole is called an aperture. An aperture is a fancy way of talking about holes. I mean, who wants to walk around and say things like “What hole are shooting through?” It sounds oh, so much more sophisticated to say, “I’m shooting at an f/4 aperture.”

Yeah. This is where the f-stop, or focal ratio, comes into play. F-stops are just ways of describing how big that hole in your camera is. And that’s what we’ll talk about in this lecture. And there’s a super-fun (I promise!) exercise in this lecture. Let’s go!

Aperture: Your Camera Has a Hole

Have you ever considered the speed of light? I have.

According to NASA we have this nugget: “Light travels at a constant, finite speed of 186,000 miles per sec. A traveler, moving at the speed of light, would circumnavigate the equator approximately 7.5 times in one second.” Holy smokes!

What’s the big deal? Well, the speed of light directly affects your image. It’s the shutter speed that controls how much light gets into your camera. The more light that comes in the brighter your image will be – and sometimes too bright or not bright enough. That’s the shutter speed’s job – and your job to control the shutter speed. Let’s check this stuff out!

Shutter Speed: Your Camera is Open for Business

Your digital camera still loves film… well, it uses the standard of film to be sensitive to light. It’s the sensitivity that allows you to control the richness of the color in relation to amount of light available to your camera. Basically, the higher the ISO the more sensitive your camera is to light.

ISO is expressed as a number, which is generally doubled as it gets higher. For example 50, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200 – though not always, but usually. Your camera can change it’s ISO automatically (which is what I do) or you can have more control and change it yourself. You photography beast.

ISO: Your Camera Loves Film Even it's Digital Film

The aperture, the shutter speed, and the ISO all work together in an “exposure triangle” to affect the outcome of your photo. It’s the technical combination of the aperture size, the speed of the shutter, and the film speed that make your image technically correct or one for the delete button.

In this quick little lecture, I’ll share a graphic that puts all of these elements together. Then you’ll have an exercise to go and play with these settings.

Info-Smash-Em-Up: Putting all the Technical Jargon to Good Photography Usage

Do you feel smarter now that you’ve finished this section? I sure hope so – I do! I mean, err, good job!

In this section we discussed the technical aspects that affect your image. In this lecture we specifically discussed:

  • The big aperture in your camera
  • All about your camera’s shutter
  • Why your digital camera still loves film
  • Putting all of the technical know-how together in one nifty spot

You also had some fun (I hope) exercises to try out in this section – and I sure hope you did. It’s the doing that makes all this technical info really sink in. And it’s the doing that will show you this technical stuff isn’t really all that difficult to do. You got this!

Section Wrap: I've Talked Enough. You've Listened Enough.

Congratulations on completing this course! Fantastic job doing what so many others won’t do: finish what they started. You, however, are accomplished! You started it, did it, finished it. I’m proud of ya.

In this amazingly wonderful course we covered a bunch of stuff. Remember all the things we covered:

  • The Very Basics
  • Any camera will do
  • About Your Camera
  • How to hold your camera
  • KISS
  • Get closer
  • Rule of Thirds
  • Change your Elevation
  • The golden hour
  • Take lots of photos
  • Aperture
  • Shutter speed
  • ISO/Exposure
  • Cheat sheet

Now it’s up to you to go and make up some experiments. Try lots of different things – and combinations of things. Look for interesting opportunities to capture. Keep going and growing!

Wrapping the Whole Course: Thank you, photographer!
About the Instructor
Joseph Phillips
4.6 Average rating
13,036 Reviews
60,187 Students
25 Courses
PMP, PMI-ACP, Project+, ITIL, Certified Technical Trainer

Joseph Phillips has more than 15 years’ experience as a project management consultant, educator, technology consultant, business owner, and technical writer. He has consulted as a project manager for a range of businesses, including startups, hospitals, architectural firms, and manufacturers.  Joseph is passionate about helping students pass the PMP certification exam.  He has created and led both in-person and web-based seminars on project management, PMP certification, IT project management, program management, writing, business analysis, technical writing, and related topics.  Joseph has written, co-authored, or served as technical editor to more than 35 books on technology, careers, project management, and goal setting for MacMillan, McGraw-Hill, Pearson Education, and AMA Press.


Project Management Professional (PMP)

PMI-Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)

CompTIA Project+ Professional

CompTIA Certified Technical Trainer+

Certified ITIL Foundations Professional

Author of:

PMP Project Management Professional Study Guide, McGraw-Hill

CAPM/PMP All-in-One Exam Guide, McGraw-Hill

PMP Project Management Lab Book, McGraw-Hill

The Certified Technical Trainer All-in-One Exam Guide, McGraw-Hill

IT Project Management: On Track from Start to Finish, McGraw-Hill

Project Management for Small Business, American Management Association 

Software Project Management for Dummies, For Dummies Publisher

The Lifelong Project, Amazon CreateSpace

Vampire ManagementWhy Your Job Sucks, Amazon CreateSpace