Online Courses and Education Programs in Professional Photography

Find out about online professional photography courses and in which training programs they're most commonly offered. Get course descriptions, program info and online requirements to make an informed decision.

Essential Information

While some schools may offer individual online classes in professional photography, others deliver coursework through distance learning certificate or degree programs. The institutions that most commonly offer online learning in photography include private art schools and some community colleges.

The latter typically has continuing education courses in photography, which are self-paced and generally do not lead to college credit. Art schools or other distance education institutions may offer associate's or bachelor's degrees in photography, or in some cases even master's degrees. Non-credit courses usually do not have any strict admission standards, but students pursuing a formal degree or certificate typically need to meet requirements like having a high school diploma or GED. Graduate-level programs require students to have a bachelor's degree and possibly a portfolio.

Degree levels available include certificates, associate's, bachelor's, and master's. Photography equipment is required for these programs.

Common Courses

Online courses are conducted differently, but schools often use course management systems through which students can listen to lectures, participate in class discussions and complete assignments virtually. Students can also observe photography techniques through video demonstrations. They may scan or upload their work for critique by peers and instructors. The following list gives some details on what to expect from common online photography classes.

Principles of Photography

Candidates study the basics of photography, learning about various settings and their applications. They gain practical experience taking photos with different shutter speeds, aperture and flash settings.

Wedding Photography

Students compare posed and candid photos and gain an understanding of the key moments in a wedding ceremony, which must be caught on film. Learned concepts include techniques for creating blurred backgrounds or foregrounds, which allow candidates to accent various parts of the image.


This course trains students in color correction. Students learn to ensure that photo colors are crisp, as well as render 2-toned images. Enrollees also use computer software programs to retouch or restore old photographs and learn techniques for fixing red eyes and other blemishes.


Using photography to capture the important elements of a news story is the focus of this course. Students write stories covering local events and utilize photos to enhance the story.

Equipment Requirements

Depending on the program, distance learning photography students should be prepared to invest a significant amount of money -- perhaps thousands of dollars -- into purchasing professional photography equipment and other tools used to make online learning a possibility in this field. This could include cameras, lens, tripods, lighting mechanisms, memory cards and more. Digital editing software may also be needed in addition to an up-to-date computer that can handle such programs. A color printer and scanner could be required as well.

Online professional photography programs can be offered at the certificate level all the way up to the master's level and cover topics such as principles of photography, retouching, and photojournalism.

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