Judging the Value of Photography Classes
Photography is both an art and a science. The art is is the composition, subject, framing, and lighting. The science is in the exposure. The combination of art and science makes photography a craft. It is something that can be learned and there are many places that offer photography classes, such as colleges. But how do you judge what classes are best for you? After all, most classes cost money, besides your time is valuable.
There are three factors that should determine the value of a photography class. Your experience level, the class' content, and the instructor.
Your Experience Level
This one is self explanatory. If you've been shooting for a couple of years then the beginners class is probably going to be a waste of your time and money. But if you don't know what an f/stop is then you should take that class.
A basic course might be a waste of time for an experienced pro, but no matter how experienced you are, classes can still be beneficial. Class assignments are designed to challenge your mind and light a spark in your passion. Maybe you've been making a living off your camera for the past fifteen years, but you are starting to lose your enthusiasm. A class might be a good thing for you to take to help you have fun, and remember why you chose photography in the first place.
Instructors are very important to how great a class will be. Despite your experience and the goal of the class, the instructor will either make or break it. Be very selective over their credentials. Some instructors are highly experienced and masters of their craft. They have been in the business for years and are now looking for a quiet and steady gig that is close to home. They are passionate about photography and want to share their knowledge with passionate minds that are eager to learn.
Other instructors have PhDs in photography and have never worked for a client in their lives. Then you have others who are simply just teachers floating around from subject to subject. Make sure you pick a class that is taught by someone who impresses you and is full of experience.
Learning Outside of the Classroom
Formal classes are not the only way to learn the craft of photography. There are plenty of opportunities to learn outside of the classroom.
A great way to learn the craft is to apprentice under an experienced photographer. You'll learn the business from the bottom up. After a couple of years of learning both the craft and the business you'll know way more than any class could ever teach you.
Learn By Doing
Sure you can learn the science of exposures and the equipment in a class room but the only way you're going to develop your own style is by picking up a camera and shooting on your own. You will make some basic mistakes. Because of your experience, you probably won't make them again. One simple fact is that you will never have a portfolio if you don't shoot.
Photography can be learned in many different ways. Classes can be
beneficial but they are not for everyone. Use your judgement and only
sign up for one if you know it's right for you. What's most important
is that you keep going out and shooting on your own.