Life through a lens: Digital and traditional photography courses

By Frank Bolger - Last update

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Ansel Adams, Annie Leibovitz, Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus, Man Ray, Nan Goldin… These are just some of the photographers whose work and names are instantly recognisable.

Great photography is both art and documentary. It can evoke emotions, ask you to critically consider a subject or make you see something in a whole new way. Like any art, there are those who seem to be born with a natural aptitude. However, all great artists study and practice their craft. If you want to be a professional photographer or simply take better snaps, a photography course is the best place to start.

The world that appears through a lens is distinct from the world perceived by the human eye. A photography course will teach you how light, motion and colour affect one another when recorded. To become an expert, you need to achieve a level of mastery over these. Good photography requires both artistry and technical expertise. Whether you use a traditional or digital camera, photography is a craft.

What’s involved?

There are a range of photography courses on offer. Some concentrate on traditional methods; others on digital technology. Many will divide their time between the creative and technical aspects of photography. The former covers issues such as composition, lighting and subject matter. The latter can involve practical advice on camera modes, lenses, flash photography, exposure, shutter speeds and depth of field.

Introductory photography courses take around 6 to 12 weeks. These will cover the aforementioned aspects along with the basics of digital manipulation, adjustment and editing with Adobe products; file management; and preparing photos for print, email and websites. Students are generally expected to bring their own cameras. Some providers will also ask that students bring their own laptops to class.

Advanced photography are for those with some experience. Programmes are available at both certificate and degree levels. They cover advanced photographic techniques and theory, along with training in using Photoshop to create panoramas, restore old photos, use filter effects, and so on.

Why do it?

The famous landscape photographer Ansel Adams once referred to photography as a blazing poetry of the real. You need only consider timeless photos such as the Hindenburg flaming next to its mooring dock (1937), the American soldiers raising the flag at Iwo Jima (1945), a young Muhammad Ali standing over a prone Sonny Liston (1965), or the lone man confronting an oncoming tank in Tiananmen Square (1989) to know that his words are true.

Aside from its many functions in professional life, photography can also be a relaxing and reflective pastime. It encourages people to find new ways of looking at everyday objects and events.

Have a look at digital photography courses here, and courses on both traditional and digital techniques here.

Frank Bolger

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