Photography courses are meant to improve technique, encourage creativity, and often to increase earnings. These courses might not broaden your professional services but they’re fun, challenging — and you haven’t thought of them.
Wedding photographers might take classes on posing brides and shooting details. Portrait photographers will learn about expression and lighting, and there’s no shortage of courses for landscape photographers hoping to get more out of their foreign trips. But what do you do when you’ve studied the essentials and learned the basics? Here are four unusual photography courses that can take your shooting in all sorts of unexpected directions.
We’ve already seen that it’s sometimes possible to make money from the images people shoot with their iPhones but those sold shots make up only a tiny fraction of the millions of photographs taken every year on Apple’s device. The other pictures are only meant to be memorable, pretty and artistic. London’s Kensington and Chelsea College wants to make that easier by offering a five-week course on iPhoneography.
The classes, which cost £115 for local students and £158 to students from outside the EU, will cover basic photography techniques such as composition, color, subjects and lighting (albeit on a camera with no manual aperture, ISO or shutter speed settings, and on which low light and zooming are best avoided.) But it will also introduce the range of apps available for editing and sharing images on the iPhone, explain how to use them and how to combine them for unique effects.
Richard Gray, the course’s teacher, concedes that the kind of artistic images that students are expected to produce will have little commercial value but predicts that the iPhone’s ubiquity and its potential as an image-maker will help to produce some exceptional images.
“I don’t think there’s any money in selling iphoneography,” he told us. “But it gives people a fantastic creative outlet for very little money and with relatively little technical knowledge. In that sense, it is a great democratising force for photography, allowing some very talented people to produce great art who otherwise wouldn’t have.”
If you’re in London, you can apply for the course here.
Digital Pinhole Photography
Take an iPhoneography class and you’ll be using the latest software applications to play with images captured on an advanced piece of consumer electronics. Take a Digital SLR Pinhole Workshop and you’ll be using a complex camera to recreate the effects of the simplest and oldest image-making device.
The three-hour workshop, also taught in London, introduces the camera obscura and describes the fundamentals of pinhole photography. Students get to make their own pinhole body cap and turn their DSLR into the kind of simple camera that’s been out of date for the best part of a century.
It sounds like a strange thing to do to a DSLR that will have cost students several hundred dollars but the effects could still be worth the downgrade. Pinhole photography on a digital device works on the same principle as the traditional technique, with the light landing on image sensors instead of directly hitting the film. The result though, says Photography Course London which is running the workshop, is images which are “softer and often painterly in appearance with a vignetting effect.”
Of course, you could probably get the same effect with an iPhone app but that would be a whole different course.
The Digital Pinhole workshop costs £65 if booked before March 17 and is available here.
Digital Infrared Photography
Photographers who prefer their photography techniques to be a little more advanced can go to the other end of the spectrum by taking a class on digital infrared photography. Taught online over four weeks by BetterPhoto.com, instructor Deborah Sandidge, author of Digital Infrared Photography, the class costs $198 but includes plenty of personal interaction with a teacher who has an expert knowledge of the subject.
Like iPhoneography and digital pinhole shots, it’s hard to see the commercial value of playing with infrared filters or a converted camera but the black and white images that infrared photography can produce do have a special softness that traditional monochrome shots just can’t replicate. Your $198 investment might not yield a rise in commissions or stock sales — and it’s even unlikely to win you a spot on a gallery wall — but it will give a whole new way of creating some unusual and special photographic art.
You can sign up here.
You can’t see infrared light but you know it’s there. The same can’t be said of photographing ghosts and yet you can still find people offering to teach photographers to capture orbs, snap spirits and picture poltergeists. The courses are often pretty unimpressive. The International Ghost Hunters Society, for example, offers a “Certified Ghost Researcher Home Study Course” that includes ghost photography techniques and analysis for both digital and analog cameras. The CD costs an impressive $175 and you’ll have to disinter an XP computer to run it. Not that you should. People who do want to photograph ghosts and spirits can find plenty of advice and tips available for free online — and of course, you can’t actually do it. As Bryan Bonner of supernatural investigation group Rocky Mountain Paranormal warned us:
“It would be great if I could tell you how to photograph a ghost, however because there has never been a documented photograph of a ghost it is not possible…. We don’t even know what a ‘ghost’ is.”
What you can photograph though is night activity, spooky abandoned places and ghost towns. Photographer Joe Reifer, for example, takes up to sixteen photographers out near San Francisco at night to explore long exposures and light painting. He’ll even tell you how to create “ghostly figures in your nocturnal images, a tradition that dates back to 19th century spirit photography.”
That kind of photography won’t just make for a fun night of picture-taking. It might even have some commercial potential. At least one photographer has managed to build a career out photographing the deathly silence of America’s ghost towns.
You can book a night photography workshop with Joe Reifer here.