View Full Version : Photography Course discussion thread

20-10-2011, 7:26pm
I thought it could be worthwhile to have an ongoing discussion about photographic courses. This can include TAFE, UNI, private or community college short courses, day tours with known photographers, anything!

Anybody done any sort of courses (preferably short courses) of any description on here?

20-10-2011, 7:38pm
Note that any member with less than 30 days membership and 50 posts cannot name/promote a course on Ausphotography.

20-10-2011, 10:52pm
There are a number of teachers here providing instruction on photography. They range from landscapes, portraits to general.

Check the site advertisers list. Most are from 1 to several days in duration.

Mark L
21-10-2011, 7:49pm
There are a number of teachers here providing instruction on photography. ..........

They're called AP members. All you have to do is post a photo and ask.:)

I kinda did this free course http://www.ausphotography.net.au/forum/showlibrary.php?title=Indexes:New_To_Photography_Book :th3:

21-10-2011, 11:04pm
Into my second week at a course when I get my post count up and can tell you about it.

25-10-2011, 8:59am
I agree with Mark. All the info, plus more, you want is on this site , just search for what you want to know. The only down side to searching is that some features become disabled if you have under 50 posts which is a pain at times.

25-10-2011, 9:33am
I agree with Mark. All the info, plus more, you want is on this site , just search for what you want to know. The only down side to searching is that some features become disabled if you have under 50 posts which is a pain at times.

Searching etc is not disabled for under 50 posts. The only thing members with less than 50 posts cannot do, is promote or complain about companies/products/services, or use the site Gallery as a photo hosting service. All other features are available.

Members who are inactive (haven't participated on the forums for some time) do get heavier restrictions, and yes some forum access and other features are not available to them. This is done to rewards active site participation, with full access. Those who contribute, get to utilise all the site offers.

25-10-2011, 11:43am
There is good money to be made in photography training nowadays ;) the explosion of semi professional people providing introductory courses and personal session provides a range of options for someone looking for some kind of formal training, the list is pretty endless however here is one that i reckon could be worth the money...Art Wolfe Workshop, one day or a public lecture.


note, i have no affiliation with this.

I would also look at one on one training, I have heard very good reports from newbies about the benefits of a couple of hours every week for a month or two, there are lots of people providing this kind of thing now..

27-10-2011, 1:24pm
Over the last few months a number (7) people have approached me to tutor them on basic usage of the newly purchased DSLR. I have been offered up to $100 per hour to do this, in all instances I have directed those people to several books by three well known photographers, you tube, strobist.com (for those seeking a bit more) and particulary this forum. With all these people I have suggested use the free learning tools that are available before coming up with large sums of money for courses (save it for glass). If after a while you crave further knowledge then research the most appropriate course be it Uni, Tafe or private provider was my thoughts.

03-11-2011, 12:12pm
Ok, well I'll start the ball rolling on some course experiences:

I've done 2 courses. The first was a 'beginning photography' course at the local Community College.

It certainly didn't teach me anything I couldn't find out online, but doing this course really helped to get some of the basics to click. As such I found it really beneficial, and well worth the $99 I paid for it. 2 day course.

I've also studied a Certificate IV in Photoimaging at Ultimo TAFE (Sydney). 2 years part time - and IMO, an absolute waste of time.
I was in the first year of the newly restructured course which I'm sure didn't help, as there was a definite sense of the lecturers making it up as they were going along. The focus of much of the course was on large format photography - but personally I'm not convinced this really helped much with the ins and outs of using a 35mm camera in various real world situations. The only advantage with LF photography as a learning tool is that taking a photo is a real commitment so you don't fall into the trap of 'click and pray' which can easily occur with a digital SLR.

Sure, they did go over a lot of compositional concepts, but overall I found that they offered very little constructive feedback on the images we submitted. In the lectures there was way, way too much focus on things which, for most people, are absolutely useless - such as hours spent on the construction of 35mm film and reading charts, things like that.

The practical sessions were all studio based which is probably good for people looking at getting straight into studio based work either during or after the course, but not so useful if you're not looking into that (and heck, there's probably plenty of books and sites around which could've taught the same sort of thing).

We did have a lot of people in the course who also did photography at Uni but found it wasn't practical enough, so the TAFE course does have certain benefits for people seeking work in the industry as they do like to talk about about industry related matters. There just didn't seem to be enough real world, practical assistance, I thought.

But overall, I found that a lot of time was wasted on fairly irrelevant matters, little time spent on real feedback on images or basic, important things such as RAW workflow. A lot of time spent on studio lighting but because I haven't set foot in a studio since, I've forgotten all of that. Overall I wouldn't recommend this TAFE course to people - I just don't think anything was taught here that couldn't have been taught better through books, personal experimenttion and online feedback.

As such, I didn't bother following through with the Diploma so I can't provide feedback on that; it's possible that the diploma really makes the Cert IV worthwhile.

I'm interested on hearing other people's thoughts and experiences, particularly if anybody's done any privately run courses from well known photographers.

03-11-2011, 5:27pm
CapnBloodbeard that's a pity you had such bad experiences from the TAFE course but think about most people studying it would be looking to work in the industry straight away hence the topics covered.

I'm currently studying a Bachelor of Photography at Griffith in Brisbane. So far the it has been great. Lots of hands on and theory. Both on the technical aspects and art (for the lack of better word right now) side of things. It's obviously not for everyone doing a uni degree but it's been very good for me so far. I'll only end up completing the first year of though since its my 2nd major for my architectural degree.

03-11-2011, 7:04pm
I wasn't writing off the course for the industry-related aspects, but certainly not everybody going into the industry is going to find studio flash work beneficial, and outside of that the only industry-oriented stuff was a bit of discussion on copyright (which I've since found out is largely wrong anyway), ABN, that sort of thing - and just little bits and pieces that cropped up in discussion here and there. Much of the rest was useless though.

For instance, huge amounts of course time was dedicated to darkroom printing. Some may say that it's still highly relevant in the digital age, but I'm not convinced - and there was very little dedicated to digital printing (which, these days, is as essential a skill as knowing how to use your camera)

Glad to hear you're finding your degree useful. I think (could be wrong) most people in my TAFE course were majoring in photography through a fine arts course (not sure if any universities in Sydney at that time offered a B/Photog), so it's kind of understandable that it would be more high-arts related than how to use a camera.

Anyway, it's also possible that the TAFE course has improved since I was there :)

03-11-2011, 8:31pm
G'day all

I'm going to come into this wearing 2 hats - 1 being that of an AP regular member & AP sponsor & 1 being that of a photographic techniques lecturer since the mid 70s

Some of the comments above suggest 'only' going with the AP knowledge base, others suggest some formal education. I am going to suggest a bit of both

I no longer lecture at the Canberra College - but back in the early 2000s they were doing a 10-year retro of their activities and it turned out that I had had over 2500 students thru my photography & computing classes over that decade. My student / course completion rates were never less than 97% and often I finished with over 100% .... ie- I gained students from other lecturers during the course. Other lecturers were going down with end-of-term student completion numbers of 40% - 50%

The courses I was running followed the designated course outline but were 100% created by myself for course content: course documentation was self-created & peer reviewed [as would be expected] and aimed at amateur photographers. I took this approach as I was tired of 3rd-party teaching texts [often imported from overseas] concentrating I felt too much on the approach "that you must have a SLR to undertake any 'serious' photography" and that "you must shoot in RAW format before you can call yourself a real photographer" and so on ... To me it's a bit like saying "before you can consider yourself a good car driver, you need to compete in a Bathurst 1000 car race"

During the period I was running 'my' classes I was head-hunted by the local TAFE to go and lecture at the main Canberra campus: but using their course outlines, their course notes and doing it 'their' way ~ after looking further into it all, strangely I declined their offer even tho the pay was double what I was getting. Their course material was outdated, and it was in my opinion not particularly relevant to the majority of the student potential they were aiming for

Also during this 10-year period, I had returned to TAFE to upgrade my computing skills, to find that the tutor was 'reading from the book' as we went along, and many of the statements made to the group were seriously questionable in their accuracy. Needless to say, in my end-of-class feedback to the TAFE, they were not impressed by my honesty & where I asked for my course fees to be refunded

About 5 yrs back I became so disheartened with the ACT government's penny pinching of the adult education system, where courses in the colleges were now expected to run at a 'profit' and where promises of new equipment &/or new facilities were successively not met, that I departed the ACT schooling system and started doing my own thing

My college courses have been rewritten and I now take them on-the-road out into the Aussie outback - well the NSW & Qld outback anyway. I now offer my services to camera shops in towns that do not have a TAFE or an adult-ed community college. These workshops now take the form of a 'weekend workshop' of about 20 hours duration ... Friday night + all day Saturday & Saturday night too + all day Sunday > yes long days but often the students exhaust me long before I exhaust them.

During 2011 we offered photography workshops over 2-dozen workshops between Coffs Harbour and Cooktown and inland to Mt Isa and Longreach. About 3/4 of the workshops 'got the numbers' to run, tho obviously we'd like them all to run

In the last year or two in Canberra and for all of 2011, I find that my students come into 3 'camera-categories' .... 1/3 have cameras which are slip-in-the-pocket automatics, 1/3 have superzoom semi-automatics and 1/3 have a dSLR kit-lens camera. Occasionally a student turns up with a full-frame digital + various very nice lenses - and I find them on 'auto everything' as they haven't ever been shown otherwise. One lady was sold $10k of kit prior to an overseas jaunt when all she wanted was a simple 10x zoom automatic camera. Makes me want to cry

Other times, upon seeing the superzoom cameras, many of the dSLR people comment that they wished the shop had shown them one before selling them a twin-lens dSLR kit. Interesting comment ~ while 'we' know about image quality and sensor sizes, most of these people will never make a print bigger than 20 x 30cm, and in fact 90% only view their images on the computer screen, which we all know is only 1 megapixel

Photographically, the students fall into 2 groups - 'weekend & family happy snaps' vs semi-serious 'camera-club & AP member' types.

So how does all this relate to AP and this thread ...
Yes - this site does have a wealth of information both in 'library' form and general knowledge of its members ... and it is an excellent learning regime if followed. However to me, learning to drive your camera is not all that different from learning to drive your car - you get real benefit from a personal approach based upon both knowledge & experience ... and the first-hand information & feedback you receive in a classroom or workshop gets the message across 'real quick' whereas many for of us, sometimes reading stuff for hours, the wheat tends to get lost amongst the chaff [as the old saying goes]

Based upon my many years of doing what I love - I would strongly suggest people go to their local adult-ed college and do a course with them - and don't be afraid to ask awkward questions of the lecturer ... any half-decent lecturer will either answer in full or offer to investigate and answer next week.

Hope this helps and is not too long-winded
Regards, Phil

03-11-2011, 9:59pm
Nicely written

05-11-2011, 7:44am
Speaking for myself, I don't relate well to PC based learning, this is primarily due to my lack of self discipline and concentration (and kids in the house).
Having said that the understanding of basics I have picked up on AP learning section has been a massive boost to my knowledge and confidence.
Would love to do a course of some description but on the one occasion I did, I found the teacher had little to no more knowledge than I did (or perhaps chose not to share).
So how does one distinguish between the wheat and the chaff?
Great write up Phil.


05-11-2011, 10:27am
Hi everyone, first post for me... I have for some time been getting into photography and have looked at various courses around so thought I'd put my two cents in for anyone in a similar position. A lot of courses were not possible to attend due to working full time and I thought that the costs involved would be better being put into glass anyway. A while ago I attended a community college course which was slightly helpful and provided a reasonable overview of different photography. I've found the most useful learning has come from searching forums (but not posting til now) and also joining a local camera club. I would highly recommend to anyone looking to learn to find a club that is keen to support new members. Attending regular meetings, competitions etc I have learnt a huge amount and the costs (subs) are minimal compared to formal courses. It is a great way to receive personal feedback that's immediate and the club I attend have regular guest speakers which are often inspiring. I have found in my career that formal qualifications may appear good on paper but don't necessarily translate into high quality outcomes.