Every designer I know is constantly in the mode of progressing their art form and pushing the technical and conceptual envelope of what they are comfortable with. One particular group I know consists of photographers who are perpetually on the prowl for new techniques, tricks, and equipment to explore the boundaries of their panoramic imaginations. An interesting idea they always bring to the foreground of conversation is the pedagogical and practice-based difference of taking online photography classes versus in-person practice sessions. Let’s assess the commonalities and differences between the two so that it might inform what would be better suited for YOU.
Most notably, online photography classes make the technicalities of learning photography much more digestible. The courses can come with a multitude of mediums for different learning types so that in a sense it’s more inclusive of varying skill sets and experience backgrounds. For example, you might get a learning module that contains instructional videos, photographs (duh), PDF documents, info graphics and an interactive forum where you can post ideas and blogs. It’s not unusual for an in-person course to have some of these items, just more unlikely since they’re usually thought of as creative substitutes to an otherwise engaging classroom atmosphere. Online classes do however make it easy to record your ideas and maintain resources of feedback you can always go back and reflect on.
Remotely working on the internet also allows you the opportunity to converse and interact with people from regions all across the globe. Meeting people digitally and having them share their worldview could be one of the most valuable aspects of online photography classes. This also allows you to view and critique pieces that originate from places you never knew existed through a cultural filter that is contextually important just as much as the quality of the final visual composition. You may find this aspect of experience missing if you were to enroll in your local photography class where there’s a familiarity with your peer’s work and the locations/subject matter they have decided to pursue.
Another benefit of taking some online photography classes opposed to an in-person workshop is you may find yourself becoming adept in learning to showcase your work through digital platforms. Because half of the work you do would be uploading, viewing, and critiquing photographs online, you may start to grasp the subtleties of presentation on screen and why some pieces appear more successful than others. In person photography classes however would force you into the habit of learning to present your work verbally to other people. Public speaking and the act of expressing your ideas are invaluable characteristics to possess and have far reaching practical implications in other areas of life. You may never take another class again but some of those sessions would undoubtedly inform the ways in which you communicate abstract ideas, read an audience, and take criticism constructively and not personally. Whether you decide to pursue online or in-person courses is a completely personal decision because either would be a fantastic experience.