The Internet has made it easier than ever to find information on almost any subject, and photography is no exception. While reading up on how to use your camera or the basics of exposure, many people learn faster and better with feedback. But workshops can be expensive and difficult to work into many schedules. This is where BetterPhoto.com fills a void by giving students feedback and flexibility in how they learn.
BetterPhoto.com was started by Jim Miotke 12 years ago as a site dedicated to sharing information on photography. It grew into an online community of enthusiasts sharing information and images. That mission has expanded to offer online classes on a variety of photography subjects, from basic camera use to advanced Photoshop features. BetterPhoto offers more than 80 classes taught by some of the world’s best photographers, including classes on specific camera models, nature photography, composition and other subjects. Most of the instructors are published authors, workshop leaders and respected photographers like Lewis Kemper, Jim Zuckerman, Brenda Tharp, Bruce Smith, Tony Sweet and William Neill.
BetterPhoto also has an active forum community, a monthly photo contest and web-hosting options to get your photos online with a minimum amount of work on your part. The web hosting is available in several different levels, from a basic website to a Pro BetterPholio that gives you storage space for an unlimited number of images, e-commerce, mailing lists and password-protected galleries.
Classes run either four or eight weeks. Each week a new lesson is e-mailed to students covering a specific aspect of that course. As an example, Rob Sheppard has an eight-week class, “Impact in Your Photographs: The Wow Factor.” Lesson one covers interesting light and how to recognize and use it in dramatic ways. A new lesson is e-mailed every Wednesday morning. At the end of each lesson is an assignment for the student to put the information into practical use. The student then uploads images for critique, typically by Sunday or Monday of that week. The instructor reviews submissions and gives feedback on the image and how it applies to the lesson. One of the main advantages of the BetterPhoto approach is that every student is able to see the images uploaded by the other students and the feedback given by the instructor. So you get the individual attention that applies to you and also learn from others.
Each class also has a Q&A forum. Students can ask questions and receive answers from the instructor and other students. To keep classes manageable and ensure that students get the attention they deserve, class sizes are small. And because everyone has different schedules, students can ask questions and submit images at any time of the day. All class lessons and images, as well as the Q&A board, are active for one year from the start of class, so it’s possible to go back and review other students’ work and questions.
Most students feel that the level of instruction and learning exceeds that of a conventional workshop and that they receive more one-on-one attention from the instructor. Thousands of students have completed courses, and many are repeat customers, taking a variety of courses.
A free course preview, “Digital SLR Photography,” shows you how the system works so you can decide whether it’s the type of environment from which you’ll benefit. While not interactive, the preview is an archived course with access to the lessons, Q&A and instructor feedback on previously uploaded images.
Contact: BetterPhoto, (888) 927-9992, www.betterphoto.com.