Excuse my absence, have some free photography courses.

I’ve been a bit quiet on here haven’t I? Sorry about that. To be honest I’ve shifted priorities a bit recently, in line with how my work has changed over the past couple of years. Firstly things have got quite a bit busier with work in the past few months (this is good) and secondly I’ve acknowledged that I finally need to do much more marketing and selling of myself. So, time that previously would have been devoted to the blog has been spent actually out shooting, and working on marketing. I’ve also come to accept how much I’ve been flogging a dead horse in another respect.

Home Office
All work and no play makes Tom a dull boy.

A few years back I started creating online courses. I’ve always done some teaching stuff – hence this blog, and countless talks/lectures etc – but I felt there was a lot of basic stuff like technique, that I hadn’t covered. Plus, I thought I could make a bit of money, which seemed only fair after the amount of work I’ve put in over the years for free!

So I set up a site on Teachable, spent ages writing out curricular, recording videos and creating imagery. Then I sat back and waited for all the students to pour in.

Which didn’t really happen. You see, the thing with this very modern idea of a “sideline income” or similar terms describing making money with fairly little effort, is that it doesn’t really work. The people making money out of online education are either a) stacking it high and selling it cheap – producing lots of fairly bland product quickly and easily, or b) working on a much bigger scale involving a whole production crew, marketing teams and so on. The notion that someone like me, who actually spends the majority of his time taking photographs can just chuck out some videos, and then earn enough money to make that worthwhile, without spending lots of time marketing them, or paying other people to market them, is unfortunately incorrect.

A free photography course for Nikon at the Photography Show
Teaching for free – well, sort of – Nikon pay me to be there, but those happy punters aren’t paying a penny to hear me chunter on. Apart from the rather large ticket price to get into the Photography Show of course!

However, I’m still paying a monthly fee to Teachable, and all this really useful content is sitting there behind a paywall. You may have heard of the psychological phenomenon known as the “sunk cost fallacy”, essentially the idea that once we’ve invested time, effort and money into something, we’re very reluctant to let it go, even when it’s obvious that we should. Well, this is one of those cases. There have been many times in the past couple of years when I’ve thought about deleting the lot, but have held off in the misplaced hope that from nowhere dozens of paying students will materialize. I can’t tell you at which point reality finally sunk in, but not long ago I recognised the situation for what it was, and decided to do something about it.

I was tempted to delete the lot – almost out of spite – I didn’t want to give them away when I’d spent so long making them. Eventually I relented, and I’ve decided that instead I’ll release all the courses for free. So, over the next few months, here and on my YouTube channel, you can expect to see:

  • A full technical foundations course. Essentially a beginner’s guide to things like exposure, cameras, focusing. All the fundamental nuts and bolts.
  • A quick course on 5 essential habits that will improve your photography no matter what level you are at.
  • A course of really useful shortcuts and hacks to help you create better images with minimal outlay.
  • A full lighting course, taking you right through all the basic principles of how to use and understand light.
  • A portrait photography course.

The first 4 are finished, and it’s just a fairly straightforward case of me re-jigging the content for use on YouTube and this blog, and then publishing them incrementally. The portrait course is about 75% done, but by the time I’ve published all the others I’ll have wrapped it up. There are others in the pipeline too at various stages of planning including sports photography, the business of photography, video for photographers, and creativity.

So, a bit of a bonanza for you all really. 4 free photography courses, with more on the way. For the most part there will be a video of each course unit on YouTube, with the matching notes and diagrams here on the blog, so you’ll get more benefit by reading the blog. I’ll also welcome any suggestions people may have for areas they’d like to see covered in more depth.

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