Why take photography classes when the Internet has all the answers?

The world of photography consists of a vast array of equipment, techniques, styles, software and more. With all of the resources available on the Internet it seems like one could learn everything about photography at the click of a button.

But would you really want to?

Photography classes offer one-on-one assistance, instant feedback and alternative perspective.

Roy Dabner, a photojournalism teacher at Arizona State University, began taking photographs in high school. His career has taken him through photography school, multiple newspapers and Associated Press and European Pressphoto Agency positions.

Roy Dabner reviews a photograph with student Abel Muniz in a Photojournalism I class. (Photo by Madeline Pado)

Roy Dabner reviews a photograph with student Abel Muniz in a Photojournalism I class. (Photo by Madeline Pado)

In his entry-level photography classes, Dabner teaches students how to shoot in manual mode in order for them to know how to adjust to different lighting situations.

“My thing is: get them up to speed with the basics on the camera and then show them how to shoot some motion and how to capture that motion without it being blurry,” Dabner said.

After students have taken the introductory class, Dabner said they no longer fumble with their settings in the next class. “You understand how to work your camera…you know what’s going to change with the aperture or the ISO,” he said.

One of Dabner’s current students, senior Abel Muniz, already had photography experience and a community college photography class under his belt before entering Dabner’s Photojournalism I class.

Muniz said photography classes allow one to build a foundation and then continue learning on their own afterward.

“You can kind of learn it by yourself but you always need someone, like Roy, someone that’s been out in the field, to explain it to you better,” he said.

Another one of Dabner’s current students, sophomore Breanna Klein, said the class has taught her how to take quality photographs by using the right settings.

She said an in-person class allows for more hands-on experience, whereas online learning may not always give the context to understand a concept.

Dabner works with Breanna Klein who said in-person photography classes allow for more hands-on experience.(Photo by Madeline Pado)

Dabner works with Breanna Klein who said in-person photography classes allow for more hands-on experience. (Photo by Madeline Pado)

“I remember I was looking online and I was kinda like ‘I don’t understand why the ISO would be this,’ and at least when you have a teacher you can ask them and then they can show you with the camera,” Klein said.

A major difference between the online world and in-person classes is the ability to get the specific direction and the critique you need.

Dabner likes to take all of his students to a sports event and give them pointers in the field.

“That very first assignment that you send somebody out to — if they did not have any one-on-one with you — reading it in the book is not going to do it,” he said.

When you don’t understand aspects of a photography tutorial online, you have to seek the right information to allow you to understand.

In a class, an instructor can fill in all the pieces for you and you’ll be sure to get accurate and clear information the first time around.

Photography classes are a great way to learn photography basics and the Internet is a great tool to expand your knowledge once you have that foundation.

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6 responses to “Why take photography classes when the Internet has all the answers?

  1. I can only imagine how frustrating it can be to a professor who has dedicated so much time and skill to photojournalism, to have people think they can just learn all they need from the internet. I have to admit, however, that I currently use a DSLR for the news service I work for and I shoot on auto. Lame, I know. But I do plan on taking a photojournalism class while at the Cronkite School because I believe it is an art that can only be taught and I look forward to learning those skills. I am constantly impressed with you work, Maddie!

    • Jessica, I am glad to hear that you plan to take a photojournalism class even though you already shoot photos for a news service! While I of course suggest learning to shoot in manual if you have access to a DSLR, it’s good that you are starting to become familiar with it even in auto mode. I know you will be able to learn manual mode in your photojournalism class!

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