It’s not easy to find the time to learn a new skill. This holds especially true for professional photographers, who often work long hours behind the scenes editing photo shoots, answering emails, and balancing finances. Unfortunately, an artist must expand their repertoire and keep up with updates or else risk sinking in a competitive market.
But how exactly is the average person expected to schedule and budget for valuable courses taught by accredited instructors?
Craftsy offers a viable solution. Day or night, the platform’s goal is to connect talented instructors with those looking to learn. Hosting virtual seminars in cooking, knitting, sewing, and even cake decorating, the site is an ambitious creative’s dream come true.
Luckily for all of the shutterbugs out there, Craftsy also has over 75 high-quality, immersive online photography classes available. We’ll be taking a brief look at what you can expect from the company’s services and whether they deliver on an educational level.
Bluprint Subscription vs. Craftsy A La Carte Purchases
Before we get too far, it’s important to clarify Craftsy’s pricing options as well as go over their newest extension, Bluprint.
Every Craftsy online photography course is available to buy a la carte through the site. Once purchased, you may download the HD quality tutorials as well as the course material that goes along with it. Prices vary depending on the length, depth, and specificity the videos get into.
In the past, Craftsy had an unlimited subscription plan. This summer, however, Craftsy rebranded that particular segment into the platform known as Bluprint. Essentially, it offers exactly what Craftsy Unlimited did. For just $14.99 per month, subscribers may access any course stored in the site’s library whenever they’d like. In fact, it’s possible to mark off lessons that you’d like to watch later on and store them within a personal Bluprint saved section.
In short, Craftsy and Bluprint offer the same material. However, Bluprint is a subscription service (which you can try out for free for up to 7 days). Craftsy, on the other hand, will only allow you to buy individual classes one at a time. Which is the better option depends on just how much you’d like to get out of Craftsy’s available materials.
Selected Course Reviews
To get a better idea of what Craftsy had to offer, I tried out three different online photography classes of varying degrees of difficulty. Each had its own set of highs and lows, as I quickly found that each instructor had a different way of running their class. But, before delving in, there are a few helpful features that all Craftsy courses have to offer.
- Each class can run anywhere from one to four hours, making them easy enough to sit through in a single sitting.
- All Craftsy online photography classes include closed captioning.
- Every video includes a rewind option. If something is tripping you up, you’re few to rewatch a demonstration or explanation as many times as you’d like.
- Lessons include a time-stamped discussion thread for viewers to leave questions and comments. Some instructors keep track of their course’s thread and provide additional insight to answer students.
- Every lesson is divided into small, clearly titled segments. You may skip ahead to any segment at any time. This eliminates the need to watch hours of footage just to listen in on a specific topic.
Review 1: Craftsy Beginner Classes
Featuring: The Essentials for Understanding Light with Alan Thornton
Class duration: 2hr 28m 26s
A La Carte Price: $19.99
A veteran instructor at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, Alan Thornton quickly makes it clear that he is a fantastic teacher. As the course title suggests, Understanding Light specifically discusses the ways in which light functions and their applications.
Covering broad and at times complicated concepts, lighting can be a difficult topic to teach without in-person demonstrations. However, Thornton uses a few different techniques to clearly illustrate his lectures.
Using easy to understand language, he starts out by discussing some basic concepts. As the course goes on, he includes studio demos and location shoots that show the information in action. Throughout, he brings in pertinent images and diagrams in order to convey concepts in the most straightforward way possible.
Furthermore, Thornton makes a point of interacting with his virtual students. A frequent follower of the accompanied class discussion, he chimes in to answer nearly any question that’s posted over the course of the lesson.
Review 2: Craftsy Intermediate Classes
featuring: Dog Photography with Anthony Helton
Class duration: 3hr 13m 55s
A La Carte Price: $24.99
In short, Helton’s Dog Photography class is a major departure from the beginner courses discussed earlier. As an intermediate course, much less of the lesson is devoted to fundamental topics – it’s expected that students tuning in should already have the basics covered. However, that doesn’t mean that technical information is entirely omitted from this course. For instance, a few post-processing Photoshop tips are shown via screen sharing.
Though the style and content are drastically different, Helton also proves to be a qualified instructor for his Craftsy course. As the owner of his own pet photography business, he has a unique, valuable skill set that he skillfully shares. The presence and success of such a class alone show that Craftsy has niche topics to offer that other similar educational services may not.
That being said, for those seeking more of a step-by-step how-to, Helton’s class isn’t a great fit. Though he does check in on class discussions, he only answers a few student questions. And, as mentioned before, it focuses less so on photographic fundamentals. For experienced photographers looking to develop their own personal style and take their art to the next level, on the other hand, this is one class that’s certainly worth looking into.
Review 3: Craftsy Advanced Classes
Featuring: Building Your Business: Beautiful Cake Photography with Carrie Sellman
Class duration: 1hr 39m 55s
A La Carte Price: $40.00
The mind behind an incredibly successful blog, Carrie Sellman proves to be yet another highly qualified instructor chiming into Craftsy. However, of the three classes, I went through, I found Sellman’s to be the weakest of the bunch.
For starters, I found the title itself to be misleading. I had expected a feature on food photography – instead, I received a class in marketing and branding. And, while those are certainly indispensable tools for a photographer to have, I found that the class was much less art-focused than I would have liked.
That’s not to say that Carrie didn’t offer some valuable information. She does an especially good job of walking through her home-made photo sets and discussing her use of props. Insightfully, she suggests that photographers strive to present a story with their food photography. But, the class itself runs short, hardly hitting the 90-minute mark. And, frankly, a good portion of that is spent discussing topics that shouldn’t be covered in an “advanced” class (i.e. explaining what Adobe Lightroom is).
Lastly, her constant callbacks to her own blog sometimes make the class feel a bit more like a sales pitch than a learning experience. Because of this, some skilled students may walk away from this course feeling a bit shortchanged.
Is Craftsy Worth it?
In short – yes. It’s not a perfect platform, but it gets pretty close to being one. Not every instructor is graced with the same skillset, but all of the individuals recruited to teach have impressive resumes from a variety of backgrounds.
Regardless of what’s being taught, everything is presented in HD quality and includes helpful supplemental materials. And, considering that in-person workshops can cost hundreds of dollars to attend, Craftsy proves to be an affordable alternative.
Even if you’ve been working in the industry for years, it’s never too late to brush up with an online photography course.
Check out what Craftsy has to offer today – chances are, they have something that can take your skills to the next level.
Meghan is an artist and writer based out of Boston, MA. With an interest in everything from instant film to experimental videography, her work has been featured internationally in a variety of photographic exhibitions and publications. As a regular contributor, she uses her broad background in fine art and varied professional experiences to inform her articles.