Previously, we put together a list of excellent photography courses for beginners, a solid resource for anyone just starting out. However, since many of our readers have a few years or decades of experience under their belts, we decided to put together another list of online courses for established photographers who want to hone their skills.
In particular, this second list is for portrait photographers, both amateur and professional. If you love taking photos of people, even if it’s “only” for social media, these courses can help you improve your techniques, workflow, and results.
All of the following courses in this compilation are available through reputable resources, each with a unique library of world class photography education workshops. If you enjoy learning from these photography courses, there are plenty more to choose from!
Complete Posing Workshop (SLR Lounge)
When it comes to photographing people, posing is one of the most important–and most challenging–skills a photographer needs to master. Even with perfect exposure and a beautiful backdrop, an unflattering pose or “bad” expression can make an otherwise great portrait undeliverable.
The Complete Posing Workshop from SLR Lounge offers over eight hours of in-depth posing analysis with demonstrations that can help you direct your clients into flattering poses, every time. Rather than having to memorize a bunch of poses that may or may not apply to your subjects in any given situation, you’ll learn to use a unique Foundation Posing Framework (built on five basic foot positions) that you can apply in any situation, whether for individuals, couples, or even large groups. Once you’ve mastered this framework, you’ll never have to worry about how to pose your subjects again.
This course is available for purchase or as part of an SLR Lounge Premium Membership.
Flash Photography Training System (SLR Lounge)
Without light, there is no photography, and lighting plays an especially crucial role when photographing portraits. Whether dramatic or light & airy, editorial or whimsical, lighting works hand in hand with posing/expression and can determine the mood and tone of your portraits, elevating your photography to new heights when used with intention.
In a collection of four workshops (featuring 34+ hours of education), the Flash Photography Training System from SLR Lounge covers the following topics, each in amazing detail:
- Lighting 101: The Fundamentals of Flash Photography
- Lighting 201: Single-Source Off-Camera Light Shaping
- Lighting 3: Location Lighting for Dramatic Portraits
- Lighting 4: Creating Every Natural Light Effect Using Flash
The workshops included in this system are also available for individual purchase or as part of an SLR Lounge Premium Membership.
Complete Wedding Photography Training System (SLR Lounge)
If you’re interested in wedding photography – or if you keep getting asked to photograph weddings – the Complete Wedding Photography Training System is for you. Over the course of eight workshops (I repeat, workshops, not videos), you’ll learn the ins and outs of wedding photography. Here’s a quick overview of the workshop topics covered in this training system:
- Planning & Communication
- Photographing the Groom
- Photographing the Bride
- Photographing the Couple
- Photographing the Ceremony
- Photographing the Details
- Photographing Groups
- Photographing the Reception
With 70+ hours of educational content, this training system leaves no stone unturned when exploring the wedding photography genre. In addition to learning how to frame your shots, pose subjects, and light the scene (wherever the location), you’ll also learn how to work with and/or manage a team of photographers to cover all of the moments that make up a wedding day. Take advantage of the 10+ years of real-world experience that these workshops are built on and make your transition into wedding photography with confidence and valuable skills.
The workshops included in this system are also available for individual purchase or as part of an SLR Lounge Premium Membership. You can find more workshops in the SLR Lounge Store.
The Fundamentals of Fashion Photography with Shavonne Wong (Fstoppers)
If you’ve ever wondered what it takes to work as a fashion photographer, this course is for you. Fstoppers has teamed up with photographer Shivanne Wong, a fashion, beauty, and advertising photographer from Singapore, to share a collection of easy-to-follow lessons that walk you through (as the title suggests) the fundamentals of fashion photography. As the Fstoppers team notes, the goal of this workshop is to fast-track your learning so that you can start shooting professional images as soon as possible.
Here’s an overview of some of the topics covered in this course:
- Building a Professional Team
- Shooting & Lighting
Swimwear Photography: Lighting, Posing, and Retouching with Joey Wright (Fstoppers)
As the title suggests, this workshop offers extensive tutorials on how to light, pose, and retouch swimwear portraits. Over the course of 40 lessons (20+ hours of content), you’ll get an inside look at photographer Joey Wright’s complete workflow, which covers everything from capturing the image on location to adjusting the raw files in post-production and delivering the final retouched image to the client.
Here’s a quick overview of the content covered in this course:
- Posing Models
- Working with Hair & Makeup Artists
- Shooting On-Location with Natural Light & Flash/Strobes
- Marketing and Business Practices
Living Stills: How to Animate Your Photos (Fstoppers)
Shavonne Wong returns (we mentioned her work in a workshop above) to teach us how to take our portrait photography to the next creative level. While many of the courses focus on how to capture the image (which this course also touches on), Wong goes a step further here and walks us through her process for animating photos, which Wong calls “living stills.” You have to see them to believe them, and with this tutorial, you can create them! It’s a surefire way to grab your viewer’s attention.
Here’s a quick overview of the concepts covered in this workshop:
- Shoot Concepts for Living Stills
- Set Planning
- Culling and Color Correction in Capture One
- Brief Retouching Overview in Photoshop
- Masking and Selection in Photoshop
- Exporting PNGs
- The Fundamentals of Animating in After Effects
- Using the Puppet Tool
- Exporting Living Stills for Social Media
This course also includes 32 practice files so that you can follow along and learn the techniques before capturing your own portraits.
Photography Composition & Portrait Photography Masterclass (Udemy)
This masterclass takes an in-depth look at two major subjects: composition and portraiture. It’s a good choice if you want a lot of content and details to dig into. With 81 downloadable resources, 11.5 hours of on-demand video, and lifetime access, you’ll have plenty of information to build your skills. Some of the topics include:
- How to capture emotional body language and gestures
- How to use natural light to create stunning portraits
- How to set up an affordable, home-based portrait studio
- How to take beautiful portraits in a studio with flashes and strobes
- How to pose your models’ bodies and faces
- How to use eyes to create deep interest in your photos
And much more!
Become a Better Photographer (Udemy)
If you prefer a simpler course, this course is quick and easy to follow. With 5.5 hours of on-demand video, it offers 50 tips for taking amazing photos, especially for portrait photography. You’ll learn how to take gorgeous portraits indoors and outdoors in various conditions, including snow, bright sunshine, and blue skies. But you’ll also get nice tips in other areas, such as photographing fireworks and landscapes.
Ultimate Fashion Photography Masterclass: Your 2018 Guide (Udemy)
We visit the topic of fashion photography once again. This masterclass gives you an insider’s look at professional fashion photography, from lighting and posing models to putting final touches on your images in Adobe Photoshop. You’ll go behind-the-scenes of live photo shoots and learn how direct models, makeup artists, and hair stylists to create strong images. You’ll also learn how to present your editorial images to clients, so you can get started in the fashion photography industry.
The course is fascinating and quick to complete with 4 hours of on-demand video, 3 downloadable resources, and full lifetime access. Whether you’re seriously considering a career in fashion photography or simply want to take cool editorial photos, this course is worth checking out. For more portrait-themed photography courses on Udemy, take a look at their full portrait photography list.
Enrolling in one or more of the above courses can prove a great way to jumpstart your creativity and discover new interests. If nothing else, you’ll walk away with some fresh ideas and techniques for improving your portraits.