Posted by Claire Wade

resizedimage300198-7474543068-f9d3edefe5Some years ago, long before I even knew that Camera Clubs existed, I only used the auto function on my bridge camera. I desperately wanted to know what all the other features on my camera were for, but despite briefly looking at the manual and asking photographer friends, nothing really sunk in.

So I was very happy to see that there was a FREE (with £10 enrollment fee) three week taster course in basic photography at the Burslem campus of Stoke on Trent College. This was an evening course that covered aperture, shutterspeed, ISO, white balance, composition and other stuff. It was very enjoyable and led to many participants joining the two term course, however this course was not free!

For many of us, for whom photography is a hobby rather than an occupation, this course was enough and we joined Willfield Camera Club afterwards. We still continue to learn at the club as there’s a variety of photographers who are happy to share knowledge and teach each others new skills, from the basics to advanced techniques. At Willfield, we also have the added bonus of workshop nights lessons on with studio lighting, back to basics evenings, ‘Ask the Panel’ and Phil’s Sunday Outdoor photography trips.

resizedimage300229-8995617721-619d0c2b9fHowever, I have taken a couple of one day specialised courses further afield. The first one was through a Groupon Offer that was a half day wildlife shoot at Knowsley Safari Park that got us closer to the animals than the general public and I received great tuition. This course was with Wild Arena and they also do a lot of other one day courses including macro on small animals.

The second course I tried was a one day macro course at Calke Abbey. This helpful course started with a lecture with great tuition and tips. There are great gardens at the Abbey, so lots to shoot! The course was run by Going Digital.

resizedimage300198-8731303901-4909010000Much further afield, I took my hubby on a one day photography course Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, Kent, with Photographers on Safari. We went this far as it’s the only place in the UK that we could do a gorilla shoot. This course was brilliant (and the food was good!) we were able to get closer to the gorillas than the general public and we went to more than one enclosure plus a drive around the park, going offroad at times. The tuition was the best. Not only did the instructor have great photography knowledge that he adapted to every level of ability of each student. He also knew a lot about animal behaviour and could help predict what the gorillas were going to do, so that we could get ready for some great shots.

Please see below for some helpful links of courses.

Stoke on Trent College Photography course for beginners,
Photography – Intermediate
Photography – Advanced
Newcastle College Getting started with Digital Photography
Photography A-level
NCFE Level 2 Certificate in Photography
Leek College Practical Photography
Studio Photography
Going Digital One-day Workshops in Stoke-on-Trent
Close up and Macro (including Calke Abbey)
Great Little Picture Photography Workshop for beginners in Lichfield, Staffordshire
Tez Marsden Photography courses for beginners in Derbyshire
Wild Arena Animal, macro and landscape photography courses throughout the UK
Photographers on Safari Wild animal photography in the UK and abroad

 If any other members can recommend any more photography courses in the area or further afield, please let me know and I can add it to this list. Thanks!