How To Choose A photography course

We look at every major type of photography education opportunity and compare the cost, time, benefits and drawbacks of each. Ranging from university Degree’s to one-day photography courses.

Cost of photography courses.

Accredited Photography Courses:

  • University Degree. 3.5 Years. $75,000AUD.
  • Diploma. 1.5 Years. $26,000AUD.
  • Certificate. 6 Months. $1000AUD – 10,000AUD.

Photography Short Courses:

  • International photography trip with professional photographer. $20,000AUD.
  • One week retreat style photography course events. $2000-$5000AUD.
  • One day photography course. $500-$1000AUD.
  • Half day photography course. $100-$500AUD.
  • Private photography mentorship. $5000-$10,000AUD.

Online photography courses:

  • Accredited online photography courses.
  • Non-accredited online photography courses.
  • Free online photography courses, Youtube.

Before you choose a photography course

Decide what your goals are. There are many different ways to learn photography and make money with photography. You don’t need a degree to be successful. There are a huge number of well known successful photographers who have never acquired a degree.

  • Do you want to run a photography business?
  • Do you want as job as a photographer, working for somebody else?
  • Do you want to be a freelancer?
  • Are you a serious photography hobbyist?
  • Do you want to learn how to take phenomenal photographs?
  • Do you have a general interest in the subject of photography?

Accredited Photography Courses

University Degree (Bachelor Of Photography)

Expected Total Cost:
$75k total. (AUD)

Expected Time:
Typically delivered in 6 semesters over 3 years of full-time study.

Why / Why Not:
I cant think of many “use cases” where a degree is the best choice for someone who wants to learn about photography OR start a photography business. $75,000 is not a small amount of money. And 3 years is not a short amount of time. Choosing to undertake a university degree is a major life decision. 

Choosing a degree in photography because it’s internationally recognised doesn’t  translate to guaranteed work. It also doesn’t mean that your body of photography work is guaranteed to be high quality by the end it. However if you’re looking to work for a big organisation in the photo journalism space you may need a degree. 

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room here – A $75k investment into your own photography services will create an enormous amount of opportunity for you. This amount would be more than enough to start your business, advertise it and grow it for multiple years. You do not need to be certified by anyone before you start a photography business. 

You can educate yourself with private photography mentorship or photography courses from professional photographers outside of the University system.

Diploma of Photography

Expected Total Cost:
$26k total. (AUD)

Expected Time:
1.5 years of full-time study.

Why / Why Not:
My thoughts echo what I wrote above regarding a university degree. Except here you’re spending one third of the money and half of the time. Many people leave high school not knowing what they want to do – or more specifically – what niche in photography they would like to be a part of. Undertaking a Diploma or Degree to develop a better understanding of what’s involved in those niches is a long and expensive way of doing so.

The advantage here is that some types of accredited photography courses are subsidised by the government and will bring your fee’s down. You also may not need upfront capital (cash) to commence your studies. Eg you could defer your payment with HECS.

Certificate In Photography

Expected Total Cost:
$1000AUD – 10,000AUD. 

Expected Time:
6 Months.

Why / Why Not:
Certificates can be a very inexpensive way of establishing a good baseline of general photography knowledge. But without the subsidy the full fee is approximately $10,000AUD.


Photography Short Courses

International photography trip with professional photographer.

Expected Total Cost:

Expected Time:
2 weeks.

Why / Why Not:
Typically these photography trips include all of your accomodation, food, transport and education. You are responsible for your flights. Spending time with professional photographers is a great way to learn about photography. These kinds of photography courses are a blend between luxurious travel and photography education. 


One week retreat style photography course events.

Expected Total Cost:
$2000 – $5000AUD

Expected Time:
3-7 days.

Why / Why Not:
You see these kind of retreat style events often in the wedding photography industry. I wouldn’t classify them as a “photography courses.” These events are educational from an artistic perspective, more so than a technical perspective. Typically there are a host of guest speakers and a group of 20-100 attendees. Sometimes up to a few thousand. As you can imagine the smaller groups are much more intimate. 


Expected Total Cost:

Expected Time:
8-12 hours.

Why / Why Not:
The aim of these photography courses is to quickly give you the practical skills you need to use your camera, understand lighting, or post production. Emphasis on rapid learning. These photography courses are great for hobbyist photographers who just bought a digital camera. If you’re spending money on a digital camera, there’s no point in leaving it on automatic mode. You may as well be using your phone. Here at the djb photography school we only run one day and half day photography courses. Our teaching methodology has evolved since 2011, aiming to teach absolute beginners. You can read about our dslr and mirrorless express and adobe lightroom beginners masterclass photography courses in Melbourne.

Private photography mentorship.

Expected Total Cost:

Expected Time:
1-3 months.

Why / Why Not:
Private photography mentorship with a professional photographer is one of the fastest ways to learn photography. One to one access allows you to iterate and progress very quickly. I believe this is one of the most valuable ways to learn photography. You can work with Daniel Bilsborough (National Geographic featured photographer and founder of the djb photography school) one to one for 3 months, for $10,000AUD.

Online Photography Courses

There are a huge variety of online photography courses available, but I believe there are a few ways in which online photography courses work best. Learning remotely is at its best when there is a live Zoom call component. Where the students receive one to one access to the teacher, to ask their questions in their own, no matter how stupid they may feel the questions are.