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Man and Woman taking a photo

Learn Inside Secrets of Professional Photographers

Watch all 24 episodes of "Fundamentals of Photography"
and get unlimited access to thousands more videos on fascinating and useful topics – all part of your free trial!

Watch all 24 episodes of "Fundamentals of Photography" and get unlimited access to thousands more videos on fascinating and useful topics – all part of your free trial!

Photography Video


Want to learn
how to take brilliant photographs?

Watch this FREE lecture from National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore as he explains the role that composition plays when crafting the perfect photograph.

Watch Free Lecture Today


Course Overview

Photographs are more than just snapshots. When taken the right way, they become dramatic personal statements with the power to last forever. They can transport you to distant landscapes, capture fleeting emotions, recall cherished memories, reveal the beauty of daily life, and even change the world.

National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore has crafted a course that will hone your photographer's eye so you can capture the greatest moments in nearly every situation and setting imaginable, from a field of flowers to a friend's birthday party to a grand mountain range. Taking you both inside the photographer's studio and out into the field, this course is a chance to learn, in a way anyone can grasp, the basic insights and hidden secrets of photography.

24 Episodes (31 Minutes Each)

  1. Making Great Pictures
  2. Camera Equipment—What You Need
  3. Lenses and Focal Length
  4. Shutter Speeds
  5. Aperture and Depth of Field
  6. Light I—Found or Ambient Light
  7. Light II—Color and Intensity
  8. Light III—Introduced Light
  9. Composition I—Seeing Well (Free Lecture)
  10. Composition II—Background and Perspective
  11. Composition III—Framing and Layering
  12. Let’s Go to Work—Landscapes
  13. Let’s Go to Work—Wildlife
  14. Let’s Go to Work—People and Relationships
  15. Let’s Go to Work—From Mundane to Extraordinary
  16. Let’s Go to Work—Special Occasions
  17. Let’s Go to Work—Family Vacations
  18. Advanced Topics—Research and Preparation
  19. Advanced Topics—Macro Photography
  20. Advanced Topics—Low Light
  21. Advanced Topics—Problem Solving
  22. After the Snap—Workflow and Organization
  23. Editing—Choosing the Right Image
  24. Telling a Story with Pictures—The Photo Essay
Joel Sartore

Joel Sartore

National Geographic Photographer

Joel Sartore is a professional photographer and a regular contributor to National Geographic magazine. His assignments have taken him to some of the world's most beautiful and challenging environments and have brought him face to face with a diversity of wildlife in all 50 U. S. states and all seven continents.

Read Full Biography

Also by this Professor

Instant, on-demand streaming of 24 half-hour photography lessons taught by Joel Sartore—a National Geographic photographer.

Photography Brochure

167-Page PDF Guidebook

  • Photographs
  • Suggested readings
  • Photo Assignments
  • Bibliography

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By Jasonlee
April 13, 2016

Fantastic Intro to Photography...

Joel is an amazing presenter. Enthusiastic, honest, likeable, and---most importantly---knowledgeable and experienced, he breaks down this subject as good as any teacher could possibly do. Utilizing "Field Trips" (a GREAT idea!) outside of the classroom, and bringing us into his own home and exposing us to his family, he takes us on a journey of exposition of Photography, starting with the most simple of terms, and never losing focus of the reason for photography---the composition. Too many courses get stuck in the technical aspects of this subject. Joel, thank GOODNESS, pushes the art forward, while still covering the technical details as they are exposed in each project.

I cannot recommend this more highly! Cannot wait to see part 2!

August 21, 2015

Course Delivered as Promised

Prior to taking this course, I was simply a very amateur picture-taker who uses a point and shoot digital camera. I had a good eye for how to frame a picture, but knew virtually nothing about the technical aspects of photography. I recently bought an advanced point/shoot camera and wanted to learn more to make the most of it.

Mr. Sartore's lectures were very casual, but extremely informative. The first five or six lessons taught me all I wanted to know about the technical aspects of the camera, and the remaining lectures gave countless examples and tips on making the most of almost any situation. He used his family in many of the examples, which I suppose might turn some people off, but I thought it gave a nice humanistic touch to the series.

Although I know this sounds like a paid endorsement (it's not), I honesty wouldn't have changed any of the content in the course. It fulfilled my expectations completely, and the live lectures were much more informative than simply reading a beginning photography book.

In Tune
February 26, 2015

Five Stars

I tried other avenues of learning after purchasing my DSLR camera including books and, of course, the brand online tutorials. I just found some of the terms and so much info confusing. The Great Courses Fundamentals of Photography has been a great help. I get the info in bites I can both understand and retain. I can pause, while I take notes, redo a lecture... The Professor makes it so clear. The assignments have gotten me to dig for answers, allowing me to become familiar with my camera / lenses. The reason to buy a DSLR camera in the first place was to take more control of how I obtained the photograph and this course is making that possible.