Let it be said simply and clearly: Edinburgh is an excellent place to do a photography course. It’s not just a good place like any other city in the UK might be, with photography courses all over the place and professional photography studios filling the spaces in between. It is that, but it is also an awful lot more.
Edinburgh is a brilliant place to take photography lessons because it is just an incredibly incredibly beautiful place. And why, honestly, would you want to develop your photography skills in a place that isn’t worth photographing?
Because whilst studio photography – with the likes of food photography, commercial photography, and product photography – can bring its own joys, every professional photographer or amateur really wants to get out into the world and capture what they see around them.
And there is no place like Edinburgh that provides the range of opportunities for photographic scenes. With its beguiling natural light, insane material for landscape photography – with its stunning natural geography and its cityscapes – and its diversity of urban forms for compelling street photography, it is a great place to learn how to shoot.
It helps, also, that it’s a city teeming with cultural life – with some of the biggest festivals in the world. The Edinburgh International Book Festival, the International Festival, and the world-renowned Edinburgh Festival Fringe make the city a hugely exciting place to be in the summer – not least for photographers.
Not least for photographers, because with all this activity comes ample opportunity to see great photography – at the Edinburgh International Exhibition of Photography – but also to make great photos yourself. If you are into photojournalism, event photography, or artist portrait photography, all these festivals bring people to the city that need publicity. In this way, combining your photography workshops with some photography training and experience in the street would be a great thing to be doing.
If you want to be a professional photographer – whether a photojournalist, a commercial photographer, or a portrait photographer – you’ll be needing this experience to get yourself some of your first gigs.
Who could deny that Edinburgh is the place to practice photography?
So, this is the great question – and a hugely legitimate one. And the answer depends really on your specific desires in regards to the field. Are you a hobbyist looking to get the basics of photography – to learn about shutter speed, flash photography, lighting techniques, and the mechanics of digital photography? Or, do you just want to take pretty pictures for Instagram? Maybe, alternatively, you think you have what it takes to enter the competitive world of the photography industry?
The answer to this question will determine the sort of class you will require – as well as the benefits that a photography class will bring to you.
For those looking to build a career in photography, the benefits of a photography course are a little obvious. You need to get to grips with not just the photography basics, but the entirety of advanced photography. These are the photography techniques that you will be using on location and in the photography studio – and, to stand the best chance of making it in the photography world, you need to make sure you are absolutely excellent at them all. Whether it’s understanding the depth of field or the techniques for night photography, you’ll learn all this in a photography school.
Yet, the other benefit is probably just as important in the photography business. Because, like everything, it’s not so much about what you know as it is about who you know. And these – contacts, networks, connections – are what photography schools provide. This is particularly true of those schools that offer photography courses to degree level and beyond. Because, in these cases, your work is going to exhibited; you are going to have professional placements with photography professionals; and you are going to get know peers and professors who will let you know about the next steps.
All in all, photography school endows you with the combination of two things: knowledge of the techniques and knowledge of the commercial side of things. You’d be silly not to do it.
You may well be wondering, then, why people who have no intention of being a professional photographer might want to take a photography class, why people who do it for fun should study it. And sure, we agree: if you are taking a photo just to remember a good party, or a because you saw something silly, maybe there’s no point studying it. But if you are interested in photography as an art, or as something more than just a memento, we encourage you to push yourself in your knowledge and skills – because the photos you produce will improve dramatically.
A photography class is a bit like a writing class, or maybe even like having a fitness instructor. You think that when you go to the gym, you are doing something great: improving your health, getting continuously stronger, developing your cardiovascular system etc. However, after six months, you’ve stopped losing weight, you’re doing the same things every time you go, and the whole thing gets a little dull.
This is the same feeling that many amateur painters, artists, and photographers get. They’re in a bit of a rut and don’t really know how to get out of it: the subject of the photos is always the same, you put a nice sepia filter on it, and, fine, it’s a nice enough photo. But you know there is more that you could be getting out of it!
And that’s the benefit of a photography teacher. They are there to guide you into new techniques. They can show you how to make the most out of the photos you take, after you have taken them. They can open up a world of different techniques, softwares, subjects, styles, and feelings. They can make your hobby feel again like it’s enjoyable – or prevent it from getting stale before it reaches that point.
You too should learn the art of photography
As we said, Edinburgh is a great place to learn the ins and outs of photography. And the final reason for that is that it is full of schools, workshops, and photographers to teach you!
Here we list some of the best options for learning photography in Edinburgh.
Let’s start ambitious. The University of Edinburgh is the best place in the city – and in Scotland – to go if you are serious about taking your photography to the next level, technically, theoretically, and professionally. With the Edinburgh College of Art, you’ll get some proper training in the art and business of photography: from the traditional equipment to the commercial aspects of selling or exhibiting your work, this course will get you prepared for a career in the field.
The degree is a BA – and you’ll be studying it full-time for four years. You can take a year abroad too, before advancing into postgrad photography or into the field.
The Edinburgh Photography Workshop is based down in Bonnington. It’s run by a bloke called Rich Dyson, a professional photography who has had his work published in some of the major publications in the UK. He’s also a teacher – surprise, surprise – and offers a range of different classes from his studio (and outside of it!).
Take a course in digital photography or with a traditional camera, specialise in night photography, or travel to find the perfect locations for your landscape photography. He’ll help you out with it all.
All group classes have their limitations. You need to fit into other people’s schedules, you might not get the attention that you need to develop to the fullest, and you might have to sling it across town to get to where you need to be.
With a private tutor, none of this really applies. Private tuition flexes around your timetable and location – and the tutors themselves attend only to you, what you want to learn, and your personal skill level.
At Superprof, we host over seven million tutors worldwide, in over a thousand subjects. One of them, luckily enough, is photography. Our photography tutors in Edinburgh charge an average of £25 an hour – and they can get you taking shots you’re proud of in no time.
Learn to take photos in a studio too – Edinburgh has plenty.