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7 Great Photography Tutorials on YouTube

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I frequently get asked if I went to school for photography. I didn’t. I studied political science. The only art class I took, ceramics, I dropped after a single class.

Initially, I got a camera to make GIFs so I predominately used my Canon 7d to capture short videos. When companies started hiring me to make GIFs, I would often get asked to create stuff I didn’t really know how to make and at that point, YouTube became my best friend. There are a lot of tutorials, books and blogs out there but in my experience a lot of the best stuff is on YouTube. 

Originally I looked to YouTube for video tutorials and I’ve found that photography tutorials tend to be a bit different. For some reason, photography tutorials are often longer and they seem to be more personality driven. Still there’s a lot of great stuff on there that’s really helpful. To this day if I’m stumped on something I usually check YouTube for tutorials first and then harass my photographer friends for advice if I can’t find anything. Here are 7 photography tutorials I’ve watched and found helpful recently:

Using Tone Curves in Lightroom

Even if I feel that I understand some aspect of photography or photo editing, I still like to watch tutorials about it. There is so much to learn and it’s crazy how many tricks there are out there. I learn something new about tools that are very familiar to me all the time. So even if you’re familiar with tone curves, I’d recommend giving this a watch.

How to edit for skin tone in portraits

I love this tutorial for a number of reasons. First of all, it compares the canon to the sony. I love gear comparisons and especially in this sort of format. I see a lot of gear reviews that use totally unique images for each type of equipment, which makes it hard to compare. Second, the actual skin tone correcting technique he uses is totally new to me. I’m not sure that it’s something I’ll use but it’s a handy technique to have on hand if I’m ever really struggling to figure out an edit for a portrait.

Recreating old Brandon Woelfel Instagrams

Brandon Woelfel is a bit of an Instagram phenomenon. Over the last year or two, I’ve seen a ton of tutorials on how to mimic his style and editing aesthetic. I usually skip over those sorts of tutorials but this is Brandon talking about his own photos. There’s something really fun in hearing the thought process that went behind an image.

4 Photographers shoot the same model

This video isn’t exactly a tutorial but it combines all of the things I love. There’s some insight into how each of these photographers approaches a shoot and there’s the comparison aspect. If there was a cute puppy and some delicious food in here, this would probably be my favorite video of all time.

How to take better photos in low light

There are lots of photography things I haven’t quite mastered and so I watch lots of tutorials for them. Shooting in low light is something I struggle with from time to time so I’m always curious about additional tips on how to improve. This tutorial is particularly nice because it gives suggestions for both shooting and then editing dark images shot in low light situations. Also, I really like the Mango Street videos because they tend to be on the shorter end without too much random chit chatting.

How to pose for photographs

This tutorial might be more for models than photographers but pretty often as a photographer you end up directing people. I have an iffy relationship with portrait photography. Pretty often, people don’t like photos of themselves and their response to my photography has little to do with my abilities as a photographer. It can be frustrating so I try as much as possible to have a sense of how to direct people to push them away from awkward shoulder slumps.

Using the Auto mask in Lightroom

I do a lot of auto masking in photoshop and didn’t realize that Lightroom had a comparable tool so this tutorial introduced me to a whole new thing I didn’t know existed. I try to keep up with Lightroom classic and CC updates as they happen by reading the release notes but sometimes a feature slips by me or something already exists that I’m not familiar with. Anyway, I stumbled across this on accident and was pretty giddy to learn this exists.

Final thoughts

As I was putting this post together, I had about 30 tabs open and half of them were to various YouTube tutorials. I kept getting sidetracked and falling down an internet rabbit hole. I know I extolled the virtues of YouTube tutorials but as I watched about 40 of them in a row, I did find myself wary of a few things. One, some of the tutorial channels are really just set up to sell presets or various photography products. I found myself particularly peeved when they started out like a tutorial but then veered into this weird thing where you have to buy their product to create some sort of effect. Two, some of the channels feel more like entertainment fluff covered in a thin veneer of education. There’s nothing exactly wrong with that but I found myself annoyed with any tutorial video that was over 10 minutes long and had long sections of random prattling. If you’re killing time, that might be fun, but I generally just want these things to get to the point already. That’s it. If have any favorite tutorials or run across something handy, send it my way! I’m always on the lookout.

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