I got asked this question last night by a newcomer to photography who was attending her first session at the Oakville Camera Club. As a former instructor for one of the big camera retailers I had to tell her the truth and that was the very best instruction comes from a one-on-one or small class setting. The big camera retailers love to bring you into their stores for a two or three hour class along with 20 or more other students. I had as many as 25 in a class. This is hardly an ideal setting to learn something as complicated as a digital camera.
The other question I’d be asking is who exactly is doing the teaching. In my experience too often it’s a part-time store employee still in college or someone with some minor photographic experience but no real presentation skills who just reads the slides that are being projected onto a screen. This can make for a long, long unproductive class. The one good thing these classes have going for them as they are cheap at around $100 for three hours but you do get what you pay for.
Some community colleges offer night school classes and this can be useful but they do go on for weeks at a time and are costly. Unless you’re really interested in photography this is a costly solution and not for everybody.
So what’s the bottom line? After paying out $1,000 or more for a camera I’d recommend getting the best small class experience you can find. Checkout what we have to offer at CameraTraining.Ca and don’t hesitate to contact me for more ideas.