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Photography is many things — a profession for some, a hobby for others, a fascinating mingling of art and science; but, perhaps more than anything, photography is a learning experience. And like anything in life, there is always room for growth and improvement, always room for new ideas. Even the most experienced photographers recognize the need to continue learning something about their craft.
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The sources from which one can learn about photography are numerous and varied, but an online platform is the most likely choice for the majority of people, as the Web provides a certain degree of customization and interactivity. It’s there whenever you want it, however you want it.
The problem, however, is that there are so many sites out there that make a lot of grand promises in terms of the quality of content they provide and how much you’re going to benefit from choosing them over another site. It would be a monumental task to try and sift through all the websites, blogs, and forums and determine which ones are truly worth your time and/or money.
So what’s a knowledge-seeking photographer to do?
Inside information is always nice; it would be great if someone who had used a particular site could provide a firsthand account of what’s contained on the site and, free or not, could offer an opinion on whether it’s worth joining.
Well, you’re in luck. Let’s talk about edverosky.net.
If the name sounds familiar it’s either because you’re smart, savvy photographer who knows all the big names in the field, or because you read the review of Verosky’s Basic Lighting for Portrait Photography e-book here on Light Stalking. And if you happened to have read the e-book or even just read the review, then you have a pretty good indication of what to expect quality-wise from edverosky.net.
The site is smartly laid out and easy to navigate. The homepage sports a Featured Post and a number of blurbs under the heading “In the Blog.” There is also a search function, categories (Film Photography, Interviews, Post Processing, etc.), Ed’s Instagram stream, an archive feature, some recommended resources (links to other helpful photography sites), and a couple of recent videos.
Looking at the menus that populate the top of the page, you get Home (the page described above), Start Here, Members Area, Articles, Forum, Ed Verosky, The Store, and Free Newsletter.
In the Start Here section, Verosky briefly yet effectively covers the basics — things like exposure, white balance, shooting modes, lighting, and post processing. Conceding that the information contained in this section is necessarily incomplete, he recommends using it as a starting point for your journey through the rest of the site in specific and photography in general.
The Articles section consists of Ed’s thoughts on a wide range of photography related topics (his piece on image theft is a particularly lively one). Here you will also find podcasts (some video podcasts, some audio-only), interviews with other photographers (a goldmine of insight, inspiration, and good advice), and plenty of valuable instruction under the “Photography Class” heading. And it’s all well-written, if you care about that sort of thing.
The point around which everything else on the site revolves is, of course, the Member's Area. It is here that you will find full-fledged online photography courses. As of this writing, courses include boudoir photography, DSLR basics, introductory studio lighting, flash photography, and two modules on “Taking Your Portraiture to the Next Level.”
Each course is neatly broken down into relevant categories and within each category you will find detailed discussions of information, tips, and advice pertinent to each subtopic. Fortunately, the discussions aren’t made up exclusively of technical information; in fact, it is when Verosky detours from talking about aperture and shutter speed and lighting that the long term value of his work is truly revealed.
In the boudoir course, for example, Verosky dedicates a section to addressing the subject’s potential concerns, including self-image issues, privacy, and comfort level. In regard to the latter point, Verosky advises, “Many clients will say that by doing a boudoir session they are ‘stepping out of their comfort zone,’ but that doesn’t mean they want to be photographed in ways that they are actually uncomfortable with.”
Of course, none of these lessons would be complete without the how-to aspect, which Verosky handles deftly and in sufficient detail, while managing to avoid being overly complicated. Not only are there a wealth of sample images to study, but Verosky also shares his post-processing methods for many of the included photos.
When it comes to subject poses and lighting setups, Verosky doesn’t stop at using words to explain them to the reader, he provides easy to understand diagrams. The Member's Area also features exclusive videos that go into further detail about many of the topics covered in the main courses. True to form, these videos are an exercise in conciseness — they typically clock in at under 2 minutes, but manage to inspire and educate in that time.
The one aspect I found somewhat curious was the Forum. I clicked on it expecting to see a “traditional” online forum (similar, perhaps, to the one here on Light Stalking) but was instead taken to a Facebook group page simply titled About Photography Group. It’s a closed group that warns that those whose Facebook profiles don’t reveal at least an interest in photography are likely to have their requests to join rejected. I suppose it’s a way to keep things nice and tidy, but the way the forum is implemented could be off-putting for some members.
Now, we can’t talk about all these great member’s benefits without addressing cost. The pricing plan currently in effect on edverosky.net is actually quite simple: $15 per month or $79 per year. The yearly plan is obviously far more cost effective and appealing, especially when you consider that you will also receive instant downloads of Verosky’s currently available e-books and complimentary downloads of any new e-books released throughout the year. Sweet deal.
Understand, there’s plenty of great free content on the site, but I think for the enthusiastic learner/photographer, the cost of membership pays for itself with the e-book downloads alone. All the other content is just icing on an already appetizing cake.