Getting started in photography is like memorizing the menu at Cheesecake Factory. There is just SO MUCH information, some good and some bad, that it is hard to process. At your local bookstore, you might see a million pages long book called Photography 101 or something along those lines. While some of the information might be helpful on the technical level, a lot of it tends to teach you that there is only one real way to take photos. My view, however, it that this is a creative field, and you should learn to experiment. While I started with these types of books, I wound up feeling a little stifled by their advice. As I became more invested in photography, the internet became my best friend for resources. Here are a few sites that I have found super helpful.
Fstoppers is so fun. The site itself is an online community that focuses both on education and starting conversations between photographers, videographers, and other creative professionals. Begun in 2010, is has become one of the largest photography sites on the web. There are an average of 5-6 articles posted each day from working professionals on topics such as editing and equipment reviews, and interviews with well-respected artists. Commenters engage with the authors of the post either adding to the article or asking questions. Fstoppers has given me access to resources on lighting, retouching skin, and marketing tools. Some articles are solely conversation based and bring controversial topics to the table (such as the recent Instagram model who exposed her experiences). I check the site once every few days and click on any articles relevant to my current interests or needs. There is new content literally every few hours which encourages regular interaction. Overall, Fstoppers is a great site for finding specific topics to improve your craft.
I wouldn't go so far to say that CreativeLive has changed my life, but I could. CL is essentially an endless stream of online workshops, lectures, and tutorials from working professionals. Imagine art school but the lectures are online and mostly FREE. Whenever the class is live, you can watch for free and take notes like any other workshop. When the broadcast finishes, however, you can purchase the series to refer back to later on. I've bought a few courses on lighting, posing, fashion, and editing and they have dramatically improved my workflow. CL also introduced me to some instructors whose careers I have followed intently ever since. Artists like Sue Bryce, Emily Soto, Lara Jade, Brooke Shaden, and Joey L (look all of these people up on Facebook, you won't regret it) appeared in some of my first few classes and are among my favorite photographers in the business. The amount of education on CL is endless. From learning how to use your camera to taking your business to the next level, there is something for everyone at CreativeLive.
Continuing on the list of life-changing websites, Phlearn might take the cake for blowing my mind. Phlearn (Photoshop/Learn) is a website based around Photoshop tutorials explained easily. Aaron Nace, the founder and primary instructor, creates videos every week on YouTube breaking down a certain Photoshop technique into its simplest form. I've learned basic skin retouching techniques to creating my own freckles. Nace also has an online store with more in-depth, professional level tutorials that are over an hour long. The best part? It’s fun (or should I say phun). The videos are entertaining and are often interactive. Nothing gets too technical too quickly and after a few videos, you develop muscle memory for some of the more basic techniques. Phlearn taught me everything I know about Photoshop. If you are brand new to the program or even a seasoned pro, you will find information you can use.
While this site isn't about education, it is my go-to online store for buying camera gear. They have practically everything you may want to buy from a point and shoot to an ultra high-end digital camera and every lens in between. I've bought cameras, lenses, reflectors, pretty much everything under the sun. There are helpful reviews, regular sales, and (most importantly) extremely fast shipping. While my preference is always to go to a local camera store, sometimes there is a product they don't carry or cannot order in time for your next job. Best of all, their customer service isn't shady but in fact super helpful if you have any questions about the product. If you are ready to buy that new lens or even just your first camera, B&H is a great place to start.