Photography DVDs can inspire your photography, give you new ideas, and teach you new skills and techniques. These are my favorites.
Posted Nov. 6, 2017. Revised November 26, 2018.
Joel Sartore’s Fundamentals of Photography is the best set of DVDs I have found to learn basic and intermediate photography skills. It is also an excellent complement to my own book Digital Photography Exposure for Dummies. We did not collaborate on the topics, but it sure looks like we did since most of my chapters and his lessons parallel each other quite nicely. My review of Fundamentals of Photography is in this article. You can order Fundamentals of Photography at my store (link below) or at The Great Courses web site. The last time I checked the best price was at my photography store but the price fluctuates over time
Since I bought my copy, the DVD case has been changed from the burgundy cover to the distinctive National Geographic cover look.
When you are ready to move on, get the Masters of Photography DVDs by 12 award winning National Geographic photographers. The individual sessions are uneven in quality, I am sad to say. Some of these lessons are pretty disappointing and some are excellent. While all of these photographers are excellent behind the camera, some of these photographers are much better in front of the camera than others. There are 24 half hour lessons divided into six units: Adventure, Wildlife, Landscape and Nature, People in Their Environments, Color and Light, and Storytelling. The photographers are William Albert Allard, Stephen Alvarez, Ira Block, Jodi Cobb, Annie Griffiths, Ed Kashi, Michael Melford, Cory Richards, Jim Richardson, Joel Sartore, Steve Winter, and Michael Yamashita. You can buy the DVD new from National Geographic.
For photographic inspiration it is hard to beat Extraordinary Visions by Dewitt Jones. Dewitt is a world class photographer with 20 years experience shooting for the National Geographic as well as being a commercial photographer. Dewitt also shares his philosophy of life, using his photos as illustrations, with the A-List of American corporations. Extraordinary Visions is one of these presentations. He starts with the story of his beginnings with the Geographic and how it transformed his life, and then he uses his stunning photography to illustrate his points. You can view a shorter (22 minutes), alternate version of this film with a different title by going here. There is an even shorter 18 minute Ted Talk version you can see here or here. You can order the DVD here.
I have admired Ansel Adams and his work for years. Ansel Adams: American Experience is a 100 minute PBS documentary on Adams’ life and work by award winning film maker Ric Burns.You can order it at my photography store (link below).
For pure inspiration, look at Chased by the Light by Jim Brandenburg. He is a National Geographic photographer who shoots thousands of frames of film for a single assignment. Burned out and in need of a major change, Brandenburg gave himself a personal project: to shoot one and only frame of film per day for 90 days. The results were extraordinary and turned into a National Geographic article, a book, and this 87 minute DVD. You can learn more about the project, the article, the book, and the DVD in my article here. You can order the DVD at my photography store.
What is it like to be a National Geographic photographer? Watch At Close Range With National Geographic. In this 60 minute PBS video you travel with Joel Sartore and get an idea what it is really like, the joys, the fears, the long weeks and months away from home and family, the problems and challenges, and sometimes the terrible risks. Order it at my photography store.
National Geographic’s The Photographers is another DVD that gives you a behind the scenes look. This one follows several photographers. You can order it at my photography store.
Bill Cunningham New York is a fun video. Bill Cunningham is an 80+ year old New York Times photographer that lives simply and rides around on his bicycle taking fashion photos of ordinary New Yorkers and the “who’s who” of New York society. This is a delightful and thought provoking look at his every day life and his love of photography. You can order it at my photography store.
If you want to make the most of your images in the digital darkroom, check out Drawing With Light: 21st Century Dodging and Burning by John Paul Caponigro. He is a master photographer, behind the camera and in the digital darkroom. Go here.
Vincent Versace is a remarkable photographer and his instructional DVDs are first rate. Get Believing is Seeing, Retouching on a Laptop and Believing is Seeing, lighting on a Laptop II. Each one is a 3 DVD set. You can see his work here and order the DVDs here.
Extraordinary Visions! by Dewitt Jones.
This is one in a series of articles that will guide you to the best of all things photographic. The rest are here: Buyer’s Guide: Recommendations For The Best Photography Equipment, Software, Books, Magazines, DVDs, Online Photo Labs and More.