Are you interested in becoming a cinematographer? If you have no experience or are simply curious about cinematography, taking an online class can greatly expand your knowledge. 

Cinematography is how you capture images through different controllable mechanisms like the camera lens, length of shot, shutter speed, framing, and so much more. The best thing you can do is go out right now and start playing around with the settings on your camera, or smartphone if you don’t have a camera. Check out our article on best cameras for filmmaking on a budget if you’re just starting out and looking to invest in a good beginner cinema camera.  

Although hands-on practice is definitely essential, taking a class will help you immensely with gaining the technical foundation you need to start experimenting creatively. Cinematography is definitely an art form that requires practice and discipline, but it is built on a foundation of technical knowledge and skills. 

Below we have listed the five best cinematography certificate programs you can take today.

Udemy’s cinematography course includes 3 hours of in-demand videos, 6 articles, full lifetime access, and a certificate upon completion. This course will teach you how to shoot beautiful videos with any camera. 

You will learn: 

  • How film sets work 
  • Exposure basics (ISO, Shutter Speed, Aperture) and how to manipulate each to get the shot you want
  • How to get paid to be a cinematographer

This course is taught by two Hollywood cinematographers, whose video courses have over 150,000 students and thousands of 5-star reviews. It’s a great course for beginners or for experienced professionals who want a refresher. 

This Coursera course will teach you everything you need to know about how cameras work. It’s a great course for someone looking to learn every aspect of how any camera works, whether that’s a DSLR or a smartphone. It is course 1 of 5 in the specialization on Photography that culminates in a capstone of photographs that reflect your new skills. It’s a useful project in case you may need a portfolio to show potential customers or for a film school application. 

What you will learn: 

  • Fundamentals of photography
  • Different types of cameras available
  • Menus and settings 
  • Framing the best shot

This course is offered by Michigan State University and you get a certificate upon completion. It has flexible deadlines and takes about 16 hours to complete. It’s a very informative course that will push you to go out and start shooting. 

Skillshare offers several cinematography classes that cover different aspects of the craft. If you’ve completed one of the introductory programs above, perhaps one of these more specific courses would be a good addition for you. Or maybe you’re a working videographer who wants to learn more about a specific part of cinematography without taking an entire overview course. Here are the best courses on cinematography that Skillshare has to offer. 

  • Film Lighting Made Simple Link
    • Lighting is incredibly important to cinematography but can be very confusing. This short 25 minute course will teach you how to light your shots with ease, and it focuses on quick affordable set-ups for independent filmmakers. 
  • DSLR Filmmaking: From Beginner to PRO! Link
    • This course is 1.5 hours and will teach you how to use your DSLR or SLR to its fullest capabilities. You will learn how to use your camera in full manual mode, and how to optimize camera exposure and functions. This class will definitely up your camera game to a more professional level. 
  • DIY Cinematography: Make Your Video Look Like a Movie Link
    • This 40 minute course will show you how to make your videos look professional. If your videos aren’t progressing from a home video aesthetic, this course will show you how to use lighting to make your video look like it has a higher production value.

CreativeLive has a lot of offerings on all aspects of filmmaking. Have a browse and you’ll see that there is a class from any aspect of making a film, from beginning to end. Two of the classes that are particularly useful are: 

  • Picture Perfect Lighting Link
    • This class will teach you how to use natural light in combination with on-camera and off-camera lights to maximize your shot. You will learn how to frame and achieve professional studio-style lighting. This course has 12 hours of video instruction and a whopping 100% of students recommend it. 
  • Seeing and Shaping Light Link
    • This course is taught by renowned fashion photographer Lindsay Adler and you will learn how to recreate the lighting of any image you see. You will learn basics like the difference between soft and hard light as well as how to create your own lighting setups. It’s an eye-opening course that will boost your knowledge and confidence in lighting your videos perfectly.
MasterClass has a frankly mind blowing selection of world-renowned teachers. The class that would benefit cinematographers most is Annie Leibovitz’s Photography class. If you don’t know who Annie Leibovitz is, she is an American portrait photographer well-known for her engaging and intimate celebrity portraits. You can learn more about her here

Annie Leibovitz’s class will definitely leave you inspired to think deeper about your approach to cinematography. Although it doesn’t cover much about the technical aspects of photography, it goes over a lot of conceptual thought-provoking topics. It delves into her approach towards photography and will definitely leave you inspired. This is the class for you if you already know about the technicalities of cinematography but want to think about it in a deeper way. It will likely change the way you fundamentally approach your videography. 

MasterClass works with a monthly subscription that gives you access to all its classes. Whenever you finish the course, you can cancel your subscription. Or you can explore the other amazing classes it has to offer. 

Some other courses that might be interesting for cinematographers are Jimmy Chin’s Adventure Photography class, Martin Scorsese’s class on Filmmaking, and David Lynch’s Creative and Film class.  


So that’s it! Hopefully you are able to choose a good cinematography course for you, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced professional. Please email us if you have any questions or would like a different recommendation more suited to your specific needs.