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Online Photography Course
Getting Started in Commercial Photography

Become a better photographer today!

Join 's Course: 4-Week Short Course: Getting Started in Commercial PhotographyLearn new skills that will enable you to work as a professional photographer for businesses. This exciting 4-week online course - by commercial photographer John Siskin - covers product photography, copy work, architectural photography and industrial photography. These are the kinds of work that are used by businesses for everything from annual reports to catalogs and Web sites. This class will help you improve your lighting skills and learn to use them in new situations! Students and the instructor will have an opportunity to interact about business topics as well as photographic issues.
Key Features

  1. Product Photography
  2. Photographing Reflective Products
  3. Industrial Photography: Communicating what a business does
  4. Shooting Architectural Subjects  

  • Improve lighting skills.
  • Learn about both business topics and photographic issues.
  • Discussion on marketing.
  • Covers the types of photography used by businesses for annual reports, Web sites, catalogs, etc.

What You Get


You get direct feedback on your photos from world-acclaimed, professional photographers. You can learn photography in this way from anywhere in the world.  
  • Learn at your pace, with structure.
  • Be guided by a real pro instructor.
  • Get your photos critiqued every week.
  • Join students from around the world.
  • Go far beyond any book or DVD.
  • Make great pictures, again and again!



Photography Instructor: John H. Siskin John H. Siskin
John Siskin is a commercial and fine art photographer who makes architectural, portrait and macro images. He has worked for General Motors and Disney Studios. He teaches the BetterPhoto course An Introduction to Photographic Lighting and is the author of the book Understanding and Controlling Strobe Lighting: A Guide for Digital Photographers.

In addition, he teaches studio lighting black and white photography at Los Angeles Mission College. His studio is in Reseda California and more of his work can be seen at

His work has been part of many exhibits. His photographs have been shown at the Brand Library, 2nd City Art Gallery, Harold’s Gallery, Farmani Gallery, and The Atelier. He has been a participant in the Valley Studio Tour several times.

John has published quite a number of technical articles about photography. His articles have appeared in Photo Techniques, View Camera, Studio Photography and others. He has written about photographic lighting, building lenses, framing, photographic lab work, building cameras, as well as some more speculative photographic subjects. Since he is so well versed in photographic subjects, he is often hired as a consultant by businesses.

A Couple of Photos by the Instructor

© John Siskin 

© John Siskin 

Course Outline


Week 1. Product Photography
Materials: gaffers tape, seamless and more. How tools like umbrellas and soft boxes and light panels affect the way we light a subject. How to set up a table for shooting product. Using RAW to capture your images. Working with large products.
Assignment: Shoot a large product. Shoot several angles and your set-up.

Week 2. Photographing Reflective Products
Shooting jewelry. Copying Artwork. Getting accurate color balance. Setting up a studio.
Assignment: Shoot a shiny metal object. Shoot the subject with and with out diffusers. Upload a sample of diffused and undiffused, with pictures of the set-up, to the class.

Week 3. Industrial Photography
Communicating what a business does. Shooting tethered to the computer. Examples of images for businesses: shooting a showroom, shooting in a medical office, shooting on a construction site and shooting a group. Macro and micro photography for businesses. Backing up your files and having back-up equipment. What do you deliver to the client?
Assignment: Shoot images of people at work. I would like to see shots that really explain what people are doing. If you can do a shot that features somebody’s hands working that would be good.

Week 4. Shooting Architectural Subjects
Packing to work on location. Examples of how to light interiors.  Difficulties with using HDR files for interior photography. Photoshop fixes for difficulties with the shot.
Assignment: Shoot an image of a living room or other large room, using your lights, at night. Then do the same thing during the day. The idea is to use the lights to control the lights in the shot; a shot with sunlight coming through a window will be very different from a shot with a dark exterior. You will want to make at least 5 shots: before, after, and where did I put my lights. You do not have to use your own living room, but this will work better with a large room.

© John Siskin 

© John Siskin 



  • A DSLR camera and at least a good wide-angle lens.
  • Strobes, although a student could take this class with multiple strobes from the camera manufacturer. A couple of monolights like Alien Bees or Calumet Travelites would be better.
  • Alternatively powerful battery powered strobes like Norman 200C of Lumedyne units would also work well.



What do I need to know for this course?
You need to understand how to use your camera. In addition you need to know how to use strobes for lighting. If you aren’t familiar with strobes, check out my course: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting 

What kind of equipment do I need for this course?
Well, you could certainly take the course and not do the assignments, but if you want to be able to do the assignments you will need strobes, monolights like the Calumet Travelites or Alien Bees might be best. Another good choice would be battery-powered strobes like the Norman 200C or the units from Lumedyne. You would also want a DSLR camera and a wide-angle lens. 

Will this class guarantee that I can get professional work?
Of course, not, no course could. What this course will go is give you skills that can be used professionally. You will still need to practice and market yourself. 

How about marketing? Will we learn that?
We will have a discussion thread in the class that is dedicated to marketing. This way the students can interact with each other, as well as with me, on this critical topic. I have used this method of discussing marketing in other classes, and it has worked well. 

I am shooting portraits successfully. Will this class help me to add more profitable areas to my business?
Absolutely, one of the great things about this type of work for a portrait shooter is that it takes place 9-5 Monday through Friday - times when you may have fewer bookings. In addition, assignment photography uses much of the same equipment you use for portraits. 

Are there any advantages in working with businesses as clients over
working with individuals?
Yes several lucrative advantages. First, a business will often do multiple jobs in the same year, sometimes in the same month! Second, a business may use your images to make millions of dollars, they are much more interested in getting the right image than getting a cheap image. Except for start-up businesses, the budgets tend to be pretty good. 

© John Siskin 

© John Siskin 

Do I have to be online at any specific time?
No, you do not need to be online at any specific time. The lessons are sent to your email and you are also provided the Campus Square - where you interact with your classmates and instructor. This is also where you upload your photos to be critiqued by your instructor. The instructors are very punctual and respond quickly.

Will I have access to the instructor to ask questions during the photo course?
Absolutely! Students can ask questions in the special Q&A forum set up in the course's Campus Square, or can ask the instructor via email.

Do you offer a money back guarantee?
Yes. We are confident that you will fully enjoy our courses. All the same, for our 8-week classes, we offer a 100% money-back guarantee before the Wednesday that Lesson #3 is sent out. If for any reason, you are not satisfied and let us know that you would like to withdraw before the Wednesday that Lesson #3 is sent, you will be promptly refunded.

For our 4-week courses, we offer a 100% money back guarantee before the Wednesday that Lesson #2 is sent out from BetterPhoto. If for any reason you are not satisfied and you let the ordering department know that you would like to withdraw before the Wednesday that Lesson #2 is sent, you will be refunded within 7 days. After the second lesson has been sent out, no refunds will be given.

Still have questions about this course? Ask Us

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At a Glance
4-Week Short Course
Category: Lighting / Exposure

$198.00 USD
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Average Customer Rating: 5 out of 5
5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5
Read all 7 reviews

Course Reviews:

5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5
BetterPhoto Member Phyllis Peterson
Phyllis Peterson
member since: 5/19/2011
I learned so much in this class! I appreciated all the information, hints, techniques, equipment ideas, etc., that you shared in your course material. I liked that your critiques were prompt and your suggestions were perfect.

- 5/3/2013 8:39:00 AM

5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5
BetterPhoto Member Mark Calibo
Mark Calibo
member since: 5/8/2009
This is for the serious hobbiest in studio style photography or photographers interested in going professional in commercial photography. It was very interesting just to learn the techniques used in commercial photograpghy. I learned a lot or enough to get me interested in pursuing this further. John is a true professional and extremely helpful with lots of reference material. Highly recommended but not for the novice!

- 4/8/2013 6:25:08 PM

5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 4.5 out of 5
BetterPhoto Member Shana Shoblaska
Shana Shoblaska
member since: 12/18/2006
This is an ideal course for professionals or those seeking to enter the commercial photography field. The instructor gives a good amount of technical information which is highly useful. Although I didn't have strobes and special lighting equipment, I was still able to complete the course and learn a lot.

- 4/9/2012 4:34:53 PM

5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5
BetterPhoto Member Brenda Bentley
Brenda Bentley
member since: 9/3/2008
Learned so much from this class it will take a while to absorb it all. The extra information provided to help with the assignments was extremely helpful. Now I know how beautiful jewelry and any shiny objects in magazines photos come out so wonderful. I have much more confidence now to be able to work with product photography and future clients.

- 7/17/2010 4:35:41 PM

5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5
Nessrine Ismail El Guindi
member since: 4/13/2009
This is an excellent course with an outstanding teacher.
John’s critiques are the real gem of the course. His approach is plain, to the point and constructive. John gives tips and techniques that are so eye opening..
Product photography is a very intimidating subject. The course covers in detail how to photograph any product, shiny products, jewellery, big objects, interiors and architecture. It explains “why” you would use this lighting equipment and not another, and where to place it and where not to place it and why. The course gives some tips and techniques that are easy to apply to get professional results every time. I have made my own summary points from the lessons and critiques that I will always go back to in my product photography.
I came a cross a book by John Siskin that is not yet out “Understanding and Controlling Strobe Lighting: A Guide for Digital Photographers” that I am very excited about it.

A great course that I would recommend very highly!

- 7/1/2010 12:33:36 PM

Read all 7 course reviews...

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More Delighted Customers:

"I got everything I expected out of this course. The information was very clear and extensive and based on the instructor's personal experience, not a rehash from books. The critiques were never late and were the result of a good deal of thought... I would be happy to take another course from this instructor." -Angela Arenal from John's Understanding Professional Lighting course 

"John is both very knowledgeable and incredibly helpful. The great thing about his class is that you learn the techniques of studio lighting and you learn first hand about all about the equipment. He really believes in sharing his hard-learned lessons about what to buy and what not to buy, and how to take best advantage of it." -Adrien Bisson, from Understanding Professional Lighting 

"This class is just fabulous! John Siskin is a great teacher who really goes the extra mile for his studnents. I would not hesitate to recommend this course to anyone!" -Morgana Creely, from John's Portrait Lighting on Location and in the Studio 

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