For the 50+ Traveler
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Have you ever wanted to learn a new skill but didn't know where to start? Perhaps you want to learn how to start a business, make wreaths, or paint with watercolors. Or maybe you are like me and want to learn how to take better photos when traveling with just your iPhone.

Since I often (almost always) have my phone handy when traveling, walking, hiking, riding bicycles, or even sitting on the beach, I wanted to take better photos without lugging a bulky camera with me.

Several sites offer photography training, but I learned about a platform that I thought might be perfect. Skillshare is an online learning platform with a community for people who desire to learn a new skill or learn about a specific topic. Best of all, Skillshare offers a 14-day free trial, so I signed up for a photo course.

As a travel writer, the one thing I needed to take better photos on my next trip was an iPhone photography course. I knew there were little secrets and tips I was missing. I was not disappointed.

Note that Skillshare provided a voucher for the course of my choice, but the opinions are my own.

How Skillshare Works

The online learning platform provides courses available through subscription and focuses on learning by doing rather than straight lecture. They encourage the completion of a project either during the course or at the end.

Instead of paying a specific fee for an individual course, the monthly subscription covers as many courses as you desire to take during the month.

There are thousands of classes, more than 26,000 to be exact, and they cover a massive variety of topics.

All the courses are in video and are high quality. They are self-paced, and you can leave and come back, and the system remembers where you were in the lessons. If you are taking multiple courses simultaneously, your progress is saved for each one, so you can always pick up where you stopped.

You can also download the app to your phone or tablet. You can even switch devices in the middle of a class and continue with the course.

Skillshare categories.
Robin O'Neal Smith / Skillshare

What Type Of Courses Are Available On Skillshare?

Skillshare divides its courses into three categories: Create, Build, and Thrive.

Create focuses on artsy things like crafts, painting with watercolors, creative writing, film and video, music, and more.

Build covers business, analytics, entrepreneurship, leadership, management, marketing, and freelancing.

Thrive includes life-enhancing topics under the sub-categories of Lifestyle and Productivity. Lifestyle features cooking, budgeting, interior design, and meditation, while Productivity focuses on time management, organization, beating procrastination, and more.

Skillshare, viewing time, number of participants.
Robin O'Neal Smith / Skillshare

How Long Are The Classes?

Classes range in length from about an hour to 27 hours. It depends on the course. One of the things I liked was as you peruse the various classes in the corner of the photo, it provides the amount of time required to complete the class. Without clicking and looking at the class details, you know how much time you will need to invest.

I wanted to learn how to take better pictures quickly since I was leaving on a quick adventure the following day, so I selected one that was 56 minutes in length, and it was the perfect option for me.

When you are looking at the class, you can see how many other people have taken the course so far and whether it is a staff pick.

How To Choose The Right Course

You can choose courses by the name, length of time they require, the number of students who already have enrolled in the class, or by reading the reviews left by previous students.

You can also choose by the instructor if you have a favorite. A few notable skillshare instructors you might be interested in are Guy Kawasaki, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Seth Godin.

Photography courses, Skillshare.
Robin O'Neal Smith / Skillshare

The Course I Selected

I selected the course “iPhone Photography: How to Take Pro Photos On Your iPhone” taught by Dale McManus. I picked it because it was a topic I wanted to learn about and I knew I would be able to use the information the following day. Plus, it was a Staff Pick, it was less than an hour in length, and 97,577 students had already taken the course, so I knew it was popular.

Some of the topics Dale covers in the course include

  • How To Turn Off Live Photo
  • Why and How to Turn on HDR
  • Why You Should Use The Grid and How To Turn It On
  • Exposure Control
  • Shot Composition
  • How to Create Depth
  • How to Use Light
  • Filling The Frame
  • And more

Some of the tips and tricks he talked about I was already aware of, but a few I had forgotten about, and some were totally new to me. In a short amount of time, I gained significant knowledge.

There are over 1,332 courses about photography within Skillshare. So whatever you need to learn to take better pictures on your next trip is most likely available. The next class I plan to take is “How To Create A Cohesive Instagram Feed.”

iPhone Photography, Skillshare course video.
Robin O'Neal Smith / Skillshare

Things I Liked About Skillshare

I liked several things. Most importantly, the courses focus on the topic you want to learn about. The classes I took were meaty and on target. There was not a lot of fluff about other things.

The amount you can learn in a short time is impressive, and I liked knowing the amount of time each course would take before selecting it.

Watching the lessons when it suited me was ideal. I enjoyed being able to access it on both my desktop and phone. When I was traveling, I could refer back to a lesson on my phone and rewatch.

Taking as many classes as you desire makes life simple and allows you to get as much for your money as you desire.

I loved the variety of topics covered and also the variety of instructors. Some of the courses provide interaction with other students. I did not experience this, but I can see where it would help if taking a longer course or working on projects.

Skillshare also offers groups associated with topics of interest. This would provide beneficial online networking and allow for idea sharing and collaboration on projects.

Were There Any Issues?

The only problem I had was desiring to take additional courses when I had writing to do. The variety had my “shiny object syndrome” acting up big time.

But like all online platforms, there are a few things you have to take into consideration: There is no one checking on your progress. If you are not motivated to learn, you will be wasting your money. Some teachers are more enthusiastic and engaging than others, but that happens in the live classroom, too.

Another thing to note, when you complete the course, Skillshare doesn’t provide any type of official documentation or certificate of completion. But you could always take a screenshot of the online completion screen.

How Much Does Skillshare Cost?

Skillshare offers a free trial membership for 14 days, exclusively for TravelAwaits' readers. So you have a chance to take a course for free and see if you like the platform.

The monthly subscription fee covers the cost of all classes and workshops you desire to take during the month. They have a monthly and an annual fee option. Monthly is $19.99 a month, and if you pay annually, the cost is $99 a year. However, Skillshare is currently offering TravelAwaits' readers 40% off the annual subscription. So it pays to subscribe annually if you will use it throughout the year.

You can start with a monthly subscription, and if you only desire one or two courses, you can take them and then cancel. If, after you take them, you realize there are so many other courses you want to take, you can then switch over to an annual subscription to save money.

Skillshare adds new courses all the time, so there are always new things to learn, and with over 26,000 courses, you will have lots of titles to choose from.

Is Skillshare Worth The Cost?

If you use the program once you pay for it, I think it is a bargain. I plan to continue my membership after my free trial ends. I find it to be an excellent investment if you have the time to dedicate to learning online. In just a month, you could take multiple courses and learn valuable new skills.

An example would be taking a course on branding and web design so you can begin offering to build web pages as a freelancer. Another example is learning how to take better videos plus adding a course on video editing.

Or use the courses to improve your life. We can all learn to manage our time and organize our lives a bit better.

Another thing to remember is that since you have unlimited classes, you are not out of any funds if you join a course and don't care for it. You can just move on to another course or teacher and learn the same or a different topic. You will only be wasting money if you fail to enroll in the courses and learn.

Who knows, taking a Skillshare course might be the one thing you need to take better photos on your next trip, too.

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