Photography resources can be found in every corner of the Internet, but not all are created equal. There's free, expensive, outstanding, terrible, and everything in between when it comes to these websites. Recently, I had the opportunity to explore an outstanding (and moderately priced) subscription website built around education through video.
FotoTV was founded on the mission to provide an online learning resource for photographers based on the principle of ‘learn by watching the experts’. They offer instructional and inspirational videos to avid photographers on a very wide range of topics and lessons. Photoshop, digital image editing, photography equipment, photo art, analog photography, black and white, fine art nude, landscape photography, sports photography, photo techniques, exhibitions, history of photography, darkroom, photo technology, physical basics of photography, art work, portfolios of photographers, presentation of images, composition, studio lighting, interviews with leading photographers, and many more videos ready to be released. So… you get the idea!
I was provided with an opportunity to explore the entire FotoTV website (full access to all videos), and I must say that I'm quite impressed with what they have to offer. I spent several consecutive nights watching videos from each of the main categories and each of them taught me something new. The videos are very professional — not something you would expect to run across on YouTube by random chance. And the best part is that every video held the same set of standards, so I was never let down with the quality or depth of knowledge presented.
Most of the videos are between 10 and 20 minutes in length — so not too short, but not so long that you lose interest. The video quality is great too, with a size of about 750px wide with the height depending on the aspect ratio (click the image for a full size view). Videos loaded quickly and the buffer never cut out on me (I'm using a cable Internet connection tested at approximately 12 Mbps download rate). The video player also has basic options for viewing full screen, controlling volume, and rating the video. Technically, the site is well prepared to handle most visitor needs.
From what I understand, FotoTV.com was launched off the back of FotoTV.de (hint, hint, for you German-speaking readers) — a German based photography site. The German version launched about 2-3 years ago and it's very popular with over 500 videos available to subscribers. The English version (FotoTV.com) is basically the same resource with fewer videos available at the moment — I believe they launched with just over 100 videos several months ago, and they're adding more each month.
Some of the videos on FotoTV.com are strictly English, while others are English voice-overs from the German videos. So I would assume that they have a huge pool of videos in the queue for translation — and thus, I would not expect a shortage of new videos on the English site. And I must say that the voice-over videos are not any less educational/intriguing than the native English videos.
In addition to the video archives, FotoTV has a forum available to registered members. Even if forums aren't your thing, it's still another resource available to you. They also have a blog that they use to announce new videos and other topics of interest.
And one other thing — these guys are planning on launching yet another service that has done well on the German site: FotoTV News. It should be available to all registered users in the very near future (though, I'm not sure if you'll also have to be a paid subscriber). It's basically going to be a once-a-month photography show with approximately 1/2 hour of news, tips, artist spotlights, and updates on new videos coming out. Pretty cool!
So here's the deal…
You can visit the FotoTV website and view 3 of their videos absolutely free of charge and obligation. If you want more, you can register for free and get access to 15 free videos and the forum. I would suggest at least checking out the 3 free videos. If you want more convincing, register and check out the 15 videos. If you want even more, subscribe and get full access!
ABOUT THE FREE STUFF…
You guys know I'm always looking out for you, so I have some goodies for you! The folks at FotoTV are giving away 2 — THAT'S TWO — one year subscriptions to the FotoTV.com website!!! Totally FREE!!! Awesome stuff — I'm sure we won't have any trouble filling the two spots.
In order to get a free one-year subscription, here's what you need to do: check out the FotoTV website, sample the free videos (and maybe even register for free to see more free videos), then — LEAVE A COMMENT HERE STATING THAT YOU'D LIKE TO BE ENTERED IN THE RAFFLE (yes, random drawing this time). I'll be giving away two free one-year subscriptions to FotoTV.com on November 18th, 2009.