It Taught a Pro Something. Serge Ramelli’s Lightroom Masterclass Review

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As one of the more popular photo editors, Lightroom tutorials are easy to find. But, learning the photo editor and asset management system through random YouTube tutorials creates a hole-riddled foundation. The Lightroom Masterclass with Serge Ramelli is designed to create a complete understanding of the software. With classes on both Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC — and even a taste of Photoshop — the Mastercourse is the ideal start-to-finish course. Both beginners and intermediate users can build a complete understanding of editing in Lightroom.

I’ve been using Lightroom Classic as my primary editing software for several years. But, as a self-taught photo editor, I even learned a few things from Ramelli’s straight-forward teaching. Easily affordable, the class is ideal for learning Lightroom in its entirety while still using short-and-sweet YouTube-like video lessons.

Screenshot of the Lightroom Masterclass with Serge Ramelli

Lightroom Masterclass with Serge Ramelli Pros and Cons

Pros

  • A complete course that covers the basics to more advanced edits.
  • Ramelli’s reaching style is easy to follow, and his voice almost musical.
  • The short tutorials mean you can spend several hours learning, or just a few minutes a day over a longer stretch of time.
  • Includes Lightroom Classic, Lightroom CC, and a taste of Photoshop.

Cons

  • PhotoWhoa advertises Lightroom Mobile classes, but they were not included in my download.
  • Lightroom Classic’s new color grading tools were introduced after this course was recorded.

Who is Serge Ramelli?

Serge Ramelli’s work is full of dramatic landscapes. A landscape photographer from Paris, his photographs often wow with striking light, color, and composition. Sometimes, that’s through spectacular scenes with minimal retouching. But, retouching allows him to add a bit more imagination into the shot than what comes straight from the camera. He’s published two coffee table style books of photos from Paris and New York, and his work is regularly in galleries and magazines and other publications.

Because adding extra imagination relies so heavily on photo editing, Ramelli has made a name for himself in photo education. His YouTube channel has over 600,000 followers, and he also sells several courses and resources for photographers through his own website.

What’s Included?

The Lightroom Masterclass with Serge Ramelli includes 96 lessons over all three Lightroom programs — Lightroom Classic, Lightroom CC, and Lightroom CC on Mobile. (The Mobile courses, however, were missing from my download from PhotoWhoa.) As a Master Class, the course is an excellent start-to-finish class on the software. He walks through the entire process and list of tools, import to cull to edit to export. The class includes frequently used and lesser-known tools, like laying out photo books.

The course isn’t a Photoshop class, but Ramelli also teaches what he describes as Photoshop for Lightroom users. He introduces a few tricks that you can’t do in Lightroom. For example, in one class, he shows you how to fill in the missing spots of a panorama with the Content-Aware Fill.

Because Ramelli is a landscape photographer, most of the edits work in this genre. However, he does include one lesson on portrait photography and how the editing strategy differs.

Along with the videos themselves, the class includes the RAW files of the tutorials’ images. That’s an excellent tool for the hands-on learners, who can edit the exact same photo alongside Ramelli. The before and after JPEGs are also included for reference.

The Good

I’ve been an avid Lightroom Classic user for years — and yet I still learned a few things from Ramelli’s class. (The spray paint can icon in the Library can quickly add new keywords, flags, colors, or stars on any photo you click on. Who knew? I didn’t.) I can’t think of anything that photographers need to know about Lightroom that I didn’t find in this class with one expected exception.

Ramelli first goes through the different Lightroom tools and what they do. He goes over pretty much every feature that photographers will use in Lightroom, including importing and exporting options, global edits, local editing tools, and even a few Photoshop tricks that you may need. The second part of the class is dedicated to complete edits, where you can see all the tools start working together to create a polished image. Throughout the course, you can pick up keyboard shortcuts as well.

The course covers more than just what the different tools do, however. Ramelli also discusses editing strategy. For example, photo editors don’t just learn what the shadows and blacks sliders do. He explains why he always opens the shadows and crushes the blacks for landscapes. 

And a must for editing rookies — Ramelli also discusses how to recognize when you’ve taken the edit too far. He discusses looking for things like halos or a loss of detail. Photographers new to editing often overdo it, so this is an integral piece of any course for beginners.

The video tutorials are also concise. Most were around five minutes long, with several two minute quick explainers and some full photo edits going longer than 10 minutes. If you want to learn Lightroom in 15 minutes a day, this is a great course.

Ramelli is also very easy to listen to. His French accent is much more enjoyable to listen to than a boring monotone. There’s no Charlie Brown teacher wah-wah droning on here. I didn’t have any trouble understanding him.

The range of the course is also excellent. At the start, you learn the very basic options and sliders. But, by the end, Ramelli is demonstrating how to edit two photos in Lightroom and merge them in Photoshop and how to add different effects beyond just basic corrections.

The Bad

The class is advertised as a 3-in-1 course with Lightroom Classic, Lightroom CC, and Lightroom Mobile. However, I didn’t receive any of the Lightroom Mobile classes in my download from PhotoWhoa. That wasn’t terribly disappointing since I was largely interested in Lightroom Classic tutorials. But, it’s an error that needs to be corrected so that what’s promised is what’s actually there. Hopefully, this is a bug that PhotoWhoa will correct.

The only other complaint I had is ingrained in this type of online course — it’s already slightly outdated. The videos were shot in 2019. While that’s quite recent, software development moves at a breakneck pace. Lightroom’s new color grading tools have since replaced the split toning Ramelli discusses in this course. 

However, that’s the nature of a one-time purchase course. I’m not sure that I would have invested in a subscription to this course updated as the software grows. The course could easily build a foundation in Lightroom, with those short YouTube tutorials to learn any new features added later.

Conclusion

The Lightroom Masterclass with Serge Ramelli is an excellent start-to-finish course. With a range of topics and editing strategies, the class is ideal for both beginners and mid-level Lightroom users. The class will be most helpful for landscape photographers. But, Ramelli also includes a lesson explaining how his editing strategy differs for portraits. If you’re a self-taught Lightroom user, you’ll probably learn a few tricks to speed up your workflow and create better edits that you didn’t find on your own.

I found very little to complain about in the course — except for the missing Mobile classes and the stagnant nature of a one-time download class. The price just sweetens the deal. PhotoWhoa has it listed a little cheaper than Ramelli’s own website for $37. That’s a lot of great course material for that price.

If you’re new to Lightroom, or even just self-taught, I highly recommend the Lightroom Masterclass with Serge Ramelli. I’m giving this masterclass four out of five stars for the breadth of topics, editing strategy, and easy listening. If the download bug is corrected to add in the promised Mobile classes, I may even upgrade my rating to five out of five stars. Want to learn Lightroom? You can get the course from PhotoWhoa for $37.

Hillary Grigonis

Hillary K. Grigonis is a photographer and tech writer based in Michigan. She shoots weddings and portraits at Hillary K Photography. A mother of three, she enjoys hiking, camping, crafting, and reading.