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Thread started 03 Aug 2010 (Tuesday) 10:30
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Photography school - worth it?

 
airfrogusmc
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Aug 09, 2010 20:16 |  #46

Davie82 wrote in post #10683599 (external link)
I'm in a similar situation myself, and I think QueenChatty has very good advice - see if a local pro photographer will give you some hints tips and possibly take you on as an assistant. You learn by doing, which is essentially what happens when you study at an institution, except that you pay to do that.

My intention is simply to get busy, study in my own time around my current work, gain experience and build up a portfolio as I go, and any tuition I receive will be private tuition from an active and capable wedding photographer. The degree that I currently have is worthless; any work I get is based on my skill and experience as a teacher, not at all on the piece of paper that took me 3 years to earn.

It should never be solely about the paper but the knowledge you gain by having an education. That education and skills acquired while attaining it is going to show up in your work and thus in your portfolio. For shooting weddings any skill you acquire will help but it shows up as more of a benefit in other areas of photography. And you can get through a B/A in 3 years?




  
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Davie82
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Aug 10, 2010 06:50 |  #47

airfrogusmc wrote:
And you can get through a B/A in 3 years?

Yes any degree is 3 years, one more year for honours, and another for masters (typically).

I agree that being "in education" is in itself an advantage, because as somebody else mentioned you are surrounded by like-minded people and are in the perfect context to learn and gain experience. However, getting a degree purely for the sake of the qualification is vastly overrated; and since education is going to cost a lot, it might be better investing that money in starting a business and learning as you go.


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Gentleman ­ Villain
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Aug 10, 2010 07:11 |  #48
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airfrogusmc wrote in post #10690881 (external link)
It should never be solely about the paper but the knowledge you gain by having an education. That education and skills acquired while attaining it is going to show up in your work and thus in your portfolio.

I like the fact that people, in general, don't have much respect for a piece of paper. Unfortunately, they are right about that because colleges have become money-making schemes and through sheer volume of students pushed through programs have devalued the meaning of the actual degrees that are earned. Unfortunately, the devaluation of a degree is a consequence of the ability for everybody to obtain a degree.

But knowledge is completely separate from a piece of paper. Any person that skips the school experience is going to be lacking knowledge when competing against people that went to school.

Since knowledge matters more than a piece of paper, then I believe it is totally acceptable to drop-out of school if a student gets to the point where he feels that the best way to get knowledge is through another route. For example, I can think of a photographer from Brooks that dropped before getting a degree in order to apprentice for Richard Avedon. Not everybody can have that kind of opportunity when dropping out :D But the point is that knowledge is what is important and should be pursued by any means necessary.

One thing I'd like to add about having a formal photography education is that the benefits don't often make themselves clear until up to a decade or more after graduation. Most students come out of school with a good general knowledge of photography and a good exposure to a competitive culture that exists between photographers. But their portfolios are generally generic and students can often be kind of disoriented after the experience. Many people that didn't go to school, will look at a generic portfolio from a student and think it wasn't worth going to school. But what they aren't seeing is that the real advantages are not in that student portfolio, the real advantages are in the student's head and might not really take shape and show up until as much as a decade after graduation.

I graduated at age 21. During all of my 20s, I questioned whether or not school was worth it because I encountered a lot of people that were making good livings in photography without having ever gone to school. But once I got into my 30s, I started to see the kinds of things that only happen with age and experience. The people that had proper backgrounds were still in the business, while many of the people that didn't were already long gone. In my particular market, there might be 100 or so genuine commercial photographers. But the top 5 ALL went to school even if it had been as far back as in the 1980s or earlier. So there is a pattern to success from having the benefit of the education that might not show itself until later in life or throught the longevity and duration of a career. This is something that confuses a lot of self-taught people, because they will look at a student's portfolio upon graduation and only see it for the moment. Often they are un-impressed. But what they are not seeing is what is in that student's head that might not come out until much later in time.




  
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airfrogusmc
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Aug 10, 2010 12:58 |  #49

Gentleman Villain wrote in post #10693312 (external link)
I like the fact that people, in general, don't have much respect for a piece of paper. Unfortunately, they are right about that because colleges have become money-making schemes and through sheer volume of students pushed through programs have devalued the meaning of the actual degrees that are earned. Unfortunately, the devaluation of a degree is a consequence of the ability for everybody to obtain a degree.

But knowledge is completely separate from a piece of paper. Any person that skips the school experience is going to be lacking knowledge when competing against people that went to school.

Since knowledge matters more than a piece of paper, then I believe it is totally acceptable to drop-out of school if a student gets to the point where he feels that the best way to get knowledge is through another route. For example, I can think of a photographer from Brooks that dropped before getting a degree in order to apprentice for Richard Avedon. Not everybody can have that kind of opportunity when dropping out :D But the point is that knowledge is what is important and should be pursued by any means necessary.

One thing I'd like to add about having a formal photography education is that the benefits don't often make themselves clear until up to a decade or more after graduation. Most students come out of school with a good general knowledge of photography and a good exposure to a competitive culture that exists between photographers. But their portfolios are generally generic and students can often be kind of disoriented after the experience. Many people that didn't go to school, will look at a generic portfolio from a student and think it wasn't worth going to school. But what they aren't seeing is that the real advantages are not in that student portfolio, the real advantages are in the student's head and might not really take shape and show up until as much as a decade after graduation.

I graduated at age 21. During all of my 20s, I questioned whether or not school was worth it because I encountered a lot of people that were making good livings in photography without having ever gone to school. But once I got into my 30s, I started to see the kinds of things that only happen with age and experience. The people that had proper backgrounds were still in the business, while many of the people that didn't were already long gone. In my particular market, there might be 100 or so genuine commercial photographers. But the top 5 ALL went to school even if it had been as far back as in the 1980s or earlier. So there is a pattern to success from having the benefit of the education that might not show itself until later in life or throught the longevity and duration of a career. This is something that confuses a lot of self-taught people, because they will look at a student's portfolio upon graduation and only see it for the moment. Often they are un-impressed. But what they are not seeing is what is in that student's head that might not come out until much later in time.

I wouldn't be in the field I am now working in if not for the degree and working for a couple of really successful photographers after graduating. Graduation is just the start and the end of the first phase in my opinion. And the knowledge you get if you apply yourself (when I was in school I was very serious about learning everything I could) but there were those students just take'n up space and I doubt any of those are working as photographers now. Its not only the knowledge you obtain its also the relationships and the people you are in school with that you learn from and learn from you. The true creative environment where my work grew in both technical and visual terms faster than at any time before or since. For me, heck yes it was worth it. Every penny I make today is because of it.




  
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mikekelley
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Aug 10, 2010 13:10 |  #50

I am so freaking glad I had a degree/college experience I can't even tell you. I use it every day, whether for my photography business or just life in general. Unless you have some exceptional talent that more or less guarantees a lucrative career after high school (sports, film/television, etc) go to school if you can afford it. Like I said earlier, a degree is also the ultimate test, to see if someone is capable of finishing what they started. Personally, I (and many others) would hire someone with a degree on their resume over a person who might be more qualified but with no degree. It's so easy to just give up after a year of school, especially if you don't see the immediate benefits, but Allen is right.


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airfrogusmc
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Aug 10, 2010 13:19 |  #51

mikekelley wrote in post #10695325 (external link)
I am so freaking glad I had a degree/college experience I can't even tell you. I use it every day, whether for my photography business or just life in general. Unless you have some exceptional talent that more or less guarantees a lucrative career after high school (sports, film/television, etc) go to school if you can afford it. Like I said earlier, a degree is also the ultimate test, to see if someone is capable of finishing what they started. Personally, I (and many others) would hire someone with a degree on their resume over a person who might be more qualified but with no degree. It's so easy to just give up after a year of school, especially if you don't see the immediate benefits, but Allen is right.

Absolutely agree Mike.




  
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olelovold
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Mar 11, 2014 17:38 |  #52

Hey guys. I don't know how many of you who participated in the thread are still active. I must thank you for the patience you had with me. It's been a while, and I did end up going to study in London. If you're curious how it went, here is how and how I am today. Apologies for the cheesy introduction - it was originally written for something else, but I couldn't help going back here with it, given the discussion in this thread.

On a cold September day in 2011, I was sitting in my uncle’s car on the way to the airport. From the moving car, I was overlooking the rugged Norwegian landscape, veiled in rain and wind, and thinking about what was ahead of me. My application to study at university had been successful, and I was going to London, a city I had built my view of through the internet, TV, books and photographs, but never actually visited. I was going there to study photography for three years. Back then, I was 19, and I had no shortage of confidence in my abilities. I had been taking pictures since I got my first digital camera at the age of 16, and two years later I had started a business, taking people’s portraits and doing wedding photography. I was making money, and felt that I could probably make a healthy living if I kept pursuing it. At the time, I honestly thought I was a great photographer, and that there was not much I could learn. But, I still decided to go, and today I am incredibly happy to have done so, because the guy I was back then knew very little about actual photography - he just happened to have spent a lot of money on cameras and lights.

Growing up in a fishing village on the coast of north-west Norway, I had very little art in my life. I read some books, saw some films and the occasional play organised by the school. I loved writing stories and drawing things. I wish I could say I fell in love with photography when I saw a picture appear on paper as it floated around in the developer tray, but I didn’t see that until much later when I started my university course. I think I started with photography because it appeared so simple, and I liked the thought of extracting a picture from reality by pushing a button. It was a very superficial interest, and one that didn’t develop much, because I didn’t have access to photography books, exhibitions, or peers that would give me incentive to do so. I owe it to my secondary school teacher Svein for asking questions and sparking a deeper interest in photography, which in turn made me apply for the BA.

It has been nearly three years since I first arrived here, clumsily getting my suitcase stuck (and ripping the handle off) in the ticket gates at London Bridge. What happened between then and now? The short story is, I joined a great photography course and came to a city where there are people who care about art, which consequently led me to aspire towards gaining more knowledge and making better work. The course and the city has had an equally big impact in how I have developed as a person and a photographer. The enjoyment of the study has been one of the most rewarding aspects of the move. I continue to discover new work in galleries and in bookshops as well as online, and these are privileges of living in London. I have a genuine interest in photography today, which only a couple of years ago did not extend beyond cameras and lenses. I look at it in a different way than before, in a more curious and critical way, which in turn yields a much greater satisfaction to the work I do.

Coming to a new place gives you the opportunity to see something with fresh eyes. This includes yourself and where you are from. It has allowed me to distance myself from my roots, which not only gave me the opportunity to build a more informed, international approach to photography, but also to see my own country with a more objective gaze. Importantly, I am able to meet and make friends with other photographers and artists, who themselves are going through the same process of trying to mature into a good practitioner, and also to have tutors who long since have done this and offer their advice. It’s easy to be lulled into complacency if you don’t allow yourself to see things from a different perspective, and having a network of peers around you along with maintaining the study feels like a good way to prevent it.

As far as my work as a photographer is concerned, I have only just started, and the real work comes in the years ahead, when I am no longer in the comfortable position of being a full-time student. Of course, there is no guarantee I’ll be successful as a photographer, nor that I will continue to live in London. Competition is fierce, rent is high, and right at this moment, I have no idea what the coming years will bring. But I think that I have laid the best foundation I can, and I owe that to myself for channeling my exorbitant confidence into moving and allowing myself to learn.


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ZLGragg
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Mar 22, 2014 16:13 |  #53

I must say, this is quite likely the best thread I've read on any forum. After 4 years, the OP has heeded the sage advice of seasoned photographers and written about his revolutionary experience at University in London. If his photography contains the same amount of masterful command as his writing, then I'm confident his field is but bleached white pages waiting for purpose by the effective prints of his creative intellect.
~+~
Congrats to you Oleovold!
Your new fan,
With kind regards,
From Nicaragua,
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