Q&A: Is a photography degree worthwhile?

Q: "I'm in my last year of school, want to be a photographer as a career. My careers advisor has said I should get a degree. But the tog I did work experience with says not.

I'm with your work experience photographer on this one.

In my experience and my opinion most photography degrees are part of the fine-art faculty and are not about careers in photography.

From those I do know who have gone this route my strong impression is that they have learnt very little about the mechanics, the techniques or the business of being a photographer.

Fine-art photography is not about any of those. While you might get some development in terms of "better seeing" and some sense of how to develop an idea my opinion is you won't learn photography.

Instead I would (a) work for free or low-pay with any photographer, (b) shoot as much as I possibly could - especially trying out lots of different styles, (c) find someone (or some people) who will give you good honest critiques of your work (d) I would look to get stuff published - ideally for money, but for free if not.

I would also strongly recommend some formal business and marketing training - since the odds are you will be freelance not employed as a photographer - you need to know that stuff too - and I know they won't teach you that at university.

I would consider working through some of the formal qualifications say with the Royal Photographic Society, or Guild of Photographers or similar - because they can focus the mind on your development.

There is so much valuable content on the web too - find a source that works for you and stick with it - do everything.

Finally, go to lots of workshops with different photographers - you will learn different things at each and that will give you a very broad spread of knowledge, advice and tips.

I reckon a year of that would cost you less and teach you a whole lot more than 3 years at university or college.

photography photographer experience university teach Simon Q. Walden, FilmPhotoAcademy.com, sqw, FilmPhoto, photography

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