PDA

View Full Version : Do you really need photo school to be a pro?



Pages : 1 [2] 3

Mainecoonmaniac
03-20-2013, 05:11 PM
I remember assisting in LA and it was a mixed bag. Some assistants went to school, some got in by being a gopher then started assisting. Same for photographers I worked for. Some were schooled and some just assisted. I think a degree can't hurt, but nothing beats experience and an updated portfolio with tearsheets.

Ian Grant
03-20-2013, 05:16 PM
Talent will get you through if you have enough common sense. However with the right attitude a degrree from the right course will be very useful.

One of my friends, we worked alongside each other in the late 70's and 80's, was a highly successful Commercial and advertising photographer, he had some major UK accounts. He had a Degree from a course that was particularly good and almost all the students did well.

I was his landlord, he rented his studio from me (he was there as a sublet when I rented the whole building). Later the property owners son came and did voluntary work with us in his school holidays, then he went to one of the best photohraphy Degree course (at the time) in the UK, he knew exactly what he wanted from the course and made sure he got it. Within a year he'd also gained major International clients and hasn't looked back.

On the other hand I have friends who went on the same courses who are struggling.

Ian

Poisson Du Jour
03-20-2013, 05:21 PM
My degree in fine art/photography major unsurprisingly for that time (1991-1994) included a stream in traditional brush art, colour visualisation and execution — some of this had relevance to photography (but I found it boring!) e.g. selection of one film over another for accentuating colour is the same as selecting base tints and mixing them to arrive at a desired hue/depth, or abstracts in B&W (charcoal drawing). Where a traditional school approach to photography is valuable is in the business and financial area. I learnt that a Trust Fund was the best way of investing for the future, with a subsidiary cash fund for ad-hoc drawdowns. Never had an overdraft at all when running the business (though plenty, plenty of lean, mean times chiefly with the horrors of dealing with Ilfochrome distribution). More important than all this however is a natural aptitude and motivation for photography, people skills and a keen interest in the world around you, but very especially mastering your chosen subject and making it your trademark. At no time was I viewed or referred to as a fancy "commercial" photographer, just a professional with a prime interest in landscape/scenic work, and nothing else.

David Allen
03-20-2013, 05:38 PM
In common parlance, a 'professional' photographer means someone who earns their living through making images at the behest of a client (whether this is directly or indirectly - as in the case of stock photographers). The key to being successful at this is (a) to consistently deliver the results that meet your clients' expectations and (b) knowing how to keep your clients happy (there is always someone just as able who is willing to undercut your prices!!).

My experience of over 30 years of commercial photography (always with the aim of supporting my own personal image making) is that 90% is keeping your customers sweet (oh god - all of those interminable late evenings in restaurants being pleasant to people I would not otherwise have spent any time with) and, a very very important 10% ALWAYS delivering the goods requested.

I learnt the hard way on my own (with supposedly loyal clients who suddenly left despite the fact that they were always very happy with my work until one assignment was 'deemed' to be 'substandard' despite the fact that I had delivered outstanding results to vague briefs over many many years) but, observing friends who were in the higher echelons and being able to observe how their assistants fared, being someone's assistant was the best route to sustained success.

My personal observation is that, apart from core technique which, if taught correctly, can be learned in a few weeks, the area where an art/photography school can really excel is in either awaking you to the work of exemplary photographers' work that you were previously unaware of) or teaching you to formulate the nom-culture (in my personal view I would define this as bullshit) necessary to building a career where your 'clients' are galleries, funders and the wider art world.

Maybe I am just a dinosaur cynic but, having pursued my own work for the past 10 years and having had moderate success in gaining exhibitions and private collectors, I personally would like to return to the time when 'professional' meant more about your approach to your work and your knowledge of the subject rather than whether it defines how you earn the money to pay the bills.

So, after these rather unfocused ramblings, no, you do not need to go to school to be a photographer who wants to earn his/her living through photography but it might well help you in becoming a better (personal photography focused) photographer if your interest is in PHOTOGRAPHY as a medium rather than as an income stream.

Bests,

David
www.dsallen.de

jnanian
03-20-2013, 05:45 PM
i don't think you need a degree, but you need to know what you are doing.
that said ... education is never wasted time or money. emersion is priceless
( whether that emersion is in a "school setting" or as an apprentice to someone who has a clue.

Mainecoonmaniac
03-20-2013, 05:51 PM
With photo school and art school being more and more expensive, does it make sense to get a photographic education while there are few jobs for photographers? Is it just better just to assist to learn the profession? Is a degree in photography the "ticket" for a career?

batwister
03-20-2013, 05:57 PM
Is it just better just to assist to learn the profession?

I wish this was possible.

Felinik
03-20-2013, 06:08 PM
With photo school and art school being more and more expensive, does it make sense to get a photographic education while there are few jobs for photographers? Is it just better just to assist to learn the profession? Is a degree in photography the "ticket" for a career?

I don't think there's such a thing as a ticket to anything these days, it's good ol' networking and hard earned hours that counts in the end. School or not, a motivated person will always create the path to what he or she wants no matter what...

newcan1
03-20-2013, 06:21 PM
I hope you don't need a diploma; I'm setting about commercializing my photography now, at age 53. I think my 44 years' experience as an engaged amateur is probably worth a degree or two; but maybe not.

I kind of wish I had the money to go to photography school now, but probably not for career building reasons.

PKM-25
03-20-2013, 06:39 PM
I'm setting about commercializing my photography now, at age 53.

I am just curious, knowing the market is contracting with tons of very talented competition and filling up with amateurs who just want to pay for their hobby or have ego-centric bragging rights to a now near-worthless prize of a "Photo Credit", what is your motivation?

Poisson Du Jour
03-20-2013, 07:29 PM
I wish this was possible.

In Australia, it was very easy to be employed as an Assistant to an established professional 20 years ago (I was one in the country) when all one had then was an out-of-school education or mentorship. Today assistants commonly have their own degree/post-graduate degree, in either a like or allied area of the arts or something different e.g. somebody with post-graduate qualifications in market research and analysis could be potentially very useful to a long established professional in seeking out a "route of least resistance" against the competition, and there is heaps and heaps of competition! I am aware of only one wedding photographer in a pool of professionals who employs an assistant who has more qualifications than the boss! Masters graduates also fall into the Assistant foot-in-the-door area but generally only for the duration of their Masters (3-4 years).

Vaughn
03-20-2013, 07:46 PM
To twist a saying...

A self-taught person has an idiot for a teacher.

Fortunately we can sometimes over-come bad teaching...

jnanian
03-20-2013, 08:37 PM
With photo school and art school being more and more expensive, does it make sense to get a photographic education while there are few jobs for photographers? Is it just better just to assist to learn the profession? Is a degree in photography the "ticket" for a career?

in art school and photo school the student is surrounded 24/7 by art and photography.
they are getting "direction" and learning how to overcome their weaknesses and magnify their strengths.
no degree or assistantship is a ticket for a career, the person has to have motivation.
without motivation a degree in anything, or an assistantship in anything is just that, a degree and assistantship.
years ago there was a radio show i was listening to. it was a panel of deans of universities ... the show had to do with
university / college education and what it was worth. there were countless people who called and said
they went to a prestigious college and had a crap job, and it was the university's fault they had no career.
the people took no responsibility at all for their choices and they failed to recognize that a university gives
a student the opportunity to learn, to work with others with mutual interests &c, it was not necessarily
the ticket to a $100,000 / year job.

art / photo school are the same thing. they give the opportunity to learn &c but they don't necessarily mean

right on vaughn !


a ticket to success.

RalphLambrecht
03-20-2013, 08:58 PM
you are a pro thevery moment when you decide to accept the risk and make photography part of your income;save some money for rainy daysand take the plunge;hope you never need to starve;many want-to-be-pros do for a while

markbarendt
03-20-2013, 09:16 PM
No you need business school.

yurisrey
03-20-2013, 09:28 PM
While I'm not so sure about commercial photography, I'm sure it can't be any different than filmmaking. you need a portfolio. i went to film school precisely to build my portfolio; i had access to equipment otherwise not regularly available at the consumer level. I now work in my desired field because of a) the portfolio and b)the people (especially professors and peers) I met there. I'm sure the same applies for photography.

Poisson Du Jour
03-20-2013, 10:44 PM
No you need business school.

You learn about business, risk assessment, finance, budgeting and investment in uni (degree course with upward path to post-grad study). Attending business school only would be exclusive of learning anything about the art and application of your chosen creative stream e.g. art/photography/traditional arts.
Learning art is so much more than finding your subject in photography. You are taught how to survive and even get ahead (but you won't always).

newcan1
03-21-2013, 06:46 AM
I am just curious, knowing the market is contracting with tons of very talented competition and filling up with amateurs who just want to pay for their hobby or have ego-centric bragging rights to a now near-worthless prize of a "Photo Credit", what is your motivation?

It's really just a coming together of different things. Only one kid left in college, I'll not need as much money in two years' time; and a recent health scare which left me thinking that it's about time I lived up to what have have always told my kids: If you have a passion, go for it.

I live in Chattanooga, TN where surprisingly, there seems still to be a fairly healthy demand for photographic art/services, and a pretty vibrant art community with a healthy following. We shall see. Wish me luck!

Pfiltz
03-21-2013, 07:16 AM
I quit high school my jr. year, in the 70's, but shoot for a living.

Having said that, an education isn't bad to have. What can I say. It was the 70's.

Bob Carnie
03-21-2013, 08:09 AM
I have a question for you .

In the large scheme of things, and lets take your own personal net worth aside. What do you think the average working salary per year of a professional photographer is.?

I believe the number is quite staggering low. This profession has way too many unqualified people calling themselves photographers and polluting the market place.
I think the degrees in someway open other doors for those who may not have your talent.

I do get the idea that the cream rises to the top , and talent is what gets you there, but from my perspective of 35 years of dealing directly with thousands of photographers, a solid education helps some transition to other avenues of financial support to continue producing their personal work.

The photographers that seem to get to the top have schooling, just need to look at Bios and CV's to figure that out. Yes there are exceptions but in my home town this seems to be the rule and Toronto just became the fourth largest city in North America so the numbers are pretty strong to judge from.





I am just curious, knowing the market is contracting with tons of very talented competition and filling up with amateurs who just want to pay for their hobby or have ego-centric bragging rights to a now near-worthless prize of a "Photo Credit", what is your motivation?