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  1. #21
    Mainecoonmaniac's Avatar
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    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.
    "Photography, like surfing, is an infinite process, a constantly evolving exploration of life."
    Aaron Chang

  2. #22
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    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

  3. #23
    Poisson Du Jour's Avatar
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    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.
    .::Gary Rowan Higgins

    A comfort zone is a wonderful place. But nothing ever grows there.
    —Anon.






  4. #24

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    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
    D.S. Allen, fotograf.

    Neue 3D Ausstellung/New 3D exhibition: www.german-fine-arts.com/berlin.html
    Neue Fotos/New Photos: http://shop.german-fine-arts.com/d-s-allen.html
    Vita/CV: www.german-fine-arts.com/allen.php

  5. #25

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    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.

  6. #26
    Mainecoonmaniac's Avatar
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    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?
    "Photography, like surfing, is an infinite process, a constantly evolving exploration of life."
    Aaron Chang

  7. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mainecoonmaniac View Post
    Is it just better just to assist to learn the profession?
    I wish this was possible.
    'Cows are very fond of being photographed, and, unlike architecture, don't move.' - Oscar Wilde

  8. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mainecoonmaniac View Post
    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...
    http://street-photos.net/ | http://felinik.com/ | http://www.facebook.com/jf.felinik

    "The one with the most stuff when he dies wins"

  9. #29

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    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.

  10. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by newcan1 View Post
    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?

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