My advice... drop your life for a couple of years and go find a good technical school, like NESOP or Brooks. The level of photgraphic experience you are going to find will blow your socks off. Intense, goal driven, artistic challanging, ego reducing classes that will make you into a fine photographer with professional potential.
I did this in 1985/86 and don't regret a single moment I spent there. I later went and got the engineering degree that supports my kids, kameras, and kritters.
tim in san jose (robotics software engineer, B&W photographer)
Tim, this I find interesting. Of all the graduates of Brooks ( Santa Barbara) how many do you think are working professionals in photography.
In my experience, a very high percentage are privileged LA, kids who want to be photographic "stars" a la Arney Fretag (sp?) or film makers. I wonder what your experience was with this.
I, like most portrait photographer started by the seat of my pants doing weddings and gradually got into doing better work by attending seminars. I attended Winona School of Professional Photography in Winona Lake Indiana (now Chicago)which is run by Professional Photographers of American.These were usually one week seminars taught by working professionals who came to teach for a week.
I attended about 7 different ones of these as well as West Coast School (Brooks Institute) and a number of others as well as seminars put on by the Professional Photographers of Canada.
I believe that although full time schools are the best way to learn technical information, that often the best people photographers are self taught. I think that in Europe that a commercial photographer has to apprentice although I'm not sure about a portrait photographer.
I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.
Took a incredibly pointless photo class my freshman year of college and dropped while I could still get my money back--the teacher spent the first two days explaining what SLR meant. I had also planned on using my rolleicord for the class, but was told that I couldn't by the professor because it was too advanced--apparantly 50 years old with bigger film=advanced?
Ha ha. Thats horrible, kind of like the person who called me "High Tech" for using a 60 year old 4x5 press camera. Appaerently advanced means using your brain instead of letting the SLR figure out all the settings for you?
I took three semesters of photo in colloge, partially to fill my minor requirements, and mostly just to get access to the darkroom. The Photo I actually tought me a bit, but from there on out they classes becaome mostly "Expressing your emotions" type teaching, so I had to mainly rely on the internet and books to gather information so I could progress beyond taking very 18% gray photos of my cat or bedroom wall.
I think that in Europe that a commercial photographer has to apprentice although I'm not sure about a portrait photographer.Michael MCBlane
Michael I don't know if it's common but I usually get told I capture something that "trained photographers" don't when I shoot portraits, which usually leads to me taking work off the studio's around here. So possibly it's people skills that are more important when it comes to portraits.