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  1. #1

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    Let's say you're 18 and want to go pro. How do you spend the next four years?

    Wasn't sure if there was a better section to post this in, but I think it's an interesting hypothetical (because I'm sure not 18 anymore and not really sure photography would be as fun if it were my job) that I thought of while taking the morning shower. It's based on an article I read recently called "Seven Reasons Not to Send Your Kid to College".

    You're 18 and have been keen on photography for some time now. Your stuff is alright, it doesn't blow anyone away, but you're getting better. You think that now is the time to go pro. Medium of photography and outside factors aren't relevant for this question.

    Would you spend the next four years getting a business degree (which would likely be the most practical degree for this purpose), or working on your craft? Let's assume that you don't have a large scholarship / trust fund and either way, you're going to have to work to support yourself during this time.

    On one hand, if you have very little business acumen (formally taught or "natural"), you're going to have a hard time keeping everything under control even if your photography is great. But if your photography is crap, you're going to have a hard time finding a client base at any really sustainable price.

    What would you do?

  2. #2
    Kevin Kehler's Avatar
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    Double major at university, business administration and fine art. After finishing, apprentice under a photographer for less money than your worth to learn the tricks of the trade. Above all else, minimum 200-300 pictures a week for the whole period because you have to be able to do even when you don't feel like it.
    Once a photographer is convinced that the camera can lie and that, strictly speaking, the vast majority of photographs are "camera lies," inasmuch as they tell only part of a story or tell it in a distorted form, half the battle is won. Once he has conceded that photography is not a "naturalistic" medium of rendition and that striving for "naturalism" in a photograph is futile, he can turn his attention to using a camera to make more effective pictures.

    Andreas Feininger

  3. #3
    2F/2F's Avatar
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    Skip school and assist. Work your ass off, save your money, and learn how to deal with people and run a business. Degrees in photography are worthless unless you intend to teach and/or write/edit. People who will hire you to do professional photography don't give a rat's ass about your schooling. They only care about your portfolio, your work ethic, and your professionalism. The 4+ years you would spend in school are going to be nothing but a loss of time in the end, if you really intend to simply be a professional photographer.

    This being said, having a degree never really hurts, and always inching toward it (maybe one or two classes at a time) may be worthwhile if professional photography doesn't work out in the end after all.

    ...but if you are 100% certain that all you are going to do is to work as a professional photographer, then spending time in school is a liability (i.e. a 4+ year vacuum of time, money, and lack of experience), not an asset.
    Last edited by 2F/2F; 08-03-2010 at 03:59 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

  4. #4
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    Get the business degree and shoot on the side. If nothing else, if the photography gig doesn't pan out, you still have a marketable skill and recognizable credential.

  5. #5
    Anscojohn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2F/2F View Post
    Skip school and assist. Work your ass off, save your money, and learn how to deal with people and run a business. Degrees in photography are worthless unless you intend to teach and/or write/edit. People who will hire you to do professional photography don't give a rat's ass about your schooling. They only care about your portfolio, your work ethic, and your professionalism. The 4+ years you would spend in school are going to be nothing but a loss of time in the end, if you really intend to simply be a professional photographer.
    *****************


    This being said, having a degree never really hurts, and always inching toward it (maybe one or two classes at a time) may be worthwhile if professional photography doesn't work out in the end after all.

    ...but if you are 100% certain that all you are going to do is to work as a professional photographer, then spending time in school is a liability (i.e. a 4+ year vacuum of time, money, and lack of experience), not an asset.
    I agree completely.
    John, Mount Vernon, Virginia USA

  6. #6
    Mainecoonmaniac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2F/2F View Post
    Skip school and assist. Work your ass off, save your money, and learn how to deal with people and run a business. Degrees in photography are worthless unless you intend to teach and/or write/edit. People who will hire you to do professional photography don't give a rat's ass about your schooling. They only care about your portfolio, your work ethic, and your professionalism. The 4+ years you would spend in school are going to be nothing but a loss of time in the end, if you really intend to simply be a professional photographer.

    This being said, having a degree never really hurts, and always inching toward it (maybe one or two classes at a time) may be worthwhile if professional photography doesn't work out in the end after all.

    ...but if you are 100% certain that all you are going to do is to work as a professional photographer, then spending time in school is a liability (i.e. a 4+ year vacuum of time, money, and lack of experience), not an asset.
    Definitely. Hopefully, the photographer you work for will also show you the business end of photography also, not just the nuts and bolts of photography. What hurts the photo profession is newbies not knowing what to charge and business practices. Building a portfolio with real work will help to.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2F/2F View Post
    Skip school and assist. Work your ass off, save your money, and learn how to deal with people and run a business. Degrees in photography are worthless unless you intend to teach and/or write/edit. People who will hire you to do professional photography don't give a rat's ass about your schooling. They only care about your portfolio, your work ethic, and your professionalism. The 4+ years you would spend in school are going to be nothing but a loss of time in the end, if you really intend to simply be a professional photographer.

    This being said, having a degree never really hurts, and always inching toward it (maybe one or two classes at a time) may be worthwhile if professional photography doesn't work out in the end after all.

    ...but if you are 100% certain that all you are going to do is to work as a professional photographer, then spending time in school is a liability (i.e. a 4+ year vacuum of time, money, and lack of experience), not an asset.
    I would tend to conditionally disagree. If you are planning on getting into commercial work especially. While skill and knowledge has little to do with schooling (or lack thereof). What it will do is give you solid, theory based tools to make your work better. It does create good work habits, and gives you the tools to think critically about art in general, as well as photography, which helps define and refine you compositional and color theory skills. In addition, you have a common, consistent and defined skillset that allows you to accurately and effectively communicate with AD's, designers and the like.

    I felt like a lot of the others here, and it wasn't until I was in school for a couple of semesters that I realized it had changed not just my compositional skills, as well as being more aware of the interplay of light, but also the way I assessed my own and other's work changed dramatically. Granted, I'm not 18 anymore, and it's been a few decades since I was, but I can say that if you apply yourself to it, it will change you as an artist, refining you.

  8. #8
    aloha's Avatar
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    I'm 27, I would love to be able to make money with photography, but I'm in the same boat, how do I get from here, where I'm taking in my free time, and not making money, to there, where its my main source of income?

  9. #9

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    If I were to try something like this, I would have a backup plan. Not that I don't trust in my ability to learn or my dedication be any less, but I would recognize that this is a field where making it and not making it depends on a lot of different factors - not all of them in my control. Quitting school and working for someone else wouldn't meet my own standard.

    I did something far more risky than choosing a carrier in my earlier days but I had a backup plan. To me, taking a risk and going for my dream includes preparing for unexpected or unintentional.

    That's my take on this.
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

  10. #10
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    If you want to be an artist, I'd get into the best art school I could and get an MFA. Then you can teach for a living and still photograph as an avocation. And that way you'll never have to compromise your art for anyone.

    If you want to be a commercial photographic illustrator, then I'd apprentice myself to the most successful pro I could find who will take you on. Then start your own business. You'll have to cater to your clients for your bread and butter, but you'll still be able to do your personal work any way you want to.

    Either way can be a great life. Take your pick.
    Jim

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