I have invented things, written technical books on software safety in nuclear power plants, designed on spacecrafts, taught Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the senior and graduate school level as a professor, and I can tell you that the most important skill you can have for live and the work place is the ability to speak and write clearly. If you do not communicate clearly to your audience, your customer, your boss, and your spouse, you will not get what you want and need. English 101 is the most important course you will ever take.
I agree entirely with the above.
I failed study hall twice!:)
It's not all that different in any field. When I was the production manager of a printing company, I interviewed numerous applicants with a degree that had no concept of the most basic, fundamental skills, yet somehow managed to earn a graphic arts degree. My son is nearly finished with his EE and can't perform the most basic steps of diagnosis outside of his specialty, even though the same concepts apply regardless of whether it's a data comm system or an automobile engine that refuses to start. The basic skills, that many of us were taught in middle and high school, seem to have vanished from the earth I fear.
Originally Posted by Steve Smith
I have been a working graphic artist and designer since my mid 20's, when I left electronics and manufacturing at the beginnings of the "down sizing" trend. With two plus decades of demonstrated competence and skill level, I haven't been able to find a job paying anything close to a living wage, as nearly every employer wants applicants with a bachelor's degree. In the current job market, where there are hundreds of applicants for each job, it's easy for the employer to segregate based on their stated requirements, irrespective of demonstrated skills, abilities or references.
This situation precipitated my return to school, after 29 years, and my ultimate decision to just keep going and get an MFA. At the very least, I can teach.
I would advocate some college education if this person wants to be successfully self employed. Unless he/she has entrepreneurial parents willing to provide business coaching (and the 18 yo is willing to listen to them), some advanced business training would be useful for a photography job and and any other future employment.
Perhaps an associate degree at a local state university branch or community college. 4-year degrees are nice but not necessary, and many people do not use their 4 year degrees, changing plans after college. Thus the investment in a 4 year degree is often "wasted", despite the value of what they learned, because it wasn't applied to their job.
A "trade" job like plumber, photographer, metal fabricator can make decent money on their own, but it won't happen well if the person has no business skills or training. If they work for someone else, their motive should certainly not be a comfortable income. A spouse with business skills could also complement the trade person's trade skills, but I think it's better if one person can grasp both aspect of self employment.
There are plenty of good business people who are weak on photography skill as well. The 18yo should continue to refine their photography skills and enjoy all aspects of photography such as digital, analog, darkroom, computer skills, lighting, etc...
I have an undergrad in Photography....its about worth as much as the paper its printed on. Everything that I know about how to make a living as a photographer I have learned through working for and with other photographers. 90% of everything that I have picked up was not in a class room. And some of that was just because of a passion for the medium and wanting to know more about it.
I am going back to grad school this fall- I want to teach and earn some semblance of retirement and health insurance when all is said and done-- I've given up the dream of building a dream business....but I have learned:
--Take business courses and work for other photographers. Learn to work with and for people you dont like- the world is full of them and it makes working with the people that you do like that much better to work with.
--Learn marketable skills as a photographer- Learn copy work, a general knowledge of how weddings work, some product photography, portraiture, headshots/model photos and how to light EVERYTHING!! Being specialized is GREAT, you can charge more and you can be highly elite in the field, but being able to pay the bills as a general practitioner in the medium is a better for your health and mortgage!
--While you are an assistant make connections.
--Dont rely on photography when you are starting out to answer your money woes-
The more money you put into marketing, promos, mailers, advertising, charity and community events, fund raisers...blah blah blah...the more you will get out of it. But....it all takes money on your end. Money that you may not have when you are just starting out and the car insurance is due in a week, or whatever it may be. Have a SECOND job...yeah sounds like hard work having two jobs....but life wasnt designed to be easy!
Starting a small business is a hard job- the research, odd jobs, assisting/apprenticing that you do while you are just starting out is crucial to securing a marketable skill set in a hard economy.
If you start busting ass now...you will be better prepared that most of you peers when you get out of college.
All the best,
You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink.
Originally Posted by epatsellis
You can lead a student to knowledge but you can't make him think.
Those who can, do.
Those who can't, teach.
Those who can't teach, teach others to teach.
I'm not exactly sure what you mean by "medium of photography" but if you want to go pro I believe the genre is very much germane. I.E. photojournalism, wedding/social, fine art, advertising.
Originally Posted by st3ve
For example, in most cases a degree will be necessary for being hired as a photojournalist. We might argue that it shouldn't be the case, and we can find examples where it wasn't the case, but that's where major news outlets look.
On the other hand, a degree doesn't matter at all for wedding/social. That doesn't mean business acumen is not essential to success. But most business degrees in 4 year collages are not oriented to the small entrepreneur.
Advertising has it's own requirements, with essentially an apprenticeship from what I understand. But others can weigh in.
So I think you need to give us a hint of what "going pro" means to you. Otherwise, you may get a lot of answers that are right for someone else but wrong for you.
I have been quite lucky as I have been employed by the same company as an electronic design engineer for the last 21 years. I have a hands on practical approach and can often find solutions by thinking differently to the normal trained method. I also like to know how to use most of the machinery in the factory and use it myself to make prototype parts (and cameras!) rather than sit at my desk and let others do it for me. I don't have that holy piece of paper with BSc written on it though so I don't know what I would do if made redundant. Bus driver perhaps!
Originally Posted by epatsellis
I sometimes think about how I would do things differently if I were young again. With the knowledge I have now I think I would have liked to study law. In the last few years I have become interested in it, particularly contract law. If I could afford it I would do an Open University* course.
(* UK home study university).
A college degree today is almost like a high school degree was 40 years ago. Just think, 40 years from now, for any some reason, any reason, you need to get a job. What do you find? Hard times, that's what. In economic times like today, even the person with a degree and a steady work record has difficulties. The person, now older, with no degree, well its a double whammy. You start thinking about working where you use to shop, Wallys world. Get the degree and pursue what ever else you want. Besides, you may actully learn something that may help you latter on. JMHO