Trust yourself and follow your dreams.
One thing that is important to remember is you can never do everything yourself in business. Don't try to be a photographer AND accountant, a business manager, a web guy, a printer, a PR person, a janitor and everything else. I know many in business are forced to do as much as they can themselves... but the reality is the success comes for a photographer by being the photographer.
Get help as often as you can.
I *think*, one thing we are not talking about is the personal character and trait of this imaginary 18 year old future photographer. For some, college degree and regimented training/education in college courses will be a plus. For some, it won't be - and may even be a negative. Some learn better by books and instructions, some learn better by seeing and emulating.
I agree that education of some form - either by apprenticeship or classes, I don't think we can definitely say which is better universally.
The only thing I'd stress is to learn the business side as well as technique and artistic side. I've seen so many businesses fail because people don't know how to manage day-to-day business affairs. Having a good product is one thing but having a good business sense to keep it going and let it grow is quite another.
I'm typing this from thoughts rumbling around in my head. They are meant to help you. Let me put some of them down here!
I've been doing this for a long time. I've had a small business for over 35 years.
Some general observations:
What kind of life style do you want?
How much money do you need to make to enjoy your desired lifestyle? (Unless you inherited money or made a killing with an IPO or made a new discovery!)
Is this going to be your primary source of money? Or will you have a day job?
How many hours each day do you want to work?
How involved will your family (if you have one) want to be in your business?
What market are you going after? I find you can't be involved in many areas or you won't serve any of them very well.
How aggressive are you to get business? Will you get depressed by rejection? How will you pick yourself up and get going again?
What kind of an impression do people get when they meet with you? How good are you at public speaking? How are your leadership skills? How good are you at communicating? I need those at many of the gigs I get hired to do.
What about networking? Where do you go? How much to spend?
Can you close the deal? Do you know how to negotiate?
Can you make your art so as people will want to buy from you?
Maybe keep your day job? Then you can go after the art you want to create.
How would you handle disputes? Would the client be able to get under your skin? Then you have lost the battle when that takes places.
Maybe keep your day job.
Notice, I haven't said very much about things like cameras, film, developers, printing, darkroom, digital, lighting, posing & composition. They are important but are they the most important? Some who act like jerks, their photography is tainted ( it looks not so good) in the mind of the client even though they win awards and contests.
Can you delegate? Where to spend your time? Only 24 hours to each day.
I consider my photography OK but I get a fair amount of business. Why is that do you think? How important is rapport with the subject with people photography?
I could list more ingredients but perhaps you get an idea of some of the qualities to successfully have a photography business. It's a moving target. Things are done differently now than in the past, event the recent past.
Hope this helps you!
An undergraduate business degree is close to useless. An MBA is another matter - the degree is worth something, but the worth of the degree holder is whole 'nother matter...
If you want to do photography the first thing you must know is photography. If you need specialized accounting skills hire an accountant.
Get into the best photography institution you can: Rochester Institute of Technology, Brooks, Rhode Island School of Design.
Failing that get into the best university you can that has a good art department and major in photography. Some of the large Art Institutes are also good choices: Chicago, Cleveland, etc. but they won't be as good as assuring you will be able to make a living at it.
After that are community colleges. If the school has a few good photography teachers it may be worth exploring.
None of these will let you get out of school and start a business. No formal education will. After you get out of school you start working for someone else. After 20 years of apprenticeship you can think of trying to make a living on your own.
Those who can, do;
Those who can't do, manage;
Those who can't manage, become management consultants;
Those who can't consult or manage, teach;
Those who can't teach, write books;
Those who can't do anything else become politicians.
it would be interesting to see how many people who dismiss college as irrelevant or useless actually earned a degree.
Employers use the need of a degree as a screening tool, however, as time has moved on, most of the persons conducting interviews have degrees. Having a degree makes some folks biased, and they look down upon those without. I am not saying this is good or bad. However, I do feel knowledge is power. More is better than less. How you use your knowledge and skills, and determine what success means to you, is a different matter. Intelligence and Education are separate and only parts of the person.
The combination of both academic success (degree or at least a certificate) and practical experience is much more persuasive to a prospective employer than either one singly.
That's true. I have met a few of those.
Originally Posted by Nicholas Lindan
Back to the subject. Photography is not rocket science. You don't need a degree to do it any more than you need one to be a plumber.