First a metaphor.
My wife went back to school to get back up to speed with a certificate in GIS at the encouragement of the gentleman she was working for. She wants to re-enter the full-time job market and have her own career after raising our daughter. It's her turn.
On her return she was required to take some math. She hated those first classes, went through all the classical arguments where the heck was she going to use this, blah, blah, blah, then she took a course in databases for fun, and then declared a major, computer science since she was going to be in school enough to get a second degree.
She is now one semester from being a full fledged "coder" to be able to do exactly what she wanted to do, GIS.
The point of having to learn things and stretch outside the box of what you think you need is to give you context that you will need, and possibly as in my wife's case, the ability for even greater specialization.
Which brings me to my point.
I'm going to assume that you want to make a living with your education/art. If that is true you need to understand the status quo of thinking in the business/the market, because regardless of your vision you have to create something salable to survive in the business.
Copying Ansel (or anybody else) probably won't get you paid well enough. You need to bring something fresh to the table if you want to make a comfortable living. Ansel had the same struggle to set himself apart, it was the f64 crowd vs the Pictorialists back in his early days.
Food for thought.
If you've already decided on the artistic style (product) you want to offer the market, your challenge is no longer "artistic", it's one of "business"; marketing, sales, manufacturing, and accounting.
If that's true you might need to ask yourself if you are even in the right program.
My bet is that, like most of us would, you will learn a lot about yourself in the program you are in.