Darn Competitive Photography Programs - Improving the Odds

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Sn00bies, Aug 21, 2009.

  1. Sn00bies

    Sn00bies TPF Noob!

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    I'm planning on applying for a photography major next January, but I'm psyching myself out as to how good I need to be to get accepted. I mean really, I'm applying to be taught to become pro - do they really expect me to be a pro already? One would think not, but last January only 30 out of 110 were accepted. Unfortunately, I can't see if those 80 who weren't accepted were in fact serious contenders, or just people with a weenie camera taking pictures of leaves thinking they "might want to do photography some day."

    So this leads me to my plea for suggestions, could anyone share some ideas to keep in mind to create a portfolio that stands out from the masses? Some of the more creative (in my mind at least) ideas I've come up with are some that involve light painting and sparklers, but I wonder if these are too tacky for a university portfolio? Others are artistic expressions, such as images that display America's infatuation with fast food and obesity, pornography, etc. Even more ideas are the traditional shooting fruit in sparkling water with a reflector. Since I'm not really in the pro photography scene (just me and my camera doing my own thing for the last two years) yet, it's hard to tell where the line is between "Oh that's so overplayed and tacky - that's like 20th century, my little sister just did that on her point and shoot last week" and "Wow, that's pretty creative! You're accepted."

    So, if you guys wouldn't mind shedding some light and ideas on this matter, I would be forever in your debt!
     
  2. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    What have you got so far?
    (How can we help you improve if we don't know where you stand now?)

    Post what you feel are your top 5 photos...
     
  3. MelissaMarieImagery

    MelissaMarieImagery TPF Noob!

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    When I was in 11th grade I got my first camera and fell in love with Photography. I didn't know ANYTHING about the professional world, and had no idea how much more there was than just snapping photos, I was clueless. Senior year I had to pick a major and decided Photography was it. I got together my portfolio of images, really nervous, my first portfolio, my first interview, I was terrified.

    I showed teachers my images to help get it narrowed down but for the most part I did it all on my own, ignorant to the proper way a portfolio should be assembled/flow etc. I went into my interview for FIT and shortly after, received my acceptance letter.

    I went in totaly blind, but they liked my work, liked the way I shot, and saw potential. They know you aren't a pro when you walk in that door, they need to see people have potential and are serious about it. You can teach technical you can't teach talent.

    Your portfolio should be a reflection of you and the work you like to shoot. Don't shoot a bunch of still lives if you want to do portraiture, and in turn don't give in a bunch of headshots if you want to shoot glamour beauty ads. Show them what you are good at.

    Show your portfolio to some people with backgrounds in Art/Photo, they'll be able to help you choose which shots are stronger than others, and how the faulty ones could be improved.

    Be confident when you go to your interview, and be yourself. The person who conducted my interview told me I was "ambitious" , which he liked. Don't go in doubting yourself, or your work, and make sure you express your desire to learn more! :) I'm sure you will do well.

    As for presentation, everyone has different opinions. Some people feel your portfolio should be a reflection of yourself, choice of colour that the book is, the material it is made out of, if you use loose prints or a bound and printed book-- while other people believe that a black portfolio, with just your matted images is the way to go. You could also give a second copy of your portfolio on CD Disk for them to keep in case they decide to give you a second look.

    Perhaps in terms of shooting new work, look into a series you may want to follow -- again going with whatever it is you like to shoot. Choose a few images from the series, so that you can show continuity.



    Again, these are just some tips I have picked up through college, people may agree or disagree with them, and like I said earlier everyone has their own idea of how a portfolio should be set up.
     
  4. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    I am not inclined toward viewing social commentary such as fast food, obesity etc., as work that most pros would be able to sell. It seems to me that it would be better to keep it simple and basic for your portfolio. Shoot a couple of portraits, a model study, a landscape or cityscape, an event, some street/candid shots, children playing, some macros, and some products.

    skieur
     
  5. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    Which schools are you applying to? This will be a major factor. I went to college in NYC (School of Visual Arts) many moons ago.

    That being said; I applied to 3 schools SVA, Parsons and RISD. Parsons was upper echelon and all though very nice I was not accepted. RISD straight up said no. Long story short each school has it's reputation. May take some investigating, but you need to figure it out.

    As far as your work goes you just have to prove that you have made the transition from interested hobbyist to student of photography. The images you show need to illustrate that you put time into your work. No drive by shoots of a beautiful scene people have seen a million times. Originality and emotion are key. Your technical prowess should also be evident to a small degree. Start with editing your 2 years of work down to 10 or 12 photos. Post them and edit some more. Hold off on shooting and figure where you are at. Then concentrate on presentation. Sooner you realize presentation is everything the better.

    More important then anything is attitude. You will have to prove that you are committed to making photography your career.

    Love & Bass
     
  6. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    The school you want to apply to is very important. Is it an art school or a commercial school?

    No need to apply to a commercial oriented school with an artsy portfolio.

    I think craig and MMI have basically covered the rest of it.
     
  7. Sn00bies

    Sn00bies TPF Noob!

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    Thank you all so much for your input. I really appreciate it!

    I haven't yet created 5 photos out of the ideas I specifically had for my portfolio, but I will get 5 of my best images up to this point and put them on here ASAP.

    The school is Brigham Young University, not an arts-specific school. I'm already accepted to the school with my main goal being pre-dental requirements (which makes me wonder if they'll shrug me off since my primary goal isn't to be a career photographer, at least not exclusively), and wanted to compliment my sciences with fine arts since I have been enthralled with imagery for years, and finally found photography to be the best outlet for this. But, I need additional acceptance to the photography major program in specific. I was told by an art professor that BYU's photography program is very commercial based (is there a specific area of subject matter/style I should be using to appeal to them?). I haven't heard this specifically from a photography professor, but I have no reason to doubt the art professor. As far as the portfolio creation is concerned, I was just told to put the 10 images on a CD so I don't think I'll have to print them in a book or anything. Another thing that I haven't heard mentioned is an interview. I am so hoping that there will be an interview though, because I don't think a person can completely convey their passion of photography simply through their images, especially amateurs.

    I can see what you mean about the social commentary. I'm not sure what a "commercial" based program fully entails, but it doesn't seem like the social commentary type work would be the best choice. At the same time though, I thought it might bring out an element of creativity that some applicants might not otherwise display. I'm trying to come up with ideas to separate myself from the mundane.

    As skieur mentioned different areas to include, this is something I had thought about a bit. It seems to me that they would want to see a well rounded porfolio of say sports/nature/portraiture/landscape/etc. If this is not necessarily the case, please let me know.

    I will put 5 (possibly more) photos up here hopefully tonight, I'll start going through them right now. Thanks again for all your help!!!
     
  8. Sn00bies

    Sn00bies TPF Noob!

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    Okay I put up 16 pictures on photobucket and decided to just link to them here, rather than posting them all since there's so many. I tried to narrow it down to 5, but I figured the more I posted the more you could see where I am with my photography to help provide more insight. Photos 2, 3, 7, 11, and 12 were all taken in my earlier days with my D40X. Overall I think I've improved quite a lot since a year ago, however I still consider these pictures pretty good compared to what I am doing now.

    http://i645.photobucket.com/albums/uu173/sn00bies/1.jpg

    http://i645.photobucket.com/albums/uu173/sn00bies/2.jpg

    http://i645.photobucket.com/albums/uu173/sn00bies/3.jpg

    http://i645.photobucket.com/albums/uu173/sn00bies/4.jpg

    http://i645.photobucket.com/albums/uu173/sn00bies/5.jpg

    http://i645.photobucket.com/albums/uu173/sn00bies/6.jpg

    http://i645.photobucket.com/albums/uu173/sn00bies/7.jpg

    http://i645.photobucket.com/albums/uu173/sn00bies/8.jpg

    http://i645.photobucket.com/albums/uu173/sn00bies/9.jpg

    http://i645.photobucket.com/albums/uu173/sn00bies/10.jpg

    http://i645.photobucket.com/albums/uu173/sn00bies/11.jpg

    http://i645.photobucket.com/albums/uu173/sn00bies/12.jpg

    http://i645.photobucket.com/albums/uu173/sn00bies/13.jpg

    http://i645.photobucket.com/albums/uu173/sn00bies/14.jpg

    http://i645.photobucket.com/albums/uu173/sn00bies/15.jpg

    http://i645.photobucket.com/albums/uu173/sn00bies/16.jpg

    Hopefully this gives you a good idea! Also, these aren't complete final revisions. I mostly just rummaged them together, resized them, and added some sharpening. I figure the overall image is the most important to see for now, rather than perfecting all the little tidbits. Thanks for your help!
     
  9. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    No meanness intended but I would turn you down. If there are a limited number of students in that program I would give the spot to someone who IS interested in making photography their career.

    But, does Provo have a community college or a technical school? Those are good places to take a few classes in photography, probably cheaper than BYU and, easier to get into.

    Something to think about.

    As for your photos, a lot of people here don't like links. Pick 5 and stick them right in the thread. And you'll probably get more responses.
     
  10. Sn00bies

    Sn00bies TPF Noob!

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    In a way, I would like to make photography a career and do professional work for money, it just wouldn't be my only career.

    The only problem with this is that I'd be adding too much on my plate. If I did it at BYU, it would count as my major and push me up to the 120 credits needed for a degree. If I take photo classes elsewhere, I'd still have to choose another major (likely Biology) to get 120 credits at BYU, and then have all these extra classes at another technical college. There's no way I'd have time to take other classes at another school simultaneously.

    I kind of figured as much, thanks for letting me know :) I'll post up some of the best (in my opinion) in just a few min.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2009
  11. Sn00bies

    Sn00bies TPF Noob!

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    Here are some of the better images in my opinion.

    [​IMG]


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    I know it was probably bad to crop her arms/legs so much on this one, but I didn't want the temple in the back to be too small. I guess I should have tried it both ways.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2009
  12. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    I believe that photography as a second profession does not work so well. Professional photography takes 110% commitment and perseverance. You do not have that.

    You have committed yourself to retail photography which is fine. At this point your portfolio will work. Talk to to Twocolor. She is a fine retail photographer out of Provo (I think).

    Love & Bass
     

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