education and experience in New York


TPF Noob!
Nov 20, 2007
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Coney Island in Brooklyn, US
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Hi to all of you out there who know what you're talking about!

I really dig the website, I'm learning a lot and even getting some cc on a few photos I've posted. I have been loving photography as a hobby for many years now but I am ready to turn my passion into a serious endeavor. I'm still young at 27 and would like to find a way to make a career out of this.

First of all I am going to need education because a lot of the comments I get/read are still going over my head. I am certainly willing to put in the necessary time, there's no way I consider myself ready to start asking for money tomorrow or anything. If you are familiar with education opportunities in New York City, will you give me your advice? I am not considering a strictly online education, however, as I learn better when I can work with people face to face. (Currently I am considering an associates degree at NYU).

Secondly I want to get hands on experience. Living in NY, I know lots of people I can network with for headshots and portraits, so I would like to learn with someone who does this type of work. However I am interested in fashion/product photography as well. Is it possible to find someone who will teach me the ropes while I am getting an education? I read a lot about wedding photographers needing assistants in these forums, what type of qualifications would I need to seek out someone to assist? Wedding photography might not be the ultimate dream (playboy here I come, lol), but it sounds like a great way to start and I love to work with people, even if they are a little *stressed* (any good bridezilla stories?)

I see a lot of postings on craigslist for internships at photography agencies. Some sound like more production work than photography, but I don't know what that means. How does a photography agency operate, who are their clients and how do they work with photographers?

Thanks for taking the time to reply, even if it's only to help me ask better questions! As you can tell, at this stage, everything is helpful!

It might not be so...but I see wedding photography and fashion/product photography as two different paths. Most wedding photographers, for example, are sole business proprietors...the successful ones are the one who sell and market themselves well.

Commercial photographers probably work for a particular company or else the freelance for different companies. They have a 'boss' or a art director etc.

Education would probably open some doors, especially on the commercial side...but if you have the talent and the determination, you could probably do without the formal education. Real world, on the job training is probably more valuable than schooling. You might want to look for someone to apprentice with.
One problem will be the sheer numbers of other people looking to do the same thing. I don't have to tell you that NYC is a very competitive place to do any type of business.

As for wedding only have to convince potential clients to hire I'm not so sure how much a degree would really matter. A strong portfolio and a good sales technique would be much more effective.
Thanks for the advice, Big Mike. I think I would like to work more on my own, i.e. wedding photography and such, but that might only be because I don't know what to expect in a commercial surrounding.

You're certainly right about the competition, so I think I'll try to find someone to learn from in both fields and see which one works out. Do you have any opinions on education from sources other than college? For example, short courses at small "schools"? Currently I teach at a bartending school, and although our "job placement program" might be questionable, our program is very good. However, most bartenders get on the job training. That's why I tend to shy away from the smaller schools.
You're probably right...if you are going to go the school would probably be a lot better to have an impressive school name on your resume...a small or unknown school, might be all but worthless on a resume...although the education might be OK.

Photography doesn't require any credentials...if you are good enough, someone will pay you to do it. Many professions (doctors, lawyers, engineers etc) don't have that advantage. Of course, the disadvantage is that your competition doesn't have to be educated either...even if you are.
I now have an interview today with a commercial/advertising/fashion company for a 6 month (paid) internship. Wish me luck!
I got my Bachelors at SVA. A fantastic experience to say the least. When I was there (1986-1990) they had a good job board with lots of assisting positions. I am a firm believer in education. Even taking a couple of classes will help immensely.

Love & Bass
I got my Bachelors at SVA. A fantastic experience to say the least. When I was there (1986-1990) they had a good job board with lots of assisting positions. I am a firm believer in education. Even taking a couple of classes will help immensely.

Love & Bass

Thank you for the recommendation, I am looking into them now as well. A good job board is certainly a plus. I am definitely going to take some classes and get a degree, even if it's only an associates, regardless if I start working before I start taking classes or not. I learn a lot more in a classroom setting than just trying to learn on my own, and I don't really want to fully trust my training to someone who has hired me as an intern or assistant.

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