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Photography: is community college worth it?

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Flanatt

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Hi!

First things first: my apologies if this is not the right thread! I'm new and I'm not quite sure whether this is the right place to post these kind of questions.

I'm in my early thirties and am looking forward to study photography. Since a BFA is out of my league, I was thinking about community college and go for an associate degree. Do you think it's worth the time and money (or maybe I should stick to workshops instead)?. And if so, is there any college or program anywhere in the US you can recommend me? I know every experience is different and that at the end of the day much of the final outcome comes down to self-learning, connections and how you market yourself, but I'd love to be guided throughout the process and I think college/long programs would work best for me.

Thank you in advance for the help! Much appreciated. Have a nice day. :)
 
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If you are looking at photography as a career, have you first researched the average earning of a photographer? Are you aware that one of the best photography schools in the nation, Brooks went out of business when the feds refused to allow fed student loans be used there because so few grads found jobs in their field or made little money after a 75 grand education... which by the way, from my experience with the grads, was stellar. My recommendation, on line and in person photo classes, work with a pro as an assistant or second shooter. But do go to the community college for BUSINESS, because if you do it for a living, THAT is what can make or break you. Lots of fabulous photographers starving and plenty of mediocre ones that are business people making money.
 
Actually, as much as it hurts to say..

The new york photo institute classes they do for "certified profesional photographer" test,,, has more then enough business material in it.

Most community and normal colleges, have no actual concept of business. Besides, who wants to spend 20,000$ on a community college business program where all 10 business classes will be taught from the same book.
 
CC is where I learned it. But that was the 70’s and everything was analog. Being around others with the same interests and having access to different hardware would be quite valuable.

But no you won’t learn how to run a business there. You will however learn enough to get a job as an assistant and you will learn a great deal about running a business that way. If that is your goal.
 
CC is where I learned it. But that was the 70’s and everything was analog. Being around others with the same interests and having access to different hardware would be quite valuable.

But no you won’t learn how to run a business there. You will however learn enough to get a job as an assistant and you will learn a great deal about running a business that way. If that is your goal.
Back in the 70s, the person teaching photography would probably know what aperture was... NOW the photographer doing the teaching,,,, is only a photographer if someone takes the lens cap off, turns it on, and sets it to AE...
 
Our local CC has an outstanding professor who only very recently started using digital, so he does understand aperture. I am thinking it would all depend ( just like every other class ) on the person teaching. All knowledge is good. It just depends on how the knowledge is applied that makes or breaks the deal.
 
Actually, as much as it hurts to say..

The new york photo institute classes they do for "certified profesional photographer" test,,, has more then enough business material in it.

Most community and normal colleges, have no actual concept of business. Besides, who wants to spend 20,000$ on a community college business program where all 10 business classes will be taught from the same book.

Geez, what community college professor did you wrong and made you all salty about it? And what community college would cost $20K?

In other words, you may have had a bad experience at one college, but to expand that to assume that the tens of thousands of colleges around the country are the same is a very disengenuous characterization of community colleges.

To the OP: community colleges rarely have photography degrees. There will be degrees in things such as Visual Arts or Art and Design, or something along those lines. You will get a foundation in various kinds of art techniques and depending on the program, you may be able to focus your electives in a way to load up on photography classes or to do a mix of photography and business electives.

Another thing to note is that there are Associate degrees that are designed to be basically the first two years of a Bachelor's degree, so the curriculum is designed to help the student transfer to a 4-year school more easily. There is also a second kind of Associate dgree that is designed to prepare students to go directly into the workforce. Those degrees would focus more on workplace skills and will likely involve some kind of internship or what is called "applied learning experiences" out in the field in the 2nd year classes.

Take that as you will. It's the kind of field that you may be able to break into without any formal education, but given how many people may be trying to do the same, a degree might be something to help you stand out to potential employers.
 
Know what aperture was? Do you spend time making this stuff up? Doesn't know enough to take off the lens cap? Now I never attended a community college but know some people who taught at them. They were extremely knowledgeable in their field and actually have degrees from like "real" colleges not some mail order bs. I had a grad of NY come to me when I was in charge of the mentor program for my local PPA and SHE didn't even know the camera she shot. If I am hiring an assistant or second shooter, it's nice they have a degree, but I want to see their work, not a sheepskin. What makes them stand out is outstanding WORK. I would say the vast majority of pros these days never went to a full time photo school. I shot iwth a couple of guys who went to a community college, perhaps the best photographers in that city. And they were making 18 grand a year a few years ago. Many pros who are excellent are starving while mediocre photographers that are savy business people make way more money. If you took 2 years while working a day job and studied the offerings at Kelby and on line, take seminars, practiced and got good critique, there is no reason someone doing that couldn't make money. Last grad from Brooks I knew worked behind a counter at a camera store for minimum wage and had a 70 grand student loan. Flying, didnt you have a post about getting "certified?" That's about as important to a client or employer, like there are many employers in photography, as a degree.
 
Hmm, I will comment but I think my experience to soooo outdated.
I took 1 year of a 2yr Canadian College course in photography in the 80's, I think it was $800 for the one year ... I learned the basics of lighting, portraiture, history, darkroom techniques ... it was everything I wanted to know.
All my prof's were previously "working" photographers before becoming a teacher ... you can easily tell. Reminds me of the computer software "teachers" I had in computing ... you just know which ones actually did it and ones the just taught it.
I have the impression, from other comments here that this is not what is being taught today.
 
... oh, I forgot to mention ... the prof's at the College had no qualms about telling us that we sucked. They honestly told us what was "wrong" with our images based on their point of view, even when we questioned them. I honestly think that this did make us "better" photographers ... to go beyond what we already thought of in our own minds.

... maybe a comment on this forum where we should be more critical in CC ... we may not agree but we are presenting another point of view that "could" make you a "better" photographer.
 
Back in the 70s, the person teaching photography would probably know what aperture was... NOW the photographer doing the teaching,,,, is only a photographer if someone takes the lens cap off, turns it on, and sets it to AE...
Flying, whatever you do, don't put the landing gear up because I'm pretty sure you are gonna come down and crash and burn pretty darned hard.
Most uneducated photographers are so jaded to those with degrees, saying things like "whatever creativity they had was taken away in school".
LAUGH OUT LOUD!!!
I had been shooting and entering contest and winning and shooting for 40 years when I took a 45 unit professional photography program at a JC. Yes that's the equivalent of 3 full time semesters of 15 units each when I embarked on my program. Pardon my French but I thought I was a pretty chingon photographer before that. After being under the wing of 6 professors with MFA's in photography for 5 years(yes it took me 5 years) I came out with my eyes WIDE open and realized I knew squat about REAL photography when I started the program.
There is NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING on the internet that can compare to a REAL brick & mortar school with REAL MFA'd professors. They know everything about color and composition there is to know and are there to guide you through all your amateur mistakes and amateur knowledge!
You will come out a REAL photographer. It's nice to be able to look at any ad in any magazine and be able to deconstruct how it was created and create your own if need be.
So to the OP, yes a JC with a good photo program will be an invaluable learning experience that you CAN'T find anywhere on the internet. And it seems that those that have never been formally trained in photography pretty much all have the same jaded concepts about learning in school. Do you want your neurosurgeon to be trained in school or the internet? That's what I thought!!!
Look into a JC. Most charge less that $50 per unit so less than $750 per semester. Out of state is 5x that.
Good luck
SS
 
You didn't say what kind of photography you're interested in doing business-wise? That could change the advice and what you should do.
 
Flying, whatever you do, don't put the landing gear up because I'm pretty sure you are gonna come down and crash and burn pretty darned hard.
Most uneducated photographers are so jaded to those with degrees, saying things like "whatever creativity they had was taken away in school".
LAUGH OUT LOUD!!!
I had been shooting and entering contest and winning and shooting for 40 years when I took a 45 unit professional photography program at a JC. Yes that's the equivalent of 3 full time semesters of 15 units each when I embarked on my program. Pardon my French but I thought I was a pretty chingon photographer before that. After being under the wing of 6 professors with MFA's in photography for 5 years(yes it took me 5 years) I came out with my eyes WIDE open and realized I knew squat about REAL photography when I started the program.
There is NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING on the internet that can compare to a REAL brick & mortar school with REAL MFA'd professors. They know everything about color and composition there is to know and are there to guide you through all your amateur mistakes and amateur knowledge!
You will come out a REAL photographer. It's nice to be able to look at any ad in any magazine and be able to deconstruct how it was created and create your own if need be.
So to the OP, yes a JC with a good photo program will be an invaluable learning experience that you CAN'T find anywhere on the internet. And it seems that those that have never been formally trained in photography pretty much all have the same jaded concepts about learning in school. Do you want your neurosurgeon to be trained in school or the internet? That's what I thought!!!
Look into a JC. Most charge less that $50 per unit so less than $750 per semester. Out of state is 5x that.
Good luck
SS
Just because a junior college program, back in 1970 to 1999 was useful,, doesnt mean current ones are.

MOST of the ones that actually talk about class material,,, lets just say 8 weeks of being taught how to put the camera on AE and then to download files to photo shop or light room

is NOT learning photography
 
Just because a junior college program, back in 1970 to 1999 was useful,, doesnt mean current ones are.

MOST of the ones that actually talk about class material,,, lets just say 8 weeks of being taught how to put the camera on AE and then to download files to photo shop or light room

is NOT learning photography

And how do you know about "most" photography programs at community colleges? Please tell us exactly what evidence you are basing this conclusion on? Or is it just sour grapes because you had chosen a program that wasn't very good?
 
If you are looking at photography as a business to make a living, I would say that taking business classes at the community college would be a good thing.

Making a living being a photographer is more about the business side than actually pressing the shutter.

Now in conjunction with that, I would suggest that you look at something like the PPA and their local groups to get involved with them for education and networking and knowledge about the photography industry.

Best of luck to you.
 
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