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Schooling vs. Self-taught

RMT

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I would like to get some opinions on whether becoming a successful photographer has anything to do with the schooling you take, or if "self-teaching" has produced the same level of photographers and are they just as successful. I know one example of a self-taught success story which would be that of Jim Zuckerman.

As a young photographer I'm looking more towards the internet for most of my photographic information, but as a student should my classes start reflecting this passion? Thanks



-Roman Tafoya
 
If you want to make money from your photography, take Business/Marketing classes at school.
 
Wot he said! ^^^ The business of photography is almost all about business and very little about photography. I think there are many outstanding photographers who have never set foot in a classroom.. some guy, last name 'Adams' comes to mind... If you have the opportunity however, I would very much recommend it as you'll likely learn a lot more quickly, and have access to many more toys. If you are serious about making a living at it, then you MUST learn business and marketing strategy.
 
If you are serious about making a living at it, then you MUST learn business and marketing strategy.

Not really... For example, here is my story for NOT taking courses or classes. I've been "professionally shooting" for over 10 yrs. Make a profit every year ( minus my first year of course ), not once have I taken a business or photography class. I average 6-10 prints of my landscape / wildlife images per week, average 2 family shoots a week and I occasionally will shoot a wedding for someone I know ( or a friend of a friend ).

Most 'pros' ( sorry to say folks ) are self taught - photography and business. It starts with the desire to really want it and to be willing to work for it. Word of mouth and how you present yourself to potential ( and existing ) customers is 10 X better than any course you will ever take. If people like you, you will get work in the field... it's that simple.

You have to have dedication, be willing to take some losses, be able to be firm and strict with strangers but staying friendly and open the whole time. You sell yourself when you market your photography. You could be the best photographer in the world and not ever get one customer because you're a dick.

Do what YOU think is best for YOU. Asking people on internet forums is not anyway to make a decision about a possible career.


Do what YOU want and everything will fall into place.


P.S I wanted to show an example of how you can make good money as a photographer w/out taking classes. I definitely am not trying to put myself off as some hot shot pro shooter - I am not.
 
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I was paying 20K a year for schooling and in second year I have decided to drop it. Workshops, internet and mentors are far cheaper and will get me ther in about the same time, plus all the pro's I have talked with have said the same thing. A degree is not needed a good portfolio is.
 
If you want to make money from your photography, take Business/Marketing classes at school.

+1

Sure, it is not a must, but learning about how to run a successfull business is very important if you are serious about it.

Yes, I have heard of the people that never did any of it, but then again I could now say, neither did Bill Gates...and how many Bill Gates are there?

The reason why getting some form of schooling in the business management sector is important in my eyes is, that you learn how to run a business. Economics, Finances, a lil bit of law, etc...those things will be important when opening your own company - otherwise you'll have to outsource most of it to 3rd party providers...which will cost a lot more money in the long run.

A degree in photography, ok - that is a different question - but business...definitely would go for one - even just a higher diploma...the basics are sufficient.
 
Thank you all for your thoughts! I like the message VJS was sending. Most of the work I've managed to get was showcasing what I already have done and letting people come to me. It started out with taking pictures of friends/family and some nature shots. I then created a facebook page for my photography (hope to soon have an actual website) and let people see my work for themselves.

In little over a year I have done one and a half weddings (I shadowed a photographer/assisted on one), I've done 2 soon to be 3 family sessions, and this summer alone 4 senior portraits. Being very approachable and professional goes a llooonnnggg way in this line of work. As far as my equipment I know I'll eventually have to upgrade if I want to tap into say commercial or even stock photography, but that will come with time. My dedication is there and my drive to become a well established photographer isn't going to be wavered, whether or not I take classes or learn elsewhere. But it's good to hear other peoples opinions, Thanks again! :thumbup:
 
To be successful in creating a photographic image is completely possible self-taught.

To be successful at a career that applies photography requires some schooling.. (at the very least.. opens doors).

Journalism and Business seem to be popular.
 
I think telling someone that school is worthless is fairly misguided advice.

I know many people go through college and leave without much of a skill set to apply at an actual job. There are not a lot of jobs where you write 500 word essays all day long. But a higher education in the creative fields, you are required to constantly produce work. You need to be bad before you are ok. And you need to be ok before you are good. The learning curve to create commercial quality work or gallery worthy work is very steep. I would estimate a 4-year degree, in an intense art program, will grant the student about 10,000 hours of practice. School is a time to focus solely on intellectual and creative growth. Not many people can be disciplined enough to create this situation on their own, in such as effective way. School will teach you how to talk about art and photography, how to really see, and you will learn an enormous amount from your classmates triumphs and mistakes.

This is just my opinion. But you can really tell when a successful photographer has a formal art background. Their images often have a depth that the technical photographer doesn't. It's the difference between being a Joel Grimes or the photographer at Glamour Shots at the Mall. Photography has nothing to do with the camera, lenses, sensors or flashes. It is all about having vision. Having a vision that is commercially compelling. Creativity comes from your brain and that is what school nurtures.

I'm 33 years old and finished school almost four years ago. It was an amazing experience and it has readied me for many pursuits: commercial photography, commercial video, filmmaking and motion design.

This would not have been possible without schooling (somewhere to cut my teeth, get the mediocre work out of my system as fast as possible, and open up a host of resources and connections that will benefit me professionally).

I know not everyone who has a degree is good. I am operating under the assumption that you are proactive, have some talent and endless drive.

Good luck
 
I would like to get some opinions on whether becoming a successful photographer has anything to do with the schooling you take, or if "self-teaching" has produced the same level of photographers and are they just as successful. I know one example of a self-taught success story which would be that of Jim Zuckerman.

As a young photographer I'm looking more towards the internet for most of my photographic information, but as a student should my classes start reflecting this passion? Thanks

-Roman Tafoya

Passion?

:lol:

Passion has nothing to do with it.

Be careful what you wish for...you just might get it.

And as far as school is concerned...whatever they teach you...do the direct opposite....
 
I am a photo major the major advantages to schooling is that you are not only going to learn the digital world but the darkroom world and everything in between. You will learn all the tricks and depending on the school that you select you will be working under professors that can blow your mind with the work and the photos they have done.( i should know all my professors have amazing resumes and have taught me so much.) Schooling is an advantage depending on what you actually want to do if you want to work for a company and do photoshop and advertising layouts things like that it looks good to of taken photo classes and make connections with professors. If you want to shoot landscapes and other odds an ends you can be self taught and do very well. look at the photographer Zena Halloway self taught and AMAZING! Schooling just helps on a resume any one can work hard enough to self teach.
 
I am a photo major the major advantages to schooling is that you are not only going to learn the digital world but the darkroom world and everything in between. You will learn all the tricks and depending on the school that you select you will be working under professors that can blow your mind with the work and the photos they have done.( i should know all my professors have amazing resumes and have taught me so much.) Schooling is an advantage depending on what you actually want to do if you want to work for a company and do photoshop and advertising layouts things like that it looks good to of taken photo classes and make connections with professors. If you want to shoot landscapes and other odds an ends you can be self taught and do very well. look at the photographer Zena Halloway self taught and AMAZING! Schooling just helps on a resume any one can work hard enough to self teach.

No amount of schooling will make anyone a good photographer. Most dentists have more photographic skill than graduates of such programs.
 
let me just inform you the majority of our graduates go on to lead successful photographic an digital careers and schooling is very beneficial not only by helping build and create portfolios and explore the many areas of photography.
 
I am a photo major the major advantages to schooling is that you are not only going to learn the digital world but the darkroom world and everything in between. You will learn all the tricks and depending on the school that you select you will be working under professors that can blow your mind with the work and the photos they have done.( i should know all my professors have amazing resumes and have taught me so much.) Schooling is an advantage depending on what you actually want to do if you want to work for a company and do photoshop and advertising layouts things like that it looks good to of taken photo classes and make connections with professors. If you want to shoot landscapes and other odds an ends you can be self taught and do very well. look at the photographer Zena Halloway self taught and AMAZING! Schooling just helps on a resume any one can work hard enough to self teach.

What you described is exactly what is offered here locally at a community college... a 2 year Photo-tech degree. Almost no one takes just that... they are usually majoring in something else applicable or move on to a 4 year university.


Curriculum Code 3550
Associate in Applied Science DegreeThe Photography Technology program provides graduates with entry-level employment skills in the rapidly changing professional
photography field. Following a foundation year of basic photography,
digital photography, and general education, art, and business courses, the second year includes specialized courses in lighting, large-format and color. Students select elective courses to help design programs that will prepare them for their individual
career goals in the field of photography. The emphasis is on hands-on experience to develop both the creative ability and the technical skills essential to photography careers.General Education Foundation (25/26 CR)Communication (6 CR) English Composition I ENG 111 3 English Composition II ENG 112 3Math-Science-Technology (7/8 CR) 7/8 Choose from General Education course list Mathematics (3 CR) Laboratory Science (4 CR) Technology (0-1 CR)Social Science Or Humanities (3 CR) Choose from General Education course list 3General Education Electives (9 CR) History of Photography PHO 113 3 General Education Electives 6Total General Education Credits 25/26Photography Tech. Core (39 CR) Photography I PHO 115 3 Photography II PHO 116 3 Equipment, Materials & Processes PHO 112 3 Contemporary Photography PHO 119 3 Digital Imaging I PHO 204 3 Large Format Photography PHO 215 3 Studio Lighting PHO 216 3 Digital Imaging II PHO 223 3 Portfolio Preparation PHO 226 3 Professional Studio PHO 227 3 Photography Elective 3 Two-Dimensional Design ART 130 3 Drawing I ART 122 3Total Core Credits 39


The way I see it... its kinda like drafting or CAD. Its a good skill to have but unless it is successfully applied to something else (architecture, mechanical, etc.) it doesn't carry much weight.
 
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I found school was a great way to establishing contacts in the industry. Not only do I know a bunch of photographers (and can weed out the good and bad based on their presentations) that I can use as assistants or 2nd shooters or even turn gigs to when I'm booked, I've also met a bunch of professionals.

We had a sports / photojournalism presentation from a local guy who has been shooting for 30 years, has done 8 Olympics, did sessions with stars when their are in town. I've assisted him twice on shoots so far and he even got me in to places where I would never of dreamed of being solo.

School has its uses...
 

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