CHAPTER 4-: This is the fourth chapter of “A Beginner’s Guide to Becoming a Professional Photographer.” – Do you want to go from beginner to professional photographer fast? If YES, here are 7 tips for choosing the best online digital photography school for beginners.
Taking online digital photography courses is never quite the same as enrolling in a photography school. There is no denying that a combination of various levels of online photography courses can put you in a favourable position to launch your career in professional photography, but the depth of training and expertise-sharing that you are exposed to in these courses cannot quite really match up to the excellent academic standards with which the knowledge of photography is imparted in a renowned and acclaimed photography school.
Vocational Training versus College Education – Which is the Best for Amateur Photographers?
The difference between the two is the same as vocational training and college education. Vocational training allows you to sharpen your skills in a particular field and preps you up to become a professional who can easily blend in with the very best names in the industry and earn a decent living for yourself by marketing your craft.
A full-fledged college education in a photography school will not only teach you how to hold the camera, how to adjust the lighting and the positioning and how to take spectacular snaps of people, nature and landscapes.
It will go a step further and mould you into an expert in the photography industry, and you will find yourself in a position of authority in the industry. Not only will you become a great photographer, but you will become a scholar in the field of photography. This opens up new doorways to photography related professions in your career that you can pursue alongside your life-long dream of being a photographer.
- No Room for Mistakes
Before you enroll into a photography school, you need to take a lot of things into consideration. The life of a photographer during the early stages or the preliminary stages of his or her career is not easy by any stretch of the imagination.
A single faulty decision in your academic or professional career can put you miles behind others in the race to become the next big photographer in the country and it may even derail your aspirations to become even moderately successful in the industry where you are hoping to work in.
As mentioned before, the market for photographers is immensely concentrated and unless you are taking a series of correct decisions and making a series of wise choices, you will find it extremely difficult to survive, let alone thrive, in the intense competition that is present in the world of photography.
Remember, there is always someone who is willing to be smarter and more perseverant than you. Therefore, at no point in time should you relax your shoulders and be complacent with your plans for constructing an academic or professional career out of photography.
- Higher Education Cannot be Disregarded
When it comes to deciding whether enrolling into a photography school would be the right option for you and your professional career; you need to weight in the pros and the cons of photography schools. The impeccable expertise and the massive knowledge that you can attain by attending a state of the art photography academic facility is something that appears a little too precious to be let go of under any circumstances.
However, sometimes you need to realize that college education is not indispensable and that may not necessarily guarantee success in your professional career.
If you conduct a thorough research on some of the best photographers in the world, you will find out that a good portion of them never attended photography schools or even took online photography courses for that matter. These extraordinary individuals relied on their innate talent and their ability to absorb knowledge and proficiency from other world class photographers. You may want to follow in their footsteps, but that is easier said than done.
As a photographer who is about to take his or her baby steps in the field, you need to give yourself every opportunity to succeed. Therefore, it would be quite foolish to reject the idea of attending photography school altogether just because a few insanely talented individuals never had the need for photograph classes in a college.
7 Tips for Choosing a Digital Photography School Online
- The Pros
The advantages of attending a photography school are quite evident. As mentioned for, being a graduate in the art of photography does not only make it super easy for you to become a professional photographer, but it also certifies a career in photography for you. Often times, people mistake a career in photography with being a photographer.
A photographer is someone who has a career in photography, but a person who has a career in photography may not necessarily be a photographer by profession. It sounds quite perplexing does it not?
Well if you look around in the photography industry, you are sure to come across several highly paid individuals who are appointed the task of judging works of photography. You are also likely to come across individuals who are working in the information technology field where they are innovating new applications and software for photo storing, sharing and editing every single day.
By studying photography in a well reputed university, you unlock the option of becoming a research associate in the university itself or becoming a lecturer just like the ones who helped you earn your degree.
The possibilities are quite literally endless and all of these make the prospect of joining a photography school extremely exciting and highly tempting. Besides, having a college degree adds some more glitter to your resume and improves your chances of landing clients when you are pursuing a career in freelance photography.
- The Cons
When you look at the numerous benefits of attending a photography school, it feels as though it would be quite foolish to not join a photography school or drop out of it on the path to becoming a professional photographer. In all honesty, photography schools, despite their innumerable perks, does not give you the one thing that you will value more as an asset in your photography career than anything else in the world, and that is work experience.
While you will be attending classes day and night in a college, there will be a bunch of other young photographers who will be travelling around the city and honing their craft by getting paid to take pictures for clients who are satisfied with the work of an amateur.
Now you may bring up the argument that it is quite possible for you to work as an amateur while continuing your education at a photography school, but the fact remains that doing both will make it extremely difficult for you to succeed in either. If you have joined a photography school, your focus should be on your academics and nothing else.
Getting a few photography gigs here and there will place a dent on your academic career as any photography session is highly time consuming and can have a toll on your mind as well as the body. It is not physically possible for young, aspiring photography students to look for new clients while trying to keep their grades up in school. The challenge is too overwhelming and may just be overbearing enough to extinguish your passion for photography.
In other words, if you think that having a head start in this highly competitive industry and gaining some much needed prior experience is more significant than attending photography classes and expanding your knowledge of the art, then you are most welcome to drop out of your photography school or not join it in the first place and keep looking for photography tasks that will keep you busy and reimbursed.
4 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Digital Photography School Online
Keeping aside the cons for a while, if you do give into the temptation of joining a photography school, then you must do a little bit of homework before paying the hefty admission fees to the education institution. Just like selecting any other school, choosing a photography school is incomplete without a little bit of research focusing on the benefits and facilities that the school can endow you with.
It all starts with being able to look at the bigger picture. Your selection of a photography school must be in line with your specific career ambitions. There is a wide range of categories in the field of photography as is the case with any other businesses.
1. Complementary Curriculum
For example, if you have a keen interest in product photography, then you should opt for a photography school that offers a considerable number of business administration or business management courses. In this modern age of marketing, product photography and entrepreneurship go hand in hand.
If you do not have sound knowledge about the world of business, then you will lack the complete set of skills needed to master the art of product photography. Selecting a photography school is therefore a lot about finding your own niche and aiding yourself to develop in that niche by taking academic courses that will be conducive to your growth of skills.
2. Classroom Size
The other thing that you need to take into account when selecting a photography school is the size of the classes. This can be determined in terms of the student to teacher ration. The initial temptation may be to join a big class as the size of the classroom is often an indication of the stature of the school.
But the wise thing to do for an aspiring young photographer would be to attend a photography school where the student to teach ration is relatively small. This allows you to be exposed to greater hands on supervision from the members of academic faculty.
In simpler words, you will find it easier to understand the lessons taught in class and the amount of attention that your supervisor will be paying you will be significantly higher. Photography is a craft. It is not a subject that revolves around business or mathematics.
Going with the masses and swimming in the flow does not benefit an aspiring photographer. Your aim should be to get as much out of the classes as you possibly can, and therefore a photography school which offers smaller classes can do wonders for you and your academic career.
3. Computing Skills
When choosing a photography school, you need to keep an eye on the computer study programs offered by the various schools. As a novice photographer, it may seem to you that computers and photography hardly have a connection, but if you dig deeper into the study of photography and the demands of the photography industry, you will soon realize that photography and computing skills are two peas in a pod.
If you are the kind of person who is not too comfortable with the use of computers and its applications, then it is high time that you change your stance about computing for the betterment of your own career in photography.
The modern day photographer is expected to be highly skilled in computing. This is because photo editing has become an integral part of photography, and computer skills are essential to achieving expertise in the field of photo editing.
A good photography school must have courses that outline the basics in computing as well as more advanced courses that are specifically catered for those photography students who have a deep interest in the field of digital photography and want to the expand their portfolio of computing skills to complement their competence in digital photography.
4. The Cost of College Education
The last but not the least important thing that you need to consider when trying to enrol in a photography school is the price tag that comes along with it. Getting into a photography school is not cheap by any standards. You have to invest a considerable sum of money if you want to attain that highly coveted degree in photography. The high tuition fees often deter aspiring photographers from enrolling into a photography school.
If you have made up your mind about attending a photography school, then you need to seek out the highly reputed schools that offer you the best “educational value” for money. You will come across a number of institutions that are highly prestigious and therefore cost a fortune to study in.
Then again, there are other photography schools which aim to serve the masses and thus have tuition fees that can hardly be considered expensive. You need to find the perfect balance between the two (provided that you can afford to do so) since opting for the less expensive schools may compromise your academic performance.
Photography schools require you to invest in your own photography equipment. Therefore, you need to remember to make a list of the equipments that will be provided to you for free and the ones that you have to purchase when determining the cost of enrolling into a photography school.
Top 10 Best Digital Photography Schools for Aspiring Photographers
Being an aspiring photographer, the foundation you build your career on will go a long way to determine the level of success you can achieve in the photography industry. Part of what you need to do in order to build a solid foundation as an aspiring photographer is to attend a top notch photography school if you can afford it.
Although most of the top notch digital photography schools all over the world can be truly expensive, the truth remains that much more than the sound academic, practical knowledge and college degree or diploma that you stand to gain from these schools, you will also become part of a network that will give you the needed support that can propel you to raise to fame and fortune as a photographer in the photographic industry.
There are several top notch digital photography schools scattered all over the world, but we will look at the top 10 best digital photographic schools that will provide the needed learning platform and support to aspiring photographers. Most of these digital schools offer scholarships and you can apply if you are qualified. Now let us quickly go through the top 10 best digital photography schools for aspiring photographers;
a. Parsons The New School For Design, New York City, USA.
This college is perhaps one of the oldest arts and design schools in the world. The school was established in 1896 by the renowned William Merritt Chase. Most of the graduates that studied digital photography from Parsons the New School for Design are leaders in their own right in the photography industry.
Some of them are recipient of prestigious photography awards. The goal of Parson The New School for Design is give their students the visual, technical, conceptual, and professional vocabulary they needed to succeed in their field.
b. The New York Institute of Photography, New York City – USA
The New York Institute of Photography is one of the most popular photography colleges in the US and even in the world. It was founded by Emile Brunel in 1910. One good thing about aspiring photographers who want to enroll in this college but are far away from New York City is that they have the options of enrolling for their very effective online courses. The New York Institute of Photography is notable for producing some of the finest photographers in the world. The world renown Michael Doven and Matthew Lewis Jr. are all proud alumni of this prestigious institution.
c. Royal College of Art, London, United Kingdom
Royal College of Art, London is not just a leading institution where aspiring photographers can learn the art of photography, but also one of the leading photography schools in the world. The state of the art facilities (studios and darkrooms) of this institution coupled with some of the latest digital cameras from top brands like Nikon and Cannon gives aspiring photographers all they would need to become professionals in their own respect.
d. Speos Photographic Institute, Paris – France
Speos Photographic Institute, Paris was established in 1985 by one of France and Europe finest professional photographer Pierre – Yves Mahe. It has full support and accreditation from the government of France. As an aspiring photographer, enrolling in Speos Photographic Institute, will afford you the opportunity to learn the art of photography both in Paris, France and other parts of the world; as part of their academic curriculum, the school send their students abroad for exchange program.
e. Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada
If you need a university degree in photography as an aspiring photographer, then you should consider enrolling at the Ryerson University – Toronto. Those who enroll to study photography in this university spend at least fours years before graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with bias for Digital Photography.
f. European Academy of Fine Arts, Trier – Germany
European Academy of Fine Arts – Trier is perhaps the toughest institution to gain admission to study photography. As a matter of fact, the institution only admits 12 students annually. As an aspiring photographer, to qualify to study photography in the European Academy of Fine Arts, you must display both sound academic knowledge and sound photography skills.
If you are an English speaking student who is concerned about the language of learning in this institution, you can then consider enrolling in their satellite campus in Barcelona, Spain where English language is the official learning language.
g. School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago – USA
If you live in the United States or you intend traveling to the United States to Study for a degree in Photography, then you can consider enrolling in School of the Art Institute of Chicago. When comes to schools where students can learn photography, School of the Art Institute of Chicago is rated as the number 2. Their Curriculum covers both theoretical and practical courses designed to prepare students to excel as photographers.
h. Vevey School of Photography, Vevey, Switzerland
Vevey School of Photography – Vevey is one of the oldest photography schools in Europe. As an aspiring photographer, when you enroll in this institution, you will not only learn how to take fantastic photo shots, but you will also learn other aspect of photography that covers setting up and effectively managing photography labs, workshops and studios.
i. IED – Istituto Europeo Di Design, Rome, Italy and Madrid, Spain
This institution was established by a one time Italian President Francesco Morelli in 1966. IED has satellite campuses in various cities in Italy – Rome, Florence, Milan, Cagliari, and Venice. In Spain they have their campus in both Madrid and Barcelona. If you live in South America, you can enroll in IED; they have their satellite campus in Sao Paulo, Brazil. IED is one of the biggest photography schools in the world.
j. Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts, Prague – Czech Republic
Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts, Prague is the 5th oldest film school in the world and it is notable to have produced some of the most influential professional photographers in Europe. As an aspiring photographers, when you enrolled in this school you will earn a degree after 3 years and you can as well proceed of a Masters degree in the same institution.
There you have it; the top best digital photography schools for aspiring photographers.