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Old Nov 2, 2004, 3:00 PM   #1
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Hey everyone.. ive been lurking around this forum for a couple weeks now, and ive got to communicate with a whole lot of really talented photographers.

I have been seriously considering going to school for photography for a long time. I love taking photos, and i can see myself doing it as a profession, but It looks like a pretty cut throat industry. there's so many people with cameras out there.. am i just wasting my time going to school for this? are there any jobs out there? can someone give me some examples of what i can practically do with a degree in photography?

so many questions!!! im sure some of you have seen my work in my posts, I hardly know how to use my camera, and i would love to learn the tricks of the trade, but i am not quite willing to drop this kind of cash on school just for a hobby.

ANY words of advice would be VERY much appreciated!!

thanks everyone!!

Greg Moore
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Old Nov 2, 2004, 6:00 PM   #2
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greg, that is a tough question....

to tell the truth, it depends....if you want to get into the business of stock photography, were you take pictures of everyday things, upload them to a website, and people buy them for adds, and you get money, you will need to work for a while to make anything worth counting.......but, if you want to get serious, and work for newspapers, magazines, the wires, or even open a youth sports photo/senior portraits/wedding business, you probably want to get a dslr, and learn to use it, and should have a good sense of photography(which i know from reading your posts that you do), and you will need to invest some money, but once you start going, you should make some decent money, and if you decide to go with the youth sport/senior portrait/wedding route, once you get your name out, you will make alot of money(that is assuming that there are youth sports, or seniors, or weddings in your area)

does that help at all?

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Old Nov 2, 2004, 6:10 PM   #3
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Photography is a skill...there's always something new you can learn.

Is school a waste? Depends on what they're teaching, if it's something you can learn (or do you already know it), and if it suits your learning style (for some people it moves too fast).

Also many teachers teach only what is written in the rules like, "don't use JPG, it will ruin your pictures" meanwhile I know of pros who use JPG and the so-called problems don't show up.

It is very hard to make money in this industry, unless you have a niche, like a lecturer at our camera club two weeks ago who does mostly infrared photography and is an expert at it, or the photographer in two weeks who does mostly macro-photography. Pick something unusual and get very good at it.

Don't ignore your local library...they have many books on photography (even if it's film) and lots of ideas.

Of course if you have a local camera club, look into that for help! ;-)

Some non-photographic resources you may want to look into:

"Do What You Love, the Money Will Follow: Discovering Your Right Livelihood" by Marsha Sinetar
"To Build the Life You Want, Create the Work You Love: The Spiritual Dimension of Entrepreneuring" by Marsha Sinetar
"Making a Living Without a Job: Winning Ways for Creating Work That You Love" By Barbara J. Winter
"I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was: How to Discover What You Really Want and How to Get it" by Barbara Sher, Barbara Smith (Contributor)

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Old Nov 2, 2004, 6:38 PM   #4
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Yes taking photo courses can help get you the basic background needed to work in a segment or segments of the industry. They will help you get hired by a working pro asanassistant. Where you really learn the ins and outs of the photo business.

More importantly whateverphoto courses you take, also take business admin.Since the main part of running a photo business(75-80% + ) is doing business, the rest is the actualmaking images part.

And yesphotography in generalis a tough highly competitive field, stock is not so good now-a-days with the massive amounts available to pick from. Take a look at what shooters have on AGPIX Boyd Norton a slightly prolific shooter has over 375000 stock images waiting for buyers.

I hope this link works Photographers Market Guide to Building Your Photography Business If you can locate this book in your local library it is not a bad read on the business.

:homey:I could a been a lumberjack, probably less work and more pay.

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Old Nov 3, 2004, 9:31 AM   #5
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I believe it's more dependent on you having a vision that makes you stand out from this sea of hobbist and amateurs. Whether you go to school or not, if you are determined to learn, to try different angles, different lighting, different time... but first you have to know the basics of exposure, depth of field, flash exposure, and that you could learn working as an assistant to a photographer. Sure, you may be holding light stands, taking light measurements, loading film magazines, offloading memory cards, fixing dresses or arranging a scene for the photographer, eventually you will be given the opportunity to shoot, or by that time you will have learned a lot.
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Old Nov 3, 2004, 11:25 AM   #6
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A simple question with many,many good answers. I worked as an industrial photographer for many years (too many). This was through an advertising agency.

I got the "bug" and in 40+ years have never lost the enjoyment photography brings.

The hardest part, without doubt, is the business side of it all. You have to do very many "non-photo" things in order to make it work. It soon loses the "fun" part and becomes a JOB. If you have an overriding passion to create something that never existed and will never exist again - and photography is your media of choice, you might make it.

Today because of the basic equipment being in reach of anyone, you have a percentage of people who "Try" photography. They just muddy up the field even more.

The more popular venues - sports-news-photojournalism, etc are a rat race of eager people trying to make a living. Amateur sports won't provide much of a living unless you can get "inside" of the school systems.

Not trying to discourage you, just stating some things you will run up against.

If you have the passion - consider less "romantic" areas. Industrial/product (table top)/medical/insurance/automotive or any other less "attractive" area of shooting.

Learn your craft well - clients do not want to fund your learning curve.
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Old Nov 3, 2004, 11:57 AM   #7
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There are many photography "schools." Some last only one day while others may last several months. As others here have said, it depends on what you are looking for. I am not a professional, but I rate my skills as advanced amateur. I have attended many non-credit classes at Portland Community College and have learned a great deal from them. A few years back I attended the Nikon School of Photograpy when it was presented in Portland. It was only a one-day seminar but I learned a great deal from it. It also gave me an opportunity (not part of class) to shoot some pictures in a part of the city I don't get a chance to visit very often.

Figure out what you are looking for and then find a school that fits your needs. I recommend you start with your local community college and progress from there.

Good luck, my friend.

Cal Rasmussen
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Old Nov 3, 2004, 1:01 PM   #8
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wow thanks everyone for all the great advice.

I really do have a passion for photography, and I think I am willing to put myself through all the buisness schooling i need.

how would i become an assistant to a photographer? I am very willing to volounteer my time, as long as i can get a good experience out of it, and learn from it.

should i just call random photographers in town?

thanks again for all the wise words. very much appreciated!!!!

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Old Nov 3, 2004, 10:06 PM   #9
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a friend of mine was doing photography in school and I think the classes had alot to do with different types of cameras, the history, and composition. I'm not sure of all the details but he learned and took photos from manydifferent cameras, mainlyfilm cameras. Some werelarge clunky ones, old ones, pin hole cameras or box cameras. Everything taught seemed to be very artistic in nature. One of the shots he did was spending hours with trash aligning it perfectly to get a perfect or desired photo. This is just one example of the stuff I have heard of students learning.
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Old Nov 3, 2004, 10:58 PM   #10
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For many who do not come from a formal photographic education background, some aspects of lighting for example take a while to grasp. One thing I remember learning from one of my mentors: how to get blacks to come out black, and whites white, and not 18% gray, without using an external light meter. Sounds simple? Just use matrix metering, I thought, compose and shoot. Wrong! I didn't know at the time. Using spot metering in your camera, meter off your hand and, assuming the black or white subject is under the same lighting as your hand, use that exposure from your hand. Blacks will come out black and whites white because your skin (or a gray card) will be the 18% gray the camera is programmed to look for.

I took a few photography courses in my college days, but photography was not my major. Most of the technical stuff that I learned was from playing around with my cameras and visiting web forums like this. But it wasn't until a few years ago when I was given the opportunity to intern, so to speak, assisting a photographer, that I really began learning. Getting the shot right with little to no cropping necessary, the right positioning and ammount of lighting to get a proper portrait of a bride's face, choosing a proper focal length as well for that portrait, etc. It all came with experience. Back then I was an assistant, now I have an assitant. But you have to be willing to learn, willing to invest in equipment (when I interned I only had an Olympus E-10 and a Nikon N4004 with some slow consumer lenses; today I'd say I'm a little better off :G ), and not afraid to make mistakes (because you WILL make mistakes, as I did and so do my assitants).

I won't lie, there are times when the work gets tiring and I can't wait to finish the day. But in the end it is something I really like doing, and would rather feel tired of phtographing a wedding than tired of troubleshooting network lines (ugh, IT work kills me! ) Next time you're at a wedding inquire the photographer(s) about their work. Or step by a reputable studio (forget about the walk-in portrait studio inside malls or at Sears) and strike up a conversation. You never know... you could have your own assistant sooner than you think
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