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View Poll Results: Is formal Photography School a requirement for "Professional Photographer"?
Yes, Absolutely 2 50.00%
No, Self taught can learn just as much as school. 1 25.00%
I don't know, I just like to answer polls. 1 25.00%
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Old Feb 20, 2006, 1:56 PM   #1
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I have been seriously persuing photography as a living when I retire from the military in about 4 years (if they will let me out). I am only a self taught photographer and I was curious if I should invest in some kind of photography school or not. There are so many resources available online and in books, I was wondering if formal school is even required these days.

I've been using an SLR since about 1992 and love to learn all I can about photography.

I included a poll to see what everyone thinks. Thanks for your time and all the knowledge that has been spread on this forum.

David Porter
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Old Feb 20, 2006, 9:20 PM   #2
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Depends how much time you'll spend in school and how much it will cost.

You could always study part time or at night school.


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Old Feb 21, 2006, 1:26 AM   #3
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headhunter...if you are asking if a degree or certification is required to deem oneself a "Professional Photographer' and you're going to freelance, i don't believe so because you should have some sort of portfolio to showyour abilities...

if you were going to work for a Newspaper or Magazine or other type of periodical,that might be a different thing...they may require some formal education per their HR requisites...

here's an example...you can buy Adobe CS2 Classroom in a Book and from there, as you abilities and experience grow, you can actually take a Certification test and in their (Adobes) use their Certification as a catylast for getting a raise, finding a job or promoting your expertise.

i recall an Instructor i had whileattending some 'no credit' photography courses (back in the 70's) at an Adult Community School that said that taking a course(s) at a Community JCentailed a large amount of learning photography from a book (the physics behind light rays, how lens work, the mechanics of a camera vs the 'hands on' approach of the Adult Education...they both get you to the same place, it's just a matter of how you want get there...



just my .02


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Old Feb 21, 2006, 5:07 AM   #4
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I guess I should rephrase the question a bit. I'm not concerned with needing the school to get a job.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"Can somebody achieve the results of a professional without schooling by using experience and being self taught or should school be a requirement before I pursue this as a profession?

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"Thanks for all the responses so far.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"Dave
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Old Feb 21, 2006, 7:58 AM   #5
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Here's another thought.

I've seen photos produced by art school graduates that, right out of school, are far better than the photos I've been taking after 20 years.

So, if you really want to learn photography, learn "art" first.

Composition, lighting, color, space, all the things that art school students learn is far more important, in my opinion, than the technicality of photography.

Surely the technicality must be learned, but is completely secondary to the "art".

-- Terry


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Old Feb 21, 2006, 11:28 AM   #6
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headhunter66 wrote:
Quote:
I have been seriously persuing photography as a living when I retire from the military in about 4 years
Quote:
(There are so many resources available online and in books, I was wondering if formal school is even required these days.

I've been using an SLR since about 1992 and love to learn all I can about photography.

David,

The answer is: it depends. You say you want to pursue photography as a living and that you've been doing SLR work since 1992. Here'sa couple ofimportant questions:

Do you know what type of photography you want to pursue and whether or not it's a viable career choice in your market area? Portrait, wedding, sports, do you want to own a studio or work as a freelance contributor to publications?

Hasyour experience since 1992 specifically addressed those areas that your new job would require?

The key statement you made is "earn a living". I've known several individuals that spent tens of thousands of dollars on "higher education" and don't have a job in their field of study to show for it. So, if you want to earn a living doing something, first make sure there are job opportunities for the specific areas of photography you want to get into. Then you need a very critical analysis of whether your current skill set is good enough for your work to compete with others in that job category. The best way to get that answer is to find friends or associates that are potential clients of that type of work or better yet who have recently paid for that type of work. Show them a portfolio and ask: "would you have paid me instead"? If not, why not.

Finally, being a photographer that "earns a living" from photography is much like any other independent contractor. Having the artistic and technical photographic skills are only a part of the equation. The other part is having the business accumen, marketing and interpersonal skills necessary to succeed as an independent contractor. I'm not sure if photography schools teach those skills but they would be necessary.

So, do you know what the answers are to my 2 main questions:

What type of photography do you want to do and is it in demand?

Has your experience over the last 14 years built up the skills necessary to sell photos in that area?
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Old Feb 21, 2006, 2:51 PM   #7
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Good points JohnG. And in response to your questions, I am leaning more towards portrait work. My wife and I invested in a small lighting setup that we have been practicing with for a little while now. We've had some friends (mostly kids) come over and we set up a makeshift backdrop and took a lot of shots of them. THe goal was to get some practice and also be able to offer our friends some free pictures of thier families. Since we started with this we've had several offers to pay us for our services but so far we just do it for free.

As for the experience over the last 14 years, it has been a mixed bag. To be honest I haven't focused on portraits but I have focused on how light can affect an image and the technical aspects of photography. On the other hand, my wife has been wanting to work with portraits for a while now and she has the creative eye that sees a good shot. Between her vision and my technical experience we seem to get some very pleasing results.

As for making a living, I am pretty lucky in this manner. I retire from the US Army in about 4 years. I have that much more time to perfect my craft and to improve my technique. Being in the Army, I haven't had the time to take traditional schools so i learn in non-traditional ways whether it be books, online classes or just talking to someone who does it. These seem to help me the most.

I appreciate your advise, it is the kind of information I was looking for.

Thanks again,

Dave Porter
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