What’s Your Stand On Photography Schools? John Free Offers Some Hard To Digest Advice

Have you ever went to photography school? Are you considering one? Photographer John Free shares his stand on photography school in this in-your-face video.

John shares that the schools that we went to had pompous instructors with no real body of work other than the time they spent in the photography school system. He also accuses them of having no interest other than to suck money of students. John also shares the one thing that he loved about his photo school. Lastly, John suggests some hard truth: that in the end, getting good at photography is all about hard work and practice, no matter how big your certificate is.

What’s your stand on photography schools?

  • http://tahoeshooter.com Jon Peckham

    I did ok with PPSOP.com and got a great start from him. I also studied all the great classical arts on my own and tried to imitate them. So, yes I agree with John here, but there is some great instruction out there especially on youtube. .

  • Cedric

    Is there any worse place to make a video ? What a long train !

  • Kay O. Sweaver

    “Those who can’t do, teach.” – certainly there’s a lot of that going on, but not everywhere or all the time. I’ve only taken two photography classes, but my professor is certainly not a hack. His knowledge, experience and critical eye have been extremely helpful and inspiring.

    Another old saying comes to mind – “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” Photography is something you have to do yourself.

    I feel like school is a great way to get access to equipment, to be part of a community of other students and instructors who are all doing the same thing and to carve out time to really focus on the craft. Now I wouldn’t go to an expensive art school to get all that, but I’m taking courses at City College of San Francisco and am quite happy.

  • Renato Murakami

    I don’t have any horror stories… in fact, the few “official” lessons on photography I’ve had (during journalism graduation) were great and jumpstarted my interest, also proved me wrong that I couldn’t do it.
    Good teachers and schools will serve basically a couple of purposes: understanding and practicing the basics, and jumpstarting your curiosity/interest in the area.
    Arguably, you don’t even need a big famous professionaly proven and accomplished teacher for that part.
    Sometimes, it’s better to have a teacher with almost no field experience that knows how to teach and inspire than a pro photographer with years of experience that doesn’t know how to do those.
    But I can totally see where John Free is coming from. And I guess there are several other areas that similar stuff happens. Worst of all is that sometimes even great professional photographers can go that route while teaching classes… being awful teachers from whom students gets nothing but horror stories from.

    I’d say nowadays though that you mostly don’t need to attend a particular photography school to go at it. Shure, it helps, and if you can do it I’d have some recommendations in my area.
    But most of the basic knowledge you can find free on the Internet, probably more customized to what you really want and the equipment you have or pretend to get.

    The one other thing that photography school are also good for though, is to get in contact with a community of people that might have similar interests. And then, if you’re stuck not knowing how to start, assignments will usually help.

  • Kevin Blackburn

    I have to agree on some level I lecture at various schools High school and College and I advise take business class and to work with someone you respect to learn the craft of photography your art will come through regardless of how you learn the craft but if you want to eat and retire then KNOW BUSINESS… That said Higher education in any form is important

  • Marc

    I have a feeling that much of his class time will be taken up with slamming other programs. Perhaps I’m wrong but that’s the impression I get from so many of John’s YouTube videos. If I’m wrong, he might still want to consider how he presents himself.

    Worst photography class I ever took was from some wedding / lighting photographer. Yes, he certainly had some impressive looking work, but to me, if a work shop consists of the instructor setting everything up and you just look through the view finder and press the shutter button, then your time is being wasted. In Focus Learning Center of San Diego (no..I’m not a shill for them) provides the very best in photo learning experiences if you want to really understand what your camera can do..then you decide what you image will be.

    The problem is with many of these courses is you don’t know you are being screwed until you are past the refund point.

  • http://wilcfry.com/ Wil Fry

    First, it’s “have you ever gone to …” (or “attended”, to be more precise).

    Second, I think it’s similar to any other course of instruction. You can take a history course and have a professor who’s just in it for the paycheck, and students only there for the course credit. Another professor at another school, or even just down the hall, might be more dynamic and helpful.

    I had a math teacher in high school whose degree was in “interior decorating” (that’s what she told us anyway; I didn’t believe you could actually get a degree in that).

    Third, I wish I’d had at least *some* formal training; there have been too many things that I’ve learned the hard way or never understood until someone with photography education explained it to me. But from anecdotal evidence, there’s a high probability I would have ended up with one of the duds for an instructor.

  • Photoizy

    John, couldn’t you have waited for the train to get by so you’re not yelling? Jeez, and you boast that your a photo teacher and photo coach?
    I had a blast at my photo college in the midwest. It’s one of the top rated photo and design schools. AND we did see our instructor’s work. Our instructors encouraged us and helped us.
    My advice for photo students, check into the school where you’re wanting to take photo classes and make sure the school has reputable instructors. There are bad schools and great schools for photography. Do your research. The schools don’t always have to be on the East or West coast.
    I’ve been in photography for 37 years and I’ve owned my photo business for 24 years with National clients. I still visit with my instructors from college and we have regular get togethers. The instructors still have my respect and most of them still produce photography and submit work for competition.

  • David Lewis

    I actually agree with him to some extent… I have never attended a photography school, but many schools have instructors in there programs who have no actual experience in their field of study, but have been an employee of the school for years and end up as a department head. I think the key for a good school is that the school requires its teachers to have experience in their field. This can be particularly hard in the photography world.
    I would also agree that he isn’t stating anything new, and he seems to be bashing other schools because of how he presents his information. This speaks for his professionalism or lack thereof.
    He has missed one major point that I think is more important than an experienced instructor for a photography program. Any good educational program needs to have an assessment, a plan of action (to educate and test), execution of the plan (to educate), and the assessment (test). Without these controls in place it is impossible to determine how much if anything is learned from the course. and how to make the course more effective. Most conventional schools have this in place.