Are photography schools officially dead?

Jul 11, 2017

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

Are photography schools officially dead?

Jul 11, 2017

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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In today’s world, where knowledge is available for free all over the Internet, is there still point spending one or two years in school and learn photography there? Also, are photography and lighting skills all the schools have to offer to make you a photographer? Jared Polin discusses all these questions in his latest video.

The news that Antonelli Institute is closing down was what triggered Jared to start this topic. After 80 years of working, this school is now educating their last generation of photographers and graphic designers. And it’s not the only school closing down in the past couple of years. So naturally, this raises a question – do we need photography schools any longer?

YouTube video

In my opinion – of course we do. But, it depends on the type of school, and what you want to learn. For me, learning something in school works better than learning it myself, at least when I’m just starting off. I attended a photography course in 2009; it was a kind of a crash course to learn the basics. I definitely needed it so I could start somewhere and get some directions. Before it, everything seemed so overwhelming! Of course, I’ve learned and explored a lot on my own since then, and I’ve learned tons of new things just writing for DIYP, not to mention reading this blog and the other great ones. But in my early days, I needed something structured, and someone to guide me through the first steps in the photography world.

Then, when it comes to schools, sometimes they offer you more opportunities than you could find yourself. In my case, I was a poor student, but at the course, I got to shoot in a professional studio, use pro gear and visit some places I would have no chance of visiting otherwise.

Another great thing with schools is the feedback you get from teachers and peers. You get real-time, constructive criticism and this helps you learn and improve. So for me, the course was really a great experience. The school “opened the door” to the photography world for me and helped me take the first steps, and I’m grateful for that.

However, this doesn’t need to be the same for everyone. And sometimes, the school doesn’t teach you all you need to know. As a photographer, you’re not just a photographer. You need to know photo editing, marketing, and own interpersonal skills. Also, it’s good to learn how to create other media such as videos, timelapse, cinemagraphs and so on. The market changes and so does the technology. You need to keep track with the changes, and not all schools do it.

Another thing is the money. If the school costs thousands of dollars and doesn’t offer broad knowledge, why wouldn’t you go online and look for it there? There are plenty of fantastic YouTube channels, blogs, e-courses and books that are either free or affordable. This way, you can focus on what you want to learn, organize your time and invest the money on gear.

When it comes to feedback, you can also get it online. Not only trolls live on forums and in Facebook groups. There are also plenty of fantastic people who’ll give you constructive criticism or provide help, either as peers or as more experienced mentors.

So, after all this, do we still need photography schools? I’d say both yes and no. It all depends on the school and on your needs. If I got to choose, I’d go to the photography course again. They can be an excellent guide when you’re totally new and everything seems overcomplicated. You can learn the basics there (at least), and form some idea what you want to do when you finish the course. But, if you already have some knowledge, skill, and idea what you want to do, maybe the Internet and free/cheap resources will be of more help for you. Or, a 4-year photography college where you can learn plenty of different things and get lots of opportunities. What do you think?

[Photography Schools Are OFFICIALLY DEAD!! What you should study in college instead | Jared Polin]

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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17 responses to “Are photography schools officially dead?”

  1. Keith A Varley Avatar
    Keith A Varley

    Practice and online.

  2. Ondřej Kadlec Avatar
    Ondřej Kadlec

    Why it should be dead? When I play the piano I don’t leave musician school just because there are piano tutorials on Youtube. It is same with photography.

  3. Steve Avatar
    Steve

    Buisness classes in school is the one thing photographers need. All the other stuff is easy to learn on your own.

  4. Trevor Lovecross Avatar
    Trevor Lovecross

    Seeing as there are still plenty around, I would have to say that officially, they are not dead.

  5. Hernani Jon Onyok Cañete Avatar
    Hernani Jon Onyok Cañete

    Yes. Because their asking price is way too much

  6. Albin Avatar
    Albin

    “Professional photographer” is one of those unregulated designations that reminds me of an old Reader’s Digest joke my Mom read me: The young successful son knocks on his mother’s door dressed in a blue blazer with brass buttons, and a yachting cap, and proudly announces “Ma, now I’m a Captain!” Ma answers “Son, to you you’re a Captain, to me you’ll always be a captain, but … to the Captains are you a Captain?”

    My daughter did a two-year commercial photography course back in 2003, when digital cameras and software, and especially commercial use of digital images, were still pretty new – along with technology (she graduated from her Canon Rebel to a 5D. a couple of L lenses and Photoshop) she learned some business skills, art history and studio technique, but most of all made contacts through teachers and the cluster of studios, advertisers, etc. who supported the college program, and liked her work. Off and on in following years they became good people to know. Interestingly she picked up video in the last couple of years (finalist in some fashion video competitions) almost entirely through Lynda and YouTube, but that was working from the base established in trained still photography.

  7. Tyler Ingram Avatar
    Tyler Ingram

    Ive taken a couple pf courses at a school. The instruction was great, the people.m in the glass were fun and the gear was WAY out of my price point so that was cool too. I dont think they are dead out here..

  8. Mark Niebauer Avatar
    Mark Niebauer

    This guy is off his rocker. Look at his portfolio. Speaks volumes

  9. Galonii August Avatar
    Galonii August

    yes! to all of it. went to school didn’t learn enough, wanted to learn more, read everything I could find, and just go out and try, try, try. The worst? you delete the files you don’t like reformat the card and start over.

    1. Fred Bates Avatar
      Fred Bates

      As an artist you’re mostly self taught. The one exception is if you can work with or for another artist who is willing to share their knowledge..

  10. Ken Carver Avatar
    Ken Carver

    I am so tired of gear reviewers passing themselves off as artist. What galleries has Mr Polin displayed his photography in and what international achievement awards has he received. I respect Mr. Polin as a gear reviewer, however, that does not give him a voice in the academic community. Photography is morphing into cinematography real fast and you are not going to make it in cinematography without some academic background and that, in most cases, does not include vlogs.

  11. Nuno F Duarte Avatar
    Nuno F Duarte

    Are painting schools officially dead? Think about it.

  12. Luc Andre Paquette Avatar
    Luc Andre Paquette

    Not dead for people who can’t learn by themselves

  13. Linda Soule Gregory Avatar
    Linda Soule Gregory

    I took classes at the local GVR Camera Club and learned by practice.

  14. Brandon Leow Avatar
    Brandon Leow

    Learned from the internet, photography magazines, and tagging along actual professionals for shoots.

  15. Kumar Ganesh Avatar
    Kumar Ganesh

    It’s really very easy to pick up the basics in photography by yourself through books, magazines or online resources. The hard part is taking one’s skills to the next level. I am not sure that photography schools are the best way for this since instructors seldom have the time or inclination for 1 to 1 mentoring. Internet resources do help to an extent but turning theory into practice can be quite an effort. Not sure where to find online, “fantastic people who’ll give you constructive criticism.” I think joining a photography club delivers many of the subsidiary benefits that the article attributes to schools and some of these clubs do have studios for training and cheap hire. The one unique benefit of schools is to be able to wave a piece of graduation paper at potential clients if one is commercial photographer but, as an enthusiast, I would not give a school my money other than for inexpensive short courses.

  16. Josh Bozarth Avatar
    Josh Bozarth

    I’ got into photography back in 2007 and thought that I was well on my way to being an accomplished photographer. Retired from the military in 2015 and didn’t want to grow up so I enrolled in the local Art Institute until I figured out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I quickly realized that I had a lot to still learn and began to make huge strides in my work.

    I think that it’s all depending on who are the lead instructors. I’m fortunate to have an outstanding one to where I can reach out to and get true one on one feedback. Having bi-weekly critiques from my peers also is a priceless opportunity.