Why You Should Get a Degree in Photography; and Why You Shouldn’t

May 17, 2015

Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels is a wildlife and commercial photographer based in Israel. When he isn’t waking up at 4am to take photos of nature, he stays awake until 4am taking photos of the night skies or time lapses. You can see more of his work on his website or follow him on Facebook.

Why You Should Get a Degree in Photography; and Why You Shouldn’t

May 17, 2015

Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels is a wildlife and commercial photographer based in Israel. When he isn’t waking up at 4am to take photos of nature, he stays awake until 4am taking photos of the night skies or time lapses. You can see more of his work on his website or follow him on Facebook.

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Degree

Back in the day things were very clear; if you wanted to become a photographer, you’d get a degree in the field. As in many other professions, a formal education was required in order to gain experience, learn the technical aspects and obtain official certification.

Nowadays you’ll have a hard time finding an employer or client who cares if or where you got your “proper” education, you no longer need to be a semi-engineer to take your photos or a chemist to develop them, and some level of experience can easily be gained since everybody has a camera now (even dogs).

You’d think all that would lead to a clear cut answer when it comes to people asking if they should get a degree in photography. However, as Ted Forbes explains in the video below, things aren’t so black or white.

YouTube video

Having faced the same decision myself, I agree with a lot of what Ted had to say. Being able to immerse myself in a focused environment and be surrounded by people who are in the same boat as me and share the same passion was one of the reasons I decided to persue the path of formal education.

I definitely made excellent connections at or through my college, and while this was another great advantage of studying there, at same time I made some of my best connections via the internet or through friends. One of those connections, eventually, led to me writing for DIYP.

The only definite benefit of a degree is that you will need one if you decide to teach. Most people won’t go down that path, though, and either way a degree doesn’t guarantee you will get a teaching position.

On the flip side, getting a degree is a serious commitment. No more spontaneous photo shoots or field excursions – you’ve got a class to attend and an assignment to hand in.

Add to that the substantial amount of money it costs to get a degree, and the little time you will have to get a job, and you quickly realize that this is not such an easy decision to make.

One last thing to keep in mind is that while there are possibly more professional photographers in the market today, making a good living from photography might have never been harder.

This is something serious to consider, as it might convince you to keep your hobby as just that – a hobby.

How many of you have a degree in photography and would you get one today?

[Lead Image: Sean MacEntee]

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Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels is a wildlife and commercial photographer based in Israel. When he isn’t waking up at 4am to take photos of nature, he stays awake until 4am taking photos of the night skies or time lapses. You can see more of his work on his website or follow him on Facebook.

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4 responses to “Why You Should Get a Degree in Photography; and Why You Shouldn’t”

  1. Erick Redcloud Avatar
    Erick Redcloud

    I never got a degree in Photography. I did however get a degree in Graphic Design. I did apply a lot of what I learned about art and design to my photography. And for the longest time graphic design paid the bills, much easier than photography.

  2. Jonny Helm Avatar
    Jonny Helm

    . Photography degrees: spend 3 years learning to find hopelessness in an art you once loved #protip #photography

  3. Ron Morrison's Photographs Avatar
    Ron Morrison’s Photographs

    There are great photography related courses at community colleges and there are numerous opportunities to take workshops from experts. The proof is in the pudding. If you have a good portfolio, that’s all that counts.

  4. phillip mccordall Avatar
    phillip mccordall

    I started in 1965 when I was 16. The day after leaving school I visited virtually every large studio in London asking for a a job cleaning and making tea. I was offered a job as a 2nd assistant to a photographer shooting still life.After two years I was working as first assistant to a car photographer then moved on to a fashion man.
    Five years later aged 21 I started my own studio and was looking for an assistant, all the guys and girls I saw with college degrees, had absouloutly no knowledge on how to treat clients, plus client briefs and quotations, added to that ,their photographic style was outdated and their knowledge of equipment very limited.
    Another problem was they were all older than me, having spent so long at college , working for about half the year because of long holidays. In my job we often worked 7 days a week and late into the night, meaning that i had the equivalent of around 7 years experience compared to them.
    It’s a decision that I’ve never regretted. These days you can learn from professionals on the net so I’m afraid art college is just a waste of time, unless of course you go for the social life, something you must forget when working in the real world.