I Love Photography; Should I Get a Degree to Learn?
Photo by Adam Rhodes on Unsplash

I Love Photography; Should I Get a Degree to Learn?

This is a common question that my photography students ask me.

Should I go to school and get a degree in photography?

I always answer a hard no, and here is why.

I Love Photography; Should I Get a Degree to Learn?

What does a photography degree get me?

I Love Photography; Should I Get a Degree to Learn?
Photo by RUT MIIT on Unsplash

The honest answer is that a ‘photography degree’ is a $50,000 piece of paper.

Does it teach you photography? A little bit.

Does it teach you how to get a job? No.

Does it give you other opportunities in the future? Eh, maybe.

Many dream of becoming a ‘professional photographer’ because it is creative. And they feel good creating images.

Yet, a degree in photography is not needed to work as a professional photographer.

Some think that it makes them ‘special’ or that it makes them stand out from the competition.

The honest answer: NO ONE CARES.

So why do colleges offer photography degrees?

I Love Photography; Should I Get a Degree to Learn?
Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

I Love Photography; Should I Get a Degree to Learn?

The honest answer: Because they want MONEY.

Don’t get me wrong.

Going to college is a great experience.

You will learn a lot about how to think.

There are processes that I learned in art school while doing non-photography classes that are invaluable to my work today.

Yet, a college degree in photography does not get you a job.

And it does not make you a ‘professional photographer with a degree and a college portfolio.

MANY people want to be professional photographers and don’t have a degree.

And no one needs a college degree to start a photography business.

You need a camera and people that want to pay you money.

So why should I go to college?

I Love Photography; Should I Get a Degree to Learn?
Photo by Michael Marsh on Unsplash

I would suggest that if you want to go to college, get a degree with unlimited potential.

Get a degree that needs individuals straight out of school.

Get a degree that will give you and your future family stability.

This could be law, medicine, computers, or other demanding fields.

My point, get a degree that will have the potential for work at all times.

A photography degree does not get you a job.

A photography degree does not give you stability.

A photography degree puts you in debt as you try to learn how to make money off of it.

I Love Photography; Should I Get a Degree to Learn?

How you can learn photography while you get a degree that matters

I Love Photography; Should I Get a Degree to Learn?
Photo by William Bayreuther on Unsplash

If you truly love photography and want to learn, great.

Make photographs because you love them.

Make photographs because your heart, gut, and soul scream.

Make photographs to remember.

But do not be disappointed if photography does not make you a lot of money or make you rich.

If you wish to learn photography while attending school for a degree that offers jobs as a backup plan, there are plenty of ways to study.

-Take photography classes at a community college. This allows you to learn photography without paying as much.

-Hire a private photography teacher. Look for experience and a teaching track record before you hire someone. As professionals, there are a lot of us that teach as well.

For example, I taught at NYU and UM, Adorama, and others.

This is an excellent track record to see from a private photography teacher.

If you want to take classes with me, check out the shop link above, and visit the Learning Center. I offer on-demand classes and personalized virtual workshops at affordable rates.

-Read about photography. Buy or download books on photography and consume them when you have time.

Watch videos. Videos can be an excellent resource for learning something specific. I would not suggest them, though, to someone that wants to learn photography.

There are a lot of people that make short videos that teach you one trick. This is OK to learn tricks. But make sure that you also know your camera and understand lighting. And if you are going into business, you have a different set of classes.

Get out there and shoot! Sometimes the action of photography itself is the best teacher. I was very stubborn when I started and started this way.

I wish that I had taken classes first. I would have saved a lot of time and a lot of mistakes.

Learn photography with these methods. It will save you a LOT of money versus a full-on college degree.

    College degrees are great, but they do not teach you photography or how to go into business.

    Other pieces of advice

    Photo by Medienstürmer on Unsplash

    Here are five things I wish I would have known before getting a college degree in photography:

    • I wish I had known I would be in student loan debt for many years.
    • I wish I knew I could learn my camera easier by hiring a coach.
    • I wish that I had studied business better.
    • I wish someone had advised me about long-term life goals for stability.
    • I wish I had taken photography classes in the ways I mentioned.

    As they say, hindsight is 20/20.

    But I share this advice in hopes that you, as a photographer, can avoid some of the pitfalls I experienced.

    And if you do wish to learn photography and need a coach, I am happy to set up a session with you.

    I teach on-demand sessions where you learn in your time, and I teach personalized virtual workshops where you book a chunk of time and book 2-hour Zoom increments with me on a private calendar link when you want to learn.

    Visit the learning center here on my site, and I will help you learn photography while doing other things to improve your life at a fraction of what you will pay for a college degree in photography.

    Also, don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter, “The Lens of Life,” below.

    You get a once-weekly note in your inbox on Sunday mornings to read with your coffee that includes the week’s articles here on my blog, tips, tricks, and promotions on classes and services.

    If you want to learn, I would suggest signing up below.

    Until next time, happy shooting!

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