Thursday, February 11, 2010

How to Choose Among Photography Schools?

Once you’ve decided that you want to be a photographer, and you want to go to photography school, you have a big decision ahead of you. There are hundreds of photography programs across the United States. Some are at community colleges, some are four year university programs, and some are available at art schools. Choosing the one that’s right for you can be a difficult task. How should you choose? There are several things to think about.

First, what do you want to do with your photography degree? If you’re looking to shoot photographs for art exhibits and the like, a photojournalism program is probably not the kind of training you are looking for. If you’re interested in photojournalism, an experimental art program is not going to be a good fit. Moreover, if you’re looking for steady work, and not just a freelance position, a community college degree is probably not going to make you competitive enough. How you intend to use whatever kind of degree you get from a photography program should inform what kind of school you attend while studying the subject.

Second, how much are you looking to spend? Art schools can be prestigious, with vigorous classes and training and high payout after graduation. However, those schools can also be expensive. If you can’t afford tuition in the ballpark of $40,000 a year, you may not want to get your heart set on a fancy art school. A state school can provide you similar training for a fraction of the price, even if it does not look as impressive on a resume. However, even your average four year university can cost a pretty penny. If you’re worried about racking up thousands in student loans, community schools may be the ticket for you. These programs are usually much shorter, and much, much cheaper. Though these degrees may not carry as much weight as one gained at a university, it will be enough to possibly get you a job at a local photography shop, and still bring in some income. Moreover, the training you receive with it can be translated into your own freelance career.

Finally, you should think about what kind of training you need. Are you someone who needs to have access to your professors on a regular basis to have questions answered? A large university may make that impossible. Are you someone who prefers self-paced learning to rigid, structured classes? An art school, or even an online program, may suit your needs. Everyone has their own way of learning, so it is important to take that into consideration when selecting your photography school. Look into class sizes, length of study, and class structure before you sign up.

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