Photography Skills You Can’t Learn DIY
September 12, 2013
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History is filled with the stories of men & women who taught themselves how to paint, how to draw, how to weld….even how to carve and sculpt. There are even famous inventors who did not have formal educations but who went on to work with electricity and magnetism and other natural forces and created technology we all benefit from today. Steve jobs, co-founder of Apple, Inc. was one such man – he attended college for a short while but dropped out and entered the workforce. That said, in this day and age there are many advantages for seeking higher education to help one gain advanced knowledge or skills for careers they wish to pursue.
The professional photography arena is certainly one of those areas where education can be a big boon as opposed to just being a DIY (Do It Yourself) photographer. Particularly now with the advent of digital photography and even cell phone photography, it’s easier than at any time in history to be a photographer. Cameras are less expensive and easier to acquire, film costs are non-existent thanks to digital files, and image manipulation software like Photoshop® are fairly affordable and feature tutorials to help you understand how to use the software. So what’s the benefit of seeking education & training to become a professional photographer?
In a nutshell, plenty.
First off, aside from the costs of higher education (which can be off-set by grants, loans and scholarships) that can keep some individuals away from schooling, most people who are interested in developing a skill in an arts area desire to seek mentorship and greater knowledge than what they themselves possess. In the past, apprenticeships were the way that many young people sought such education. Today, two and four-year colleges serve that purpose for many students. In school, students gain access to professionals with a lifetime of experience under their belts – professionals who not only can share their expertise and technical craft on photography but who also can provide insight into how the worlds of commercial and photographic journalism work. They sometimes can even pass along contact information to their young peers which may lead to opportunities down the road. Outside of schooling, a fledgling photographer has to be at the right place at the right time to meet such a person who is willing to take them under their wings and provide guidance and mentorship.
Next, even with today’s affordable digital cameras, very few young photographers can afford the vast range of photographic equipment that a school of photography has at its disposal for its students. Large-scale printers, various lighting systems, micro and macro lenses, sophisticated imaging software – these are available at schools of photography for student use but a non-student would need a literal fortune to accumulate such equipment his or herself. The experience of utilizing all that technical equipment and software is a great opportunity for student photographers.
There are also the business aspects of photography to consider. Advertising and marketing, networking, accounting…..these are important parts of a professional photographer’s career. Mismanagement of funds, lack of planning when it comes to business proposals, not pursuing the appropriate professional associations with organizations…..these trip-ups have snared many an amateur photographer and prevented them from moving ahead in their career. Good education for photographers should address business aspects of working in the photographic world.
In a bottom-line sense, those who are serious about a career in any field should be willing to invest in order to learn all that they can. How many amateur physicians, dentists and lawyers have you met lately?