The college I attended during my teen years didn’t have a separate photography school attached to it, therefore I ended up taking a different course and qualifying as a corporate financier instead! I always had an interest in photography and when digital photography started taking off in a big way I decided to jump on the band wagon and join in.
A few years my photography reached a plateau, and the only way I was going to improve was to get some proper help, so I enrolled in a local photography school even though there was a cheaper option out there. The cheapest option was an online photography course, however I thought that going to an actual photography school, dealing with a tutor in person and having the chance to share knowledge, skills and experiences with like-minded wannabe photographers (i.e. other people all wanting to improve their photography skills) would be the best option. Now I have experienced a photography school I have to say that I am in two minds about them.
Attending a photography school meant I had photography lessons at a specified time and I had to make sure that I was ready for them. This rigid structure kept me motivated and whenever I had those “I can’t be bothered and I’ll do it later” times having to go to the photography school forced me to do it. Had I been taking an online photography course I would have fallen behind, so photography school is a great thing in this respect.
Attending a photography school gave me direct access to photography tutors, which was very useful for the specific queries and questions I had. Okay, when you take an online photography course there is a tutor available to answer emails but I find it easier to deal with teachers and tutors face to face. Real time conversation is fluid, to the point and you can deal with questions in a quick and timely matter, and attending a photography school enables you to do this.
The problem I had with attending a photography school was the other photography students. I was hoping to share ideas, skills and techniques however it was clear, from day one at photography school, that this was not going to happen. My class mates were the sort of people who knew best and always right. You know, the sort of people who does it their way and won’t even contemplate a different approach. Many of my class mates disagreed (and hence disobeyed) the tutor because “they were right and the tutor didn’t know what she was on about”.
The atmosphere in the photography school I attended was horrible. The class room was hostile and heated debates (I would say they were almost arguments) were common. I wanted to learn about photography not listen to a load of individuals debating and arguing, so attending photography school was not only a total waste of time, but also a waste of money. It took just a handful of photography lessons listening to class mates disagreeing and harping on about how “their way was the only way” before I quit photography school and gave it up as a bad job. Looking back I guess I should have tried to find an alternative photography school, but I didn’t have the time or inclination (i.e. I couldn’t be bothered) to do so – once bitten and all that. Consequently, I found an alternative way to improve my photography skills.
So would I recommend a photography school? This is a bit of a difficult one and I would say:-
If you want a rigid and structured way of improving your photography skills a photography school provides this.
If you sometimes struggle with motivation and need a kick in the pants to get things done (just like me) a photography school provides this.
If you prefer communicating face to face (it is easier to ask specific questions and get answers in a timely manner) a photography school allows this.
If you want to share photography skills and techniques, a photography school may or may not provide this and this depends entirely on the other students. You may be lucky and end up studying photography with some like-minded students, however you could be like me and end up studying with some pretty nasty people. If Lady Luck is looking down on you everything will be golden, but if not, hmmm…………….. Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing what your fellow photography students are going to be like until you actually get there and interact with them.
Signing up to a photography is a big risk, and before making that commitment, signing up and handing over your hard earned money you need to ask yourself “Is this a risk I am willing to take?” You may find that everything works out, then again you could have an experience like mine. If you decided to go to photography school you need to make sure that you’re prepared to walk (just like I did) if it doesn’t work out, and you have to be prepared to walk sooner rather than later. Remaining at a photography school when it’s not working out will have an adverse effect and it will dent your confidence in your ability and also affect your current photography skills and for the worse.
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.
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