Now, there’s a question: Do you think photography school and courses are really worth it?
And, by ‘worth it’, I’m not just meaning the money they involve, but also everything else: the time, the work, and – perhaps most importantly – the results. I’m really interested in getting people’s feedback on this subject – have you been to a photography school? Have you perhaps gone to your local college for some photography classes? Did you learn a lot? Was it expensive? Good value? Would you recommend it to others?
When there are so many free sources of information and guidance available on the internet – this site included – is there really a need for them?
On the other hand, surely you can only learn so much from books, so much from articles?
As a newcomer to photography, trying to learn as much as I can to further my enjoyment of this fantastic medium, I admit that I’m tempted. I see lots of ads in the back of photography magazines offering courses in all different types of photography, and, I admit, a large part of me really fancies it. But then I investigate a bit further, see the costs (some of which seem astronomical!) and it gets me thinking again… would it really be worth it?
These are the pro’s and con’s, in my opinion:
Photography School: The Pro’s
- Surely the no.1. thing is that you’re going to be taught by a professional, someone who really knows what they’re talking about – and they will be there with you, physically. You won’t be reading a guide on how to hold your camera, trying to decipher the images showing you where to place your hands; you’re going to be physically shown how to do it. That’s massively appealing.
- You’ll be surrounded by other, like-minded (hopefully) amateur photographers. This is another massive plus – I’d be able to chat and share photography experience, tips, get critiques on my work, and even – gasp! – make some friends while I’m at it.
- Instant feedback. If I had a question on how best to use a certain feature on my Canon 500D, I wouldn’t have to try to find the right chapter in a book, or even consult the mighty Google – I’d just raise my hand, and ask a professional. Quick, easy – excellent.
- There’d be assignments. That really appeals, actually. I know there are plenty of photography sites who also run a weekly assignment, and that’s great, but I don’t think it’d beat a real hands-on, my-photos-critiqued-in-front-of-me-by-a-pro-and-hopefully-not-too-harshly experience.
- It’d be inspriational. Not only would the tutor inspire me to go out and take shots I probably wouldn’t have even thought of taking, but I’m sure I’d also be inspired by the other students’ work too.
- Lastly, if it was a night class, I’d probably be able to sneak in a quick cider or two after as well, with my new-found photography chums. Now, on to:
Photography School: The Con’s
- If it’s one thing that photography courses are not, its cheap. Just do a quick search on Google and you’ll find some horrific prices out there. They may offer a potentially fantastic experience, but can I really justify struggling to pay the mortgage this month…?
- They’re very expensive. Did I mention that?
- There’s such a risk involved. What if the teacher is no good? What if it’s all really mundane stuff that I already (think I) know? I can’t seem to find any classes that offer a money-back-guarantee….
- What if there are 50 students to 1 tutor? Would I be noticed, or get any real quality tutor-time?
- What if there are only 3 students to 1 tutor? Then I’d be in the limelight all the time – my homework would have to be great!
- Unless you live in the middle of a big city – or even a town (neither of which applies to me, alas) – then you’re going to have to travel a fair way. That’s time. And money.
- And then there’s that nagging feeling, all the while: Couldn’t I just learn all this from the internet…?
Honestly, I’m really torn, and I’d love your thoughts: Whether you’ve attended a course, are thinking about it, graduated with a degree in photography, or just love learning on the ‘net, drop a comment below and let me know what you think.