Do you wish to become skilled in photography but are unsure how to go about it?
You’re not alone. Because even while there are many incredible materials available to beginners, it can be challenging to figure out how to get started with them all.
In the following paragraphs, I will outline my top six recommendations for getting your education in photography off to a strong start, regardless of whether your interests lie in photographing nature, products, people, or something entirely different.
Take note that there is no single method that is superior to others for learning photography. My ideas take into account the many different types of learners because I’ve found that different approaches are more effective for distinct individuals. I also offer various approaches that do not require the assistance of an instructor so that if you are interested in teaching yourself photography, you will know exactly what to do.
Are you prepared to develop your skills as a photographer? Let’s get started.
1. University/college degree
The conventional way to get knowledgeable in photography is to do so through the studies offered at universities, and this is a route that a lot of individuals choose to pursue. You will learn about a large number of different photographic methods, you will receive guidance from seasoned instructors and professionals in the business, and you will carry out all of this activity within a regimented setting. In addition to that, you will get access to cutting-edge studios that are stocked with the most recent cameras, lighting equipment, accessories, and software.
Schools provide a setting conducive to collaborative learning, which can be of tremendous use to aspiring photographers. You and the other students in your class can work together to study, improve your abilities, and have a lot of fun. In addition to that, you have the opportunity to build useful networks for the future.
The cost is the most significant drawback associated with obtaining a formal degree in photography. It is possible to spend tens of thousands of dollars or more on obtaining a degree or diploma, despite the fact that the price varies from place to place and institution to institution.
There is also a large time investment required, which can be challenging to manage for older students who are also responsible for supporting themselves and their families. In addition, there is no assurance that you will acquire a job (of any kind) shortly after you graduate from college.
Keep in mind that the majority of the top photography schools may be found in urban areas; hence, you may need to factor in fees associated with traveling to and from the school, costs associated with relocating, as well as costs associated with finding student accommodation.
Do an in-depth investigation of the educational opportunities available in your neighborhood if you’re interested in pursuing a photography degree at a local college or institution. Find out who the instructors are, who the former students were, and what kind of success they’ve had after leaving the school. Attend an open day if at all possible and talk to existing students to find out what they think about the program. I’ve seen students whose personalities weren’t a good fit for the atmosphere of their institutions, which led to them feeling miserable and even performing poorly in their studies. Then, once they had transferred to schools that were better suited to their methods of learning, they flourished.
2. Internships and apprenticeships
It may not sound glamorous, but working as an apprentice (or intern, or assistant) is an effective way to learn the ropes and get into the photography industry. However, this route is sometimes disregarded. In point of fact, I and many of my contemporaries made our way up the ladder using this method.
After I received my art degree, I began my career in the photography industry by working as an unpaid intern for a celebrity and fashion photographer. Then, when I had completed my internship, I was extended an offer for a full-time position. If I had only relied on my portfolio and made unsolicited phone calls to photographers, I never would have been able to secure such a coveted position.
The education in photography that you can obtain through an internship or an apprenticeship is tremendous; I learned more in the first month of my employment than I did in the previous four years of art school combined. And the eighteen months that I spent working as an assistant gave me a wealth of knowledge regarding how to light, direct, posture, and communicate with models. In addition to that, it educated me on how to collaborate effectively with stylists and makeup artists, as well as how to handle challenging customers.
But what’s most significant is that I’ve seen personally the highs and lows that come with owning a business. If I hadn’t worked as a photographer’s assistant before venturing out on my own, I never would have known that it’s normal for businesses to go through rough patches and that nobody, no matter how talented or in demand they are, is exempt from experiencing them. That piece of advice was invaluable, and it helped me get through a lot of the slower moments in my work.
Now, I completed my internships after I graduated from art school, but it’s possible that you won’t need a formal background in photography if you can find the perfect individual to work with. Sometimes, getting real-world experience through an internship can teach you far more than a textbook ever could. However, the individual you pick should be someone who is willing to share their expertise and is an encouraging instructor.
Unfortuitously, not all internships are beneficial, and if you choose the incorrect one, you may find yourself cooped up in a cramped office, answering phones, filing documents, and performing other mundane tasks that have nothing to do with photography, all without the opportunity to actually learn anything. Make sure you fully understand the responsibilities involved with an internship before you agree to participate in one.
3. Blogs and other online resources
These days, the internet is teeming with in-depth photography blogs, and while most of these blogs do not provide photography instruction of the highest caliber, a select handful of them do.
There are several benefits to gaining knowledge through the use of blogs. To begin, rather than relying on a teacher to show you the ropes, you have the opportunity to educate yourself about photography on your own. You can hone in on the abilities that are in demand while researching the subjects that pique your interest and set aside the ones that don’t.
In addition, education obtained on the internet is totally cost-free, which implies that you won’t have to spend a dime to advance your skill set (and frequently receive guidance from pros of the highest caliber)
There are obvious drawbacks associated with learning photography through blogs. It is not particularly structured, there is little to no contact, and it is simple to skip over significant portions of your photographic education just because you were unaware of any other options. Blogs also tend to have a strong emphasis on theory, which means that it is ultimately up to you to devise photographic exercises, hone your art in your own time, and compile a portfolio of your work.
You always have the option to enhance your education with low-cost books and eBooks, as well as free movies on YouTube, if you find that learning by reading blogs is something that interests you.
4. Seminars and Workshops
Workshops are intensive classes that are typically held in person and can run anywhere from a few hours to a couple of weeks. They are an excellent way to develop and advance the abilities that you already possess. You can choose the type of photography you want to study, the methods you want to develop, and the photographers you want to learn from at a workshop, so you know precisely what you’re going to get out of it. This is one of the most significant advantages of workshops.
Some photography workshops are held in the local area. These workshops often last for a shorter amount of time and include activities such as visiting a neighboring city for an afternoon of street shooting, a nearby park for a day of landscape photography, and other similar activities. Other seminars are frequently organized in far-flung locales. These are wonderful for tourists who wish to take photos on location but don’t feel confident working by themselves.
Unfortunately, exotic courses have the propensity to cost an arm and a leg, but occasionally you can locate local seminars that are within your price range (try checking out the websites of nearby photographers or asking around at the nearest college).
After you have located a workshop that appears to be suitable, conduct a significant amount of investigation. Examine the instructor’s experience and read the feedback that previous students have provided. Learn as much as you can about the size of the group. When it comes to learning the craft of photography, however, smaller groups are considerably better than larger classes. Larger classes are good for software workshops such as Lightroom and Photoshop, but smaller groups are much better. You’ll get more opportunities to interact personally with the instructor, as well as more chances to form connections with the other pupils in the class.
In addition to this, make it a point to inquire about the degree of training. Is this workshop geared toward people with no prior experience? Students in the intermediate level? Semiprofessionals? Because many workshops operate under the assumption that participants already have a foundation in photography, they are not the best choice for someone who is just starting out in the field. Ask yourself, in all sincerity, “Am I ready for this?” before shelling out money for a workshop. Or does it fall either above or below my skill level?
5. Online courses
If you want to learn photography in a structured manner without ever setting foot in a classroom or workshop setting, then you should consider taking online courses, which can be very comprehensive and – with the right instructor – very well taught. If you want to learn photography in a structured manner, then you should consider taking online courses.
The number of students enrolling in online classes has skyrocketed during the past several years. There is a large selection of classes available through Digital Photography School, in addition to those provided by CreativeLive, KelbyOne, and other reputable businesses.
You must, however, exercise caution because there are a plethora of choices available to you. Before you purchase any of the courses, make sure you have read the evaluations and have given the content and structure of the course significant consideration. Make sure that the course teaches you exactly what it is that you want to know, whether it be Photoshop, landscape photography, strobe lighting, or something else entirely, and do your best to decide whether or not you like the instructor. (The more you love the class and can relate to your instructor, the more easily you will be able to retain the information.)
In addition, I would recommend that you only invest in training programs that come with a money-back guarantee. The vast majority of respectable course providers do this, which transforms pricey courses – and yes, they are frequently expensive! – into a risk-free investment opportunity.
Finding a mentor is the most challenging of all the methods described in this article for learning photography; but, if you are successful in your search, you will be able to gain an incredible amount of knowledge.
It is important to keep in mind that a mentor does not have to be a photographer who has won awards; rather, a mentor can be anyone who is willing (and competent) to assist you in achieving your goals. This includes both people who can assist you in understanding how the settings on your camera work as well as experts that have either five, ten, or twenty years of expertise. When it comes to achieving your objectives, having someone who is further along the route than you are and can provide you with helpful advice that can save you time, money, and effort may be really beneficial.
Your friendship and social media groups are excellent places to start looking for people who could serve as mentors for you. It’s not as difficult as it may sound at first. Look around for someone whose work and the way they go about their job you can respect and admire. Follow them on social media and look for ways that you may provide something valuable to the relationship you have with them. Share their work, retweet their posts, comment on their photographs, recommend customers to them, and provide them links to interesting photographic places.
It might be best to wait until the friendship has had some time to develop before approaching them about mentoring you. Because they will have had the opportunity to get to know you, the likelihood of them responding positively to your request will improve. If you take the initiative and are respectful of your mentor’s time, they will be far more likely to want to spend some of their valuable time working with you rather than someone else.
In the course of my career, I’ve had the good fortune to collaborate with a number of mentors, and the wisdom and direction they’ve provided have prevented me from wasting years of my life. It has also opened numerous doors for me that I might never have been able to go through if I had just been going along by myself.
It is up to you to make the initial move, despite the fact that there is a wealth of wonderful knowledge available and a large number of exceptionally qualified instructors.
Therefore, choose one (or more!) ways to educate yourself about photography. Make a personal pledge. And before you know it, you’ll be off and running!