I need help! College is stressful!

Discussion in 'Education' started by robyn_maddux, Jan 29, 2015.

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  1. Ok, so I'm only a junior but in a few months I will start applying for colleges. I want to go to a school where I can major in photography with a minor in business. My dream is to be a freelancer taking pictures for magazines like National Geographic or something along those lines, but also to have time to explore and experiment with whatever I choose to photograph. I want a school that focuses more on the art of photography not just commercial or trade photography. What are the best undergraduate schools for photography? Ive been researching forever but I want to have some opinions from actual photographers not just self serving advertisement from the school. Thanks for y'alls help. I'm just feeling a little lost right now.
    michaelseewald likes this.
  2. SCL


    IMHO you have it backwards...get a business degree, minor in photography, then if need be go to a fine arts school for a master's degree...some of Hollywood's top cinematographers succesfully followed this route. Remember....the end product for most people is running their photography business. Also, critical to most people's success is the connections they make, both in school and in business, and ultimately marketing themselves, distinguishing themselves from the herd. Looking back, although I had little photographic training, I ended up as a technical advisor a couple of years after college, living and working for 3 weeks with photographers from Nat. Geo, Life Magazine, Time Magazine, NY Times and others on an historic mission, the Apollo 11 spacecraft and astronauts recovery. Spending 24x7 with those folks was incredible and set up some lifelong friendships - and I learned more useful photography info from those associations than I probably would have learned an 4 years of courses. To a person...they all stressed the criticality of understanding how to market themselves and their output....which was how they ended up on that assignment.
    michaelseewald likes this.
  3. I second Stephen's suggestion: get a good foundation in business, you can decide *which* business later. Good basics are something you can always fall back on, if things don't turn out like you planned...and they frequently don't!
  4. I third Stephen's suggestion. If you think choosing a college is stressful, just wait until you try to earn a living in a creative field....
  5. I "fourth" that suggestion. And my best wishes are with you on this decision... my son is doing the same thing also. Most important to know is that you shouldn't freak out about being unsure about your career objectives. Get a degree in learning how to learn (which ideally will allow you to get a job that produces a stable income) and go from there with the pursuit of art.
  6. OK, I'll make it a fifth... Good advice given above.
  7. Make it a SIXTH!!! You only need 20% photography knowledge compare to 80% in business!
  8. Photography is a good option, to the youngsters like you, who are having passion towards it to contribute your creativity to the world. Don't waste your time start your career by joining in the best fine arts school and gain the knowledge. Good luck !
  9. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I;m going to give different advice. I've been shooting professionally for years, often in situations where I shoot with other pros like sports and events. I also occasionally do post work for other pros. I have never met a successful pro with a business degree. What I have met are mostly people with strong personal skills. Sometimes it's the ability to get along with everyone, sometimes it's the ability to be a strong negotiator, and sometimes, it's the ability to just steamroll through every situation. One can always find someone to help with business skills, whether it's a paid accountant, a life partner, a business partner, or just a friend. But I've never met anyone in pro work who said it was simply business skills, or who had a business degree.

    You could look at other professions where this is true also. Real estate is very demanding on the business side. But most real estate agents take it on as a second career. I have met real estate agents with degrees in art, in music, in engineering. Once they become an agent, the successful ones master the business skills but for most of them, it's a second career and unrelated to past skills or education.

    What I have always recommended is making sure your communications is strong. Study English, take some writing classes so proposals and other business documents are well-written. Make sure you know basic math. Playing with an accounting package is useful. And learn the appropriate photography skills, especially lighting if you are going to do studio work, portraits, etc.
    michaelseewald and michaellinder like this.
  10. First off, it is HARD to make a decent living in photography.

    Even if you are very persistent and talented, my guess is that your career track in photography will take several different tracks before you retire. Get an education that prepares you to learn for your entire life.

    My sophomore level photography courses were taught out of the physics department. There was a rule that you had to have 18 credits in each of the three colleges to graduate. The physics department helped a lot of struggling art majors to get their science credits. Guess what, along the way I found that I liked physics.

    I went on to get a graduate degree in what is now called Data Science.

    I still shoot a lot as a hobby. But, before I retired, I was really good at what I did and it paid far better than all but the top fraction of a percent of professional photographers.

    So, if you find a photography class in the physics department, take it! It could change your life.
  11. I need help! College is stressful!...You got that right Robyn!

    But, a lot of people, and I suspect you're among them, can handle it. So...deep breaths...then run, don't walk to the counselor's office and tell them what you want to do. If that doesn't help, and it might not depending on just how savvy your counselors are, talk to some professionals in your area. Not the weekend warriors shooting little league and weddings, but the full-timers either in their own studio or the local press guys.

    Look at starting at a community college, many have excellent photo programs, I just retired after 25+ years teaching at a local Community College. Ours is a very strong program with many of our graduates going on to four year programs, or, as I did, going directly into the field as an apprentice.

    Or, if you have the grades and finances, look at schools like RIT, or the Art Center in LA. Another option if your on the east coast is Hallmark Institute in Turner Falls, Ma.

    I have had a nearly 50 year career in photography and photographic education with only a community college education. So it's doable. I'm not rich, but I've sure had a rich and rewarding career, especially the educational part. Someone once said," that to teach, is to learn twice." Very true, and the part I loved the most.

    What would I do differently? I'd take more business classes as has been suggested above. You'll have plenty of opportunity to learn the photography stuff. Workshops, professional organizations such as PPA (Professional Photographers of America), WPI (Wedding Photographers International), SMP (Society of Media Photographers), NAPA (North American Nature Photographers) all offer student memberships and have great workshop and training programs.

    I don't think that a business degree is really all that useful, but some business background definitely is.

    If I can be more help feel free to PM me.

    michaelseewald likes this.
  12. I started in college as a film-making major, at least somewhat related to photography. I still work on the periphery of that field, and I will say that I've never met anyone in film-making or photography with a degree in those fields who was a working professional. I had been an amateur photographer for almost a decade before I took my my first course in photography, and it taught me nothing, although I still had a lot to learn at the time. The instructor was an editor for one of the big photo magazines at the time. The bulk of what I learned as a photographer, I learned by myself, reading and practicing.

    IMO, the only reason to pay for an education in either of those fields at the university level is to try to make contacts. With the cost of school today, and the increasing problems with student loans, I'd look at the business degree alone, and maybe take some photography courses for your electives to try to get some inroads into professionals who can possibly help your career along. Even then, I think a photography degree is a crapshoot as a way to enter the field.
  13. Does your high school offer "job shadowing"? If there's anyone within reasonable driving distance you might could spend a work day with this person to get an idea of the type of training or degree that you need.
  14. Just make sure your major, whatever it becomes, is in something USEFUL, not "Ancient Sexual Position Study Among Extinct Primates", because no matter what you go for, you are on the hook for a LOT of money in student loans, and there is not that much use for most college degrees outside of reality... It is easier to work as an accountant and pay back the college loans for such a degree than to work at McDonalds while paying off $400k for that wonderful masters in "interpretive communication of silence among the blind" of other such cloud fodder that someone who never worked outside of academia advised you would be the greatest thing since meatball soup.

    Good luck whatever you do! Pay attention in class, read the material, and succeed.

  15. I've never met another pro photographer with a business degree. But I've met a lot of other older photographers who use NOT having a business degree as an explanation for their lack of success. Which may be true. There are a million great photographers out there who don't make a living. On the other hand it might be one of those "If I just had a business degree.... " deals.
    michaelseewald likes this.
  16. Let me confuse you further... First of all, I wish you all the best in pursuing photography as a profession; however, as others have stated, a career in the creative arts is somewhat risky so make sure that you have a Plan B. Ideally, that Plan B keeps you in the same field.

    So, here is what I would say - follow your dreams and pursue the degree in photography. Make all the contacts, get an internship, etc... Do whatever you need to do to pursue your dreams. While you do that, apply to graduate programs in photography and get a Masters Degree. A graduate degree will open doors and through those doors, you may be presented with new opportunities, whether they may be assignments shooting for National Geographic or other photo-related careers.

    I followed a similar path although at some point I bailed and obtained a Business degree and then an MBA. I do not work in the creative arts, but I have no regrets, especially since an MBA did open quite a few doors.

    Here are some of the best graduate schools offering masters degrees in photography (2017 list).

    I would think that their undergraduate programs in photography would be worth considering.

    Good luck.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018
  17. If you're not rich, it's all about ROI. You could sink more money in a photographic education than three lifetimes could ever pay back. College for many, and certain programs for all, make no financial sense today. There are some technical things to learn that will make your path easier, but IMO photography is a pretty simple craft that doesn't require years of expensive study to master. In fact, if you don't have a certain innate talent and excellent people skills, years of study probably won't help. I'm living proof of that- two years at RIT convinced me that photography is a way better hobby than a profession. I was pretty good at it, but making a decent image is a small part of being successful. That was decades ago and images are worth way less today than they used to be. You may be one of the few who succeed, but have a backup vocation. Machinist, plumber, electrician, mechanic or whatever, but something that's in demand and will pay the bills. Or, go for a degree in something that has good track record of ROI. Engineering, sciences, business, medical, financial or legal. Oddly, none of those things had much appeal when I was young, though I find them all interesting today. Too soon old, too late smart. There are lots of so-called "careers" that, when you do the math, won't give you (and maybe your family) a decent lifestyle.
  18. Stability is built on a broad base.
    The boring reliable stuff.
    Strong work ethic and sound well maintained personal habits translate universally and will serve you well.
    After the base is laid fine tune what you add, to the point of your choosing.
    As you age your perspectives and priorities change and that broad base gives years of flexibility.
    The only pyramid scheme that works....;)
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018
  19. Who in the world are you guys talking to.?
    michaelseewald likes this.
  20. Dang Necrothread. I didn't look at the date.
    Norman 202 likes this.
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