The diversity of careers in photography is truly amazing. From the base talent in photography and a solid understanding of new and emerging technologies, the sky is the limit for a talented photographer with a solid education under his or her belt. That is because photography is both an art form and a solid technical skill. So the same school might produce an award-winning artist, a successful wedding photographer, a fashion photographer, a police investigator taking pictures of crime scenes, or a crack newspaper photographer.
So the question emerges as to what kind of photography school to pick for yourself or the student in your family that wants the best education possible. How you pick any school is very much influenced by both how you approach education in general and what your objectives are.
Some would advocate that you look to get into the finest artistic photography schools in the country. If you wish to go down that path, then for sure the Brooks Institute of photography or one of the elite east coast schools of artistic photography is a noble ambition. But there are three drawbacks to trying to attend such schools. First is, of course, the potential cost. Any elite school is going to charge elite prices. And if you are like most of us, you want to get the most education for your money. So doing some caparison shopping for a school is in order.
The second drawback is getting admitted. Most of the top-flight schools have waiting lists and tough entry requirements that may make that ambition more demanding than is necessary. But the most meaningful drawback is that these schools may not be the right choice for the career you or the photography student in your life may wish to pursue. So a good general set of guidelines on how to evaluate a wide variety of photography schools is in order. The guidelines might include…
. What kind of photography is right for the student? A program geared toward artistic photography that will result in pieces hanging in a modern art museum will have a very different approach than a program to train forensic photographers. Your student may not know right away what field they want to go into. If so, getting started at a generic school such as a photography emphasis at the local junior college may be the right choice until the career path becomes clearer.
. Is it a legitimate school? You want to avoid schools that are run from the internet or that you read about on the back of a matchbook. A legitimate school will produce a recognized degree that will be well respected in the industry and will help the student get jobs.
. What is available locally? Why go out of town or out of state if you have good local schools? Many state universities, junior colleges and local tech schools have find programs.
. How diverse and up to date is the program? Will your student get exposed to the newest of technology in the field of photography? Will they get trained in how to service many different types of photography assignments?
. How does the program’s job placement rating look? What percentage of graduates from this program get jobs? How well respected is this school by businesses who employ photographers?
These are solid evaluation criteria. And if you apply these standards to a couple dozen of the finest schools both locally and nationally, before long a short list of good schools will emerge. From there, some site visits and interviews with teachers and graduates will narrow things down. And you will be glad you “did your homework” to find the kind of photography school that will take you or the student in your life to the next level of success in their love of photography.