1. You’re a young person: high school student, college student or military veteran. You’ve decided to pursue a career in photography, video, film or other visual arts. You also understand that a formal education in photography is essential to reach your goal. Congratulations! You’ve made some of the first important decisions in your young life; however, now the work begins.
From the moment you decide you want to be a professional photographer, with the boost of a degree in photography, you must begin to prepare for your formal education and your career beyond graduation day. One of the first lessons of professionalism that you can learn immediately is that when a professional person targets a goal, he or she starts to pursue it with the next breath.
For example, you’re a high school student, and during your junior year you decide to enroll in a photography-degree program upon graduation. You now have a year or more to lay the foundation for your advanced studies before the first day of college…and you should use it!
2.If you’ve made such a decision, then photography has probably been an interest, even a passion, of yours for some years. One of the biggest challenges of a college-level photography program is the advanced skills and techniques you’ll be expected to develop, and be able to use.
You can prepare yourself for this challenge before you face it by learning the next level of photography techniques beyond what you already know. For example, if you’re lighting experience is limited to an on-camera flash, then learn off-camera techniques and how to use the three-light concept in a studio setting.
3. Broaden your photography experience. Most of your photos may be casual images of family members and friends or you may shoot for your school newspaper or Web site. Now’s the time to start to learn and experience other forms of photography. Make a list of three to five types of photography you’ve never shot: portraits, nature, sports, urban, landscapes, products, macro, fashion, etc.
Then, schedule a few hours every week to expand your photography experience. Spend some of that time on the Web learning about these other types of photography from the experts. Visit photography Web sites, such as PhotographyTalk.com, the Web sites of professionals, and blogs and video tutorials.
4. Enter student photography contests. The sooner you understand that professional photography is a competitive career the better. Much of the success of your career will depend on others—employer, photo editor, fashion designer, magazine publishers, etc.—deciding to give you an assignment or buy your photos instead of other photographers. Participating in photography contests now will prepare you for that future.
There are photo contests for every level of photographer and any kind of photography, and special categories for students. Even if your entry is a picture of your dog, it’s a competitive learning experience that allows you to see how your work compares to other photographers.
5. Another opportunity to gain additional experience and prepare for your college photography education is to volunteer your photography services to non-profit, charitable or community organizations. You’ll learn how to interact with a “client,” understand exactly what photos he or she wants and deliver them, plan and schedule your time for the assignment, etc.
6. Maybe, the ultimate experience in preparation for a formal education in photography is becoming an intern to a local photographer during the summer or between semesters.
The primary benefit of an internship is to observe how a professional works, in all aspects of his or her business. Consider your internship as a laboratory, where you discover the formula a professional uses to balance photography with all of the demands of operating a business.
7. Another excellent preparatory step is finding a mentor. He or she is a professional photographer who is willing to spend some time with you to help you advance your skills. If you have the opportunity to be an intern to a photographer, then ask him or her to continue your relationship beyond the internship period. Your mentor doesn’t have to be a local photographer, thanks to the Internet. You can develop a relationship with a professional online who’s located anywhere.
8. Spend some of your time studying current photographers. Much of this you can do online; however, also visit galleries, where viewing prints is a totally different experience than browsing through them on the Internet. Seeing photographs in the printed medium speaks to your brain very differently and will expand your knowledge about how success is defined photographically.
9. If you’ve decided to pursue a degree in photography, then a very important step is choosing the right college. This begins, of course, with researching traditional universities with photography programs and photography-only schools. Educational institutions that are solely focused on providing the finest photography and visual arts educations are likely your better choice if you want the straightest path to a career in photography.
Brooks Institute is California is a highly respected visual arts university that offers both undergraduate degree programs in photography, film and visual journalism as well as a master’s programs in photography. With more than 7,000 alumni, many some of the best in their fields, Brooks Institute is part of a powerful network that could make it easier to land your first job.
Learn more about Brooks Institute at www.brooks.edu
10. Once you’ve decided to enroll at Brooks Institute, learn everything you can about its programs and focus your preparation on your exact course of study. Talk to current and former students of Brooks to learn from their experiences about how you should prepare for the curriculum.
Your feedback is important to thousands of PhotographyTalk.com fans and us. If this article is helpful, then please click the Like and Re-Tweet buttons at the top left of this article.
Photo from www.brooks.edu © 2011 Brooks Institute. All Rights Reserved.