One of the nice things about living in the 21st century is that there are so many ways to learn. For someone interested in a creative field like photography, that means the opportunity to find a way to learn the craft that fits his or her lifestyle. After all, a busy lifestyle is part of living in the 21st century, too. So, with all of these avenues available, what's the best way for an aspiring pro to really master photography?
There's no single answer, because each individual absorbs information differently. It's important to consider, too, that there are many genres and niches available in the field of photography, and not all of them appeal to everyone. That's why PhotographyTalk offers such a wide variety of resources to our members. It's also the reason that we acknowledge and support learning methods in addition to those resources that may help budding photographers broaden their horizons or narrow their focus, as needed. Let's explore the pros and cons of some of those methods:
There are a wealth of books available for teaching just about anything related to photography you'd care to learn and many of them are written by some of the world's most successful pros. What's more, thanks to technology, you don't even have to have a hard copy; you can simply download a book on the spot and read it on your computer or mobile device.
There's a lot to be learned from books and for the independent student, it's a great way to learn. You can study them on your own time and go back and reread anything you need to brush up on. Books also give you the advantage of learning different methods for the same purpose, to find the ones that work best for you. On the minus side, some pros are better photographers than writers or teachers, so you may often find yourself scratching your head over a paragraph, phrase or even a chapter.
This is a great option for those who need a little one-on-one instruction and frankly, I think we all fall into that category at some point. Having a friend or associate that knows his or her way around the type of photography you're interested in, or even just a wealth of knowledge about photography or the business is a real advantage. For those who have the time, an apprenticeship or assistant's job is a great way to learn the skills you'll need when you strike out on your own. For others, a friend with skills, time and the willingness to share is a very valuable asset.
There are few disadvantages to having a mentor, but one of the most important is the fact that you're infringing on someone's time. Your friend has a life, too and it's important to remember that. If you're working as an assistant, you're probably going to have to just pay close attention, because your boss isn't going to be able to stop and explain every step of a shoot.
A Brick-and-Mortar School
If you're lucky enough to develop an interest in photography early in life and have a way to finance it, a college or technical education is hard to beat. Some may see it as “old school” (pun intended), but formal education gives you all of the advantages of books, along with a mentor who is paid to teach you. It also gives you certification that looks great on your resume.
The disadvantages are fairly obvious. Class schedules have to be met. You have to get to the school, which may mean relocating for a long period of time. If you're a spouse and/or parent, things get even more complicated. Tuition and materials costs can be crippling. College isn't an easy road, even for a part-time student.
Formal Online Education
That brings me to our favorite 21st-century option. Online education by an accredited school is one of the most flexible and powerful ways to learn. If you find the right school, you get mentoring, all the textbook knowledge you could ask for and he ability to work at your own pace, in your spare time. You can also structure the path of your education in a way that suits your goals.
The disadvantage? You can spend a lot of time finding the right school. Fortunately, our photography community has eliminated that issue. Our hands-down favorite is New York Institute of Photography. They're a 100-year-old educational institution, utilizing the best of modern technology to provide you with the photographic education of your choice, at your pace, in your home.
NYIP is fully accredited and licensed and their list of famous alumni is beyond impressive. They offer complete courses and short courses as well as intensive “niche” courses and certifications. It's all available at a fraction of the cost of a brick-and-mortar education and the learning environment simply can't be beat. It's all of the above rolled into one solution.
I'm not going to waste your time here with a hard sell or a long list of why we think they deserve our support. Instead, I'm going to recommend that you use some of that 21st-century technology to head over to their website, find out for yourself, and order your free course catalog.
You can thank us later.