People still often have a misunderstanding about photography – that it’s a technique

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There is a lot of pressure for photography departments in universities to almost guarantee their students – you will have employable skills at the end of this, you will get a job, you will have expertise in the field. I think it should be treated more like a literature or philosophy degree. Of people who study philosophy – one of them might become a philosopher, the others go off and do other things, but nobody questions a philosophy department and asks – how are you giving your students employability skills? It’s just respected as a field of study. It means that there are a lot of people in the world who are intelligent, engaged, informed and interested in that subject. That’s how I see it.

via Interview with Aaron Schuman | FK.

There Are 9 Comments On This Article.

  1. I think this could be taken to another level where students in today’s college (millennials) feel they have a self entitlement and should be guaranteed a job no matter what field they study, adding more pressure to colleges. I feel if you work hard and take risks following your passion you will succeed.

    • “I feel if you work hard and take risks following your passion you will succeed…”

      I think the emphasis here should be on ‘I feel…’ because there are no current studies that will support that statement!

      • Sorry about that, my outlook and influences on life consist of Warren Buffett, Richard Branson, and Steve Jobs to name a couple…

        • Well, I would think that they are the outliers. For every one them there are scores of others who worked as hard and took chances and ended up face down in the mud.

  2. This employment idea as a main element of the pedagogy (or promise) is less the case with top art schools and university photo departments and much more the case of smaller art and “photography institutes”, polytechnics, and smaller state college art programs.
    But this quote points out a reality that those students in acting and dance have known for far longer: you will, almost for sure, not become employed doing what you studied here. So be flexible.
    Fine art majors might look to being more craft oriented and entrepreneurial. Photography BS and BFA graduates should consider the same. Unless you get that first assistant job and learn the ropes, you might have to shoot weddings, portraits, or work as an in house photographer like at a university or company. But, at least you will start saving for retirement with employer matching + health insurance.
    You might end up at similar situations for a job but not do strictly photography. Maybe you will run the camera/sound booth for lecture classes run online. Maybe you will edit that stuff with a graphic designer and video editor. Ditto and similar jobs at corporations who need technical experts on lighting, recording any and all kinds of images and sound of events, conferences, or training or just about anything.
    Even if you do end up working as a photographer alone, all or any of this seemingly unimportant stuff will pay off in the end. Working with an art director or designer will show you things about communicating ideas, composition, and type you have no idea about until somebody shows you or teaches you. Suddenly, you know why books and web sites look like they look and work or do not work in function, design, readability, quality, etc.
    This broader knowledge with a focus is the very start of what eventually makes one a master, or not.

    • “Unless you get that first assistant job and learn the ropes, you might have to shoot weddings, portraits, …”

      i feel kinda insulted. and i’ve done the first assistant job when i started out. only to realise that those customers of the photographer i should become didnt really care about the pictures once they were printed. so i prefer to work in areas where images have an inverted shelf-life, becoming more valuable over time instead of adding to the waste-bin.

  3. I think schools should be more selective for how students get into their photography programs. Most of the thousands of yearly degree holders will not have a long term career in it and that is a very poor ROI. The programs should be reserved for the committed, or at least very clear up front about, that it’s for art’s own sake and the options are limited.

    That said, a couple of “the business of art” classes certainly would not hurt.

    I am biased a bit because this is how I did it… but get a degree you can put to use in case the photo thing doesn’t work out or isn’t what you hoped for. Anyone can learn to be a great photographer if they’re passionate about it. No university needed there. But if you get bored, or life’s priorities change, having that backup degree in science or engineering or whatever sure is handy.

    • I am confused. Is the point of a college education a better job than you could have without the education or is it to explore your interests? As too colleges being more selective toward the passionate, poppycock. Schools are in the education business not the job business. They want as many customers as they can serve. They want to sell what the customers want to buy. At best you get an education that other employers will agree is at least competent. ‘Let the buyer beware’ applies to education like anything else.

  4. Get a business degree first. I wouldn’t even go to college for photography at least. The learning platforms are numerous as ever; add to that your natural abilities.

    A business degree will give you more tools should the art career tank. IMHO