Should You Go to College to Become a Photographer

The precious moments in our lives come and go so quickly. Fortunately, we live in an age where the technology to capture them is pretty much anywhere we look. Through the little rectangle in our pockets we can (and do) snap everything from makeup looks before stepping out on a Friday night to the tasty looking brunch we’re about to eat on a Saturday morning. But true photography is about more than pointing your phone at what’s in front of you and layering on filters to make it look more appealing (or Insta-worthy as the cool kids say). It’s about capturing the heart of a moment. About using the lend to bring out the inner beauty of the subject, immortalizing it for all time. And that takes time, effort and training. 

As such, if you want to take photos for a living some day, it’s important to never stop learning and refining your technique. Many would-be shutterbugs choose to take college courses to help them to become better photographers. But is this the only way to hone your craft and one day make a living taking photos of people’s special moments? In the digital era, where we can teach ourselves virtually any skill through online resources, is it really necessary?

Let’s take a look… 

Do you need to go to college to become a photographer?

The short answer is no. When you go into business for yourself as a photographer you are essentially a sole-trader running your own small business. As such, you don’t need to pass anyone’s entry requirements as you would in a conventional job. 

Clients don’t necessarily need to know where you trained or want to see your credentials- although some might. Broadly speaking, you’ll live or die (professionally speaking) by the quality of your work.

Will studying photography in college help me to become a professional photographer?

In theory you can learn everything you need to become an accomplished and well paid photographer by teaching yourself using online resources and(of course) getting as much practice as possible. But this is something of an over-simplification. Not everyone has the time or the discipline to hone their craft in their free time (and without student loans or grants that’s pretty much what you’ll have to do). 

A college level course can teach you everything you need to know about what makes great pictures and how to refine your craft. Most will also help you to get to grips with the business side of things and help you to choose a specialism like wedding photography, product photography or fashion photography depending on your style, skills and preference. 

That said, you will also start your career with significant student debt behind you which might curtail your earnings for a while. 

In conclusion

Unfortunately, there are no right or wrong answers here. There are many successful photographers out there who are self-taught and just as many who gained their skills on college courses. It all depends on which learning style and environment is best for you.

Whichever path you choose, never stop learning, never stop striving to capture the ethereal beauty of the moment and always invest time and effort into improving your photography.

Then… success can only follow!


Guest Author Bio: Wedding photography expert Jeffrey Wang has his own wedding photography studio in Sydney Perfect Moment Photography. He helped hundreds of couples to capture their love stories and the raw emotions and spirit behinds the weddings. In his free time, he writes about love stories, venues and photography tips for known wedding blogs around the globe.

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