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How do I Choose a Photography School?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 11 September 2018
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Choosing the right photography school can make a big difference when embarking on a career in photography. There are many different areas of focus in photography, and an array of educational options available to budding photographers. Taking the time to make a selection carefully will ensure that a student gets the best possible education.

One thing to think about is the fact that photography schools come in several flavors, so to speak. Some people get degrees in photography by going to art school or attending a college or university with an art program, while others prefer to study at schools which focus specifically on photography. Photography school at a college, university, or art school usually offers more options along with a more advanced degree at the end of the period of study.

It is important to select a photography school which is accredited, has a good reputation, and comes with recommendations from professional organizations of photographers. With these criteria in mind, it should be possible to generate a list of schools which can be narrowed down to top choice candidates. Students should definitely think about the type of photography they are interested in, and peruse the photography programs they are intrigued by to see if they offer training in the student's area of interest. Someone who wants to be involved in photojournalism, for example, has different educational needs than someone who plans to do portrait and wedding photography.

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Facilities at a photography school are critical. If possible, students should visit the school to see the kinds of facilities available, and they should ask current students about how accessible and well-maintained the facilities are and how big classes in the photography program tend to be, because college and university claims about class size are sometimes understated. For students interested in traditional film photography, it's important to find a school with good dark rooms and space to work, while students studying digital photography will need access to computer labs, appropriate image editing software, and sophisticated printers.

Faculty are also a concern for many students. Studying with talented photographers and noted teachers can provide a greater understanding of photography and generate useful references which will be helpful when looking for work. Students should also think about their career goals as photographers, and they may want to ask photographers who appear to be experiencing career success about where they trained and if they have any suggestions.

A final consideration is how long the program will take and how easy it will be to work through. Photography schools list their graduation requirements to give students an idea of what to expect, and students may also want to consider issues such as scheduling flexibility, and whether or not the school offers multiple sections of the same class in case classes overflow or a needed class is scheduled at an awkward time. Students may also want to think about whether or not they are willing to relocate for photography school and how far, what the cost of the program is, and whether or not financial aid is an option.

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