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Your take on Photography Classes
Old 12-15-2005, 08:12 AM   #1 (permalink)
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It is intersting, in a recent post there was a reply made as to photography classes.

[ QUOTE ]
Skip the class, it's full of crap you'll never use!! (that's why on top end clients you use the pro lab, they'll color balance and correct clients images for you as long as you're exposure is with in range).

[/ QUOTE ]

This made me think a little, as to how others feel about those who go to classes, go after certificates and degrees. Myself, I went for the Digital Photography certificate and currently going for the Digital Imaging Technology degree. Learning how to look before I shot a scene or model made me think of film and chrome differently, and also look at digital shooting a different way also I feel.
With Digital being what it is today, have most who are learning this profession become more point and shoot type photographers or is there still emphasis on get it right before you shoot type photography?

Inquiry minds what to know. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/confused.gif[/img]
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Get it right.
Old 12-15-2005, 02:15 PM   #2 (permalink)
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With respect to point and shoot vs. get it right? I can't speak for anybody else but I think the easiest, best place to make the image good is in the camera. The camera is the tool where you make the image right? ...that's the whole deal. You create the image in your mind and you use the camera to record it. It's that translation from mind to recorded image that makes you a photographer.

Think about it like music. A person can make up and hear a guitar riff in their mind, but only a skilled guitarist can finger it out. The sound booth guy can't process a sound that he can't record... and the better the sound, the less he has to mess with it in post.

Post processing is handy, especially when you have a LOT of images to do... but it's a slow, expensive way to make a soso photograph into a great one. So, yeah, get it right when you're shooting.


As for education... hang on to yer hat, this is a soapbox issue for me...

I'm almost completely self-educated... with help from a batch of truly generous mentors along the way. I'm high school dropout that went back to vocational college later on. I was married to a professor at UNC for 14 years. I think academics would be really awesome if the academic community gave equal respect to time served at OJT... but they don't. Wait, I shouldn't get started on the ivory tower academics tirade... you asked a different question.

The fact is, and this is just stupidly obvious, that different people learn different ways. Brains are different, experience is different and there's about a gazillion other factors in play too. I prefer to learn by doing and experimenting... but it's costly in terms of time and resources... but hey, so is school. I still have to rely on people to help me, mentors, colleagues, pundits, etc... but hey, same with school. It took me years of under-confident struggling before I realized I could learn almost anything to a basic level of competency on my own. The only two things I ever HAD to rely on formal training for were flying and windsurfing... and I'd have given the flying thing a go if they would've let me.

When I graduated from tech school and got my first full-time job, I was stupified (more than usual) by how different work was from what I learned in school... and the program I was in was practically tailored to this particular employer. There's just no substitute for working in a professional, private sector environment where performance is the difference between a raise and a promotion... or a dead end and maybe a firing. Better yet, self-employment will really teach you some things on the fast track, you only have time for what's important so you rarely ever learn something you won't use.

As for degrees, I think it really helps a person to know what level they're at, same with people who might potentially hire such a person... problem is, standards. Some schools have'em, some don't. Professional training is completely hit and miss. I had been installing local area networks for six years when Microsoft started their certification programs, I hired several MS certified guys as contractors. The ones without experience were as lost as they could be; I had a high school kid who picked the stuff from scratch much better and faster. To this day, I don't trust professional certification unless it's boarded by an exclusive, nationally recognized organization with stringent testing for certification and continuing development programs. For instance, Microsoft, nahh, I don't think so... American Board of Pediatric Medicine... that's more like it but you still need to watch'em.

I know people who strongly prefer academic learning... They have to self-educate in the process, but the coursework keeps them on track. Frankly, I like going off track when some side issue attracts me and that's tough when you still have to go to class and pass the tests. I like wading in and making mistakes; I like feeling overwhelmed by a body of knowledge I can't wrap my mind around until I gradually work through it... I love those days when suddenly, I feel like I'm holding that body of knowledge in the palm of my hand. Clinically, that's symptomatic of bi-polar disorder but to me, it's just the way I keep going.

When I apply all the above to something like workshops, I see the best of all worlds... you've got immersion learning, you've got mentors, you've got colleagues, you've got advanced resources, a concentrated focus on a specific subject and a network of new contacts after the fact. That's just hard to beat. I've attended lots of workshops and focus groups on leadership, writing, uh... windsurfing, public speaking and technical management. My first photography workshop was cancelled when the leader, Galen Rowell, was killed in an aviation accident. I haven't really been in a position to up for one since... you'll see me at a Supershoot or a Robert Sanders gig one day though... of course, if JimmyD starts doing'em, I'll find a way to be at the first one!

Nutshell version:
I see nothing wrong at all with degrees and certifications, they clearly benefit a lot of people. What I have a problem with is people and organizations that refuse to respect self education and experience as at LEAST an equal qualification.


Chip
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Re: Your take on Photography Classes
Old 12-15-2005, 02:47 PM   #3 (permalink)
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formal education is the foundation on which you build real-world skills. i meet shooters who have no real education in photography or filmmaking and their work, as a rule, suffers for it. sure, there are completely self-taught people who excel at what they do. but that doesn't necessarilly mean they didn't take the time to learn the basics so that they could enhance those skills into consistent competency.
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Re: Your take on Photography Classes
Old 12-15-2005, 02:54 PM   #4 (permalink)
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It's up to the individual to determine how he or she wants to learn and reduce his learning curve. You can go to a library, Barnes and Noble, etc and read and educate yourself all you want. If we want to get fit, we can do our own jogging and walking and excercising but some of us hire a trainer or pay for membership to a gym to motivate us.

It's important to understand what type of class, instruction and instructor. There are tons of entry level snapshot photography college courses and there are some schools that offer bachelor and associate degrees in photography.

I spent two years in Photography Production Technology. I got my associates in Applied Science and Art and I thank God everyday for that experience. 3/4 of the schooling I thought I didn't need until now. Even old school has made my learning curve into the way we process images these days.

Many of those that say you don't need photography courses have either had a bad experience with a beginning entry podunk snapshot photography course that did them no good or they think they know it all to begin with but could not shoot their way through if their life depended on it.

Many successful photographers have had no photography courses. They are naturals or learned by reading and assisting. Actually assisting and being an apprentice is probably the best way to go for learning hard nose photography. That is, if the one you are assisting or being mentored is actually good.

J T


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Re: Your take on Photography Classes
Old 12-15-2005, 03:09 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Absolutely agree with you Jim. A formal class or two on photography greatly accelerates the learning curve. You can most assuradely learn on your own by reading books and meeting with other photogs, but the bulk of people in this world will benifit greately from formal surroundings. I still belive the best teaching ade in the world is a good instructor and a k-1000. Takes it all back to the basics.

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Re: Your take on Photography Classes
Old 12-15-2005, 03:16 PM   #6 (permalink)
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There is no harm in taking courses, but the benefit depends primarily on the instructor. It is great to find an instructor who has the knowledge and willingness to be a mentor. Many are not, but some are. Ive had both good and bad experiences, but I wouldn't have had any experiences if I hadn't gone to the class. It's still a personal decision. It doesn't hurt to know things that we don't need to know, but we often resist learning when we can't see any immediate application of this knowledge. I took a basic photography course last September at the local community college. My original thought was that I might meet some like minded people that I could get to know. I had no preset expectations of what I expected to learn, just a desire to learn new things. While I can't say that I learned a lot in the class, it opened my eyes to some different directions for my own photography. One thing that it did do was to force me to get out and take some pictures before the next class.

Bill
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Re: Your take on Photography Classes
Old 12-15-2005, 03:48 PM   #7 (permalink)
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[ QUOTE ]
It doesn't hurt to know things that we don't need to know, but we often resist learning when we can't see any immediate application of this knowledge. I took a basic photography course last September at the local community college. My original thought was that I might meet some like minded people that I could get to know. I had no preset expectations of what I expected to learn, just a desire to learn new things. While I can't say that I learned a lot in the class, it opened my eyes to some different directions for my own photography. One thing that it did do was to force me to get out and take some pictures before the next class.


[/ QUOTE ]

I know exactly what you mean, This past fall I took some continuing education classes, the first one was in photoshop, "since I knew nothing about photoshop", It was a good experince and after that class I went and took an intermediate photography class from the same instructor. Basically it was a critique class and how you might improve your photography. I found it helped me remember some things that were embedded in the back of my mind, that I hadn't forgot but had not used. Personnally I don't think a little refresher hurts every now and then.


Kenn
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I dunno ...
Old 12-15-2005, 07:09 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I dunno, a lot depends on where you currently are in photography and what you already know. For example, do you know what the inverse square law is? Do you understand the dynamic interrelationship between shutter and aperture? Do you know that that is? Do you fully understand basic photographic terms, ie focal point, point of focus, zone of focus, high key, low key, etc? If you don't, then a class in basic photography can give you a serious 'leg up'. Once any photographer fully grasps the basic concepts, then everything else is downhill.

As for the comment, "Skip the class, it's full of crap you'll never use!! (that's why on top end clients you use the pro lab, they'll color balance and correct clients images for you as long as you're exposure is with in range).", that just could not be more wrong and it goes a long way to explaining the current dumbing down of photography!
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Re: Your take on Photography Classes
Old 12-15-2005, 07:44 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I have attended several seminars, including a 1-day seminar/demo w/ Nancy Brown, a top commercial /people shooter from NYC. (Superb); a 2-day lighting on location seminar w/ Mr. KAufman, who shot with Sports Illustrated and worked for Playboy (Superb); and a few others. Also took a few classes through UCLA Extension, which varied in quality. I like the 1-2 day seminar/workshops. Much depends, though, on the individual--you have to study and think on your own, and be willing to learn from books and articles also. To my mind, the very best way to learn fast is to assist someone who is really good at the type of work you want to do.
 
 
Re: Get it right.
Old 12-15-2005, 09:06 PM   #10 (permalink)
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My grandfather used to tell me that a having a degree just meant that you have met the minimum requirements.

Bill
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