Photography: Hands on vs Academic

by Lexa Pennington /
Lexa Pennington's picture
Apr 17, 2013 / 0 comments

Degrees in the field of photography can be used to access almost any industry. Whilst it isn't a primary job for these industries, it will still get you into the industry you are interested in. What do I mean by this? Simply put, almost every industry requires a photographer, either for advertising or on a daily use basis. You can become a photographer and work with weddings, businesses, or even work with the army as a photographer for advertising and archiving purposes.


Due to its highly versatile nature, photography has started to become a large hit with both the modern generation, as well as with photography schools and colleges who specialize in it. This means that there are more classes and studies available for the aspiring photographer to attend, and eventually, gain their qualification.



So, with photography as one of the dying few trades that can be learned 'on site' and trained in on the job, is a degree in photography worth the paper it's printed on? Here are a couple of ideas to help you contemplate what a photography degree will, or will not assist you in:





1. Proof of Dedication

This is the case with most degrees today, it's a sign that you are dedicated to that industry or career, as well as the fact that you can handle yourself through four years (more or less) of college and studying. The degree shows to employers that you are passionate about this subject, and as such, will put you in a better spot light for your interview.



2. Information

Whilst the hardcore scientific and mathematical academics may look as photography as a 'serious' degree to complete at college, they are happily oblivious to the science needed behind every picture taken. Photography is more than taking a snapshot and publishing it; the background planning and setting up in fact takes a lot more time than people usually think.





Karen Sheperdson, a principle lecturer at a popular university in the UK has argued that without a degree in photography, you do not receive the science behind each image, nor the technological theory. As such, on the job experience may very well be cutting you short of some vital to know information.





Does obtaining a degree grant you access to the best that photography can offer? Unfortunately not; still, photography can be based on skill as well as academia. This means that the potential competition is substantially more than if it was only accessible by academic students of the subject.





However, it has been argued by Karen Sheperdson that obtaining a degree can sheer off up to 10 years worth of otherwise necessary experience as a photographer assistant, which can lead to a faster career ladder to the well paid jobs, such as Portrait Artist or Wedding Photographer.




Showing talent in the form of experience and freelancing whilst studying can bring you the best of both worlds. Building up both your academic and hands on portfolio is highly recommended, so that when presented with an interview for a potential employer, you can show you have the skills required. This can give you a huge boost into the higher paying wage brackets that can be found in this industry.