There aren’t too many stories I read online that I would say “Wow, that is the most ridiculous article with an amazing amount of absolute crap” as I have just now. The article was first published here and then I read it on PetaPixel here.
I recommend you read it before continuing to read this reply… And also read the comments on the PetaPixel article
OK.. So this gets me a little upset and I don’t think this is really an unusual stance taken on by the author Oliver Krumes. But what he is saying here is that he loved photography and he wanted to become a street photographer and in order to better his skills he decided to study photography and then goes on to list the reasons “Why You Shouldn’t Study Photography and What You Should Do Instead.”
First of all Oliver is a street photographer, and we have to make it clear at the get go that street photography is most often a passion as opposed to a money making venture. Sure, there are people who do make money from street photography, but more often than not street photography isn’t something too many people could earn a living from. It’s just the way it is
I did write something in reply to this article picking up on each point and why I disagreed with 97% of it but scrapped it after reading it thinking I would be better talking about my experience studying as a reply to this.. Debate.
I have been a professional photographer for the short time of around 5-6 years now and I did what the majority of people say not to do, I quit my job and started to make my own business as a “Pet Photographer”
I loved animals and I loved taking pictures of them. I also moved away from the city to a much smaller place that is around 1.5 hours drive from the city. I already had a camera, a bunch of lenses and flashes etc so I was ready to go. I thought that because I had been shooting my pets and my friends pets that this would be a piece of cake. Well it didn’t take long to figure out that that wasn’t the case.. It was extremely hard. Everyone had pets but everyone also had cameras and phones and getting anyone to fork out money for a picture of their pet was very hard work. I advertised in the paper, a sign on my car, spoke to people in the industry, I had a few clients but not enough to keep my self going.
My girlfriend suggested that I look into studying and I found a college that was in the city that was an online course with on-location workshops during the course. I signed up and in March of that year I was away. The course started out extremely basic and was a mix of theory and practical that was submitted to the college as a blog or a pdf. The topics were basic but I noticed I was still learning techniques and tricks as the course continued because I was asked to explain the why and the how. Things I took for granted but were the fundamentals of things such as focal length or light
As the course progressed, the topics became a little mundane to be honest… How to quote, how to network with potential clients, advanced use of image editing software and colour profiles, printing, and most importantly (but extremely boring at the time) a business plan. Things I really hadn’t put much thought into because I didn’t feel I had the need. The business plan was extremely important, it made me look at my market, my product, and my expectations and from the work I had done previous I totally changed my product from Pet Portraits to events and architecture.
At the same time some of the students, myself included started murmuring “this isn’t what I paid for.. I wanna do more shooting less talk” but we kept going. And while we studied these topics, as a class we were all in the same boat and comparing our stories and experiences and learning from that as well. Priceless
Once the boring (but really, really helpful) stuff was over we then were asked to create series’ of images that worked together, our lecturer was guiding us the whole way. We would state what our plan was, then go out and shoot it. My plan didn’t work out and the due date was running very close, I had to come up with something fast. I think because I was living in this course, this idea driven, inventive, creative space that we were in, I was able to talk to the lecturer and bounce an idea of him, defined the series and it worked out really great.
We studied photographers and composition which is just so important, people say things like say that “ah you don’t have to shoot everything using the Rule of Thirds” but it is important to know that they exist and when to use it... Figure to ground, converging lines, lighting techniques – the cause and effect. Some of these are basic and they can also be found on YouTube or books, but having the ability to discuss these topics with educated people, not people from flickr or 500px or especially Instagram is again… Priceless
So to cut a long story short, I received my Diploma and am now a professional photographer. I shoot corporate events, headshots and also do some architecture which I picked up from existing clients. After completing my course I am so much more confident in approaching a client or letting them know what my expert opinion is, discussing their needs and creating a result that they are happy with. As far as my photography business is concerned, sure I am shooting some boring things of course, but they have also granted me money and the time to focus on what I love to shoot or just to experiment. I still study a lot because I love photography, I love reading and continually learning because it’s fascinating
My 2 (more) cents…
Oliver I suggest you chose the wrong topic to study. If you want to be a street photographer and make money from it I suggest you get a small business certification and also study art. You cannot substitute a conversation with an educated person especially with some Instagram type medium.
No, you won’t hate photography if you allow yourself to learn. You will only get out of it what you put into it.
Yes it’s expensive, but you’re spending money on something you love to do
Having a great portfolio is great, no doubt but as Gregory Heisler says here a photography business more to do with relationships and business than just hitting a button..
No, you will not lose your own unique style, there is more chance of you gaining more techniques and bettering your style.. don’t be afraid to change
Yes you should go to exhibitions, and workshops and talk to photographers and go on photo walks even if you do study, these are not replacements
Decide what you want from photography and do whatever you can to suck it all up…
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