General Question

iquanyin's avatar

Which would you do: apprentice with a working photographer, or do photography school?

Asked by iquanyin (363points) April 21st, 2009

i already have a degree and owe student loans. i already can take excellent photos (many agree). but i lack both equipment and many apects of the tech side. i don’t wanna rack up more debt yet school gives access to equipment and the learning is broader.

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24 Answers

May2689's avatar

I think its best to go to the school. As you said, the learning is broader.

bingoland's avatar

Photography school is probably the safe bet. but with the resources available, ie. internet sites, pod casts, libraries, etc. i believe all the information is possible for free. it will be more work though. also, it seems to me that all life is about people and making contacts so i would take that into account. good luck!

jbfletcherfan's avatar

Personally, I’d rather work with a photographer. That’s hands on learning. You can’t get any better than that. School is book learning. If it were me, I’d want the real deal.

Bagardbilla's avatar

Sounds like you already answered your question.
I was in the same situation as you… I went the route of assisting professional photographers. At first I did it for free in exchange for painting their studios, for hauling equipment, whatever, inexchange for them teaching me how to use various equipments, processes, and techniques. In so doing, within a few months I became indispensible to them, they started hiring me as a 2nd assistant, within six months of starting, I was 1st assistant. Point being why pay for an education by people who are no longer in the field… instead learn by doing it (and get paid in the process. Going to school you’ll only be paying to leave with a completed portifolio… you’ll still need to assist to gain practical experience.

willbrawn's avatar

Work with a photographer. Take workshops. Gain experience. People are not going to ask what school you went to. They are going to ask how many weddings you have shot and ask to see your port.

If you don’t mind. Post a link to your port.

iquanyin's avatar

wow. i’m new on this site. i’m impressed with the speed and quality of the answers! i’m inclined to assist, but figured it can’t hurt to hear what others think (a new concept to me). thank you so much. i’ll check on this to keep seeing the great answers.

Ivan's avatar

I vote school.

bpeoples's avatar

My thought, but has a lot to do with my background is to go to school, and then work with a photographer.

School gets you a broad perspective.
School gets you contacts (hopefully)
School gets you technical skill

Learning from one person gets you experience, gets you contacts, and gets you going. It’s a lot better to learn the background and then specifics, than it is to learn from one person and then expand that.

I guess, what you don’t learn from working with one person is what that person doesn’t know.

McHobbes's avatar

If the person you’re considering apprenticing with is an actual professional photographer (and preferably a long time professional) I would very much encourage you to apprentice. The person you apprentice under should be able to answer a lot of the questions you have, fill in any know-how blanks, give you very helpful “real-world” tips and tricks, and as an added bonus you won’t have to pay (and in many circumstances you may even get paid)!

James_Mal's avatar

I’d say go to a school. It would teach you much more, and cover a lot more. You’d probably be learning many different approaches, and get many different opinions. Photography is an art, and so learning different forms and getting different ideas would be great. I’d also like the social aspect of having other students there interested in the same topic as myself. My cousin did a short internship of about 3 months with a man in Wisconsin. He did enjoy the experience, but he’s now attending a school.

Just personal preference, but choose whatever you really think would suite your needs.

sakura's avatar

I’d say see if you can do both? Are there any night classes/shorter course you can go on to update your skills, and possibly shadow a photographer on a casual basis? Accompany them on particular shoots you are interested in.

willbrawn's avatar

Honestly I was going to attend the art institute here in Denver for photography. For the money I could buy all professional equpiment, a studio, pay for years of workshops, and books. I would attend classes but not get a degree that will not benefit you.

Bagardbilla's avatar

Sorry I should have clearified, do freelance assisting, that way you’ll be exposed to working with many different photographers, types of work (commercial, fine arts, portraits, weddings etc.), and hence styles, techniques, forms, and most importantly equipment!
This will also allow you develop your own likes/dislikes as well as style!
And by all means, SHOOT as much as possible, practice does/will make perfect.

figbash's avatar

Why not do both? Try school out during the week and then see if you can get a part-time internship / apprenticeship with a photographer a few days a week. This gives you the chance to test-drive the two approaches, bounce academic concepts against your mentor, and bring real-world experience into the classroom to share with other students.

While you’re getting hands-on experience in the apprenticeship and networking, start asking around about how valuable a degree is in the ‘real’ world. Then make your decision from there.

Knotmyday's avatar

Take a class if you need to learn the basics, but I learned the most awesome stuff just hanging around with professional photographers. You may not have that opportunity, so I recommend tapping into an online community. Here’s a Google search to get you started. Good luck!

Jack79's avatar

both are good
I think if the master photographer is nice, artistic, experienced and really willing to part knowledge (so basically you want a 64-year-old man who used to be top of the world 40 years ago), you can learn a lot more that way, and end up with a job and connections. But I think that’s so unusual that I’d go with the safer option of formal education, then take it from there.

iquanyin's avatar

@knotmyday special thx for putting a link in. that was thoughtful. : )

iquanyin's avatar

what outstanding answers! if i could use just one site, ever, this one now leaps over google, twitter, etc. a bit of background: i became a freelance editor in the past. how? my capstone project (to get B.A.) boss was friends with a top editor who just briefly was into mentoring. it was “who” (+ aptitude & hard work) ... yet i’d not have met her w/o school. the “both“idea is my kinda style! but my situation is complex. time is a consideration. again: i’m bowled over at the amazing fluther community! wow!

iquanyin's avatar

also: recent theft has me down to iphone only connection. hopefully i won’t get modded for eschewing caps for a time. sigh.

iquanyin's avatar

btw: i’d be interested to know if ppl answering were working or teaching in the field. but you don’t gotta say, of course ; )

Jack79's avatar

I studied photography at university, but never followed it professionally. It was fun though. My last girlfriend is a professional art photographer, with worldwide exhibitions and so on (and took the pic in my avatar too).

Knotmyday's avatar

working. I write more than I shoot these days, though.

iquanyin's avatar

thanks to ppl giving their status. i was trying to get a feel for how much personal path influenced answers—if i did—and if so in which direction.

iquanyin's avatar

finally started on replacing the 200-plus actually good photos i lost last fall. a bunch of life circumstances, including illness, buglary of all i owned except my iphone, a move back with my family on the mainland, etc, made it take forever. if anyone wants to take a look,

thanks again for the wonderful response

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