In order to find the best photography schools it is necessary to understand just what "best" means for you. It may be tempting to start this process with the thought that schools for photography that teach you how to take and process pictures are good enough.
But you should probably step back for a few minutes and decide just what it is you're after in the huge field of photography.
Professional photographers have many, many options! These include:
In addition to these choices, you should understand that the broad category of photography still includes film processing, black-and-white prints and other "old" technology.
With the expansion into the digital realm, photography has become an even broader field in which to work!
But it's really worth it. And with a solid "knowledge foundation" you can really have an exciting life-style! Just think about the globalization and the Internet - a real bargain for photographers. It's hard work but if you have a growing photography business you will receive job-offers from around the globe.
Myself shooting buildings on the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok
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Photography Art Schools
Opportunities to study photography as an art are plentiful, but you have to know where to look and what to look for.
You will probably find the curriculum at photography art schools a bit different from schools that focus on the technical side of this fascinating subject. You will find that photography is both art and science.
College for Photography
Before we dig into the specific places under the heading of college for photography, let's take a closer look at the two key words in this title.
What is a college? According to the encyclopedia, a college is an educational institution or a specific part of a larger university.
What is photography? In the most basic terms, photography is a process or an activity
that creates still pictures on film or electronic-image sensors.
Put the two together and you have a great opportunity to learn new skills or enhance skills you already have.
If you are really serious about a professional photography career it might be a good option going back to school. But please keep in mind that the best education is worthless if you do not practise what you've learned.
So, in the end the "school of life" will ultimately turn you into a savvy photographer!
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All of this might seem to confuse the issue a bit but it is important to know just what your goals are when you start to look for the best photography schools.
There are excellent art schools and institutes that offer courses limited to photography, painting and sculpture, all with a focus on a high level of work that can be displayed publicly.
In this category you will find the New York School of Photography, the Rhode Island School of Design, the Art Institute of Philadelphia and many others.
These photography schools can be a bit exclusive and are very selective when admitting students. Not only that, they tend to have higher tuition costs than other art/photography schools in smaller cities.
It wasn't easy. Really. But I learned so much and I would have never been successful without my studies at Munich's University of Applied Sciences.
Schools that might rival these specialty institutions include larger universities and established colleges. Many of these fine schools offer detailed study in the field of photography, many under the school-of-art banner.
In some cases, these universities and colleges have slightly lower costs, though this isn't always the case. State-supported schools will often have lower tuition levels whether you are studying photography, science, English or another field.
It's difficult to get into all types of colleges and art schools that offer photography programs but an overview of the subject should mention technical schools and associate-degree programs.
These schools cost much less to attend and may focus on the chemistry and computer-science area of photography more than an art school will. Yet they can provide a solid foundation for a person planning to work in the field.
It's probably a good time for you to narrow your choices a bit by focusing on the specific type of photography you will be practicing.
The Brooks School of Photography in California has a particular interest in students who want to pursue video photography and motion-picture production.
Chicago's Art Institute has a solid reputation for several sections of the photography field, though fine-art photography is particularly strong there.
To repeat, this level of study can be very competitive. The pressure to produce top-level work might create too much stress for some individuals.
But the completion of a course of study at one of these prestigious schools may carry a lot of "weight" when you enter the real world.
If you are primarily interested in the technical side of the field and will probably work in the studio-portrait area you may be better off attending one of the smaller technical schools or a community college with a solid reputation.
You may have to take a few more general-education classes at these schools but the complete education should serve you well when you start your own photography business.
As you consider the best photography schools, give some thought to whether you will need a degree in this field of work. In some cases this degree will help open doors to employment, especially if you are going to work for an advertising agency or corporation.
You may feel you already have a great eye for images that need to be captured as well as a mind that can create the best vision for your clients and customers. Combine this with a solid basis in camera technology and you should be on your way. But there's one hitch in this line of thinking.
Classroom in Munich's University of Applied Sciences
Many individuals have these skills and may have more experience than you. Ask yourself if a degree will help you get started. If so, you may want to look at schools and institutes that carry a strong reputation.
Certificates and degrees from these schools could easily be considered "best" when it comes time to secure a position.
Quite literally, good photography schools are nearly everywhere around the world!
We've already mentioned the Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, California. The Art Institute in Denver, Colorado is an appealing choice as well.
If you want to attend photography school in the Midwestern United States try the Harrington College of Design in Chicago or the Illinois Institute of Art.
There are excellent schools in nearly every U.S. state. Of course, you will have to consider location when making your choice of the best photography schools because of travel time and costs.
Some locations, such as New England and the Southwest (Arizona and New Mexico) offer short-term study, individual courses and workshops that you can use to structure your own study path.
You may want to think about studying at a school in another country. There are excellent schools in many European cities as well as in other countries.
While the travel expense might be prohibitive at first and you might feel separated from family and friends the nature of study in another culture might serve you well later. For example, the Darkroom International School of Photography is located in Florence, Italy. FAMU is located in the Czech Republic.
Be specific when you start researching the best photography schools. Talk with your teachers, instructors at an area college or a professional photographer that works locally.
These individuals may have some excellent suggestions and could help you cut down the time it takes to find the right school.
When you come across the money question remember that paying a little more now for the best photography schools could pay off in your career...