If you have been paying attention, you have noticed works of great self-taught photographers such as Ansel Adams and Steve McCurry. This goes out to show that learning the photography ropes by yourself is not impossible. But then again, self-taught photography is also not an easy road to tread on. It comes with its own set of great moments as well as challenges. The same goes for schooled photography. You cannot say that it is a total waste of time as it has produced so many great photographers as well. This brings us to the million dollar question, what path should an aspiring photographer take? Schooled or self-taught photography? By exploring the important aspects of learning photography, we let you decide!
Connections With Other Photographers
Meeting and interacting with other photographers professional ones especially, sharpens your photography skills immensely. It enables you to see different styles of photography from others as well as helps in identifying a mentor fast. Schooled photography offers tons of interacting and connecting moments with other students especially. A good school will even have a successful photographer mentor you either individually or in groups. It simply opens up doors to meeting many other photographers, budding and pros alike, which is really important.
When it comes to self-taught photography, getting a mentor or meeting other photographers is a real task. Fine, you may meet up or share ideas through social media, but that seldom works out and it definitely does not beat a face to face, hands on connection.
Learning PhotographyDeveloping Your Own Style
This is another important aspect of learning photography that many struggle with. There is no fun in being told that your style is similar to that of another artist. This is pretty much any photographer’s worst nightmare. Unfortunately, with all the mentoring and spoon feeding schooled photography comes with, adopting the style of your tutor is not a rare thing. It, therefore, requires a lot of work and practice in order to get your style as opposed to learning by yourself.
Learning PhotographyThe Time It Takes To Learn
Nobody wants to stay a student forever. At some point, you have got to use the skills you have learned. Probably sooner rather than later. Most photography classes are about two years. Some are short courses that take as short as three months. The best part is the hands on approach which allows you to grasp things faster. The thing with self-taught photography you can easily get lost, especially without a mentor to hold your hand through the process. This mostly pertains to learning the lenses and different camera settings and angles. Most people might argue it’s faster to read and learn by yourself but finding trustworthy material can be a challenge. My two cents is, better a long duration of correct learning than a short one full of uncertainties.
Learning PhotographyTools And Resources At Your Disposal
Fortunately or unfortunately, photography learning requires a whole lot of tools and resources. This pertains to different lenses, a decent camera and of course reading material. You simply can’t read a book and start taking great pictures. A lot of practice is required. Schools often have tons of resources at your disposal as well as tools. If a camera won’t be provided for you, buying one is usually compulsory. This allows you to practice a lot more and experiment. For this to happen when it comes to self-taught photography, you need to either have a person who can lend you some tools or be well prepared financially.
For any budding artist to blossom, critics are crucial. They often tell you as it is which helps you improve your work. Going to school gets you out of your comfort zone by interacting with other photographers and criticizing each other’s work. It gets even better when a professional does the criticizing. Better yet, you learn how to talk about your work and take criticism.
Many will say that self-taught photography also affords you online critics. True, but how honest are those reviews? Most of the time your critics are people who know you so it is sugar coated and the other times, just haters who don’t even care for your work. This is not to say that you can’t find some positive critics, they are there just make sure they are photographers as well.
Learning PhotographyParting Shot
When it comes down to it, photography, just like any art or skill in life thrives on desire to learn and passion. Whether you are self-taught or schooled, without the two it just won’t work. Nonetheless, I think it’s safe to say that some type of guidance when learning anything, photography included, goes a long way. So, even if you chose to learn photography by yourself, find a mentor to guide you through it. Most great self-taught photographers had one. Also, choose specific reading material and stick to it. Switching books too often is likely to confuse you. Just make sure it is great.