Sunday, January 05, 2014

Doctor of Photographicology?

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Wizard of Oz
        Why, anybody can have a camera. That's a very mediocre commodity. Every pusillanimous 
        creature that crawls on the earth or slinks through slimy seas has a camera! Back where I 
        come from we have universities, seats of great learning, where photographers go to become 
        great photographers. When they come out, they take great photographs with no better camera 
        than you have. But they have one thing you haven't got: A degree! Therefore, by virtue of 
        the authority vested in me by the Universitatus Committeeatum E Pluribus Unum I hereby 
        confer upon you the honorary degree of Ph.D.


Wizard of Oz
       Doctor of Photographicology.

Okay, maybe I doctored the dialogue a bit.  (Pun intended.) Perhaps I even doctored it a bit more than a bit?  But I think it works nicely -- dare I say cleverly? -- as an intro to this update about (if you haven't already guessed) photography degrees.

Please don't get me wrong. I'm all for higher education. I'm a huge supporter of higher education. I've even pursued some higher education myself. And I've encouraged my children to do the same. But I keep seeing many ads hawking schools that offer degrees in photography -- some excellent schools and some of dubious credentials -- and while I'm not putting down anyone who has or is pursuing a degree in photography, what will that degree do for you? Is there a single job in the world of professional photography that requires applicants to have degrees in photography?

I know actors with degrees in theater. I know film-makers with degrees in film-making. I know photographers with degrees in photography. But I don't know any with degrees in any of those fields of study that have turned their degrees into jobs, that is, actual paying acting jobs, film-making jobs, or photography jobs.

I'm not saying their formal educations, their paper chases, didn't help them in whatever careers they pursued, including careers that matched, directly or indirectly, their university degrees. But none of them, not one, regardless of the Wizard's proclamation to the Scarecrow about seats of great learning and degrees, needed that piece of paper, that officially-bestowed degree, to land or pursue their careers as actors, film-makers, or photographers.

Personally, if I were going to pursue an actual degree in photography, and I have thought about doing so a few times in my life, it would be purely for personal satisfaction. It would represent a challenge with a personal reward, the degree, as its goal. It would look good on my wall and might even come with a few bragging rights. But would it score me any photography jobs? I doubt it.  In fact, I'm nearly positive it would not. It might help me be better able -- through knowledge, education, and more -- to pursue a photography career but, bottom line, as photographers we are judged by our photos, period, and not our educations.

Anyway, as usual I'm just saying.

The freckled-faced, ginger-haired, pretty girl triptych at the top is Faye in her pink polka-dot dress. This set, and a couple of others we shot that night, were all shot for fun. No client parted with any money in the production of these images. These particular images were shot on the walkway right outside her apartment's door. In total, I shot 11 frames with the pink dress. When you know you've got the shot(s) what's the point of shooting more? Even though we were shooting for funzies, and shooting with Faye is always a blast, we had some other stuff we wanted to shoot. i.e., some interior images. Plus, a few of Faye's neighbors were getting a little too nosy.

I used two lights for the set above: A 500ws main light (monobloc) modified with either a 24" or 30" diameter shoot-thru umbrella (can't remember exactly which one but it was a small-ish shoot-thru)  and a bare bulb 300ws back light set about 20' behind her. I'm pretty sure I had a honeycomb grid on the bare bulb. I used my Canon 85mm f/1.8 prime on my 5D classic. All three were snapped ISO 100 and in and around f/2.8 to keep the BG soft. Not a whole heck-of-a lot of processing on any of them, although I did punch up her hair a little (color-wise) and accentuated the freckles a bit. I love Faye's freckles!


Bill Giles said...

I think that photography schools may be able to help with the business of photography and with certain aspects of photography, but they can't make you a photographer. If you don't have the eye, no amount of class room work will make you a photographer. It might make you a better photographer.

Jim Photoman said...

As a photographer with an earned doctorate (not in Photographicology), I agree in taking a course of study because you want to. All that being said, the photography class (for college credit) I took in the Army taught me the basic of good photography (it was there that I learned about the rule of thirds). Plus, it was great to parade before the promotion board for E-5. You're right, it didn't make me a photographer but did make me a better photographer.

Paps said...

Them freckles... (sigh)

Ok, before the internets only internships and education gave you access to information, people and the ability to develop the range of skills one needs to stay in business (whichever business that is).

Mmmmmmmh freckles...

Fast forward to today: the playing field is more leveled. Tools have become cheaper and information and people are available at a click of the mouse.

So... (damned those freckles) ... I agree you succeed without a diploma. Just make sure to develop all the skills, not just the camera skills.

BTW: I would become nosy too if you were shooting my next door neighboor ;)