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The Breakdown

Photographers capture moments. Their images give weight to memories and movements. They allow for reflection and awe, laughter and tears. Should you decide to study photography, you will join a lush community of artists who use images to tell complex and varied stories.

As a photography major, you’ll learn to fine tune your critical eye and sharpen your technical skills. Further, over the course of your education, you will develop and hone your artistic identity and point of view. You will master different formats and lighting techniques and likely work with both analog and digital equipment and technology. In addition to practical, hands-on work, many photography departments round out their curriculums with classes in history, theory and critique. Finally, it’s advantageous to look for schools which either require or help to arrange internships for their students.

Obviously as a photographer, you will need a good sense of composition. Of course, just as important, are sharp observational skills and anticipation for the moment. At times, it will also be crucial for you to maintain a sense of objectivity, detaching yourself from a scene in order to appropriately (or best) photograph it. Lastly, patience is definitely a virtue in this discipline; you’ll come to understand that it might take awhile to get that perfect shot.

Nuts and Bolts

Photography departments typically offer classes such as: History of Photography, Introduction to the Principles of Photography, Introduction to Digital Imaging, Photography on Assignment, Photo Critique, Advertising Photography with Medium Format, Large Format Photography, Lighting Principles, Digital Darkroom, Foundations of Color, Photoshop for Photographers, Re-touching/Pre-Press Solutions and Logistics of Location Photography.

Decisions, Decisions

Students mulling over the idea of majoring in photography might also want to consider studying journalism, film/television/video, graphic design, digital media, communications, art history, video game design, advertising or printmaking.

What's Next

Surely many photography majors hope to combine their vocation and avocation, pursuing a career as a photographer. And from advertising and fashion to photojournalism and fine art, there are many industries and avenues in which budding photographers can make their mark. However, competition to land that Fashion Week gig or cover a story for National Geographic can be fierce. Many photographers also make ends meet by shooting events (like weddings), doing product shots for catalogues or through portrait photography. Additionally, some photography majors parlay their experience and interest into positions with art galleries or find work as a photo editor for various newspapers or magazines. Still others might seek employment working for camera or film companies in product development. Finally, a handful of majors might take their passion for the image and transition into film or video work.


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Don Munce