OK. So you have a decent digital camera and you have decided that you want to make a living as a professional photographer. Or, you are moving into photography from a different field. Fine! What is your first step? Oh… you don’t know what to do next. You may have that fine arts degree in your hand from a fairly prestigious college. They taught you almost everything you know about photography, so why can’t you take your first step? Is it because at the top of all that newly-acquired learning, you weren’t taught how to make a living in your newly desired occupation? Sounds familiar.
Over the years I have been involved in many photography portfolio reviews, one-on-one sessions, and have come away from them wondering just what is being taught in our colleges and art schools to people who want to make a living in professional photography. At one review, I was even talking to a student whose professor was reviewing portfolios at the table behind me. When I asked the student for a “take away,” the student had no idea what I was talking about. I turned to the prof and asked him why his students didn’t know about a simple item to leave behind at portfolio reviews so the reviewer would have something by which to remember the photographer being reviewed. He simply shrugged his shoulders and indicated that it wasn’t in the curriculum. I wasn’t surprised. “Shame on you,” I admonished.
If you are a recent graduate from an arts-oriented school or have participated in a college-level photography course, I would like to know how your education into the world of photography has helped you become the photographer you are. Have you been taught everything you need to know to be able to bank that first paycheck? Is the real world of professional photography what you thought (or were taught) it would be?