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Getting into Photography Schools
Your artistic vision may be strong, but that alone isn't enough to catapult you into the highest rank of professional photographers. You'll need to hone skills that require more training and experience than raw talent and intuition: the technical aspects of different cameras and photoediting software, the tricky business of reeling in new customers and understanding their needs, the ability to refine your natural artistic impulses and make them marketable. A professional photographer's work begins long before picking up the camera and doesn't end until long after putting it down; there are aspects of the career that you will need to pick up elsewhere.
Photography schools are the perfect place for this. Within an environment of fellow enthusiastic photography students and teachers with expertise in the subject they're teaching, you are in the position to mature your artistic abilities. Here's how to boost your chances of getting in!
If you're shooting pictures and holding onto your camera almost 24/7, don't forget to zoom in on your academics for a moment. High schoolers, can't ignore the decent grades and test scores necessary for graduating. For all others, a high school diploma or GED is a necessary prerequisite in most cases. Check out your specific school's policy on prior academic history.
"Somewhere in the world is the world's worst doctor. And someone has an appointment with him tomorrow." - George Carlin
George had a point about that - somewhere there IS the worst doctor. What makes that person so bad? Probably has to do with education. Find Your Art School is in the business of helping you find the best education for you. Going to one of the best photography degree programs will pay off in dividends within 5 years, as you'll start in a position that has more upside. We know the top interior design classes are not always the ones you were expecting, and that the best fashion design colleges to go to if you want more art schools than trade schools. We can tell you what to consider about location when it comes to our list of top film degree programs. We've dated and had long, messy break-ups with people in both California fashion schools and best graphic design schools. Location plays a surprising role for the top performing arts colleges. What does it take to get into the best architecture degree programs? Gaming designers are the new rock stars. Go to one of the top game design schools and be at the top of the game.
Thanks to the rapidly-blossoming popularly of photography, more and more photography classes are being offered within high schools. Taking a photography course or two before you apply for college is a strong sign of interest. Don't be satisfied for that single Photography 101 class that's on the curriculum, however. Photographers are also artists and social commentators, so take other courses that reflect that. Art classes and computer classes will broaden your perspective, but if you specialize in shots of old architecture, then why not a European history course?
Look far and wide for options to enhance your photographic abilities. A community college or university might offer summer photography classes, and workshops by professionals are always a good way to pick up tips as well as connections. Proving your thirst to constantly expand your horizons is something schools will look for in a photographer with potential.
For the aspiring photographer, practical experience is relatively easy to come by. Securing a job at a local portrait studio, becoming an assistant to a successful freelancer, or even working with a high school newspaper are all obvious ways to go about padding your resume. But why not try thinking outside of the box as well? Using your innate creativity, you can try submitting your work to a local gallery or a magazine contest. Perhaps you can sell prints and originals at an art festival or online. Getting your name in print somewhere is a great indicator of solid practical experience.
If you've narrowed down your search to one particular photography program, then let them know that you want to be there! Visit the school if at all possible, send in examples of your past work, email the head of the department, call the admission office, do whatever it takes to get them to remember you and your passion for their school. You don't need to go overboard with this, but if you truly care, then there's no reason to hide the fact.
This is an obvious bit of advice, but it's as invaluable as it is oft-repeated. Application deadlines, test deadlines, and portfolio deadlines are something to always keep tabs on. It's a bit more complicated for an aspiring photography student, because you will probably be asked to supply examples of your work, either digitally or in print. Keep shipping speeds in mind, and check your email or voicemail frequently to make sure that you don't fall behind on requests from your prospective school. There's nothing worse than putting together a strong application, only to realize that it was due yesterday.
Following this advice will give you a strong framework around which to craft your photography school education. But different schools will have their own unique requirements (and, of course, deadlines!), so do a good amount of research about them ahead of time.