This is perhaps one of the most difficult decisions you may ever have to make regarding your photography. It can lay a great foundation or leave you frustrated and bewildered by all the terminology and rules. In order to make the right decision you need to consider several things. Let’s take a look at the courses.
1. Formal college or university courses.
Knowing what you want to do with your photography will determine whether you take this route. This leads to a major qualification and requires a significant investment of time, money and effort. But, the rewards are significant and the knowledge gained will result in great career opportunities. The bottom line is that you need to know at the beginning that you want to be a photographer. This is not the type of course you want to take in order to explore your options, unless you have lots of time and money.
2. Traditional correspondence courses.
This is the route I first followed at the beginning of my photographic learning curve. It was a process that was significantly shorter than the full-time college courses and possible part-time. I could study at my leisure, submit assignments and still work at my regular occupation. It was not time consuming and more of a leisure activity. The only down side was that it took time get assignments returned and see the results of my work because it was all done through the mail. The upside is that it doesn’t dominate your life like a full-time college course. You can put it on hold at any time then pick it up again within the time frame they give you.
3. Online courses
Now we are entering the exciting territory as there some great courses online.
The great thing about this method is that it’s electronic. You course material is internet based and your contact is done through e-mail. Submission of assignments is done through e-mail or uploading your images to a server. It’s far quicker than mail correspondence and contact with your lecturer is quick and easy. Another of this method is that a lot of the online courses have discussion forums where others can view your photos and give constructive criticism. Overall this is great value for money.
4. Self study books and manuals
If you’re a discipline person or limited financially then this route can also be a very profitable one. There are some great books and self study courses in manual form that are very practical and assignment based. Make sure that you are able to peruse the books online or download a sample copy so that you can see the contents and teaching format. You need to be comfortable with the teaching method and content. Check carefully before buying as some have added value by allowing you membership to a forum or e-mail support.
So you’ve decided which route you want to take but are not quite sure if what they are offering is right. Before you sign up make sure that you know the format, what you get for your money and whether it has assignments or practical course work. Key to any course is the practical side. If they don’t offer assignments or practical work then the course is not worth it. The same goes for books and self-study courses. You have to be taking photos frequently in order to apply the fundamentals and principles of photography. If you are not doing it as a practical outworking of the course then you really aren’t learning much and you’re wasting your money.
I recently wrote a book that focuses totally on practical assignments that allow you to evaluate your work and learn as you enjoy your hobby. Photography should be fun and this is the same for your learning experience. If it’s not fun then find another hobby.
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