In a world of selfies and camera apps, few recognize the theoretical knowledge and technical skill required to capture the beautiful images seen in today’s advertisements, magazines, newspapers and art exhibits. Photography is a demanding field that requires a whole lot more than the perfect filter on Instagram. Although some photography enthusiasts are blessed with natural talent, all must learn to hone their abilities through coursework, apprenticeships or internships. For many aspiring photographers, the best path to a successful career starts with a solid education from a reputable institution.
Choosing A Photography School
A wide array of photography programs are available, with many featuring focused curricula surrounding fashion photography, commercial photography, photojournalism and even forensic photography. All levels of education are represented, including certificates, associate’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees and graduate studies. When choosing between the many available photography education options, it is important for students to determine which level of schooling they require and whether they intend to take general photography courses or specialize in a specific genre. The reputation of the school is also worth considering, particularly for those involved in bachelor’s and master’s program. Finally, students should determine how much time they would like to spend in the classroom as opposed to out in the field, as some programs place more of an emphasis on practical experience than others.
Photography Schools In The United States
Photography schools are abundant in the United States, with nearly every school of art, design or technology featuring a full-fledged photography program. Highlighted below are a few of the most respected photography programs in America:
- Rochester Institute of Technology – The School of Photographic Arts and Sciences at the Rochester Institute of Technology features both undergraduate and graduate photography programs. Practical experience is valued greatly here, with students shooting their own images from day one.
- California Institute of the Arts – The Photography and Media program at the California Institute of the Arts aims to expose students to a wide array of genres. Additionally, photographers are challenged to question the conventional notions of art to which they have been previously exposed.
- Rhode Island School of Art and Design – The photography program at the Rhode Island School of Art and Design is over fifty years old. During that time, this program has remained at the forefront of the rapidly changing photography industry. Recent curriculum changes and facility renovations have allowed students to place a greater focus on the increasingly important world of digital imaging.
Photography Schools In Europe
Students interested in studying photography in conjunction with a fine arts curriculum are encouraged to enroll at one of Europe’s fine universities. Many of the top photography programs in Europe emphasize photography as an art form, as opposed to a purely commercial medium. However, commercial photography programs are also abundant in Europe.
- University of the Arts London — The University of the Arts’ College of Communication has an excellent photography program. Students at this respected school focus on the application of classroom theory and research to practical photography experience. Collaborations between students, staff and industry insiders are common and highly encouraged.
- Gerrit Rietveld Academie – Located in Amsterdam, the Gerrit Rietveld Academie is known for its top-notch photography program, which promotes the development of each student’s personal artistic style. Self-reflecting is encouraged, as is regular discussion with other aspiring photographers.
- Köln International School of Design – At the Köln International School of Design, students take a hands-on approach to photography education, exploring the theories they’ve learned in class out in the real world.
International Photography Schools
Once believed to be the domain of Europe and the United States, photography is flourishing in several other regions. Today, many of the best and brightest photography schools are located in Asia, South America, Africa and Australia. The following are just a few of the available international photography school options:
- Tokyo Zokei University – A prominent four-year private art school, Tokyo Zokei University’s Department of Design boasts an impressive photography program. Students learn about the medium’s intriguing history, as well as new developments in digital technology.
- Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University – The strong photography program at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University places a unique emphasis on documentary photography. Other highlighted genres include automotive, digital illustration, still life, fashion and industrial, among others.
- Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul – Porto Alegre’s federal university is home to the acclaimed Photography Center, which focuses on in-depth research and the integration of photography with other subjects.
- Academy of Design – The Filmmaking and Photography program at Australia’s Academy of Design allows students to explore still and motion imagery, making it an excellent course of study for those interested in both disciplines.
Fashion Photography Schools
Traditionally reserved for use in advertising, fashion photography has expanded far beyond being the sole domain of Vogue andVanity Fair. Today, this photography genre is an art form in its own right. That being said, many students continue to pursue fashion photography in hopes of one day being the next Mario Testino or Annie Leibovitz. This goal is well within reach for those who attend one of the following acclaimed fashion photography schools:
- Accademia Italiana – Those interested in pursuing a career in fashion photography are encouraged to attend the Accademia Italiana, one of the most prestigious fashion universities in the world. Italian and English language programs are available for photography students, with the English version accredited through the United Kingdom’s Nottingham Trent University.
- School Of Visual Arts – New York City’s School of Visual Arts has an esteemed fashion photography graduate program, which makes great use of the many resources available in a city generally regarded as the world’s fashion capital.
- Fashion Institute of Technology — Another excellent photography school based in New York City, the Fashion Institute of Technology teaches photography students to explore the story behind each picture. Many students enrolled in this program choose to focus on fashion photography, although photojournalism and fine art photography courses are also available.
Forensic Photography Schools
The accurate recreation of a crime or accident scene is an absolutely essential part of the investigation process. Those who study forensic photography come away from their college programs equipped to help investigators, judges and members of the jury as they strive to resolve complex criminal cases. Forensic photography programs are rare, which is why many students choose to either focus on forensics or photography, taking courses that combine the two when they are available.
- Maples Center for Forensic Medicine – The Forensic Photography Workshop at the Maples Center for Forensic Medicine explores photographic documentation techniques for everything from gunshot wounds to bite marks.
- North Carolina State University – The Forensic Sciences Institute at North Carolina State University offers both a Forensic Image Processing Workshop and a Forensic Photography Workshop. Both workshops provide a combination of classroom training and hands-on practice.
A form of journalism focused on visual media, photojournalism involves an incredibly strict ethical framework by which professionals must abide. Although many aspiring photojournalists pursue double majors in photography and journalism, a dedicated photojournalism program may be preferable for those interested in further exploring the ethical considerations of this demanding field.
- Missouri School of Journalism – The integration of still photography with audio and video elements is explored in detail at the Missouri School of Journalism, as the photojournalism program’s goal is to thoroughly prepare students for work in an industry that increasingly focuses on multimedia displays.
- University of California Berkeley — Graduate students at UC Berkeley’s School of Journalism have the option of specializing in photojournalism. Available courses include News Photography and Visual Storytelling.