Should You Seek Formal Training to Become a Professional Photographer?

When starting out in your dream hobby and wanting to turn it into a career the belief that formal training is a requirement can delay any further progress, whereas, sometimes you might just need to get out into the world and experiment. Let's explore further ... 

Formal training in photography.

Formal studies in photography

There are many mainstream courses offering photography studies at universities such as New York Film Academy, Providence College, John Brown University and a multitude of others.

I wouldn’t discount additional studies into the art of photography, because learning and upskilling will always improve your technical abilities and help you see the bigger picture in creative ways that you hadn’t discovered before. Plus, you get to speak with other enthusiasts and bounce ideas off each other. It is very important to meet others who have the same passion in the same field, because it makes you feel normal, in a world where creative industries can be looked upon as frivolous and ‘not as a serious career.’ When really, if you love it and you can earn an income from it, then you are in the best career of your life. Surround yourself with like-minded people and your zest for your world will be a higher performing platform then if you go out in it alone. But if you are in it alone, chasing your dream career with no support, remember this battle to prove that your passion is worth the chase, will over time show those around you, this brings meaning to your life.

Hands on experience in photography

On the other side of the spectrum, university isn’t always a requirement to become a photographer. Passion and drive are the driving force in making your hobby into a career.

If you found a professional photographer who was seeking an assistant and in return offered you a mentorship, this hands on training could push forward your photography career much quicker. As you make new contacts in the industry, plus receive invaluable experience in the field. Your confidence in your own talent will grow exceedingly as will your bank account. Plus, you have the present opportunity to network in your industry. This will help you tremendously when you decide to turn your passion into a career. 

Photographer Eric Rubens 

 Image via: www.pinterest.com 

Let us take a look at Eric Rubens work. He is in his twenties and his clients have included Jordan Board of Tourism, Colorado Board of Tourism, Mercedes Benz LLC, Red Carnation Hotels, BYU Television, Odina Surf, Sandmarc Action Gear and more. 

In terms of upskilling, Rubens admitted in his blog how landscape photography, his main focus started to become a little dull. 

“I've found landscape photography a little monotonous and felt like I needed an additional challenge in composing a shot. I'm starting to enjoy shooting people more and more. In my opinion, the challenge of using light and capturing emotion is much more challenging to me than exposing a landscape shot properly.” ~ Eric Rubens on challenging oneself to greater heights. 

Image via: instagify.com

It is important as a creative person that you always seek to push yourself to new heights. However, there comes a point where you start to feel trapped, where you don’t know how you can push past your current level. This is where professional training in an area you haven’t done before can help guide you to explore new pathways. For example, you may have experience in commercial photography, however you want to start experimenting on the side with wedding photography. A completely different industry and type of photography. Commercial photography requires to be catchy and noticeable. Something that draws a viewer immediately. However, wedding photography is much more personable, where you want the couple to connect with the lens in a way that has their love captured in the photographs. Therefore, it becomes incredibly important to always learn new skills, new ways of doing things and not being afraid that your current audience, fan base and clients will not like your new direction. 

I find that when I fear what others think but still go in that direction, I realize my fear was unfounded and people are happily surprised of my new work. It is a relief.

Image via: erubes1.tumblr.com

Rubens caption on Instagram, "You don't have to wait till the lights go out to dream."

What I like about Rubens work is to challenge himself instead of completely leaving aside landscape photography to try something new. He is adding an element to landscape photography, by adding in people. 

There will always be people who feel more comfortable with studying a subject first to understand the finer details. Plus wanting to experiment before being thrust into the big wide world and there are others who prefer to dive in head first and experience everything first hand, allowing them to follow their own path. Whichever path you choose, simply remember, this is your dreams and the journey is the attraction.

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