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Education Considerations For Photographers

A rant by Ted Forbes.

By explaining why he finally decided to quit his job as a professor of photography,
he shines light on why you might not want to be quick in finding tuition to start paying off.

From my personal experience…
A couple short years ago, I was considering going to one of Chicago’s best schools for photography.  In fact, I’d gone through an entire process and had found myself at Student Orientation one night shortly thereafter.  A loan had been ordered up from the bank and you could say that I had officially taken the first step towards higher education and the attainment of a diploma.  Anyway, during the event, I was meeting with those who were to be my professors.  One had said to me, “you know, you seem like you’re set on what you’re after – you remind me of one of our recent grads.”  He went on to talk about how this former student of his was ambitious and driven and celebrated among his peers and teachers.  And apparently all of those qualities were evident throughout his body of work upon and even before graduation.  While I appreciated the compliments, I thought I was already bought and paid for and couldn’t understand why this dude was trying to make me feel like I belonged.  After asking to see some work of said graduate, I was taken to an office adjacent to the school’s lobby only to find that the stored-away prints didn’t impress me one bit.  To me, they were the result of a once-hopeful artist who’d fallen deep down the hole of the conventional education system.  It was evident to me that he was taught by professors who simply lacked in many aspects of teaching the craft.  Suffice to say, the bank got a call from me the next morning and was asked to retract the loan.  Since then, I’ve been proud to be able to tell anyone interested that I’m a self taught photographer.  It’s due to my love and enthusiasm for what I do that I’ve persevered and have done so without a diploma or connections.  It goes to show that anything is possible.

My main point is that you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to if you’re passionate.  If not, or if you allow yourself to become another college burnout, you’re getting nowhere fast.  A $100,000 education will hardly help you stay active, find you work or bring accolades your way.  But with an open mind and constant interest in learning and pursuit of self improvement, you can do anything.  Just like money can’t buy taste (thankfully), it can’t and won’t buy you clients or notoriety.

Anyway, my hope is that after these two rants, his spoken and mine written, that I’ve helped aid in the enlightenment of someone out there who’s confused about the route to take as an aspiring artist.  Remember that you always have options and don’t let anyone ever try to convince you otherwise.  Never do something only because you think you’re obligated to do it or because it’s the way it’s always been done.  Conventionalism can spell an ugly reality for you if you let it.  Think free and be free.

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