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Why You Shouldn’t Study Photography and What You Should Do Instead



So, you are an aspiring street photographer? Street photography has become an important part of your life, and now you want to shift your passion to the next level and want to study Photography? Forget about it. I had exactly the same thoughts a few years ago. Here are the reasons from my personal point of view that changed my mind.

1. You will begin to hate photography

A few years ago, I studied two semesters at a private photography school here in Berlin. After the first excitement of being a “real photography student” and an upcoming “professional” photographer, I began to struggle with the decision to study at a photography school.

My fellow students were great and made interesting and inspiring work and I had mostly good professors, but there was a problem: photography had become a kind of work for me. It wasn’t as fun as it used to be anymore. I had to fulfill photography projects (that mostly came from the profs’ minds) that became boring after a time, but I wasn’t able to switch gears and choose other ones—if I did that I would have failed.

After a year I felt that all the fun I used to have in photography was gone, so I gave up my studies and never regretted it.

2. It’s really expensive

Studying photography is expensive; studying photography at a private school is super expensive.

My photography school had fees of 350 Euro a month. If you sum it up to a normal study period of 4 years plus extra fees, that’s over 15,000 Euro! Just imagine what you could buy instead. An awesome camera like the Leica Q and many, many photography trips around the world.

You will benefit far more from these things if you manage it to photograph on a regular basis.

3. It’s not what you really want

Most people who are thinking of studying photography imagine that it will help them to get a better job as a photographer, and they will meet extraordinary photographers to learn from. But that’s simply not true.

To get a good job as a photographer you just need an awesome portfolio. Make photos on a regular basis, and your portfolio will grow and become better and better. That’s all you need.

If you want to meet interesting photographers, contact them via Facebook or their websites. Treat them to coffee and talk about his or her photography. This will help you far more than any photography seminar, and will cost you just a few bucks.

4. You will lose your own, unique style

Most photography schools tell you that they will help you to find your own style, but I don’t think that’s true. The fact is, you will have to adapt to the style of your teachers in order to please them.

In my year at the photography school, one teacher always told me the photos he liked most were the same ones I found to be mediocre or boring, and recommended that I scrap the photos I loved most. That made me lose faith in my own discernment.

So, what should you do instead?

This isn’t groundbreaking advice, but there’s a reason you’ve probably heard these things many times:

  • Make photos for at least one year on a daily basis. Always have your camera with you.
  • Buy photography books. Books are great teachers
  • Use platforms like 500px or Instagram to get other photographers’ opinions
  • Meet fellow street photographers and hang out together and learn from each other. Or find a collective like mine and my fellow Berlin street photographer friends’ Berlin1020 collective
  • Attend workshops. There are so many great photography teachers out there. One 3-day-workshop is cheaper than one month at a photography school, and you will often learn more. And meet other peers!
  • Go to exhibitions in your city. Have a coffee with the artists.
  • Travel. Find photography challenges in other countries with other languages, habits, and people. Meet other street photographers and let them show you their favorite street photography spots.
  • Use Youtube tutorials

There are so many ways to become a good photographer and meet other interesting photographers. You definitely don’t have to spent a fortune on a photography school. Always remember: Everyone you meet and everything you experience can be your teacher.

About the author: Oliver Krumes is a Berlin-based photographer and member of the berlin1020 street photography collective. The opinions in this post are solely those of the author. To see more of Oliver’s work, head over to his website or give him a follow on Instagram. This article was also published here.