1. GatoAzul1968

    GatoAzul1968

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    Has anyone of you ever take FdA or BA or even HNC/D Photography course? If so, how did you get on with it ?

    I am in my 7th week, but I find it TOTALLY waste of time and money! Too much art-related theory and not enough practical. We didn't even had a single lesson of how to make better photography, or how to make a beautiful photography - for example composition. Total, we had 3 days of practical lessons - all of them portrait photography. 1 lesson on Photoshop, 1 lesson on Premiere Pro (filmmaking) and 1 lesson on InDesign - in 7 weeks!!! I was given 3 projects to be handed out by 21st January, 2 of them based on art-related projects.

    I do not want to spend the next 2-3 years realizing it is a waste of time and money ?!!!

    I would like to hear the feedback from past students who have taken that route and if they had really learnt to become a better photographers???
     
  2. ancient_mariner

    ancient_mariner

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    I suspect they're trying to et you to see pictures, rather than teach you the mechanics of photography.Whether that's a waste of time or not is debatable.
     
  3. Furtim

    Furtim

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    I did some with the OCA, towards a BA, never finished - too rich for me in terms of cash out the door, but it mirrors your experience. As Toni say's it's about teaching you to see and critically think rather than how to take an actual photo. I probably started expecting the latter, but actually quite enjoyed the former - after all, you can measure mastering the physical act of taking of a photograph in hours, but mastering what you take that photo of will take years :)
     
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  4. PhilH04

    PhilH04

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    It has been many years since I started my photographic education (1971 in fact) back then I attended college full time for three years to gain my C&G 744 and IIP intermediate, the content for those two exams and qualifications was based on the practical and theoretical side of photography. After working in the industry for a couple of years I decided I wanted to further my education and successfully completed a BA(Hons) course and even back then the BA course was more about the aesthetics and art involved in photography. I actually enjoyed the degree course more than the more heavily practical based college course.... I believe both were important and both played their part in my formative years as a photographer (I have of course forgotten nearly all I was taught)
     
  5. john.margetts

    john.margetts

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    [QUOTE="GatoAzul1968, post: 8304052, member: 58712]and if they had really learnt to become a better photographers???[/QUOTE]You can only become a better photographer by understanding the concept of pictures. Making pictures is art - it does not matter if you use watercolour, oil paints, pencils, charcoal or a camera. If you took a fine art degree, they would teach you how to hold a pencil but that would only be ten minutes out of the three years - that is the drawing equivalent of using a camera. If you are not actually interested in the art of making pictures, then I doubt the course will be for you.
     
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  6. Lindsay56

    Lindsay56

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    My ex-wife took a BA in Media Production back in 1999-2002 at Plymouth (Art College or St Johns, can't recall) - students had to choose between film or photography, she did the latter. I wasn't very involved in seeing what she did but it did seem very practical. They were often doing practical assignments to produce to a commission/theme, a lot was about the presentation of their work for sale/exhibition, and the final dissertation was to produce either a short film or a photographic book. Sounds like that would have suited the OP better. I recall the course did include a bit of early Photoshopping but was mostly concerned with actual film as she did a lot of work in the college darkrooms, and produced some fine hard copy (even sold one at the college end of course exhibition)
     
  7. myotis

    myotis

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    I have no experience of doing photography degrees, but I strongly suggest you speak to your personal tutor and discuss how you feel, how the course will develop over the next couple of years, and on what you are hoping to get out of the course.

    Not related to photography degrees (it was biology) but every year I would have the occasional student at about this stage come to discuss their degree programme because things weren't as they had expected. But there is usually a rationale as to why things are taught, when they are taught, and how they are taught, and this will vary with the different focus of individual degree programmes (and individual lecturers) .


    As I say I think you need to speak to your tutor and see how the whole degree pulls together over the three years, and how module choices might allow you to tailor the degree to suit your interests. He or she should be able to explain why this part of the degree is structured the way it is. It's important you understand the importance of every component of your course, as its really difficult to put the effort into something you can't see the point of, and this will almost certainly affect your marks.

    I don't know what are you are describing as art theory, but, as someone who has been passionate about photography for over 50 years, and who worked for 15 years as a professional photographer (before changing careers), I would have thought that that learning about art theory and doing art related projects would have been amongst the the best things you could do if you want to become a good photographer. The "mechanics" of photography like using Photoshop is, in comparison, pretty easy to pick up as you go along.
     
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  8. Byker28i

    Byker28i

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    I wonder what you thought you were going to be taught as most courses are exactly that, Art based courses using photography as a medium.
    I found it enlightening, though provoking, especially the history and references throughout the last century and lookign at the work of others, understanding it.
    If you expect a course on how to take pretty pictures then I suspect a degree course won't be the course for you.

    Like Furtim, I started down the OCA route but had to stop when they tripled the course fees and work got in the way.
     
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  9. john.margetts

    john.margetts

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    Surely, that would have been in the prospectus? Surely the OP read the prospectus before applying for the course?
     
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  10. Phil V

    Phil V

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    This was my reaction too.

    Though if the OP had asked here before enrolling, he’d have got a good idea of what most photography degrees consis of.

    @GatoAzul1968 what are you hoping to achieve with your degree? What’s the end game?

    Just anecdotally - about 90% of pro photographers have no photography qualifications, and about 90% of photography graduates never get a job in photography.

    So unless you want a job in a very specific area, or you have a desire to broaden your horizons artistically, a degree is probably not a great move.
     
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  11. GatoAzul1968

    GatoAzul1968

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    I fear I will be one of these 90% you just mentioned. The title may be "FdA in Photography" but we also do "Creative Filmmaking" in the 1st year. 2nd year, we will choose between Photography and Creative Filmmaking.

    To be fair, I did enrol the course in order to make myself useful rather than sitting at home doing online courses. I need the exercise (I have the diabetes for a year and it helps me). Being profoundly deaf myself, I cannot do any "private" schools (for example, Speos) because they do not fund for the interpreters, like College/University do. I am happy to learn little of photography and little of filmmaking in order to become a Vlog. I don't really need the "art" part much, do I? Not planning to do portrait or wedding photography though.

    I asked the college if they have the special flash to do choronophotography. Despite of they have many equipment, they do not have them and therefore they expected me to buy them - just for a project! £200 used - £600 brand new - just for ONE project! I don'y expect to use them again in the future!
     
  12. Phil V

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    But that is exactly the point, the course won’t ‘make you more useful’ it’ll teach you more about art. That’s the point of the course, so hoping you’ll get something ‘else’ out of the course whilst ignoring the core point is a bit daft.

    Back to your original question, a college course at HND or HNC level is more likely to be practical rather than a degree course which as you’ve found is more about art theory.

    As for the stroboscopic equipment, a £60 speedlight would have done the job, you might have got something S/h for a bargain if you’d shopped around.
     
  13. Terrywoodenpic

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    You are doing an art degree... what do you expect?
    It is based on, and biased toward Art.

    They are not teaching you a technical subject as would a technical college. The amount of technical instruction will be the minimum necessary to tackle your assignments.
    Largely, you will be expected to "Learn For yourself" what you consider necessary about technical matters.
    Though the support workers and technicians are always a mine of information and Know-how, so keep on the right side of them.


    Nevertheless A good photographic degree is still worth while, and the skill you learn will be valuable, even though they will have very little to do with practical photography.

    I have always thought a degree in Business and finance is more useful to an aspiring photographer. And also a wide understanding and ability to be a people person.

    You can learn all the technical stuff on your own or at workshops.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2018
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  14. PhilH04

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    I have and I did ;)... but things have changed so much since I qualified :(. I was pleased to see that my former employers are now going to advertise to fill at least one post when one of my former colleagues also takes retirement and that the formal qualification requirement is still there :)...
     
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  15. holty

    holty

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    if you want to develop your photography skills and learn real world photography join a camera club
    if you want to learn arty fartyy s***e and have letters after your name stick out the course
    you decide
     
  16. Byker28i

    Byker28i

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    Well, it's more than that.
    Anyone can click the button and take a photo, but there's more to that than creating an image, having the idea, perhaps a reference to something else, creating an image that makes you think rather than ' oh that's pretty' and move on. Often a body of work with some depth to it.

    So no, not arty farty. I'll freely admit I didn't understand a lot of the art, still don't like some of it, but I have a much better understanding now.
     
  17. Phil V

    Phil V

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    What a load of b****x.

    If you want to get stuck in a creativity free rut full of geriatric camera snobs - join a camera club.

    If you want to learn about photography as art, do a photography degree.

    Unfortunately the OP wants to do neither ;)
     
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  18. holty

    holty

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    to me art is a paintbrush
    photography is a camera
    add both together and you get S****
    ;)
     
  19. john.margetts

    john.margetts

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    So what is the end result of your camera? Surely it is a picture - ie art.
     
  20. Phil V

    Phil V

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    Well you’re to be pitied on your lack of intellect ;)

    Most photography is s***e, but that doesn’t mean that none of it is art.

    In fact, most painting is s***e too - given all children paint weekly at school, so y’know, all it takes is a bit of thinking rather than blurting out supercilious b****x
     
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  21. Phil V

    Phil V

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    I doubt it very much,
     
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  22. Ed Sutton

    Ed Sutton

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    [​IMG]
     
  23. john.margetts

    john.margetts

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    c'est un tableau
     
  24. myotis

    myotis

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    While I couldn't disagree more with Holty, not all photographs are art, indeed very few deserve an "art" label.

    But, then again most people who take photographs probably have no interest in art, and are using the camera as a tool to simply record events, places and objects, and there is nothing wrong with that, but it isn't "art". But nor is most of the stuff produced with paintbrushes, it may show more obvious evidence of skill and craft than a photograph, but craft is not the same as art.
     
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  25. simon ess

    simon ess Keeper of The List

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    Same with hammer n chisel

    Bag of s***e.

    :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2018
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  26. GatoAzul1968

    GatoAzul1968

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    Art is not just a paintbrush! Photography, filmmaking, ceramic, fine art, fashion......... are all work of art, but the point of my topic, that I do not want to spend my 2-3 years learning about art more than the photography itself. Necause I do not plan to become a full time photographer - just "part" of it
     
  27. ancient_mariner

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    I'm over on ello.co too, and there's a fairly seriously 'arty' bunch of people over there. Worth mentioning that just because it's art doesn't also stop it being boring garbage, only without care being taken over the technical side. That's certainly not always the case, but it's many times made me think "just because you can, doesn't mean you should".
     
  28. MidnightUK

    MidnightUK

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    I find myself wondering if you are doing the right thing, but in the wrong place.

    I have for example been told Gloucester and Falmouth do very good practical courses in commercial and other photography (I think Falmouth had marine photography as an option) I cant remember if the other good commercial/advertising course was there or at one of the other nearby south coast universities.

    I wonder if you should have been looking for an advertising or commercial based course rather than an art based course. Are you able to consider changing to another establishment?


    A few years back I went to the X university photography graduate show. Until then I had been quite positive about the existence of the course. When I actually looked around the end of year show made by at least 15 graduates, it consisted of black and white hazy sheds, images of pylons and a few other similar subjects that many of us start with on our own when taking up photography. The photography did not seem to have advanced beyond these beginner stages, despite 3 full time years of university tuition. Even worse, it was as if almost every photo could have been taken by the same single photographer.

    Drifting through the rooms I finally came across some classic portraits in colour, which stood out as one of the only 2 photographers to show any separate personality as an artist - one of whom was a mature student in their 40's. The mature student and a chap from a camera club were talking to each other about the portraits and I too became involved in the conversation. The student had clearly worked very hard to get sitters, having managed to talk the city chamber of commerce head into a sitting, the mayor and various other worthies for thier final degree submission. The student was asking for criticism from the camera club guy, who in return was trying hard to be tactful and constructive and kind. It was something along these lines:

    Chap - You have posed him well generally and the light from the window is falling on him well, but you have the dado rail running 'through' his head, his nose is in line with the cheek line and the highlights in the skin in the printing have lost all detail and become bleached out so his hand is white not skin coloured. Did your tutors not discuss this skin/printing issue with you before you submitted this printed version for your degree?

    Student - (genuine, curious, puzzled) I was very cramped for space so I am not sure I could have changed that (dado rail), but no I did not notice the background when taking the photo. What do you mean about the nose/cheek line? What is wrong with some of the skin being without texture, its just how it prints...?

    It turned out the mature student had longed to be a portrait photographer for years and had finally managed to finance an expensive degree course. It seems highly unlikely they did not discuss their ambition in the interview for the course as they were so very enthusiastic on the subject. Once on the course they had got nothing but criticism for being strongly interested in portraits. In fact if any of the students deviated much, into more personalised or original work they were criticised for self expression, rather than photo quality. The student said the course was heavy going and if they had not been mature in age they would not have coped with the very dominating attitudes of the tutors and that lots of the photographers on the course felt oppressed by the very narrow parameters set by the tutors and feared missing out on their degree if they deviated from the 'look' of the tutors own personal work. People felt that unless the students images replicated the style of the tutors own personal work, it was just refused as legitimate work.

    Students had access to a studio and studio lights for about 2-3 hours a fortnight at most, all other work had to be external to a studio, with less controlled lighting. They were not given guidance in how best to light anything at all and mostly had to guess how to use the studio equipment after a quick into on how to turn the lights on and mount light modifiers.. Quality of end printing had never been discussed (nor presumably dynamic range issues).

    Despite being interesting in photographing humans (hey, even fine art photographers do that!) no guidance on lighting or positioning of human subjects had been covered, hence the student never having heard of the theory that the end of noses should not align exactly with the edge of the face or why they might wish to consider or indeed reject that theory.

    The student was very very disappointed with the course and with the attitude of the teachers. They had even been hostile towards the student doing any type of subject, human or other, in colour . One other student had an interest in colour work and they too have been constantly criticised for using it. I asked if they had covered any business info in the course to help people establish when they left and perhaps be self employed, the answer was no, nothing like that was covered. There were all assured though that they would be earning above average wages when they graduated.

    A few weeks later I went to the end of year show for the local college and the photography was infinitely better and more original. In B&W and colour. It was printed well too.


    I have another friend who started a fine art degree (not photography) in another part of the country (she is a widely published illustrator and did it for personal development/fun). I went to one of the first year shows. The course leader had been heavily in favour of just one students work, which took centre stage. It had a full A4 page of 'Artists statement' and next to it was a perspex box with a crumpled bed sheet in it. That was the meaningful art. My friend left the course and moved to another University to finish her degree.

    Personally I would look for commercial based photography courses that includes business / marketing and working to a clients specs as a challenge. Steer clear of anything Fine Art related. I have nothing against good fine art but in a University context specific to Fine Art low grade artists teach and good artists are out in the real world working and creating original stuff - sell-able, usable work seems to have no value in a university context. I would point out, I don't believe this to be the case in all subjects covered by Universities, its not a blanket statement about Higher / Further Education.

    Really, talk to your tutors and consider changing to a different course at a different place. Also consider what they tell you may be coloured by the need to keep course statistics up and drop out low, to keep funding.
     
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  29. domart

    domart

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    professional photographer here, I was a keen amateur, but I sucked, artistically and practically, my degree was in graphic design, I never touched my camera much during the course but at the end of it, god damm had I progressed in the esoteric nature of what/how/when to photograph, the technical stuff I learn as i went along from youtube/books, i think the first year of our course was just drawing, nothing else

    if you have a vision, but you need to learn the technical stuff to make that vision a reality, you'll have much much better results than someone who knows what every button does but they dont really know what to do with all the technical freedom they have
     
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  30. Byker28i

    Byker28i

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    Completely true though :D
     
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  31. Byker28i

    Byker28i

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    It's always a decisive subject on here with several members often using arty b*****ks or s***e comments, yet actually thats just the easy way out. Consider the image, explain what you don't understand, why you don't like it, does it make you feel uncomfortable.

    As for painting and photography, photography has always pulled and uses painting as references, for composition, ideas.
    An obvious example of this is Tom Hunter and a portrait of a young mother, which referenced Jan Vermeer’s 17th century painting, A Girl Reading a Letter by an Open Window, except that his subject was reading an eviction notice from the council, and instead of the bowl of fruit in the original picture, a baby lies on the bed in the foreground.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    But then looking into the body of work, you find more depth, a serious body of work with outstanding results.

    Whilst studying with the London College of Printing, Tom Hunter started making pictures of his friends and neighbours living in squats in Hackney where he lived, titling his work ‘The Ghetto’ a nod to articles in the local paper, the Hackney Gazette. One part of an article described the neighbourhood as “a crime-ridden, derelict ghetto, a cancer-a blot on the landscape” and asks “Why would people want to live there anyway?”

    Tom Hunter’s took this as an inspiration to show the lives of the people living there as a positive, thriving but alternative community.

    It started as a model of his street, with images in the windows taken from outside on the street, showing life inside. Its a really clever medium to document the buildings threatened with demolition in the street, and link it to the lives of those living inside.
    This led to a series of photos complementing the model and following a decision to demolish the houses, became became part of the campaign which was set-up to save the community from the council and thanks to his photographs, the council started to talk to the people who lived there and as a result, the community was saved.

    Hunter has also referenced painters in his work such as Vermeer, Caravaggio, Millais, Wyeth, Delacroix, Velázquez, Waterhouse and Ingres, copying the poses into modern interpretaions of the locations and gestures. to inform his pictures and even though they are not faithful reproductions of these famous paintings they do, nonetheless, reinvent the classic gestures and symbols in poignantly contemporary settings.

    An example, fFrom his life and death in hackney series, he took the story of a girl falling into a local canal at night after a party from the local paper and referenced it to Ophelia by Millais.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    If these were simple documentary images, without the historical references, I doubt they’d have had the same gravitas and longevity. It’s easy to document a local area but to do it in a way that not only produces interesting images but to add an additional layer of interest is very clever. There’s also something very appealing about documenting the very direct area you live in, the micro community, getting acceptance and cooperation from your neighbours. Gaining the permission to record what often appears in Hunters work to be an insight into the private, personal moments of the subjects world.

    As Hunter says. “Anthropologists going off to deepest darkest Africa to see other cultures don’t realise what’s going on on their own doorstep.”
     
  32. Byker28i

    Byker28i

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    So now I'm on my soapbox, lets talk about an easy one that always gets brought up - Tracy Emins 'My bed'. "anyone could have done that, it's s***e" etc
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I was lucky enough to hear her speak at one of the study visits we had, early on in my course.
    This is actually an intimate portrait of the lowest point of her life, where she woke up one morning with the realisation that she'd hit rock bottom. A portrait doesn't have to be a head and shoulders image. Once you see that, you explore the installation, the art work, the detritus of human life and realise how innovative and brave it was to share this and how groundbreaking it was at the time. It makes people think differently or just think

    That's probably as good an explanation of art as I can make. It's not just looking at something and going, "oh thats pretty" or it meets the composition rules, it's sharply focused, exposed correctly. Art makes you think.

    Having said all that, theres still several peices I look at and go "Really?" :D
     
  33. StephenM

    StephenM I know a Blithering Idiot

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    Well, some people.

    Malevich's Black Square and Duchamp's Fountain do/did that with me.
     
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  34. Byker28i

    Byker28i

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    Now that's probably a good example of what taking an art based course can give you, a deeper understanding, certainly exposure to other artists work that you'd never have been aware of. It might not resonate immediately with you, but you find yourself referencing those examples of work, or ideas in your own work, however small those influences are.

    We had to present our work on prints. If you've a good tutor, then not only do you get feedback on the idea and creativity but also on the production values, suggestions on how to improve the image, but I wouldn't suggest an arts based degree if you think you want to learn to take better images.
     
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  35. Byker28i

    Byker28i

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    Which black square. Wasn't there 4? :D
    Emin's bed is a good an easy starting point so I like that as an example. It's an easy one to disparage, but when you explain it's a portrait and you think around that....

    Edit - Oh and look back 10 years at my posts and you'll probably find me saying stuff like that was s***e too :D
    But then thats why it's called education ;)
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2018
  36. myotis

    myotis

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    Plus the strength of character to accept you need to change your mind about something, for some, no amount of education will ever change their mind. And I'm not just talking about photography.
     
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  37. The W

    The W

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    My camera club once did an editing challenge for a bit of fun, providing a number of raw files to mess around with and I converted one in to an imitation of the above. I don't need a single person in the club got the reference...
     
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  38. Lindsay56

    Lindsay56

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    I guess what we are talking of here is the difference between Education and Training. I think the OP wants a training course, which a BTEC/HNC/HND might offer but would be better delivered in a series of 121 workshop sessions on specific topics of interest. Education is about learning to learn, acquiring knowledge, rather than practical skills. This is why doctors etc do a degree to acquire knowledge, then trainee internships to acquire skills, before they qualify as practitioners. So in Photography, if you want to be a professional wedding/portrait/event etc tog, a training course may be worthwhile, whilst a to who wants to sell art prints, whether landscape/portrait/abstract etc would gain more from a degree. Of course the trouble is that HE institutions have completely blurred the distinction these days by calling everywhere a university and every course leading to a degree, making it far harder to discern whether what is desired will be delivered.
     
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  39. Byker28i

    Byker28i

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    A business degree?

    Universities are a business these days. The education seems to come a very far second...
     
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  40. Terrywoodenpic

    Terrywoodenpic

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    Going to graduation shows should be considered essential preparation for any prospective student.
    However it is not exactly encouraged by many institutions.
    It is also helpful to speak to the graduating students.

    No other massive investment would be made with so little investigation, as when signing up for a degree course.
    It is the largest intangible investment most people ever makes in life, and it is made with out the slightest Idea what any return might be.

    A majority of students do benefit in some way, but it is rarely in the way they might have expected or planned for.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2018
    MidnightUK likes this.

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