School or no school. Is a photography course needed?

My daughter starts her 2nd year of a photography course tomorrow. She completed her Cert IV last year and this year goes on to do her Diploma. She is doing it at the Photographic Imaging College (PICs). I am very happy that she is formalising her photography training by doing this course and she is thinking about going on to do a Degree in Photography after this.

My daughter, Ally, at her Cert IV photography course exhibition.

My daughter, Ally, at her Cert IV exhibition.

I am a self-taught photographer and worked as a professional for over 15 years (mainly doing weddings and portraits) and had a very successful studio in Lygon Street, Carlton. I wonder sometimes how valuable doing a formal photography course is as against working your way up through on the job training and experience. I know learning the technical aspects are first and foremost and a course will definitely help with this but I also hope they can give as much real world training as possible. There is no greater teacher than experience. I think the old method of a photography cadetship had a lot of merit. I guess that would be the same as a traineeship now.

I look forward to seeing how my daughter develops her skills over the next year but what I will be teaching her at home is to find the passion, the love, and the commitment to photography that will be the difference between a good photographer and a great one. You need to live and breathe photography. It needs to consume you and drive you crazy. You need to lose yourself to it then find yourself. It’s a wonderful career and can be a very fulfilling one also. Let your passion drive it.

I will keep you posted with how her photography course is going during the year and will talk more about the questions and problems she brings home and how we go about answering and solving those challenges.

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