Should You Go To Photography School?

There are many amateur photographers out there, who are understandably thinking about photography school. While years ago this was one of the best ways to learn more about photography, it isn’t the only way to get a great photography education. Before you start writing those tuition checks, take a look at some additional insights on whether or not you should go to photography school.

What is Photography School?

You can attend photography school at a number of different educational institutions. There are four-year and two-year colleges that will allow you to major in photography. There are special photography schools such as the New York Institute of Photography, and there are a lot of shorter online schooling programs that can help educate you on all things photography.

Do You Need Photography School?

This is completely up to you. While photography school can teach you a great deal, put you in the position to take advantage of some great opportunities, and push you to grow your skills—you don’t necessarily need photography school to get a job, be a good photographer or even become a professional.

While a formal career can help, with an art-form like photography, your portfolio is going to speak for itself, and there are other ways to become a good photography outside of traditional schools.

Pacific Northwest Bridge

The Cost of Photography School

This all depends on where you go to school. Some four-year colleges can cost over $40,000 per year. While a two-year associates degree in photography can cost about $3,000-$5,000 per year. Some online courses, will cost $1,000 or less for their programs—but it all depends on what school you choose.

5 Resources Better Than Photography School

If you aren’t quite convinced on putting in the time (and money) required for photography school—then there are a few different resources you can turn to that, in my opinion, are even better than photography school. Take a look at some of these cost-friendly alternatives that can help you improve your skills just as much as an expensive school

YouTube Photography Tutorials

YouTube has become one of the best resources on the internet in recent years, and it is a great place to go for free and valuable information. There are many experienced photographers who are looking for a platform to upload their knowledge as a way to establish themselves as professionals—and as an online student you can only benefit from their videos.

Whether you want to learn about ISO, look for tips on capturing sports photography or want more information using programs like Lightroom for editing—there are YouTube videos out there that can help.

Shooting Photos With Friends

A lot of people learning more about photography will complain that they don’t have enough subjects. Well, all you need to do is turn to your friends for help.

Ask friends to serve as your subjects or to provide you with new opportunities to shoot. Everything from shooting your friends in portraits to capturing their kid’s sporting events to taking photos of their gardens can help you build up your skills and your portfolio.

Plus, if you have friends that are also interested in photography they can really help push you to get out there and practice and to develop your skills. We all know how much easier it is to workout when you have a friend to hold you accountable, and the same thing goes for photography.

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Photo Credit: Phil Sutphin

Finding a Photography Mentor

If there is one thing that is definitely way better than paying for photography school only to sit in a crowded classroom—it is finding a photography mentor. You may have to do some work for free as an inter to do it, but if you can find someone who is already established in their field to help you and guide you—there is no better way to build your skills.

Enjoy the moments

Reading Books on Photography

While a lot of learning opportunities are definitely on the internet, there is nothing quite like turning to a photography book for more information. There are so many great photography books out there, both new and old that can help you hone your skills. Order a few on Amazon, or get a library card to check them out and you may be surprised by what you can learn.

Trial and Error

If you talk to any established photographer about what you can do to build your photography skills they are going to tell you to practice, practice, practice. There is nothing that can compare to experience, so get out there and start shooting.

Try things out, experiment, think outside the box and get to know your camera. There is nothing wrong with some trial and error, it will only help make you a better photographer.


While there are many great photography schools out there, you don’t necessarily need to enroll and pay tuition at these costly schools in order to get a great photography education and to become the best photographer you can be. Think outside the traditional classroom and get out there and start taking photos—you may be surprised by what you can learn!

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