Is Photography school for me?

I have been considering going to photography school for years. A few years ago, I wrote about the Kansas City Art institute and why it is a place to consider. I have always throw around the possibility of going to the school but never wanted to commit to being in Kansas City for several years. I just love to travel!

Kansas City is a very different experience for me than most. I am not moving to a city that I do not know and find the move to be exotic. I grew up in Kansas City and went to high school there. I got my first job in Country Club Plaza and had my first date in Westport. Kansas City is home!

The question becomes about do I want to live in my hometown for the next four years in order to be part of the photography program at the Art school. After traveling the world, I am just not sure I can really stay in the same place for several years.

I guess one of the good things about it is that from Kansas City International Airport, I could go to about anywhere in the country for the weekend. New York, Orlando and Los Angeles are direct hits from KC.


Reasons I am considering Photography School

One of them is really simple: being forced to learn things I do not want to learn! I know that sounds backwards but it would force me to engage in new areas of the art of photography that I just would not on my own. An example of this would be commercial portraits. Many people love to do them but I would rather be in a state park somewhere doing a HDR photograph or long exposure of a highway in New York City.

The second reason that I am considering going to Kansas City Art Institute is the ability to learn from people who have done what I want to do. This is very important. If I want to kill a giant, I need to get about King David. If I want to be a professional photographer, I need to be about those who have been successful in the industry.

The third reason is similar. Having a community of people growing in the same direction that are learning the art of photography with you is powerful and you can see things that others would never see. There is something to be said about having peers in the art form of your choice. Yes, there are critics on Facebook to tell you how bad your picture sucks but that is not a peer that is invested in your development.

In the end, there just is a dynamic about being in a community of peers and teachers that force you to grow in ways you need to but don’t really want to. This is the main benefit of a formal art education for photographers and it is the main reason I am considering it.

Why not just use Youtube?

Many people will say that you can learn just as much on Youtube watching tutorials as you can going to a photography school. The problem is with this are multi-faceted but we can start with a clear difference: quality of instruction. Youtube is full of people trying to use it as a marketing tool to get customers for their photography business. Art School is being led by professionals that are there to instruct; not market.

Another thing to consider is when they make a video about something, they are aiming to reach the novice that pulls out his DSLR every few weeks to try something; not something with a goal of being a professional photographer that makes a living from it. The bulk of people that are interested in the art are casual users or what we call amateur photographers.

However, the biggest issue with just using tutorials on Youtube is that you will never really push yourself. You will only watch what you want to watch and will only practice what you want to practice. I am really into cityscapes and landscape photography. Guess what most channels that I am subscribed to is about? None of them focus on wedding or commerical photography!

At the very least, you are slowing your development in the art of photography by trying to just use 10 minute clip that are updated once a week on Youtube. In some cases, there are things that you will never learn by just doing the tutorials.

Is Photography School worth the investment?

This is the biggest question that people have, and rightfully so. Any art school like Kansas City Art Institute is expensive as hell! There is nothing cheap about doing it. It is much more than any state college in the country. There is no way about addressing this and for most, it is the main issue in this dialog.

For me, I am blessed that the government will pay for my education but most people are considering they could build a whole studio for the cost of going to art school. $52,000 a year will go a long ways at the camera shop! I understand the struggle and it is one that I would have myself if I was having to pay for the education myself.

The short term benefit of education vs gear is missing something though. Investment in your development is about the return within twenty years more than 20 months. Having the experience you would get at an Art School and more importantly the networking you would be doing will open doors that would be hard to see happen just being self taught from watching Scott Kelby.

As for me, I do not know if I will make the commitment to live in my hometown for the next four years and just focus on school or not. I probably should but I have travel disorder to cope with.




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