Everyone thinks they’re a photographer now. They just point their cell phone and take a picture and post it and voila… they’re a photographer. It’s true technology has made it easier for those attempting to become a photographer. Heck, I’ve met “photographers” who buy three thousand dollar cameras… and keep it on AUTO the whole time they shoot. That’s a different animal altogether. If you want to truly study to become a photographer, it’s more than just a camera. It’s how light works, it’s dealing with models and locations, it’s shooting live action where you won’t get a second take. You can’t make a decision lightly when you’re going to go to school and spend 200k dollars to get a bachelor of arts in photography. You have to really want it. To help you narrow down your choices, here are Steve’s Digicams Top Five Photography Schools in the United States.
New York University Tish School of the Arts is one of the most acclaimed photography schools (and cinematography schools) in the country. There’s a reason it’s always mentioned when people want to study the art of photography. Like all the places on this list, it’s located in a part of America that has all four seasons. That’s important if you want to study photography. You need to know what it’s like to shoot images in different conditions. How light is affected by the season and weather. NYU Tish is the youngest school on this list being founded in 1965, but don’t hold that against it. The faculty at Tish is what put this place on the list. They’re constantly bringing in experts in their field to teach a semester or two. Oftentimes those experts are famous people you might even have heard of. You will get exposed to the performing arts in all its forms and get to deal with actors, directors, clients and more. It’s truly a haven for those who love to take images.
The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa is renowned for its arts program. Its writer’s college is world renowned and its photography is actually not that far behind. They offer B.A., B.F.A., M.A., M.F.A. to give you as much knowledge as your brain and your bank account can take. This is the largest college on the list as well. By being intermixed with students in varied interests, you’ll be exposed to other elements. They have fantastic sports programs which will allow you the opportunity to take images of athletes that you won’t get with any other program on the list. Gridiron football and final four level basketball could be at the tips of your shutter if you went to school here.
Rhode Island School of Design is a private non-profit college that opened in 1877. It is one of the oldest and most prestigious art schools in the country. You’re close enough to Boston, the seashore, as well as rural areas allowing you the freedom to take whatever kind of images you like. Between classes studying the fine arts, architecture, and digital design you’ll get a rounded education that will help your picture taking in ways you never saw possible. They also specialize in FILM/Animation and Video work which will help improve your photos exponentially. The more you learn about how to utilize different parts of the camera and different lighting scenarios the better your still images will get.
Founded in 1896, Parsons has been setting the tone for how art is taught in America since it was founded. They were one of the first schools to teach, fashion design, advertising and interior design. Like the New York Institute of Photography, Parsons is located in NYC, which alone would make it a great place just to live if you’re studying photography. Parsons is more than just a location, however. Because of the school’s other focus on high fashion, editorial and advertising you’re going to get real-world experience shooting models, apartments, and products that you won’t get anywhere else. If your interests lie in taking editorial, architectural, or in advertising, Parson’s is a stepping stone to the big time.
Established in 1866, this is one of the largest independent colleges for art and design. It’s so old the school has seen the likes of Orson Wells and Walt Disney walk through its doors. Going to a school that specializes in all art forms can be incredibly helpful if you’re studying photography. Just look at an old Caravaggio if you want to understand how light works. Outside of a candle or firelight, many of the old masters had to paint by natural light, so, you’re not going to get a better reference picture that one that was painted by someone who had to study light. Aside from the school itself, Chicago is a wonderful place to be a photographer. The city is so diverse and is a dream for those interested in architectural photography. Frank Lloyd Wright’s first studio was just outside the city and his impact can be felt all over the place.