In the previous instalment, we presented two ways you can spend your hard-earned money to expand on your photography. This round, we’ll tell you exactly how you can establish your photography, and start earning money from it.
Buy New Gear Or Sign Up For Lessons?
While there is no right or wrong answer, we personally recommend that you start off with the latter choice first. As we had explained in the previous article, starting off with this choice offers you a valuable advantage. You’ll know exactly which piece of equipment you really need first, thus prioritise its purchase over the other less important pieces. That, plus the fact that you can always borrow the relevant piece from your instructor/mentor to try out without purchasing first.
The next step is then to decide what kind of photography lessons you want to sign up for. These are then divided into several categories :-
(1) Academic Courses
These are highly structured courses, with syllabus adapted mainly for the academic aspects of the photographic skill. The lessons are highly structured, and are taught in both theory and practical skills. You’d normally learn both the historical aspect of photography, as well as the application skills. Academic courses are normally conducted by art and design colleges and universities.
The advantage of taking an academic course is that you will be awarded a diploma or a certificate. This proves that you have completed the course. And having a piece of paper telling the world what you’re skilled in, will eventually help you land employment in a job that requires the particular skill.
However, the disadvantage here is that photography is normally not a stand-alone course. You’re more likely to find photography as a major subject in courses like graphic design, multimedia design, fashion design, mass communication, etc. This means that you’ll have to learn (and pass) a whole lot more than just photography alone. More often than not, academic skills are not exactly very applicable in the real world scenario.
(2) Specialised, Short-Term Photography Workshops
Short-term courses are usually conducted by professional photographers who are specialised in that particular field. And these fields can range anywhere from fashion and still-life, to landscape and photojournalism. The duration can range anywhere from two days intensive, hands-on workshops, to a month-long comprehensive instruction.
The advantage here is that you can zoom in straight into the exact specialty of photography that interest you. No need to beat around the bush, learning anything and everything under the sky. And because these workshops are conducted by actual professionals, you’ll get first hand exposure to the commercial world of photography via your course conductor.
Another advantage is that workshops like this is usually conducted in smaller groups. This means that you’ll have a more personalised learning experience than if you were to attend a lecture with a whole bunch of other people.
The reason for the advantage is also the same reason for the disadvantage. While you can zoom straight into the exact specialty of photography, you’re also limited to learning only that particular specialty. Considering that workshops will probably cost you a pretty penny each, signing up for several specialised workshops will literary cost you an arm and a leg.
And unlike attending an academic photographic course, you don’t get awarded with a diploma or academic certificate at the completion of your individual workshops. At the most, you might get a certificate of participation only.
(3) Photography Mentorship Programme
Unlike a specialised photography workshop that has a specific duration, mentorship programmes are more flexible. There’s no specific start or end dates. And you’re also not limited to learning only specific topics for each individual workshops.
The biggest advantage is that mentorship usually means a one-to-one relationship. So whenever you’re with your mentor, you’ll have his or her full attention for the whole duration. And a one-to-one arrangement also means more flexibility when it comes to your scheduling and your pace of advancement.
If you get a mentor that’s experienced in a wide range of specialties, you’ll get to learn a whole lot more from a single mentor than attending several equivalent workshops conducted by many different instructors.
Unlike the short-term photography workshops, you don’t need to pay large sums for each workshop that you sign up for. More often than not, you’d be paying a more affordable monthly retainer fee. This will be less financially taxing to you, especially if you haven’t started earning money with the skills that you’re learning in the first place.
And the biggest advantage – you actually get to enjoy using your mentor’s gear for your own shoots. This way, you get to do a test drive on all of your mentor’s gear, before deciding which piece you’d eventually want to purchase for yourself.
Disadvantages?… Well, I can’t think of any, unless you include getting a mentor that’s not skilled in the particular area that you’re really interested to learn…
Your Take Away From This Article
If you really want to learn photography, and hone your skills in any of the specialties of photography, you should seriously consider signing up for a photography mentorship programme. You’ll learn all the necessary skills needed, and be able to start earning your keep by offering your photographic services shortly after signing up for it.
You can still sign up for additional workshops, should your mentor not have the skill in the area of your interest.
If you’re interested to learn photography in general, or interested in photography mentorship, do contact us. We’ll give you a free consultation on how you can learn, and which direction you want to proceed towards. We’ll even advise you on how you can set up your own little photographic business too.