Photography is a medium of visual expression encompassing various styles, techniques, and applications. From commercial to artistic, photography offers students a chance to learn the skills necessary to create compelling visual content that can be used for a variety of purposes.
As a photographer, you can work for major brands, magazines and newspapers or as a freelance content creator.
As an academic field of study, photography is not just about learning how to take pictures but rather should be seen as an interdisciplinary field that covers a vast range of topics, including composition, editing, history, and even ethics. As a photographer, you will need to master the technical aspects of the craft, such as lighting and exposure, but you will also need to learn about many other creative aspects, such as composition and storytelling.
Additionally, studying photography also involves learning about the history of the field, the evolution of photographic technology, and the impact that photography has had on society and culture. A comprehensive education in photography will also include training in post-processing techniques and software, as well as ethical considerations surrounding image-making and representation.
In essence, studying photography is a multifaceted and exciting field that provides students with diverse skills and knowledge.
If you believe a picture speaks for a thousand words, this degree is for you.
Undergraduate courses tend to be extensive and cover a wide variety of topics. Such an approach is meant to equip you with a broad understanding of the field, teach you critical and inter-contextual thinking, and help you clarify your intended career path.
The Bachelor’s degree in photography will equip you with both technical expertise and creative prowess, making you a highly skilled professional in the arts and media industries.
By encouraging you to challenge conventional practices, this study path empowers you to develop imaginative approaches to image-making that set you apart as a well-informed and highly creative thinker. You will gain an understanding of how pictures work and how to design and stage information using both analogue and digital image recording techniques.
The undergraduate program allows for artistic freedom, so you can explore various possibilities of image design and find your own unique style. You will also learn how to handle customer orders professionally and have the opportunity to work on your own projects.
The typical curriculum includes a range of topics, such as advertising photography, press photography, photojournalism, artistic photography, product photography, and documentary photography.
The general rule is that Master’s degrees expand upon the topics covered by a Bachelor’s degree and direct you on a more specialised path of your choice.
A Master’s Degree program in Photography provides a critical and educational environment for artists to develop their practice with photography at its core. Most universities offer a program with a fluid approach to image-making, encompassing both still and moving, analogue and digital photography, and emphasising the visual form over aesthetic purity.
An advanced practice of photography engages with reading and writing about the image and harnessing both theory and practice to hone your craft. This program is ideal for those who want to work creatively across disciplines. The postgraduate study values interdisciplinary debate that utilises relevant collective and theoretical knowledge and encourages the development of individual creative practice with experimental approaches.
Upon completion, graduates will have developed a well-informed, highly creative practice in photography, capable of making a significant contribution to the arts and media industries.
There are no official rankings for the best schools and universities in Europe that offer a degree in Photography; however, a couple of institutions show up repeatedly on pages such as Format.com, ISO.500.px, etc.
Here are some of the most well-known universities and schools to study Photography:
|Royal College of Art
|Bachelor’s, Master’s, Summer Courses
|Barcelona School of Design and Engineering
|Köln International School of Design
|University of Kent
|Paris College of Art
|Gerrit Rietveld Academie
|Krakowskie Szkoły Artystyczne – School of Creative Photography
|University of Derby
|SRH Berlin University of Applied Sciences
In any case, teaching university standards in Europe are almost always first-class, and you can expect to get high-quality education in most universities.
A Photography degree can lead to a variety of career paths in the arts, media, and commercial industries. Here are ten potential professions:
Fine Art Photographer: Creating art for galleries and exhibitions, often selling prints to collectors and art buyers.
Photojournalist: Capturing news events and social issues for newspapers, magazines, or online media outlets.
Commercial Photographer: Creating images for advertising campaigns, corporate branding, online stores, or product launches.
Fashion Photographer: Shooting fashion editorials and advertising campaigns for fashion magazines, brands, and designers.
Portrait Photographer: Specializing in photographing individuals, families, and corporate clients for personal or professional use.
Event Photographer: Capturing weddings, parties, and other social events.
Travel Photographer: Taking photos for magazines, guidebooks, or tourism agencies (often travel photographers work as content creators for travel brands).
Documentary Photographer: Documenting cultures, social issues, or historical events.
With years of experience (usually six or more), you can also consider leading your career path to become an Art Director, Creative Curator or Teacher.
Some typical employers for photographers include magazines, creative agencies, fashion houses, photography studios and a big array of brands and companies across many fields.
Photography is needed in various industries, so it’s a good idea to niche down and pick one or two fields, to begin with. It can be architecture & real estate, publishing, marketing, consulting, advertising, fashion, product, web design or other.
You can also consider freelancing, taking on various photography assignments for clients, galleries, or media outlets. Keep in mind that this path requires additional skills in self-promotion and entrepreneurship. You might need to create your website to present your work, be active on Social Media, pitch to clients and learn the art of persuasion.
When looking for a job, your portfolio is your main asset, so focus on building a strong one since the beginning of your studies. It will help you get paid job quicker and avoid doing free or low-paid internships after graduation. You might even land some clients while still at the university if you put serious work into creating a good portfolio.
Study.eu Tip: Ask your friends to model for you, experiment with different backgrounds, lights, colours, subjects, locations, etc. Then ask your professors or other experienced photographers for feedback. With time you will find out your unique style, polish your craft and become more confident to negotiate your rate with clients or employers.
As with any creative industry, Photography is highly demanding and not for everyone. It requires strong self-discipline, a resilient mind, an innovative and creative approach, highly-developed critical thinking skills, and a willingness to think outside the box. That’s why, as mentioned earlier, developing a strong portfolio and finding your niche is essential.
The good news is that once you do this, you will likely find a relatively well-paid job that will allow you to further develop your craft. Keep in mind, though, that it’s unlikely you will work in “regular” hours (i.e. the 9 to 5 standard). You might be required to wake up very early or go to sleep very late and work more hours than in other jobs.
Networking is crucial in every area, but in the creative industry, it’s a must. You can often find employment by establishing relationships with artists and institutions while still at the university (e.g., volunteering).
We live in a visual world. There is a shift from text-carried information to visual thinking (Social Media, videos, memes, emojis, avatars, etc.). That creates a high content saturation and, thus — high competition.
To “make it” in this industry, also pay attention to your interpersonal skills:
These are some of the soft skills that will help you stand out from the competition. As a photographer, you need to be great at working with your team and know how to make the model comfortable in front of your camera. If you don’t possess these skills yet, make use of your time at the university to polish them and learn to find a good balance between being humble and knowing your worth.
Before starting the degree, it might be a good idea to first experiment with what you already have. Watch videos online, take photos with your phone or a camera (if you own one or can borrow from someone), try free online editors, ask friends to model for you or go on a short trip to shoot landscapes. It will allow you to understand better how you feel about the subject. If you find yourself interested and engaged in the material, then Photography might be a good fit for you.
Lastly, keep in mind that studying photography also requires an investment in equipment, including cameras, lenses, and editing software, as these are essential tools for mastering the craft (unless your university provides them).
That depends on your career goals (unsurprisingly). If you don’t know your career goals yet, that’s okay. Most of us didn’t when we were starting.
There are a lot of free and high-quality materials to learn Photography online. You can also sign up for paid courses to get a more in-depth learning experience. An advantage of a degree over those is that you acquire a holistic and broad overview of the field. You can try many different techniques and approaches to find the right suit for you. It’s also a good choice if you are not ready yet to start approaching clients and want to take some more time to learn and develop your craft.
And if, after completing a degree, you decide to direct your career path in a different field, you will be equipped with many sought-after skills that are useful for other jobs across various industries. So again, how you will curate your path is up to you.
Enhance creativity and learn to think outside of the box — the ability to think critically, connect the dots, see a bigger picture, and provide creative solutions are highly sought-after skills in the job market. They also set you aside from AI and automation.
Understand different cultures and historical events – learning any form of art requires learning about those who create and receive it — people. By understanding cultural and societal nuances, you will be able to navigate the world better, and your art will be more meaningful, thought-through, and eye-stopping.
Flexibility — photography is such a broad field that you can probably find a way to connect it with any of your other interests and hobbies. You can create a unique niche or find novel ways to approach old topics.
If, after reading this article, you have a growing feeling that Photography might not be the right path for you, below you can find a short list of alternatives. They still harness creativity and cultural insight and are broad enough to allow some exploration:
Journalism & Creative Writing
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