The Journey to a Photography Education

It would have been nice, had I recognized my interest in photography when I was a lot younger. Who knows what might have been different. One difference, however, might have been how I went about learning both the craft and its art.

I can only imagine what it would have been like to study photography at any one of the many great schools with a photography curriculum. We read about many of them or see their advertisements in popular photo magazines. I've always found the ads for schools like the Rocky Mountain School of Photography or the New York Institute of Photography inviting but have never found the time (or the money) to take advantage of them.

I've had the pleasure of working with photographers who studied photography at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) for example, and I've always been impressed by their knowledge.

However, I've taken a different route and it's one I think is quite common. I was first attracted to photography more than 30 years into my career as a custom publisher. While I'd been around photography all my working life, even taking a few photos myself over the years, it wasn't until I received a subscription to Outdoor Photographer magazine that I caught the bug for nature photography.

By this time I had a career, a business, and a family so the photography education had to be acquired in a less formal manner. I opted for workshops, The Nikon School, a George Lepp workshop at Union College in Schenectady NY, and others along the way... most recently The Barefoot Contessa's Photo Adventures' Fall Workshop in New Hampshire re-ignited my interest and I hope my creativity.

Perhaps another opportunity, available to just about everyone, has provided the bulk of my education though - books. Every good bookstore has a large variety of books on photography. I gravitated to those by noted nature photographers and I have a small and growing library of books on nature photography now. I've read many repeatedly. Some, like George Lepp's Beyond the Basics (1 &2) or Michael Busselle's Better Picture Guide to Landscape Photography, introduced me to the basics such controlling exposure and the importance of depth of field. Others, such as the Center for Nature Photography Series by Allen Rokach and Anne Millman, delved into subjects like zone exposure, the different perspectives provided by lenses of different focal lengths or the use of fill flash, and of course composition.

As my "education" progressed I found myself gravitating toward books with more focus (pun intended) on the art of photography than its craft. I discovered that I really enjoyed books by Freeman Patterson, Tony Sweet, and David Ward to mention a few. Each expanded my horizons and whet my appetite for more.

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