Deciding Between College, Art School, or a Photography Business Program

Deciding Between College, Art School, or a Photography Business Program


Photography Business Institute
Photography Business Institute

We all know that doctors attend medical school and lawyers have law school, but what sort of schooling do you need to be a professional photographer? While it’s possible to work as a photographer without formal education, certification courses, degrees, and other options can equip you with the knowledge and skills needed for the job.

The Benefits of Photography Education

If you’re wondering why you might consider a school for photography when it isn’t technically necessary, completing a program has many professional benefits:

  • Critical Feedback
    Critical feedback and evaluation are the best way to improve photography skills. Instructors and professional photographers will evaluate your photographs in any photography education program you choose. The feedback from image critiques can improve technical skills and increase confidence.
  • Specialization
    Any training or education you pursue should work towards your own professional goals. If your goals include starting a portrait photography business, consider a program that provides business education as well as photography. If you want to become a fashion magazine photographer, your education should include studio lighting equipment, posing techniques, etc.
  • Professional Credibility
    Professional certification or a degree in photography can set you apart from other photographers and lend credibility to you and your business.

Where Should You Start?

If you’re wondering what type of program is right for you, think about your personal goals. What do you want to achieve? Then, look for a program that fits with those goals. If you want to start a photography business and be self-employed, you will need to learn additional skills than those students who simply want to learn to take better photographs.

It is also essential to consider the time commitment levels of each program and the costs involved. For example, a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in photography will take four years of full-time study. At the same time, a certificate program like the CBP Certified Boutique Photographer with the Photography Business Institute is a self-paced program completed in up to one year. Let’s look at these options in more detail.

College Degree Programs

Colleges and universities provide students with a well-rounded education. An associate degree is typically completed in two years and comprises around 90 credit hours. Photography classes make up just a portion of your total credit hours. As mentioned, a bachelor’s degree will take a student four years to complete, and a master’s program in fine arts would be an additional two years of coursework after that.

While so many jobs these days require a college degree even to apply, creative careers do function a little differently. Having a Bachelor of Arts isn’t necessary if you want to run your own business or work for an established studio.


There is a wealth of videos online, including YouTube tutorials on just about everything. Want to learn something? YouTube it. This idea does include most aspects of photography. However, so many videos are out there, and not all of them are helpful. You don’t know if the person in the video is really who they say they are with the experience they claim; any credentials may be questionable. Instructional YouTube channels and videos work best not watched willy-nilly on their own but as added onto a structured educational program.

Art School Certification

If you want to become an experienced photographer with strong technical skills, an art school certification program is an excellent option. An art school education is less broad or well-rounded than a traditional college degree program and more focused on developing artistic skills.

Most art school photography programs will have students working in film and digital photography, creating images in the studio and outdoors, and developing photographs manually and on the computer. While your technical skills will significantly improve, an art school photography education includes little, if any, business curriculum and doesn’t quite prepare students for anything outside of being an artist.

Photography Business School

A business program or school for photography is the best option for photographers looking to start a photography business and be self-employed. As a business owner, you will need more than just the ability to create amazing images. A photography business program, like the Certified Boutique Photographer program at Photography Business Institute, will also teach you about business practices, marketing, and client management.

Certification from a photography business program will give you high credibility in the very competitive photography industry. It can also help justify higher pricing for services. If a client is deciding between photographers, chances are the advantage will go to the one with professional certification.

Anyone can technically pick up a camera, create an online portfolio, and call themself a professional photographer. However, completing an educational course, certificate, or degree program can help you reach your professional photography goals. Which program is right for you will depend on those specific goals. Whether you want to advance your technical skills, charge more money for your services, start your own photography business, or grow your current business, education can be a key to success.


Deciding Between College, Art School, or a Photography Business Program
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