Is a Traditional Photography Degree Redundant in 2017? The British Journal of Photography Weighs In

Is a Traditional Photography Degree Redundant in 2017? The British Journal of Photography Weighs In

An article published in the British Journal of Photography (BJP) has questioned the validity of the Photography degree as we know it in 2017. The article profiles one British University who are “dedicated to reinventing the traditional photography degree.”

The Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) is looking to reinvent the traditional. In an age where anyone can claim to be a photographer, it’s more crucial than ever to commit the time to finding your own signature style, and subsequent client base. The initiative of the NUA’s Photography BA is to encourage individuality - with much emphasis placed on developing the students’ own “visual voice.”

We’re interested in the synergies between personal practice – that space where you create the images that interest you – and professional practice, where the images are produced to the highest standards.

– James Smith, photography course leader, NUA

Make no mistake, NUA is currently ranked as one of the top 10 universities for teaching quality in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018. They believe their approach arms students with the necessary skills to evolve their personal photographic aesthetics into an industry context. Assignments at their institution have been crafted to inspire students to challenge the photographic medium by engaging with the subjects they have an interest in.

The University also places a large emphasis on guest speakers, with over 20 per annum, providing industry insight to students. These range from photographers of both professional and entry level, as well as producers, agents, and retouchers. “These lectures show that there are other avenues within photographic practice to go down; not all of our students want to become photographers on finishing,” says Smith.

As a self-taught photographer, it’s interesting to hear of such a curriculum. In my five years working as a professional photographer, not once have I been asked to prove myself by any means other than showing clients previous work of a similar nature. Is it right, then, that Universities should “modernize” the way they teach, and instead focus their energies on developing an individual student’s needs, rather than adhering to a potentially outdated curriculum?

Lead image by Wokandapix via Pixabay.

[via British Journal of Photography]

Jack Alexander's picture

A 28-year-old self-taught photographer, Jack Alexander specialises in intimate portraits with musicians, actors, and models.

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The importance of school for photography wouldn't even be a thing if any of them did a half decent job in preparing you for the business side of things.

I teach photography (as an adjunct) at a university with a large photo program. Things I make sure my students know 1. know how to light really well, people may get a great camera and take great natural light photos but they won't by 1000's of dollars worth of lighting gear, it's a way to stand out. Being a great natural light photographer ends your career when it's raining and an art director and client are standing next to you. 2. take lots of marketing class you'll learn how to get clients, maybe even be a marketing major and photo minor. 3. learn how to run a small business because that's what you are going to do.