Photography is defined as “the art or process of producing images by the action of radiant energy and especially light on a sensitive surface (such as film or an optical sensor).” It is employed in different fields ranging from the sciences to business and medicine. It is a process used for many things including documentation and even self-expression. It produces photographs or images which are subsequently used for communication, marketing and recreational and artistic purposes.
As with most degree programs, entrance into a photography degree program varies from institution to institution. For first year applicants, some universities may require applicants to take an entrance exam, while some will take into consideration national or standard exams. Some institutions may consider transfer credits for post-secondary students or applicants.
A number of universities or art schools may ask for an applicant’s portfolio or even give a case study or project as part of the application process. Some institutions also require a letter of intent or an application essay.
For a complete list of requirements, you are advised to check out or contact the institution you are interested in applying to.
Undergoing a degree program in photography generally means having to take courses that involve topics such as composition, lighting, technical skills, media production and many more that aim to improve the skills of students and add to their knowledge as photographers and artists. Some examples of classes are History of Photography, Digital Photography and Studio and Commercial Photography.
In the latter years of the program, a major project or thesis may be part of the requirement for completion of the degree. For some institutions, this involves setting up an exhibit of the students’ work or producing a portfolio. Some schools also offer or require internship placements to aid students in gaining relevant experience.
Some institutions provide specialization options through their offering of electives. However, most photographers gain their specialization through actual experience and through their body of work.
Below is a short list of some specializations in the field of photography:
The accreditation of a degree usually depends on the country where the degree is awarded. In most cases, countries have their own accrediting systems for universities, students and graduates.
Graduates of photography degree programs generally do not need professional licensing or certification to work as photographers.
A degree in photography can typically take around three to four years of full-time study. The exact period of time would depend on the university of your choice and the country wherein it is located. Aside from taking a bachelor degree program in photography, interested individuals also have the option to take an associate degree program that typically takes two years.
There are also various degrees available for photography graduates at the master’s level. These are typically offered by art schools or art institutes such as Parsons/The New School, the School of Visual Arts and the New York Film Academy.
Completing a photography degree, provides individuals with credentials that can help them acquire positions in the field. Undertaking a photography degree would also be helpful for those wanting to go into freelance photography. For those looking to work in a company, examples of positions available are news photographer and sports photographer for newspapers and magazines (and their online and digital counterparts). For those seeking employment from a studio, work may involve portraiture and event coverage. Freelance photographers can choose which individual assignments or jobs to work on or apply for, making connections and networking very important. In addition to the different work mentioned above, photographers can also find jobs in the fashion and travel industries.
Graduates of photography degrees may also find positions in other creative sectors. Examples are digital image editor, creative strategist for photography-related websites, retoucher, food stylist and studio manager.
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