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Thread: Emerging Student Majoring in Photography

  1. #1

    Emerging Student Majoring in Photography


    I am a junior at Northern Arizona University, and I am majoring in photography. Back in high school when I took my first photo class, everything was still done in the darkroom and that is where I began to learn to print. Since then I have begun photographing with a large format camera, and I have been trying to learn as much as I possibly can about large format photography and printing. Thanks to a good friend, Rod Klukas, I now have a 4x5 enlarger. So I have built a darkroom in my apartment and I am printing everyday. Unfortunately, NAU is completely digital and teaches only commercial photography. And I consider my work fine art, and I shoot large format film. So I have kind of been having to teach myself everything that I know. I am going to be graduating in a couple of years, and will be out in the working world. I was wondering if anybody has any advice for a young large format photographer just beginning his career. Like where and how should I start, people that I should look up, what can I expect income wise if anything? I know that it may be difficult working as a large format photographer in this new age of digital imaging. But I have found something that I love, and I believe the format really suites me and I'm not willing to give it up.

    Thank you very much for your time and advice!

    Also feel free to check out some of my work. Suggestions, criticisms, and comments mean a lot coming from the individuals on this forum.

  2. #2
    Andi Heuser
    Join Date
    Jun 2008

    Re: Emerging Student Majoring in Photography

    Hi Kyle,

    my fist impression was, focus on wildlife!


  3. #3

    Re: Emerging Student Majoring in Photography

    Thank you very much Sanchi, that means a lot!

  4. #4
    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Stuck inside of Tucson with the Eastern Seaboard Blues again...

    Re: Emerging Student Majoring in Photography

    Hi, Kyle!

    To be honest, if large format film photography is the way you're sure you want to go, you should consider transfering to a university that offers it. ASU and the UA both have strong fine arts photo programs, and have professors who work in large format, (Mark Klett at ASU, Frank Gohlke at the UA).
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Jun 2002

    Re: Emerging Student Majoring in Photography

    Why wouldn't you want to learn as much as you could about digital and analog photography? Both compliment each other and at the very least you'd be marketable as a photo assistant.

    It isn't rocket science. The most important thing is shooting, personality, work ethic, and the ability to live on peanuts.

    My real heartfelt, un-ironic and genuinely uncynical advice is to learn a real skill, like plumbing, so you can shoot more than most professional photographers.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Flint, MI

    Re: Emerging Student Majoring in Photography

    Find someone who's work you admire and look for workshops, lectures, books, critical writing, etc. about their work and others that are similar. I found workshops a great way to learn ideas, techniques, and specific processes. In the good old days, the Friends of Photography group had great week-long workshops. There are several venues that offer a similar experience today, but I don't keep tabs on the current ones.

    There is a lot to learn, but it is worth the price... I'll be sixty on my next birthday and am still learning (and loving being back in a darkroom).

    FWIW, I think the worlds between fine art and commercial are closer than ever before except the 1920-30s. I think Frank's advice is dead on.


  7. #7

    Re: Emerging Student Majoring in Photography

    Kyle, I am going to break your heart and squash your dreams, but its for your own good. And its not about you as a person or your photographs.

    Please take seriously what Frank wrote, especially the part about learning a real skill. Otherwise you won't be able to buy film or paper because the crappy job you have doesn't pay enough to do much more than pay the rent.

    The way the world stands today there are photographers who have been working at photography longer than you have been alive (maybe twice as long as you've been alive) who are wondering where the next house payment is coming from. To tell you to go out and try to do the same would be a cruel thing to do.

    Think of the other things you enjoy doing and get a degree in that field. Maybe even think about what degree will help you find a good job. Then you can spend your money on your photography and shoot all you want without worrying about the money and whether you'll have gas in the car next week.

    Do not listen to your advisor at school who tells you that you can take their course of study and come out making money in photography. Its not true. You'll hate your life, still have to do work you don't like (would you like fries with that?) and not get paid enough to live on.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jun 2002

    Re: Emerging Student Majoring in Photography

    I don't mean to say you can't be a photographer. You can, and it is merit-based, if you are talented, smart, hard-working... and lucky, well-connected, likable... and in a big market... then you have a chance.

    But even then, it is a really good idea to have another job-skill to fall back on.

    And if you look at the bios of photographers you admire, you'll see that very few went to a photography school -- they did two concurrent careers, or maybe they worked as a lowly portrait-wedding photographer, or something... difficult.

    Also in terms of looking at bios, remember how the market has changed. Most of the postcard-magazine-poster-book clients are long gone.

    I wish I could tell you that your professors will give you good advice. Some may. But remember, academics try to breed other academics and the next thing you know you'll be borrowing $100K to get a meaningless MFA and hoping that all the black lesbian photography professors magically disappear and suddenly there is a demand for a male analog photo prof, hahahahaha.

    Seriously, read stuff like to get an idea of where the market is. Or was.

  9. #9
    Richard M. Coda
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Scottsdale, AZ

    Re: Emerging Student Majoring in Photography

    Listen to Frank.
    Photographs by Richard M. Coda
    my blog
    Primordial: 2010 - Photographs of the Arizona Monsoon
    "Speak softly and carry an 8x10"
    "I shoot a HYBRID - Arca/Canham 11x14"

  10. #10
    Land-Scapegrace Heroique's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Seattle, Wash.

    Re: Emerging Student Majoring in Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Petronio View Post
    ...And if you look at the bios of photographers you admire, you'll see that very few went to a photography school...
    Likewise, many “best-selling” photographers we don’t admire could have been stopped by a good teacher.

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