Photography is a tremendously exciting area of study. Almost everyone has experienced the thrill of taking a great photo and documenting an amazing moment or place. Part of what makes photography so exciting is that it blends art and science as well as creativity and analytics. It's also one of the fastest changing disciplines in the art world. Photography classes taught in art schools aren't just intended to make professional photographers out of creative individuals. They're designed to create students of history and technology.
The evolution of photography has changed the way classes are taught. Technology is a catalyst that has brought a new dimension and new possibilities to this unique art form. Today's photography classes have a wider focus, and today's students have a greater breadth of knowledge. Aspiring photographers still need to learn everything that was taught in the past, but they also need to master a wide range of new technologies and techniques.
In the digital age, photography doesn't stop when the picture is taken. There's an opportunity to edit creatively, perfect the image, and apply dazzling effects. Students also have the option to apply the principles of photography to videography and other disciplines.
The lens makes photography possible. However, the person behind the camera and the subject in front of the lens are what make photography so magical. To harness the power of this lens-based medium, students must understand how photography became what it is.
This art form has evolved tremendously since the first successful photos were taken in the 19th century. First, there were medieval precursors and projectors like the camera obscura. Then, there was the famous daguerreotype developed by French scientist Louis Daguerre, which required a 10-minute exposure period. More recently, advances like Kodachrome took small steps toward achieving photography's full potential. Students of history can better appreciate photography and can better understand the expressive nature of the discipline.
Back to Basics
Modern students are usually comfortable behind digital point-and-shoot cameras, but teachers would be remiss if they didn't encourage students to take a step back to explore photography history. In the analog age, the darkroom was the photographer's office. Safelights, film winders, enlargers, and development chemicals were their tools. Photography classes must cover the basics before skipping ahead through decades of technology. That's why analog and digital facilities are available at every art school. Both technologies are valuable when students are leaning to master the medium. Contrast and composition are the essence of photography, and these skills are often learned by taking black-and-white photos. Once these skills are mastered in the real world, students can begin to work on lighting and various techniques in the studio.
Digital cameras surpassed film in 2003. Many modern students are digital natives that consider film a foreign object. Teaching students the fundamentals of film, lenses, and analog equipment is essential. Then, they can learn how to apply traditional techniques to a digital medium. Whether students are using an old Miranda camera or a new Nikon, it's important to understand the fundamentals and know how aperture, shutter speed and lenses will affect the final shot. Mastering the basics is extremely important. It also gives aspiring photographers the freedom to apply traditional techniques to a digital medium, which can produce some very unique and original results.
Digital image processing, editing, and manipulation programs are advancing quickly. Today's students must be intimately familiar with photo editing software, such as Adobe Photoshop. In many cases, the fun begins after the photo is taken. To be successful, most students need to learn basic photo editing skills as well as some advanced ones. That's why image processing has become an increasingly important part of the art school curriculum. Commercial photographers will find that touchups, background removal, and other similar techniques are essential for their work. In other areas, students may find that creative styling, high dynamic resolution, and digital adjustment tools are useful for creating high-quality pictures in a unique style.
Art school studies are designed to prepare students for life after university. Comprehensive programs give students the skills to pursue photography as a hobby, as an art form, or as a way to make a living.
Photographers can find employment in many areas depending on their interests and training. Advertising, product photography, communications, and portraits are excellent commercial opportunities. Other students might be more inclined to use their skills in science, law, criminal justice, or photojournalism. On the creative side, there's fine art, nature, and street photography. Finally, interdisciplinary skills are a growing area. Photographers can use their talents as a printmaker, graphic designer, or videographer.
Photography's future is as interesting and exciting as its past. The field of photography is very different today than it was just a decade ago. Recent breakthroughs include 3D photography, image stabilization, superior noise reduction, and better electronics. New technologies and techniques emerging currently will further change how the subject is approached. Because the field is evolving so rapidly, now is a great time to enroll in photography classes.