Are you considering whether you should go to college or not? Are you wondering if you should get a photography degree before starting your photography business? My short answer is: don’t bother with a photography degree. But there’s more to it.
In this day and age, going into student debt to become an entrepreneur doesn’t necessary make sense. With technology and the internet, there are so many ways you could learn and start a business. You can learn the basics of photography fairly easily online, for a minimal cost. And the only way to become great at it is to practice again and again, which doesn’t require to be enrolled in a college. There could be an upside for fine art photographers as a college education could help you build your network, which is key in the fine art world.
So, if you’re thinking about getting a photography degree, I’d recommend against it. However, I would recommend considering getting a business degree. See, while photography skills can be learned with practice, business skills are not so natural for most people. And if you want to make a living with your photography, your business skills are a lot more important than your photography skills.
After 18 months of being a full-time commercial photographer, I can tell you that the business classes of my engineering degree have helped me a lot more than anything I know about photography. Don’t get me wrong: you have to be good enough at photography, but you’ll need to be great in business.
See, if you start a photography business, you’ll spend a lot of time doing business tasks like accounting, marketing, sales, invoicing, contracts, etc. (see my article about why following your passion can be a terrible advice). A lot of photographers that start their business think they’ll just spend their time shooting and lack basic business skills. But a professional photographer needs to be able to sell his work and make enough money to live.
So, getting a business degree will give you a big advantage against your competition: you’ll be able to understand your market and choose the best strategy to build your business. This will keep you one step ahead from a lot of photographers.