When people ask where I studied photography


In my opinion, it's one thing to study photography; the technical aspects, lighting & composition, direction. But it's another completely separate skill set to have studied what you'll be photographing. If you're going to photograph models, study 'modeling', not 'photographing models', or if you'll be photographing weddings, study 'getting married', versus 'photographing weddings.'

The difference between photos taken by someone who knows how to 'photograph a model' versus one who knows 'how to model' will be substantially noticeable. If you know how to photograph a model, you know the technical aspect, how to make them look proportionate, stunning, meaningful. But if you know how to model, you know how to tell them to stand, how their face should look, how their body should move. When you're trying to speak through a photo, you've got to know not only what you want to say, but how to say it. It isn't something you can explain in words, or you would have. And it isn't something you can ask someone to explain for you, because it's your meaning. So having the tools to cross the bridge between art and subject are just as valuable as your technical knowledge.

I rant on this way because people give me a sort of sad sigh when I answer "Where did you go to school for photography" with "I didn't". At times I feel like I should be ashamed of this - how can I call myself a professional without a piece of paper validating my claim?

I let my photos validate themselves.

If there is anyone who would not work with me because I did not attend school, that is entirely their business. But those same people who give me a sad, seemingly knowing sigh when I 'admit' to having no formal training, are the same people who can't believe I don't charge more for the photos I give them, and that's all the validation I need.