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What to Expect

Photography students will process film, print photos, work in the studio, learn computer editing, make slideshows and sound slides, mount projects, and write papers. You will also be required to spend time outside of school to shoot assignments on location.

Students can expect busy days. Many programs mix lectures with hands-on work in labs and studios.

Andrew Hudyma plans to work as a freelance commercial photographer when he finishes his photography program. But for now his schoolwork keeps him busy. He splits his time between homework, hands-on photographic assignments and preparation.

"It's important to get all of your photo-related work done in your lab time so it's necessary to work quickly during these times," says Hudyma. "After the school day is finished, any readings, homework and preparation for that week's assignments need to be done, which can occupy the rest of the evening."

When you're looking for a program, Hudyma recommends making sure it will give you a solid technical background. He recommends a program that combines film and digital photography as well as technical theory with practice. Make sure your school also has a good range of photographic equipment available to students.

Kasey Hine took full advantage of the equipment that her school offered. She was often working at school from the early morning until it closed at 10 p.m. She just finished a two-year program in photographic technology at Randolph Community College in Asheboro, North Carolina.

"I would have stayed at the school working on projects for longer if I was able to. The program should really have its own dorm rooms so people can live there, because people are there for long periods of time," Hine jokes. She loves to photograph sports and she hopes to become a Sports Illustrated or ESPN Magazine photographer.

Textbook costs can add up. But the greatest expense comes from buying photographic equipment and supplies. Some programs require students to own a Mac laptop. Other money is spent on photo equipment, film, and mounting and presentation materials.

"The program turns out to be very expensive because photography supplies aren't cheap. My advice is for people to save up plenty of money before entering the program," says Hine. Some of her classmates had to leave the program for financial reasons. She recommends teaming up with your peers and buying in bulk to bring down the supply costs.

"Most of the costs associated with this program are unavoidable," says Hudyma. "My only word of advice is to be prepared and organized for upcoming assignments so you can buy materials as you need them."

How to Prepare

Colby Blount recommends taking all the art classes you can in high school. He is a photography student at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). He regrets not taking more art in high school.

"Before attending SCAD, I had never been graded on my drawing or designing skills -- that took a lot of getting used to," he says.

What he did do in high school was spend three years working as staff on the yearbook. He advises anyone interested in photography to get involved with their school's yearbook.

"Here I learned a lot about photography, Photoshop, and how to manipulate images through lighting adjustment," Blount says. "You will not believe the amount of knowledge you can learn from that school function."


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