…The answer has got to be YES! I have just read a piece about the above and think that training is essential, in such a competitive and changing market. Although, to be fair, its’ also important that we are careful and selective in our choices of training courses and qualifications that are available to photographers today.
Do I think quality training is important?…. Without a doubt!
What must be taken into consideration, is the client’s perception of that qualification and its relevance to them> Affordable digital photography and the web have meant huge changes in the photographic industry . Traditional paths into certain disciplines have been replaced by what some might consider shortcuts and as a result it’s the quality of work that suffers.
If you Google some local wedding photographers and looking at their work on their websites, judge for yourself if you think they spent 2 years carrying around someone’s camera bag or if they just brought a mid range DSLR and a template website and adopted the ‘professional photographer’ tag.
It’s far too easy to complain about this but at the end of the day it’s not going away. As a working professional it’s surely our duty to be better……. this is why continued training is essential.
Qualifications and awards
Unlike many other professions there is no standardized or accepted qualification for a professional photographer…. nor should or can there be in my opinion.
Here in the UK as with many other countries across the globe, we do have a number of different professional organisations and associations, all of which offer their own qualifications and awards. There is some debate (at times heated) between photographers about the statue of certain associations. The value of these awards is sometimes only recognised by other photographers….not Joe Public.
Does the man off the street know the difference between wining a monthly SWPP Gold award and winning the Taylor Wessing Prize? You’d like to think so, but isn’t it just easier to say you’re award winning?
The same can be said for photography degrees. Like many others I graduated with a degree in photography…..following a foundation Btec/ HND and A level course. Arguably, in terms of public perception …. it does…. did I consider myself sufficiently equipped to practice as a professional?….. probably not!
Where to find the training that right for you.
I think there still exists the notion that if you take a couple of night classes and buy a few DVDs then that will somehow be enough.
You could spend a fortune on these types of things either to gain a qualification that nobody really appreciates or because of some heavy marketing.
My advice would be to firstly embrace the photographic community….. participate in forums, join meet-up groups and talk to other photographers that are not only in the same position as you but ones that are where you want to be.
Secondly, look at your photography business. What does is lack? Use the community that you’ve inaugurated yourself in and ask for advise. A good friend of mine, photographer Tim Hoy, pointed out to me at last years SWPP convention that although he’d spent a fortune in classes he actually learnt more by talking to other photographers in the bar afterwards….. and this comes from someone with 30 years experience and 400+ weddings under his belt.
That’s not to say that the best photographic training is done down the pub, but creating your own social network of contemporaries is invaluable in terms of guidance.
Yes photographic training is important but so is finding the right type of training for you and for the right reasons….. not just to appear qualified.
Talk to other photographers (as many as you can) about what they’ve found useful for their own development.
Training should be ongoing, you’ll never know everything! They’ll always be a local competitor that is better and cheaper than you so by learning more you’ll only put yourselves in a better position to win more business.”