Ok, so I’m carrying on with a series of posts that I could entitle ‘the grass is greener abroad’ series. I’ve just come back from Paris this time, from taking part in portfolio reviews and a panel discussion at nofound photo fair. The photo fair is a new initiative led by Emeric Glayse and with events organised by Yasmina Reggad / Photo-Festivals. I’ll try to write one post about portfolio reviews that I have pending since Renctontres d’Arles, another one about how conservative the British gallery scene appears when compared to France (I’d be glad to be proved wrong), and this one.
I’ve a few times discussed with people about how photography is taught. Lots of students tell me how their degrees are rewarding on the project side, but that the most effective part is when they get to meet photographers or go on workshops where they learn a specific way of working. Doesn’t really surprise me, as for being a photographer the craft side of things, and the visual knowledge seem to be the main thing. More academic knowledge seems useful, but not indispensable compared with sh*tloads of shooting time, photobook reading and peer review. However, further knowledge comes in handy if you want to curate, edit, be a picture editor, a critic, a historian, etc, etc. Or roughly so goes my perception of it. I mean, I’m more keen on a student that has organised / curated some exhibitions or has a cool project than one that got a first and handed essays in time!
Going things as they go in terms of tuition fees, and a photography degree heading towards 3 years and £36.000 + expenses, I’d imagine that people would look at alternatives. After all, with that money you can take quite a lot of time off to shoot projects, get into workshops, try to get a mentor, or become an assistant. Most people getting degrees go to do these things anyway, and isn’t it rewarding to work with a photographer whose work you admire?
I bumped in Paris into JH Engstrom (whose work you might love or hate), and runs one of these alternative courses. It is a one year course, in which the much exhibited and published photographer reviews a project monthly, provides guidance, and organises three meetups in Paris. The whole thing comes to a hefty £3000 + expenses, but maybe it is worth it if you want to just focus on the photography and not become, for example, a curator? It is an interesting idea, it sort of brings the one to one mentor and apprentice relationship back into play. We all complain about the cost of workshops but the alternatives usually ain’t cheap either. Documentary photographer Mimi Mollica has been organising an online photography workshop at Photowrap. Three weeks at £500, focused at giving individual attention to the participants.
I’m wondering where this post is going by now. But what is a minimum photographic education? How much would you expect to pay for it, and what would it cover? Would you be happy to leg it to Nepal for two years to live in a buddhist monk temple with an enlarger and an old grumpy retired photographer to end up without a degree?
<—- post contributed by Joni Karanka from Third Floor Gallery —->