Back to School...But Which Is Best For Photography?


Are you ready to take your photography skills and creativity to a new level? A workshop, online photography program, or a degree program in photography may be your next step. These top programs are a good start.

Looking for inspiration, or a springboard into a career as a professional photographer? Here's an overview of some of the best resources for photographers who are ready to learn—from one-off workshops to online learning and, finally, five of the top photography degree programs in the United States.


Note: If you are a student studying photography at an accredited school, you may be eligible for special offers, such as free shipping and substantial discounts, through Adorama's Government and Education department.






Depending on the program or the individual workshop, you can learn how to use your beginner-level camera, spend a few hours shooting with a master photographers, get hands-on postproduction instruction, or boost specific skills for your photography business or studio. While there may be workshops near you, be prepared to travel for a great program.


Join the tens of thousands who have attended Workshops@Adorama at Adorama's corporate headquarters in the heart of New York's Photo District. Programs, which can be an evening session with one of today's top photographers or a day-long, hands-on workshop in a studio or on location around the New York area, are designed for a wide range of photographers from first-time DSLR owners to seasoned professionals. Upcoming workshops include Getting Great Action and Sports Photos, Photowalking with Joe DiMaggio: Exploring Brooklyn Bridge Park,  and Bob Davis: Overcoming Challenges of Location Lighting.

Eddie Adams Workshop

To attend this workshop, you already need to be impressive. Founded by Pulitzer Prize-winning Associated Press photographer Eddie Adams, the Eddie Adams Workshop is an intense, tuition-free four-day gathering of top photography professionals and 100 carefully selected students who are selected on the merit of their portfolios. Applications are accepted from mid-February through the end of May. Participants are selected in July and the workshop takes place in upstate New York in mid-October.

Maine Media Photographic Workshop

For the past 40 years, the Main Photographic Workshops (original name) has grown to include multimedia, and now offers college-accredited courses. Located in picturesque Rockport, Maine, the workshops range from lab and studio work to field trips. The workshops, because of their relatively remote location, offer participants the opportunity for full immersion in the are of photography of their choice. For serious academics, there is also an MFA program with degrees in photography filmmaking and multimedia.

Santa Fe Photography Workshop

The Santa Fe Workshops have one goal: To help photographers achieve new levels in their photographic work. A year-round educational center, workshops are geared towards enthusiasts and professional photographers and, in the words of the mission statement, "rekindle their passion for photography." Located in the midst of the magical desert Southwest, workshops include: "Finding Your Audience: An Introduction to Marketing Your Photographs," "Creativity and Travel Photography," and "The Photographic Project: An Eight Week Workshop".

Mentor Series

While there are many travel photography workshops, the Mentor Series, which is sponsored by Popular Photography Magazine, is one of the best. Destination-based photo treks can take you anywhere in the world; in fact, upcoming workshops will visit Thailand, the Michigan Lakeshore, Baja California and the Sea of Cortez, New Orleans, and the US Virgin Islands—a very diverse selection. Well-known, successful professional travel photographers and photojournalists accompany each tour and share their experties; participants must supply their own gear.



Online/Learn at Home

Location workshops may not work for everyone, especially if travel to a distant locale is out of the question either financially or logistically. The good news is that there are several outstanding online learning opportunities, and one of them—Adorama's own Learning Center—is free!

The Adorama Learning Center

For more than 8 years the Adorama Learning Center has been providing extensive online articles and tutorials on a wide array of photographic practices, from portrait photography to sports, studio, and travel photography. You can also learn picture-taking techniques and postproduction tips by watching AdoramaTV, which currently offers over 500 videos to help you build your level of experience from the comfort of your own computer. The good news? It's all free.


Founded by AdoramaTV contributor Bryan Peterson, the Pefect Picture School of Photography (PPSOP) offers a wide range of interactive online courses for beginners, intermediate and advanced photographers. There is even a series of courses that can put you on the path to a career as a professional photographer. The "Digital Darkroom" series of courses helps you become fluent in Photoshop, Aperture, and video editing software. Hobbyists and enthusiasts may be interested in "Fine Art Nature Photography," "Eye to Eye: Capturing the Face," and "Stretching Your Frame of Mind."

New York Institute of Photography

For decades, the NYIP has put study-at-home students on the path towards becoming professional photographers. Accredited by DETC and licensed by NYSED, NYIP offers a complete course in professional photography which  includes lesson books, CDs and DVDs and 6 assignments that are reviewed by a professional photographer. THere is email and phone support with student advisors, and the course gives you extensive training in setting up a studio, finding freelance opportunities, and breaking into specialty areas. There are also Photoshop courses and beginner-oriented photography lessons.



College Undergraduate and Graduate Degree Programs

Now it gets serious: Here are six degree programs in photography for full-time students. Depending on the program, graduates will have the experience to become visual artists or open their own photo studios. From the creative to the practical, if you are armed with a degree, you are a step ahead of the competition.

California Institute of the Arts (Undergraduate, Graduate)

The CalArts Photography and Media program offers both BFA and MFA degrees. Courses are designed to "challenge conventional notions of artistic practice and question the position of representation within contemporary culture." The school takes a more academic, fine-arts approach and encourages both purely photographic and mixed-media exploration. Students go on to careers in fine arts and teaching.

Columbia College (Graduate)

Chicago-based Columbia college has a large arts and media school and offers an MFA in Photography that emphasizes innovative photographic technique, aesthetic and conceptual development. It's a three-year course of focused study that is expected to result in a mature body of work and give students the tools needed to accelerate their careers as working photographers.

Yale University (Graduate)

While you might not associate Yale with photography, its art school is top-notch and its MFA photography program was recently rated as one of the top photography degree programs in the nation by US News and World Report. It's a two-year program and only admits nine students a year. Students learn black-and-white and color photography, learning to process and print in a traditional darkroom as well as learning digital production. Students work individually and in groups with faculty and visiting artists, and their work is critiqued weekly.

Rhode Island School of Design (Undergraduate, Graduate)

The RISD's renowned photography program challenges students to think and articulate ideas, finding new ways to express yourself in studio and personal field assignments. Students will attain the skills to enable them to specialize in commercial or editorial photography, teah, start a business, or pursue a fine arts carreer. Graduate students develop visual and critical expertise through course work, seminars, independent studies, and critiques, and work with RISD's distinguished faculty.

Rochester Institute of Technology (Undergraduate)

With a focus on the scientific aspects of photography, RIT used to be a feeder into the world of Kodak, and supplied the photographic press with a steady stream of lab directors whose mark can still be felt at Popular Photography and elsewhere. The RIT program focuses on medical imaging as well as multimedia production and web design, although graduates end up in fields such as architecture photography, nature photography, holography and scanning electron microscopy.

School of Visual Arts (Undergraduate, Graduate)

With state-of-the art production facilities that are open unti 4am in the City that Never Sleeps, SVA offers both BFA and MFA programs with artistic and practical implications. SVA says its graduates are grounded in the creative and technical skills of the medium and are uniquely prapared for job opportunities in the field. Its 100-erson stron faculty incudes successful professional photographers working in the competitive New York market, as well as art dealers, critics, publishers and photo editors. Students will work with medium and large format film cameras as well as with digital capture and production. Specialties include fashion, landscape, still-life, portrait, photojournalism and other genres.


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