Monday 5 March 2007

You don't need a degree to become a professional digital photographer

We think that people with the right qualifications are the best for the job, always. Is this true? I have no doubt that a Brain Surgeon needs qualifications before he or she can open up my head and do what needs to be done. I have no doubt that an Airline Pilot needs qualifications before they can sit in the cockpit and lift a hundred people into the air. But digital photography?

What are qualifications anyway? The dictionary states that:
QUALIFICATION is an 'Act of qualifying; state of being qualified; suitable quality or characteristic; legal power; ability; modification; restriction.'
QUALIFIED is 'Having qualification; competent; limited; modified.' (the words in bold are my emphasis)

What underpins our belief that qualifications are essential before a good job can be done is our belief that schools and colleges are competent in 'qualifying' their students. This was true to a great degree when film was king. Knowledge about film photography had been been built up over the course of 150 years. The tutors had been taught how to teach film but they haven't been taught how to teach digital. Digital photography is less than 10 years old essentially and they haven't had the time or the inclination to build up the new knowledge required.

Most college tutors rubbished digital photography in its early days and continue to rubbish it to this day. They have ignored the elephant in the room for so long that they are not in a position to prepare students for a digital photography world. They would rather talk about film photography.

So does that mean that the only good photographer is a film photographer? Well if the colleges are turning out confused and ill-prepared digital photographers it would seem so. But the truth is that digital photographers are teaching themselves. They are becoming competent through their own ability and drive, through books and discussion boards (such as, through magazines and specialised courses (such as Digital Beginners Digital Photo and Photoshop Courses) but they need to leave the guilt behind, the guilt that tells them they are not properly 'qualified'.

The plain fact is that they are much more qualified than the 'Qualifers', the college tutors. The digital photographer of today knows and understands much, much more about digital photography. They have ability and are competent in their chosen discipline.

Maybe they should ask the colleges for a job?

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