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George Jung
07-13-2012, 07:36 AM
My pitbull daughter (nickname 'Spike') has found her 'dream program' - wants to pursue Fashion Photography as a career. My background offers little basis for providing sound advice; but I've done a lot of reading. SPEOS, in Paris, seems to be among the most well-regarded. But it's not an 'approved' course of study for a BFA, and as such, her scholarships won't apply. But she's gone to the mat with her school (she's an Art major at a small school), and damned if they haven't agreed to allow 9 hours credit towards her BFA, for participation in SPEOS 32 week program. And they'll allow her to 'shelve' her scholarships for her return/return to their BFA program. So..... what'cha tink?

http://www.speos.fr/

Paul Pless
07-13-2012, 07:39 AM
So..... what'cha tink?

A year in Paris as an undergrad? Sounds awesome!


Maybe you should put your lawn tractor plans on hold.:D

S/V Laura Ellen
07-13-2012, 07:41 AM
An important part of any career in photography is business acumen. It is important to have some good training in business fundamentals.
Photography is a very tough career, and one that is currently under a great deal of change due to the decline of print media.

George Jung
07-13-2012, 07:48 AM
Agreed. Coming from small-town Midwest isn't a big plus, either. Unfortunately, swmbo jr is rather like having a hunting dog on point. SPEOS appears to emphasize the business side rather strongly - a total immersion program. I can hear a flushing sound, $$$ swirling the drain - but also haven't found an effective 'plan B'. And no doubt - spending a year in France might be a major life-event - I can see that.

AFA the lawnmower- no doubt. I'll be out chewing it off with my teeth - both for manicuring the lawn, and sustenance.

elf
07-13-2012, 12:33 PM
It's a pitbull trade, and she better have not only a massive amount of outside-the-box creative skills, but also a willingness to work with slimy people, to forgo value systems about women's health, a love of fashion from infancy, and interminable patience for working with people and technology.

While she's in France she'll need to work on locating an atelier for an internship as well. She won't really need the BFA, just talent and lack of scruples will do it.

Kaa
07-13-2012, 02:21 PM
Spending an year in France is an excellent idea and is worth it :-)

Fashion photography as a career... well...

First, I don't think that a degree (of any sort) matters in photography. People will look at your images and no one will ever ask if you have a BFA or anything. Formal education might still be valuable for the networking and a foot-in-the-door entrance into the field, but having a degree does not confer any advantage for the career.

Second, fashion photography is a small field, or rather a small number of people are able to make money in it. The competition is very high. There are also high positive externalities for young guys in this field :-D so they compete harder. To make it, you have to be good. Very good.

This is not meant as a discouragement for her -- I think it's one of those case where it's better to try and fail than to never try at all :-)

Kaa

Shang
07-14-2012, 08:47 PM
double post

Shang
07-14-2012, 08:50 PM
I'm glad I came in late for this discussion. As I've mentioned here from time to time, among other things, I teach photography.
My advice to Spike, read all of the comments posted here, there's a lot of good sense and experience floating around this place.
To make a living at photography your work must be technically perfect, you must have better and more creative ideas than others in the field, and to survive you have to have very good business experience.

Enjoy Paris.

Durnik
07-14-2012, 10:41 PM
I'm glad I came in late for this discussion. As I've mentioned here from time to time, among other things, I teach photography.
My advice to Spike, read all of the comments posted here, there's a lot of good sense and experience floating around this place.
To make a living at photography your work must be technically perfect, you must have better and more creative ideas than others in the field, and to survive you have to have very good business experience.

Enjoy Paris.

What can I say.. Opportunity knocks but once. We regret more that we didn't try than that we did.

All of Shang's rings true.. but the "Enjoy Paris", truer.. & I see Paul wasted no time in observing this.. ;-)

enjoy
bobby

skipper68
07-14-2012, 11:32 PM
I was going to SU for Art when I was 8yrs old on a scholarship. Now with CGA and a program, you buy rights to photos. Then Photoshop. I can get a canvas Pix of my boat from Walmart. CGA would pay better, with Art as a side. Start a DBA and have her go internet.

John Smith
07-15-2012, 07:47 AM
One of the problems fundamental to life is whatever side of the road's fork we take, we will look back later and wonder if we had taken the other one. I suggest she follow her heart and dreams if she's really serious and this isn't a passing fad. Once she makes that decision, the hard part is not looking back.

My only other suggestion would be that she not limit her work to fashion models. My gut tells me she may need to do some other work to keep the bills paid.

George Jung
07-15-2012, 09:31 AM
It looks like we've decided to put this on the back burner, at least for now. big chunk of change, lots of unknowns, and we found ourselves rushing to meet deadlines. Back to her BFA for another year, and take another look at it. Really tough decision - and I agree, second-guessing after the fact is tough to avoid, and not much use.

elf
07-15-2012, 09:51 AM
From school, if she's serious about shooting fashion, she heads to New York to find as many opportunities to assist in the studios of working, earning, photographers as she can get in a 3-year period. If, at the end of that time she's established herself as a go-to person for assisting, and (using her own paid models) developed a fabulous portfolio, she can then start circulating her book to a highly select list of designers.

Shang is correct. Listen to Shang.

Subscribe to Photo District News.

Dreaming about becoming a fashion photographer is akin to dreaming about playing Carnegie Hall.

Paul Pless
07-15-2012, 10:07 AM
It looks like we've decided to put this on the back burner, at least for now. big chunk of change, lots of unknowns, and we found ourselves rushing to meet deadlines. Back to her BFA for another year, and take another look at it. Really tough decision. . .

In the meantime, is there a possibility that she could attend some photography workshops? They would present some opportunity for travel as well as contact with pro's. Perhaps allow her a week or so of extra time in the locale where the workshop/seminar will be held. I'm envisioning New York and San Francisco, but perhaps Paris or London might be in the cards. . .

Bruce Hooke
07-15-2012, 10:15 AM
My photo experience is at nearly the opposite end of the photo spectrum from fashion photography so I don't have any inside knowledge of that field, but I think it is maybe worth remembering that while I am sure it is very competitive if one wants to shoot high-end fashion models for top-notch ad campaigns and so on, there is presumably quite a bit more demand and at least a somewhat lower entry bar to get over in the realm of more routine "clothing photography" for lack of a better term (for catalogs, etc.). No, it's not as exciting as big fashion shoots but few of us get a career that is as exciting as what we imagined when we were in college! What I just said is maybe more advice for the parents (don't worry, she'll have a way to make a living!) than it is for the college student aiming high. Better to aim high and at least give it a shot. Chance are good as well that what she plans now in terms of a career will end up changing a good bit in the next decade so a diverse education never hurts. So, if the Paris option can work in another year I'd say go for it!

Shang
07-15-2012, 10:33 AM
Totally by coincidence this morning I received a similar question from a buddy in Brussels. Here's my response:

================================================

Okay, Pete I'll be happy to comment on Molly's online portfolio.
I’ll be stuffy and professorial:

Ms. Xxxx’s photographs are outstanding; she would earn an A in my photo classes. In respect to composition and light and shadow her work brings Cartier-Bresson’s to mind.
She has had work appearing in Vogue! Astonishing! Good for her!

My suggestions? First about the photos on her portfolio site: Where are the people? Half or more of a photographer’s work should include pictures of people—they’re the most prevalent image in art, and their absence in Ms. Xxxx’s presentation is surprising…viewers will wonder. And viewers will type-cast the photographer as someone who does not photograph people.

Ms. Xxxx needs to make a decision about her presentation site: What is its purpose? If it is to present her work to friends, family and admirers, then it is working perfectly. But if it is to solicited commissions or commercial assignments, it is too long. No one is going to look at that many photographs. Edit and distill the presentation down to no more than twenty photos, although a dozen would be better—these should represent Ms. Xxxx in the best possible light (consider having someone else do this editing).

Does Ms. Xxxx intend to make a career as a photographer? He skill in photography is good enough for this to happen. But I frequently remember the best piece of business advice I was ever given. It was imparted to me by an elderly gentleman who roto-roots sewer drain lines. “It’s a good business,” he said, standing knee deep in cold dirty water, “but you gotta work it.” Therein is the problem many artists and photographers have—we’re good at what we do best, but we don’t know how to work it as a business. How does one learn the business aspects of art? These skills are not often taught in school. One can learn a lot by working with someone who is already established in the field, although finding someone and persuading them of one’s value as an assistant isn’t easy.

But in any case Ms. Xxxx’s work is outstanding, and she should pursue where her heart leads her.

elf
07-15-2012, 10:40 AM
One last thing - she'd better master video, too. The internet is where it's at for the future and still images are speedily taking a back burner to moving ones.

High C
07-15-2012, 11:09 AM
...Shang is correct. Listen to Shang.....Dreaming about becoming a fashion photographer is akin to dreaming about playing Carnegie Hall.

As one who has played Carnegie Hall, twice, I concur wholeheartedly...listen to Shang.

In fact, FAR more people play Carnegie and support themselves performing music than make it in the rarefied air of fashion photography.

A year in Paris? That would be a valuable experience no matter what direction she later takes.

S/V Laura Ellen
07-15-2012, 11:27 AM
Another way to look at situation would be "is she willing to be a 'portrait/wedding' photographer if the path into fashion doesn't pan out. Many professional photographers fall back on weddings when business is slow.
There is also a trend these days to self publish (eg: fashion blog) to make up for the decrease in opportunities caused by the decline of print media (fewer magazines = fewer photographic opportunities).
Training in Paris would be great, it may open doors for getting a intern position with a influential photographer. Besides, its Paris, see the world and expand your horizons. It can't hurt!