Education

Ever wonder what is the average day of a photo student like? Let me tell you.

Monday morning. 9am. You and your classmates are hanging your work on the wall. The pins are magnetic Last week, you got a darkroom printing tutorial. This week is a crit, a critique.

You and your 15 classmates and a professor you call by the first name gather around one person’s work. Professor sets the timer and there is silence.

Someone starts talking. You have an opinion. You wait for the right time and you say it to the room without raising your hand. Suddenly the timer rings. Fifteen minutes has passed.

Time for the next student. This lasts for three hours. You hear everything. Feminism. Racial issues. Gay expression. Self portraiture. Inspiration from artist x, y, and z. Performance art. Cultural exploration. You learn to understand the issues and decide whether the work addresses it, and whether or not you’re convinced the work works.

It is the afternoon before you get out of class. Do you want to work on your art history midterm paper or do you want to go buy film before the store closes? (It closes at 4pm).

You decide to eat lunch with your friends in the dorm cafeteria. They said they would treat you on their meal plan card.

You spend an hour or two decompressing. You gossip about today’s crit, potentially hot professors, an interesting exhibition at a nearby museum (MoMA) or art gallery.

You think about what you need to shoot for your assignment due on Thursday and you go back to school to rent equipment. A tripod and a film camera. You head home carrying your equipment. You start planning your next shoot. You’re very, very excited.

My first semester had five courses:

Freshman Seminar ­- the crits, tutorials, and work making.
Drawing ­- pencil and charcoal drawing.
Light ­- deals with how light interacts with objects, space, and movement
Design ­- graphic design, basically
A writing class that everyone had to take

I hope this gives you an idea of what a day in the life was for me as a Freshman (at Parsons and in NYC). College is a challenge but it’s a good place to grow. College isn’t always fun, but it’s always a time to learn about yourself. Good luck!

Image: Paul Reynolds

Education

High school students are beginning to fill out their college applications, and part of that process includes deciding what major to pick. While you can always change your major once you get to school, oftentimes colleges encourage you to choose one so they can get an idea of your interests.

For those thinking about majoring in photography, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Costs add up.

It is impossible to imagine how much things cost. Film, darkroom paper, photo paper, book printing, photo books, mounting, business cards…the list goes on. As the four college years go by, it adds up. Some schools have amazing facilities (Parsons) but others do not. For those that don’t, it would be frustrating for you to have to buy all your own gear and pay for studio and scanning and developing chemistry.

2. Think outside the box.

Photography is no longer the black and white documentary 35mm it once was. From fashion to fine art, photo students are now expected to grasp, come up with, and execute concepts. Why did you take that picture? Why is it next to that other picture? Is it a series, a diptych, a stand alone? Digital, prints, or book form? Why? Be prepared to think critically.

3. Critiques will happen.

“Crits” are days when your work is hung up and people talk about it. Sometimes you can defend your work, sometimes you can’t. People will disagree or dislike your work. They will tell you what they honestly think. You can’t do anything about it. The best thing to do is to learn to take everything with a grain of salt, and to give good crits. That is the most productive thing to do. Explain what is working and what isn’t and why.

Being a photography major has its good and bad points. But as long as you love it, then it will all be worth it!

Image: Mia Domenico