You have always dreamed of becoming the next Annie Leibovitz, Herb Ritts, Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton, Peter Lindbergh, Henri Cartier-Bresson or David LaChapelle. You got your gear, your portfolio is brimming with quality photographs and you are looking to pursue your ambition further, namely find the best photography school around to give you that last push to realization of your dreams. Fret no more, because we have done the job for you. We have extensively searched for the best and the most prestigious photography schools out there and, voila, here’s is the result…
We believe that you, the future Vogue / Time / National Geographic photographers, will find the selection interesting and very useful. So, in no particular order, here are the 10 greatest photography schools in the world.
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1. Parsons the New School for Design , New York City, USA
This is one of the oldest arts and design schools in the world, founded by the famous American Impressionist William Merritt Chase in 1896, as a rebellious gesture and with the idea of educating the pioneers of American modernism. Today, apart from various other arts courses, Parsons the New School for Design has a great four-year Photography Programme. The programme’s graduates (BFA) have become a force to be reckoned with – from becoming Fulbright scholars and recipients of numerous photography awards to honorees of Photo District News (PDN 30) .
The programme itself is diverse, challenging and exceptionally educational. The Parsons School says that their goal is to provide students with „the visual, technical, conceptual, and professional vocabulary they need to succeed in their field“. The Photography Programme is focusing on students developing technical skills and conceptual insights into fine art, commercial or editorial photography. Please note that all applicants for Parsons have to complete the so-called Parsons Challenge exercise which is done in Slideroom. The exercise sheds light to the way future students develop ideas, come up with themes and visually communicate them. The applicants are allowed to use any media at their disposal – from video, photography and 3D to collages and digital images.
2. Royal College of Art, London, UK
“We have a fluid approach to image making. Whether still or moving, analogue or digital, the photographic image is for us a visual form that aims to be thoughtful as well as playful: an allegorical and thoroughly visual form.” This quote from Head of the Photography Programme at the Royal College of Art (RCA), Professor Olivier Richon beautifully sums up the gist of the photography curriculum at the RCA.
Photography plays a key role in contemporary art, and the Photography Programme at the RCA aims to provide a critical and educational environment in which students can develop as artists with photography at the core of their practice. During the programme, the students will be attending classes, tutorials and seminars given by the most renowned practitioners and thinkers. The programme is housed in specially built studios and darkrooms on the Battersea Campus. The RCA’s Photography Department has state-of-the-art equipment including a full range of digital still and moving image cameras (Canon 5D Mk2s, Nikon D800 and Hassleblad), Imacon film and flatbed Epson scanners with workstations and calibrated displays and a superb retouching suite with the latest workstations and 27 inch NEC Spectraview display.
3. The New York Institute of Photography, New York City, USA
This is a photography school that has it all – tradition (it was established in 1910 by a French immigrant Emile Brunel), reputation, cutting edge and versatility. The New York Institute of Photography (NYIP) has five exciting photography courses:
– NYIP complete course in professional photography
– Photoshop for photographers
– The complete course in video-making and storytelling
– Marketing for photographers
– The fundamentals of digital photography
The beauty of enrolling into one of the NYIP’s photography programmes is that you don’t need to leave the privacy of your home because the courses allow students to learn online. As for famous NYIP’s alumni, they are quite a few of them including Matthew Lewis Jr., who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1975 for “for his photographs in color and black and white”, and Michael Doven, who was a close collaborator of Tom Cruise on movies Jerry Maguire, Magnolia, The Firm, A Few Good Men, Eyes Wide Shut, Minority Report, Vanilla Sky, and the Mission Impossible series.
4. Speos Photographic Institute, Paris, France
Not all fantastic photography schools are located in the U.S. The Speos Photographic Institute in Paris is one of those schools that have already gained a cult status although being considered a relative newcomer in the world of photography schools. Speos was founded not so long ago, in January 1985, by the French photographer Pierre-Yves Mahé, known for his innovative style and technique. Soon after establishing Speos, Mahé got in touch with some of the best arts universities in America – RISD, Chicago Art Institute, Hamilton College – which sent their students to study abroad as a part of their respective curricula.
Since its establishment in 1985, the school has trained more than 3,600 students. Speos is accredited by the French government and has collaborated with the giants in the world of photography like Gamma, Reuters, Nikon, Canon, Minolta, Konica and Fuji Film. Also, the school’s training programme is approved by the French National Committee for Professional Certification.
5. Vevey School of Photography, Vevey, Switzerland
Although plagued by problems recently (faculty strikes), Vevey has always been and will always be one of the best and the longest running European photography schools. Apart from its long-standing tradition and quality, the school is also known for its International Photography Award in the form of a € 33,000 grant for photography projects or initiatives.
The photography majors at the Vevey School of Arts can enjoy a very comprehensive and detailed curriculum which covers both the print and electronic media. If you are not keen on standing behind the lens, but would love to be engaged in other aspects of photography, the school also provides courses for students who aim at working in photography workshops, laboratories or in sales. This curriculum focuses both on various photography techniques, as well as on customer advice and sales.
6. Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada
Ryerson prides itself in being the leader in innovative education and is one of those urban universities that are very much on the move. The university has an impressive number of undergraduate and graduate programmes (over 100) and is home to 38,950 students.
Photography studies at Ryerson are full-time studies, lasting four years. The degree earned is Bachelor of Fine Arts and the fees range from just over $6,000 for Canadian students to $21,000 for foreign students. Photography curriculum here is a combination of theories and practical work, and old and new technology, and it will provide you with tools for turning your photography into art. As far as admission requirements go, this is a Grades Plus Programme which means that the student selection is based on grades and non-academic prerequisites.
7. School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, USA
According to the U.S. News and World Report, School of the Art Institute of Chicago is the second best photography school in the United States. The future students can become Bachelors of Fine Arts in photography, and, during studying, they can pop over to the famous Art Institute of Chicago Museum, to see galleries, performances, shows and hear lectures. The school has the Cooperative Education Program which gives the students an opportunity to experience internships in Chicago and neighbouring cities.
The Photography Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago is constantly trying to redefine the medium that is photography. The school says that the photography curriculum is one of the most “eclectic” around and will encourage you to experiment with your work.
The curriculum is broad and covers anything from traditional formats of image making to conceptual practices. As a photography student at the School of Art Institute you will be versed both in practice and theory, will practice your skills in a very supportive environment at the faculty and work with the state-of-the-art equipment.
The School of the Art Institute has very notable alumni like fashion designer Cynthia Rowley, American painter Grant Wood (the author of the iconic painting “American Gothic“), Jeff Koons and Georgia O’Keeffe.
8. European Academy of Fine Arts, Trier, Germany
Although the European Academy of Fine Arts is located in Germany, in a 2000-year-old town of Trier, it has an English-speaking photography department in Barcelona, Spain. This is a very selective school with only twelve students admitted each year. The admission rules are strict, and students have to obtain a high quality camera and a tripod as a prerequisite for studying at the academy. They also have to pay for their tuition fees, as well as travel and accommodation. The classes include lessons on taking black and white photographs, technical knowledge and composition.
9. Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts, Prague, Czech Republic
The Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts (or FAMU for short) is located in Prague. FAMU is one of the most iconic art schools in Europe and the fifth oldest film school in the world. The school’s alumni include the most influential film makers and writers in Europe with quite a few of them being Oscar winners and laureates of the best international film festivals.
The school’s photography department was founded in 1975 and runs a three-year photography programme. The curriculum combines classical photography techniques with the contemporary trends in multi-media. The photography department has Bachelor and Master’s programmes, as well as a study programme in English language. To be admitted to the photography programme, you must possess a clear talent for photography and creative work, and you must have the basic knowledge of photography. The school has five well-equipped studios and a workshop – Studio of Documentary Photography, Studio of Staged Photography, Studio of Post-Conceptual Photography and Studio of Multi-media, as well as the graphics workshop and silk screen print studio. Here, you will be given an opportunity to learn bookbinding and production of photographic publications while multimedia instruction is an integral part of the curriculum.
10. IED – Istituto Europeo di Design, Rome, Italy and Madrid, Spain
IED is one of the most respected arts schools in Europe, founded in 1966 by then Italian president Francesco Morelli. The school provides training in the following disciplines – design, fashion, visual communication and management – and has departments all over Italy (Rome, Milan, Florence, Venice, Cagliari), Spain (Barcelona and Madrid) and Brazil (Sao Paulo). IED prides itself in being more than just a school, it is “a melting pot ofnew generations of professionalism and powerhouse of ideas “.
The school’s branch in Madrid offers one of the most in-depth photography courses in Europe. The photography programme here is considered one of the most ambitious training programmes in Europe. It is also practical, innovative and unique, and deeply embedded in the European conceptual and creative identity. The faculty at the Istituto Europeo di Design Madrid are authorities in their respective photography fields (Martin Parr, Alejandro Castellote, Elger Esser and Joan Fontcuberta, to mention just a few). The school says that they rely on three types of professors: Masters (major authorities in the European photography), regular professors (international artists and theorists of photography and visual arts), and tutors (a new breed of photographers with academic and project experience). Classes are held in English language and in the event of certain classes being held in Spanish, simultaneous translation into English is provided.
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