Right back at the beginning of my photography journey in 2010, my husband signed me up to do a diploma course in professional photography.
Today i actually graduated that course with an overall pass of 94% - YAY!
To say that I found online study challenging is an understatement. The course is supposed to take 12 months, it took me three years. Admittedly during that time i started working an average of 25 hours a week in retail, did all the usual mum/wife things, had another baby and grew my photography business from a hobby to a fully time business, but still... three years is an awfully long time.
Aside from all the photographic based information that i learnt along the way, i learnt a few non-photographic things too and i would like to share them with anyone who may be considering online learning in creative arts.
• 1 •
I have always enjoyed learning. At school i placed in the top 10 percentile for the NSW School Certificate. I was one of those kids who didn't have to work my butt off and was virtually a straight A student. I was in ALL the extra curricular activities i could get my hands on. Choir, Debating, Sports teams - you name it, i did it.
I absolutely LOATHED online learning. I thought i would be all over it and smash it out quickly, i mean i was reading a 600 page novel a week when i started it, how hard could these skinny modules be right? WRONG! Major difference between in class and online learning - people who are learning along with you to discuss it with, whether it is the teacher or other students, they are right there in the room and you can verbally toss your understanding of something around a room bouncing off other people until you grasp the ins and outs of it fully.
• 2 •
Not all experts make good teachers. Or maybe it is that they don't make good writers. Or maybe they had poor editor - i don't know. I do know that my teacher is a fantastic photographer, working around the globe for literally decades & published many times... but as far as his ability to connect with students to light that flame of creativity - IMHO, not so much. Now don't get me wrong, i did in fact learn a lot, and his responses to my assignments were all mostly very helpful, but piecing the useful information from the pages upon pages of irrelevant/out of date information, or whole paragraphs where he actually wasn't making a point about photography, but rather listing his many accomplishments, or even the part where he basically trashed another photographer by name - had me literally throw my booklet across the room in frustration. Having said that, i have also taken an extension course to this one specifically in portraiture, and this particular module i have found to be much easier going thus far.
• 3 •
Once again, I couldn't have finished it without my wonderful husband to help. I have told you all before what a saint my man is (and if you missed that post you can read it here) and his help with this course was no exception. He would print out and bind all the modules for me, after the episode where I tossed one across the room he proceeded to then read through them first and highlight the paragraphs that were actually relevant to the topic (or cross out the ones that were not), he would sit and talk the modules over with me so i had that person to bounce my understanding off of until i had it right in my mind, he would sit, stand, turn and pose like a pro for different parts of each assignment while i worked through them - in short he was his usual amazing self and i can't thank him enough <3
So - my personal tips for anyone wanting to study something creative online? Before you go shelling out money for a course, find a free trial to see if online learning is your thing. Make sure that your teachers are ones that you can connect with and learn from. And finally, have a support person. Most courses provide student support Facebook groups etc but if you can team up with someone you know, you will probably keep each other on track and you will definitely have more fun doing it :)
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