Info for New Photo Students

HS Media Workshop 2009

Welcome to school.
I am always asked what gear and software students will need in the Point Park University Photojournalism B.A and Photography B.F.A. program. I’m also often asked about what a student can expect in the program.

I’ll break down your anticipated needs and expectations by class level.

Freshmen:
35mm film SLR cammera
Yes, that is correct, film. Your first two semesters, and possibly more if you choose, will be film based. We use the traditional wet process to give you a solid foundation in the basics and historical relevance of traditional photography. Understanding the darkroom process will give you the vocabulary and skills you need to be a better digital photographer.

The university does have a few to loan out on a first come first serve basis. This is handy if you aren’t sure you want to stay in photography as a major.

I’d also stick to using the schools computers until you are sure of your preferences (MAC or PC)

Sophomores:
By now you should be committed to one of the photography majors. Your education will begin to shift into the digital world quite rapidly. It would be my advice to spend your money on an lower end camera body kit and use the schools loaner lenses. We have Nikon glass. You will have the opportunity to try out a few thing before making a big commitment to quality lenses for yourself. You may also want to consider a computer that has the ability to be upgraded over the next year or two to keep pace. Bear this in mind that no matter the computer you buy now it will be obsolete before you know it. Consider a student version of the latest Photoshop Suite. You should be shooting for the student media and be looking for opportunities to lead and move up.

Juniors:
You are a serious student now. Your function now shifts from ‘learning’ photography basics to experimenting on your own with new techniques and bouncing the results off of your classmates and teachers. refining your skills and learing all that you can from others. You should be building your professional network and begin looking for an internship. You should be an active member or a leader in the student media and belong to an outside professional organization like NPPA or ASMP.
You should be investing in good glass for your camera, f2.8 or faster. Your first lens should cover a good range like 28-105mm. A second lens should be an 80-200. If you can swing a third, consider a super-wide lens for tight situations.
You will need the ability to process images on your own computer to meet class deadlines. It is also quite likely that you could land your first freelance assignment, you’ll need the flexibility of your own gear to complete the assignment. You’ll be learning multimedia and will need video editing software like Final Cut Express or Adobe Premiere.

Seniors
Within a year you will graduate. You must enter into the business 100% and support yourself soon. Networking and portfolio building will be your mantra for the year. Knowing the right people will get you places, also you should be ritualistically checking the NPPA job data bank and others for opportunities. Shooting for the student media and the Point Park News Service should be a big part of your routine. Generating multimedia and shooting video should be things you are willing and able to do. Resistance is futile, this is the future. Position yourself to take advantage of it. Creating your own opportunities will be imperative to your success in the future. Ask members of the local chapters of NPPA and ASMP how they got their start and adapt that information to your own unique set of skills. Upgrading to to a more powerful camera allows you more freedom to create. You must have your own gear to completely take advantage of opportunities that come your way. You should also take the Business of Photography course and become interested in the ins and outs of conducting business properly if you choose to freelance. Being skilled, creative and meeting a deadline is mandatory.

Good luck to you. I look forward to helping your reach your goals.

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