Photography Boot Camp great way to learn photography

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 5000, ƒ/25, 1/40–off camera flash with Alienbees B1600 powered by Vagabond and triggered using the Pocketwizard system.

Many people will talk about being Baptized by Fire when they took on a new responsibility. This is when you either sink or swim as one might also say about a new job.

There is a new movement in the IT industry called “Coder Boot Camp.” 12 Weeks To A 6-Figure Job was a piece first published in December 2014 but continues to get traction.

One fan of these programs is President Obama. In March, the White House announced the TechHire initiative to help communities recognize, and hire, boot camp graduates in order to close the famous “skills gap.”

“There’s a lot more we can do together to make sure that more Americans benefit from a 21st century economy,” Obama said to the nation’s mayors. “Folks can get the skills they need in newer, streamlined, faster training programs.”

According to a recent report on NPR:

These programs promise, for several thousand dollars, to take people and in a manner of weeks, turn them into job-ready Web developers.

Virtually unknown just four years ago, today at least 50 of these programs have sprung up around the country and overseas. Collectively, the sector has taken in an estimated $73 million in tuition since 2011.

And the top programs say they are placing the vast majority of their graduates into jobs earning just under six figures in a rapidly expanding field — filling a need for practical, hands-on skills that traditional college programs, in many cases, don’t.

photo by Robin Nelson

Since 2006 I have been part of a Photography 12 week boot camp that does a similar training for those wanting to know photography.

The students in the course I work with each year in Kona, Hawaii do nothing but this one class for 12 weeks. The more I heard about the “Coder Boot Camp” on NPR as I was driving the more I realized this is what we have been doing in that class.

Patrick Murphy-Racey, Sony Artisan Associate, takes a moment to talk with Lily Wang at workshop about the Sony mirrorless camera system. [Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 6400, ƒ/5, 1/250]

I do not think a boot camp replaces a college degree. Career advancement and promotions are based on multiple factors, however, having a bachelor’s degree can be a major factor. Employers often view a college educated employee as someone who is motivated to learn, able to meet deadlines and has problem solving and communication skills. Many management and administrative positions require a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

What a boot camp does do that college degree doesn’t always do is train you in those very practical skills you need each day in the profession.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 12800, ƒ/8, 1/100

The multimedia workshops that I am now teaching have no tests and grading. No one cares in the industry if you graduated Magna Cum Laude, they want to see your portfolio. The boot camp experience is where you will spend a great deal of time hands on and producing just like you would do on a real job.

The difference between the job and the boot camp is the coaching and teaching that comes along with the instructors. They will review your work and help guide you to help you produce a portfolio that without the instruction would have taken you a much longer time to do on your own.

Photography has very few Boot Camp Programs where in a 12 week period you get the practical skills to start working as a professional. The School of Photography program that Dennis Fahringer runs in Kona, Hawaii with University of the Nations is the only one that I know of. It is designed for Christians who want to use photography in ministry/missions to impact the world.

There are shorter workshops that will teach a specific skill like I do with my Multimedia Workshop or Lighting Workshops where you learn in a short period of time a skill.

+/- Photography Boot Camp

  • The most important key element about attending a bootcamp was a COMMITMENT to and PASSION for learning the technology. You will get a great deal out of the program if you bring an insatiable desire for knowledge.
  • You realize that it is a portfolio that will get your hired and not how many classes you have taken.
  • You take on all the projects with the desire to redo any part of the process until it is portfolio worthy.
  • If you are not carrying your camera around most of the time this is good clue you might not benefit from this program.
  • If you find that spending 8+ hours a day doing nothing but photography to be too much then you need to avoid this.
  • If you have trouble dealing with criticism this isn’t the profession for you. While no one enjoys criticism the person with a passion realizes they need to get better and welcome the criticism rather than recoil from it.

I am a lifelong learner and realize that every few years I must take a deep dive into something new that I need to learn. This might be a class to learn a new software or going to a workshop to learn about a new piece of gear that has just been introduced. Whatever the case, I realized long ago that I will never know all there is to know about photography and that I can always learn something new.

I have a one week bootcamp in Multimedia Narrative Storytelling in Mexico with Coffee Growers. Click here to learn more.