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MarisaPitts
03-23-2009, 04:33 PM
What effect has having your Master of Photography degree had on your business and how do you market it?

Todd_Reichman
03-23-2009, 07:44 PM
I'd be very interested to hear how people have tangibly benefitted from pursuit of the Master's. On a creative level, what techniques did you learn or what pitfalls did you learn to watch out for and avoid? On a business level, how has earning your Master's produced concrete result for your business?

- trr

Jackie_Haggerty
03-23-2009, 08:12 PM
Marisa,

Great topic for a post! I cannot speak as a Master, as I am a few merits shy of my degree, but I can tell you how it is important to me as I build up to earning the degree of Master of Photography.

For me, as I sit in competition, I watch many, many prints go by. What is interesting to see is that quite a few of the prints are not necessarily client work but are self-assignments of the photographer, created or planned for competition. The images that I am submitting, though, are reflective of my everyday client work that comes in the door and out the door of the studio. It is an every day setup, every day sets, and expressions that are real, in the moment.

The most important thing, right now, is that my clients know it. When I enter their image, and if it merits - they know it. We talk about it, how hard it is to merit an image. We talk about other images and why they wouldn't merit. We talk about the 12 elements and titles, why we mount it and present it the way we do. Their eyes open greatly to what is really going on, AND they tell their friends. They 'get' that we know what we are talking about and how much we really do know that isn't obvious. They understand how much of an honor it is to be published in a loan book or showcase book. Often times, they are asking me when I will hear something, when the deadlines are, and if they are asking me about it that much then they are telling their friends. Every one of these moments is part of the bigger picture. For when, and if, that degree comes to me, I will know, and be able to share that the degree was earned from what we do every day, day in and day out, and THAT is important. I have not doubt that my clients will celebrate with me, especially those that were there as part of the journey.

When that day comes, and if we set it up correctly, there will hopefully be 13 clients out there that are talking about it, have talked about it, and are bringing their friends to the party to celebrate.

Joe_Galioto
03-23-2009, 09:49 PM
jackie is bringing up the same old topic of discussion. "is it wrong for a photographer to enter images that were not shot for a client" who cares,
the point is that the image was created by that photographer. I'm mostly a portrait photog. i've entered every catagory any scored some blues in each.
i think it's a more creative path to start with nothing and create a merit print, then get lucky on occation and have compition worthy clients walk in dress perfict when you shoot for compition you start with an idea and bring every element in the photo yourself. i have a few merits that started with just a title and i worked backwards. try it!
maybe, as some photographers sugested there should be master degrees in each catagory, but for now i say do your thing and stop puting down those that follow a different path. sounds so rightous.
joe
as for marisa's question: i think it is good for business to be able to display your degree in your studio or on the website. and mention it with the opportunity of a press release. our clients have degrees of different types and they understand the value of earning a masters. often people have asked me what the letters following my name on my business card stand for.
i love the opportunity to tell them. it is a way of distigushing yourself from the every growing pack.

Jackie_Haggerty
03-23-2009, 10:09 PM
jackie is bringing up the same old topic of discussion. "is it wrong for a photographer to enter images that were not shot for a client" who cares,
the point is that the image was created by that photographer. I'm mostly a portrait photog. i've entered every catagory any scored some blues in each.
i think it's a more creative path to start with nothing and create a merit print, then get lucky on occation and have compition worthy clients walk in dress perfict when you shoot for compition you start with an idea and bring every element in the photo yourself. i have a few merits that started with just a title and i worked backwards. try it!
maybe, as some photographers sugested there should be master degrees in each catagory, but for now i say do your thing and stop puting down those that follow a different path. sounds so rightous.



Whoa, there, Joe! Wow, you must have had quite the conversations in the past! I did not in any way put down anyone that approaches competition in a different way, it was only to mention how marketing the path in earning a degree is for me, who is entering client work, and how those clients walk that path WITH me through the process. It was in NO WAY intended for any other reason than to explain my personal approach, in the best way I can for Marisa's question.

Joe_Galioto
03-23-2009, 10:14 PM
ok jackie,
this topic has been coming up for years regarding local and national compititions. sorry if i jumped on you about it.
joe
too much coffee today-i guess

Rob_Wilson
03-24-2009, 12:50 AM
[...] I cannot speak as a Master, as I am a few merits shy of my degree, but I can tell you how it is important to me as I build up to earning the degree of Master of Photography [...] When that day comes, and if we set it up correctly, there will hopefully be 13 clients out there that are talking about it, have talked about it, and are bringing their friends to the party to celebrate.

Great input Jackie!

Heather_L._Smith
03-24-2009, 01:05 AM
Here's the thing. We all have our own personal reasons for pursuing the things that we do - and the way that we do them. I am in pursuit of a Master's degree because I know it will make me a better photographer. I know my clients will benefit from the education and learning and experience that will take me to that goal. I think the most important factor in achieving ANY goal you set is that you understand why it's important. And be honest with the reasons behind the pursuit of that goal. Being grounded in your goal setting (and the achievement of those goals) is critical to success.

Keith_A_Howe
04-02-2009, 03:34 AM
I am going to repeat a lot of stuff I've said before on this forum so sorry about that.

I've been around awhile now. What the Master's means to my business and how I market it has changed through the years. I started entering prints because I was brought up to be competitive. I entered strictly client work because I couldn't afford to do sessions for fun or just for competition. Because I had to get better to start succeeding in competition, and I was only entering client work, my everyday work got better. When judges critiqued my lighting or posing, I listened and tried to incorporate those lessons in every session and my work got better. I couldn't afford to pay an artist so I had to learn traditional artwork. Then I was able to do any artwork needed for my clients. Plus the biggest thing was in learning how time consuming it was to do that artwork, I realized how much easier it would be to fix problems before I tripped the shutter so my work got better. So in the process of earning a Master's my work improved. As my work improved, I became more confident. As I became more confident, that came across to my clients. They started treating me with more respect and trust.

So then I had my Master's and I had kinda figured out how to create an impactful print. I started winning some awards. Now competition and the degree were more about marketing myself and my business then about learning, although I did continue to learn and improve. Every time I had any success in competition I sent a press release to the local paper. I gained a reputation as the photographer that was always winning awards. Having the degree also gave me credentials when I started to pursue speaking opportunities. When I went to other places to speak, again I would put a press release in my local paper. I gained more respect from my clients because if other photographers wanted to learn from me, that must mean I was pretty good.

The next step was to become an affliate judge. Probably more then any step in the process, being a judge has had the most impact on improving my work. We have all heard the saying garbage in-garbage out? Well excellence in-excellance out is equally true. When you have the opportunity to view and analyze literally hundreds of amazing images, it effects your own work immensely.

So where I am at now in the evolution is that competition is a creative stretch for me. I am more interested in entering images that stretch me as an artist. Sometimes they are client's work and sometimes it's self assignments. Sometimes an image happens when I least expect it and sometimes I set out specifically capture something for competition.

I am very curious how I will view competition and degrees in another 5-10 years. I wonder what the next phase will be for me.

Something else I have learned about the Master's degree. Once you earn it, you realize it's not the end goal you thought it would be. A master's is just something you do, it's not really who you are.

So to sum this up, The Master's degree has effected my business by making me a better photographer, giving me opportunities to market my studio through press releases, increasing my self confidence, giving me crediability with my peers, and being one step in the process of becoming a judge. I don't market the degree itself so much as I do each small accomplishment in the process of earning it and now the things I am able to do ( judging, speaking, mentoring) as a result of having earned it. Holly and I are at a place where we have great satisfaction in our lives. We have work we love and opportunities to maybe make a difference for other people in thier careers. The Master's degrees themselves didn't make this possible but they were a huge part of the process that got us to where we are.

Betsy_Finn
04-02-2009, 03:10 PM
I'm working towards my degree at the moment, but I did want to share how it's helped me.

Going to competition and experiencing amazing photographs has made me remember I have the capability to create images every bit as amazing. So, while competition is about "winning" -- it's more of a personal challenge in some aspects. I know I can do it (even if I haven't done so yet, I have the potential to do so). That motivates me to the continued pursuit of excellence.

As others have said, pursuit of excellence in competition definitely affects "everyday" work as well. Since entering my first print competition in 2006, it is extremely obvious to me how much the quality of my everyday client work has improved + evolved. I'm all for having the creative foresight to craft a competition print from scratch, but it seems more practical to find the gems in my everyday work to submit for competition. While a couple of my print merits are personal project images... the rest are from actual client sessions. Photographing for competition quality during everyday sessions has made me put that extra effort into making sure my client images are the best they can be.

Cheri_MacCallum
04-02-2009, 11:04 PM
Master Photographer is the only PPA degree I don't have...yet... however I'm working hard on that one as we speak. But, I do put the abbreviations for the degrees I do have on my business cards and other marketing stuff and it almost always sparks discussion on "what do all those letters mean". By the time I'm done explaining, I have a relationship with them and they know about the education and experience it took to get here.

bob_hancock
04-03-2009, 06:11 AM
Never entered a print competition until 4 years ago. It was after my youngest graduated from college. Was to busy raising family and spending time with kids activities.
Our total family income for the last 28 years has been derived from Photography business.
Currently I am pursuing the Master Degree, (9 total merits received) last year received the Craftsman. Other then other Professional photographers, nobody knows. I never announced my achievements.
For myself its more of a personal goal. Its been fun, however you always learn.
I have been entering Nature and landscape Images. Although Our business is mostly Portraits.
Not a week goes by that I am not able to sell a few framed art Image. It has helped our business. Added Income!
I am better at creating Images that sale, then Competition Images.

shutterbug310
04-03-2009, 12:27 PM
Thank you for taking the time to discuss your feelings on the Masters Degree. I am new to all of this and really appreciated your explanation. I was particularly interested in the way your perceptions as a photographer changes over time. Experience is quite a teacher!
Joanne Bernardini
www.BestIrishPhotos.com

jrbaldini
01-13-2011, 03:19 PM
Getting my degrees in the late 90's was a personal goal I set for myself. Has it impacted my business ? of course. Anything that you focus on with a purpose changes you.

You realize when you get your Master's Degree, you haven't arrived, you've just begun...

Jacqueline R. Baldini, M.Photog.,Cr.
www.bvphotog.com (http://www.bvphotog.com)