9 Unexpected Reasons Why Photography School Beats Traditional College

Updated: March 16, 2022

Do you love photography? Below are 9 reasons why a dedicated photography school might make you want to drop out of college. I know, I know? typically, the “traditional” way of doing things was like this:

  • graduate high school
  • get into a good college
  • get a degree in something you maybe mildly enjoy
  • get a job that pays the bills
  • spend the next 40 years of your life doing that job or a similar job

Thankfully, the “traditional” way of doing things after high school isn’t the only option for passionate photographers who want to build a career doing what they love. And the best part? It can be done for less money and less time, while you learn even more that can push you toward your dream of being a professional photographer.

When you attend a dedicated photography school like RMSP, your chances of success as a photographer sky rocket. In this post, we’re going to cover 9 reasons why attending a dedicated photography school is one of the best options for aspiring professional photographers, and why it beats a traditional 4-year college in almost every way:

1. You get to learn from 25+ real, working professional photographers vs. a few instructors who haven’t been professionals for years (if ever).

Experience matters. Opinions differ. Studying from a wide variety of instructors is the best way for you to figure out different ways to be successful in photography. Instead of learning how one or two people built their careers, you can gain insight from the combined experience of many active professionals. What works for one person might not be the right way for you to do things for your business. Simply put, the more instructors you learn from, the higher your chance of success.

2. You get to learn the newest and latest trends in photography, instead of sticking to the old, outdated “textbook” way of doing things.

Photography changes every day. For you to make it as a photographer, you need to keep up with the current trends and technologies in the industry. Most of our instructors are not professional teachers; they are professional photographers who teach. They know what it’s like to find and do work in today’s market and they will share that knowledge with you. How’s that for a competitive advantage! Learning from working professionals will give you the edge you need.



3. Accelerate your growth: photography school takes 8 months or less, which is much more accessible than 2 to 4 years at a traditional college.

Time is money. The longer you take to get your business started, the more expensive your education becomes. Professional Intensive is eight months long. After you graduate Professional Intensive, you will have the photographic, business, and marketing knowledge you’ll need to start your business without going to school for three more years. That means you get three extra years to experience building your portfolio, your network, and your bank account before your peers even graduate. Yes, your peers get a fancy piece of paper that says they are smart, but you get the knowledge and experience of running your business for three additional years while they were fulfilling their general-education requirements.

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4. You actually learn how to build your business and market your photography skills.

In today’s industry, being an entrepreneur is crucial. You need to learn business and marketing to be a photographer. Unless you double-major, most college photography degrees spend little if any time teaching how to run a business. That makes life hard for you after you graduate and are faced with the realities of what it takes to be a professional photographer. Professional Intensive is 30% business and marketing, which means our graduates are more than capable of navigating the industry with success.



5. Work only on what you love and become an expert, instead of learning other boring subjects that don’t benefit your career.

Complete immersion is the best way to learn something. Learning from a photography school allows you to completely dedicate yourself to photography. You will spend 8-10 hours a day learning in the classroom, studio, labs, or in the field with instructors. This allows you to instantly apply what you learned and to practice it with instructors. You can ask questions right then and there. In our program, the intense schedule is how we fit over 1000 hours of education into only eight months. (That’s more time learning photography, business, and marketing than most schools fit into four years.)

6. Simply put, it costs WAY less and you learn WAY more.

Photo school is expensive. We know that. But when you compare the cost of four years of school plus the living expenses of keeping yourself alive for an additional three years of being a college student, photo school will save you money in the long run. Photography school is expensive because of what you get: a team of dedicated instructors willing to put in long hours for your success. And at RMSP, you’re not a number; you’re a human with unique goals.



7. Photography schools may not give you a “diploma,” but here’s why that’s actually a good thing for you as a photographer.

Non-accredited schools can react and change quickly to adopt new technology and curricula. Red-tape is non-existent. Photo schools can turn on a dime to teach you the most cutting-edge technologies and trends. Another advantage? If you make financial sacrifices to come to a photography school, it’s clear you really want to be there. You and your classmates will be more motivated and will work harder than a student going to traditional college just because they think it’s “what you should do.”

8. They help you learn how to photograph in the genres that will actually make you money.

Let’s face it. It’s hard to make a living as a professional retail or commercial photographer, but it’s almost impossible to make a living as a fine art photographer. Photography schools will focus in on the areas of your craft that you can actually make money at, while giving you time to explore what fits you!

9. You get more than just photography education. You get video education, too and that’s HUGE.

The video market is huge. Many college photo programs skip video or spend very little time on it. Choose a photo school that makes video a big part of the curriculum. Ask any professional photographer how often they get asked if they do video as well as photo and you will hear the same message: all the time. You need to be prepared to take any job ? still or video ? and many photography schools will show you how.

If this makes you excited, and you’re thinking of becoming a professional photographer, we want to help you know if it’s the career for you! That’s why we built our “10 Ways to Know if Photography is the Career for You” eBook. It’s free and packed full of content. Download it using the link below.

How to Know if Photography is the Career for You

Is a career as a professional photography the right fit for you? Find out here!


  • Forest Chaput de Saintonge

    Forest Chaput de Saintonge directs Rocky Mountain School of Photography with his wife, Sarah. He has been immersed in photography since he was born. He grew up in Missoula and began taking photos with an SLR when he was seven years old. He started working for Rocky Mountain School of Photography at age 13. During his free time, he likes to become a master at new things, build stuff, run, hike, bike, photograph, and be an amateur astronomer. Forest has a BA in Astrophysics, just because. He really enjoys teaching and loves to help students understand concepts thoroughly. Forest has vast experience working with and teaching Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, and has worked many hours in the black and white darkroom.