With the popularity of smartphones and cheap, easy digital cameras,
everyone thinks they can be a photographer these days. There’s still
quite a bit that the amateur can learn, however, and since it’s such a
broad field with so many different areas of expertise, there’s much that
can be taught when it comes to photography. The Division of Continuing
Education at the School of Visual Arts is one convenient and trusted
place to get started.
"There are a wide variety of courses," said Keren Moscovitch, the
SVA Continuing Education Program coordinator. "Someone who’s never taken
a photo in their lives can learn from the very beginning how to take a
photo and develop or process it in the digital darkroom. Then the
courses get more intermediate and specific from there." With over 400
classes offered, there’s a lot of room for different interests and skill
levels. Courses range from the general, like "How to Make Better
Pictures," to niche classes that deal with fashion, advertising and
architecture, to the truly specific, like "Night in NYC" and "Modern
Ruins in Brooklyn."
And students come from all different backgrounds. Some already have
established practices, have been shooting for a while and have a strong
body of work but want to hone in on specific skill sets. According to
Moscovitch, others want to better develop their portfolios and
articulate their vision and are looking for high-level critiques.
Some were art majors in college but didn’t have as much access to
in-depth photography classes. That group usually includes students who
use the courses at SVA "as a stepping stone" to help develop their
portfolios for grad school.
And then there are the kinds of students who start off with a basic "Black and White" photography class and build from there.
"In general, I don’t like to use the word hobby," Moscovitch said.
"Everyone’s pretty serious. They’re looking to either build a
professional career or make it in the art world and exhibit work."
Moscovitch gave the names of two recent students, Bill Durgin and
Zev Jonas, who took her classes last year and are now "exhibiting quite
widely" in various galleries and solo shows. "I regularly see students
come out of the classes and contact me to let me know about their
exhibitions and their jobs in the photo market," said Moscovitch.
Courses vary in time and price. Some, like the "Shooting the
Brooklyn Waterfront: Red Hook," meet once for a price of $150. Others
meet once a week for a number of weeks and range in price from $200 to
SVA also offers a summer residency program for more experienced
photographers who want the intense immersion that will get them "plugged
in to what’s happening on a very contemporary level in New York City
and beyond," said Moscovitch.
With the variety of classes and opportunities offered, the question
isn’t what course do you want to take, but how can you choose just