Owens offering state’s first commercial photo tech degreeWritten by Hannah Nusser | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Students at Owens Community College now have an opportunity to expand their creative horizons with Northwest Ohio’s first commercial photography technology degree program.
Beginning this fall, the two-year associate degree combines photography and business classes to give students the skills to succeed in the commercial photography industry.
With a commercial photography technology degree, students will be qualified for positions as photographers, photographer’s assistants, photo technicians, wedding and event photographers and jobs in advertising. While students will be equipped to work for large corporations after graduation, the opportunity to own their own business draws many students to the idea of commercial photography, said Ruth Foote, photography program facilitator.
“With the independence that [the degree] has to offer, in this field at this time, many people have the opportunity to kind of hang their own shingle,” she said. “It’s kind of nice for some to be able to work independently and … set their own criteria, set their own hours and have that creative outlet.”
Foote said the program could also benefit adults and retirees who have dabbled in photography as a hobby but want to get more serious and earn a degree quickly.
“There’s so many different ways you can apply those skills,” Foote said. “We’ve met the needs of several adult students who have wanted to pursue another career.”
The constantly changing photography field allows students to develop specialized skills to find their place in the industry. Foote said she recommends a commercial photography degree to “someone who’s interested in the excitement of the constant learning curve.”
“It’s opened up a lot of niche opportunities for folks and that’s one of the real interesting and exciting things about this field,” Foote said. “And in a creative industry it’s always about coming up with new ideas.”
Owens Community College’s commercial photography certificate and photography transfer programs have been popular in the past and student interest in an associate degree increased in recent years.
Enrollment in the first semester is about 150 students, Foote said, and is expected to steadily increase.
The facilities at Owens made for a seamless transition into the new program, said Doug Mead, Owens’ Chairman of fine and performing arts. There are labs dedicated solely to commercial photography purposes, including Mac computer labs for digital work, darkrooms for developing film and a large portrait studio laboratory.
Networking is an important part of a student’s initial success in the commercial photography industry, Foote said.
The program tries to help open doors for students through required membership in national photography groups like the American Society of Media Photographers and the Professional Photographers of America.
Mead said Owens Community College’s wide student demographic makes it a great place for students to pursue degrees in the arts.
“It breathes a little bit more life into the class when you have that kind of diversity,” Mead said. “It’s more hands-on and there’s more of an opportunity for expression.”
Foote said the new Owens degree is sure to benefit any student with a creative spark and love for taking photos.
“It’s created for someone who has a passion for photography,” Foote said. “Whether it’s a new passion or whether it’s been a hobby they’ve pursued, it’s for someone who is also able to work independently and be self-motivated.”