by Vicky Monroe
Since many of you wondered why I want to get a bachelor’s degree in photography, I thought I’d explain my reasoning a bit more. However, nothing is set in stone and I’m still pondering whether or not this is the right move for me. I appreciate all of your comments and advice as I consider my options!
Why Do I Want to Get a Degree When Wedding Photography Doesn’t Require One?
I definitely agree that you don’t need a degree to be a wedding photographer. However, I want to work towards a degree as a backup plan in case this business venture doesn’t work out. We live near a few tourist attractions that have destination weddings, but I’m still not 100% sure that the business will succeed.
I totally agree with the people who commented and said that the rise of high-quality phone cameras has reduced the need for professional photographers. Although I think there are enough destination weddings in this area to support a photography business, I don’t want to put all of my eggs in that basket!
Getting a Degree as a Backup Plan
Paired with my writing experience, I believe a photography degree would help me get a marketing or office job after school if needed. Although you don’t necessarily need a degree for marketing or office work either, I’ve found that a lot of good employers require or at least prefer it.
I don’t want to miss out on opportunities anymore due to my lack of formal educational credentials. I’ve been able to make my way as a freelance writer without a degree. But I’ve definitely been passed over more than a few times because I didn’t go to college.
Although photography doesn’t seem like the most in-demand degree, several of my family members including my spouse majored in film or photography in school. They were all able to get good corporate jobs after college, so I’m not overly concerned about the marketability of the degree. But if I should be, let me know in the comments.
Plus, a more traditionally marketable degree like business administration or human resources would cost more. The affordable UK university I’m planning on attending only offers arts-related undergraduate programs. So to study business, I’d probably have to attend a community college for the first two years and then finish at a local in-state school, which would cost over $25,000.
Another reason I’m interested in this online UK university is because it offers totally asynchronous instruction. You can spend as few as 10 hours per week on your school work if you have a chronic illness or work responsibilities like I do. So I think I’ll still be able to do photography apprenticeships and build this business on the side while attending this school. I might struggle with a more rigorous schooling schedule.
Other Things I Could Do With the Money
Someone made a great point in the comments that the $15,000 I need for tuition might be better spent on equipment. I’m very lucky in this area because my partner studied photography in school and owns professional equipment already. We even have a collection of film cameras I can play around with. Surprisingly, some clients are still interested in old-school film photography, so I may be able to offer that as a niche service.
Another question I got was why I’m not using this money to pay off debt instead. Luckily going back to school shouldn’t disrupt our financial plans too much since I’ll be studying part-time. We should be able to cash flow the degree for the most part. Plus, my dad has generously offered to help pay for my tuition, and I may take him up on it.
Right now my spouse and I only have about $135,000 of mortgage debt. We’ve been aggressively paying it off for the past few years because we’re pretty debt-averse. But we’re comfortable devoting some of our financial resources to my education since it isn’t super high-interest debt.
Going back to school definitely isn’t set in stone. I’m still reflecting and researching to see what the best course of action is, so I appreciate your comments and suggestions!
Vicky Monroe is a freelance personal finance and lifestyle writer. When she’s not busy writing about her favorite money saving hacks or tinkering with her budget spreadsheets, she likes to travel, garden, and cook healthy vegetarian meals.