Anyone can use a camera, though there is a fine line between an average photo and the iconic photographs we see in galleries and museums around the world. From stunning landscapes to busy cities and raw nature, every opportunity to shoot photography is special. Those studying photography already know this -- and that’s why studying photography abroad is a great opportunity few “shutterbugs” pass up.
While photography can be studied anywhere in the world, there are a few global photography hubs that offer students an exceptional experience. Studying photography abroad -- both the theory and the practice -- is a unique way to build up a diverse portfolio and gain real-world experience. Of course, all of this photo studying and snapping comes with a bit of travel and adventure, as well!
There are plenty of unique photography programs available that align with different learning styles and levels of expertise.
Study Abroad Program
In a traditional study abroad program, students will have the opportunity to study theory and practice in the field of photography. Often provided through art colleges or institutions, photography abroad programs incorporate both in-class and experiential learning.
Much of the emphasis in photography is based upon producing a top-notch photograph. Students studying photography can find plenty of opportunities to add to their portfolio by working with art institutions, school, companies, or publications while abroad.
In discussion-based photography programs, students have the opportunity to learn about both photography and visual art from renowned industry leaders. Mastering the theories behind taking the perfect photograph can be vital in informing students' practice in the field.
As a field of study, there are plenty of iconic photographs and notable photographers which are worthy topics for in-depth, detailed research theses. Photography students can choose to study in the places where the history of photography was shaped or where important figures in the field teach and work.
Where to Go
Given that there are loads of incredible places around the world where you can study photography, choosing where to go can be a real challenge -- but a good one to have.
The Czech Republic is known for its stunning architecture, but its capital city, Prague, takes this to another level. Studying photography in Prague allows you to explore a colorful city with plenty of opportunities to shoot both beautiful cityscapes and the surrounding nature. Don’t miss the opportunity to photograph the “Four Bridges” -- including the famous Charles Bridge -- that span the Vltava River!
From the bustling side streets to famous Italian works of art, studying abroad in Italy is a culture lover's dream. Capturing the Italian “way of life” through its people, art, and food is a great way for you to bolster your portfolio. Plus, studying photography in a city like Florence allows you to practice your shots on famous buildings such as the dome of the Florence Cathedral.
Located in Central America, Panama is a great destination for lush nature, stunning coastlines, and exotic wildlife. The country is prime for adventurous photographers to work on their action-based shots. The lively Latin American culture and tropical climate that welcomes you isn’t too bad either.
The two islands that constitute New Zealand are rife with diverse natural ecosystems. With so many picturesque landscapes, it’s no wonder why so many places in New Zealand were selected for filming locations in The Lord of the Rings films. Students who are passionate about photography will feel right at home in New Zealand. From the 90-mile beach at Cape Reinga, to the “Mordor” mountains of Tongariro National Park, to the fjords of Milford Sound, New Zealand’s nature offerings are some of the best revered in the world.
Planning Your Trip
Planning a trip to study photography abroad can be a complex process. Before you go overseas, consider the following details to ensure you have a safe and memorable experience.
How to Choose a Photography Study Abroad Program
When deciding which study abroad program to go on, there are a few things that you should consider. Similar institutions can have very different programs depending on their area of focus, the faculty they have, funding, and more. Have a think about your photography skills and interests and be sure to choose a program that is tailored to your learning goals.
Location is another big factor when choosing a photography program to study overseas. Your host location will not only become your base, but your field work will most likely also occur in that setting. In this case, try to align your study abroad location with your photography interests, as well. For example, you wouldn’t travel to the Australian Outback if you are interested in cityscapes.
Another consideration is the tuition fee that you may have to pay, if any, to cover the study overseas experience. Different programs offer different courses and resources so be sure to understand what the program fees cover as well as any additional costs related to travel and living in that destination.
Health & Safety
If you are traveling overseas to study photography, taking basic precautions like getting up-to-date on travel vaccinations is always a good idea. Depending on the area of the world you travel to and how long you are overseas, you should become familiar with where to go in case of any health ailment that could arise. You should also look into purchasing travel medical insurance. In fact, some study abroad programs might require you to have it.
While using a camera isn’t overly unsafe, the act of shooting -- both what you shoot and how you get the shot -- can be the dangerous part. Especially when abroad, be aware of your surroundings as both a traveler and a photographer. Adhere to local laws, use common sense, and don’t endanger yourself in the interest of snapping the best shot.
Depending on the value of your camera gear, it can also be wise to purchase additional insurance when traveling to help protect your gear against potential theft or damage while studying abroad.
Other Need to Knows
Photography is an expressive past time and studying it can be fascinating. However, not everyone may think like this. When studying photography abroad, be sure to always adhere to local laws and customs about the usage of cameras. Ask your institution or trusted locals about what, when, and where you can or can’t photograph.