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What should I study: Photography or Filmmaking? Please help. Thank you.

I'm a 28 years old young man who recently graduated from a local university with a B.Sc Hons Degree in Tourism and Hospitality Management. I have always been passionate about photography and filming. I want to study either one of these two probably in the next coming year of 2025. Should I choose filmmaking or photography? I'm battling with my mind regarding which option should I go for, because I have a massive passion for both. Moreover, I'm a very dedicated writer, artist-painter and graphic designer. #film-production #photography #photography

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Subject: Career question for you

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Jacob’s Answer

Hi Busani,

There are actually a lot of companies that are looking for people who can do both photography and videography. I know it's not cinematography, but it's still telling a story with motion-picture camera. My favorite Director of Photography, Roger Deakins, started out with photography before moving into his now-renowned career. I see photography as the basics of cinematography. As you progress into more genre-specific photography, Photoshop and all that, that's where the two begin to part with the exception being that you're also a post-production colorist; Photoshop and color grading in Davinci Resolve or Premiere have their similarities.

If you want to get on a movie set, light it and tell a story with a script, I recommend the cinematography career. There you get to take a lot of time, if budget allows, lighting and planning out your shots so you can tell the best story. If you want to do more fast-paced stuff, photography is where you want to be. It's about capturing a moment in time, and that means you'll be capturing events in real time; you don't get multiple takes. Things are constantly changing from moment to moment. The only exception I would say to this is portrait photography; here, you really get to take your time like filmmaking to set up the lighting and the shot.

The only reason I'd recommend film school is so you can make connections with people you otherwise wouldn't. Having a Master's raises people's ears and shows them you accomplished something. But, if you want to go the old-fashioned route, get yourself on a set and learn from the best, there's nothing wrong with that route either. That's how all my teachers did it. They were mentored by cinematographers who took them on and taught them.

Either way, I think you're going to be fine.

Regards,
Jacob Steiner
Thank you comment icon Hie Jacob. Thank you so much for the time you took writing all this. 🥹 Best advice ever! I would surely put this in use in my pursuit for film making and photography career. Being a cinematographer is one of my biggest dreams. I hope it shall all come into reality soon! Once again, thank you. 🤗 Busani
Thank you comment icon You're very welcome 😊 Jacob Steiner
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David’s Answer

Well Busani, why didn't you get a degree in what interests you? I could not help myself, I had to ask. So, I think you are old enough that I can ask some tough questions. What have you done to address these passions of yours? Have you researched these careers? Do you understand what education you may need to pursue these careers? Do you know what gear you need? Someone suggested you look at the websites of people that are successful in these fields. Great idea.
I am a still photographer and do not have much exposure to film. By the way, a lot of film projects are shot on digital gear these days.
I'd do a bunch of research and then decide on your path.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much, David! Busani
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Steve’s Answer

Don't confine yourself by settling on a choice right now. Immerse yourself in the study of cinematography. This will naturally equip you with the skills to operate a still camera and manage the lighting needs for both fields.

I've had the pleasure of collaborating with numerous multi-talented individuals - director/cameramen, director/cinematographers, director/still shooters. The industry is hungry for people who can excel in both areas. It only serves to increase your worth in the competitive market.

Take some time to explore the portfolios of those who have mastered both skills. This is particularly relevant in the commercial sector. You'll find yourself invigorated and motivated, knowing that you're striving towards such a goal.

Relish the journey. Remember, it doesn't have to end.
Thank you comment icon Hie Steve. For your valuable time and words, I wholeheartedly thank you. Best advice I would also consider in my pursuit for film making and photography career. Thank you so much. 🤗 Busani
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Paul’s Answer

Hi Busani,

As a Journalism student who also loves Photography, I have some advice that may be useful to you. If you're drawn to both Photography and Filmmaking, consider pursuing a major in Photography and a minor in Filmmaking. Alternatively, you could major in Filmmaking and minor in Photography. Whichever path you choose, it's bound to give your career in the Photography and Filmmaking industry a significant boost.
Thank you comment icon Thank you Paul. 🤗 I will use this advice as I prepare for my film making and photography career. Thank you. Busani
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Terry’s Answer

OK Busani we have much in common. Even as a film student, during our course of study we were all expected to know photography as well as understanding how film worked, back in those days, and how to physically edit film strips. Photography is essential for composition. Understand composition in the frame before you start considering film. I was already good with visual composition when I started my film studies.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much Terry for the advice. It really motivates me in every single way. Thank you. 🤗 Busani
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Michelle’s Answer

Hello, Busani !

I really am interested in sharing advice with you as you are very ambitious and have already done a successful career study academically ! That is awesome ! Your current Bachelors Degree will come in handy in the film business and so will your interest in Photography. It's all a wonderful blend.

To begin with, I would suggest that you go for a Masters Degree in Film if you can possibly afford it and have the interest in an advanced degree. There is the option of going for a second Bachelors Degree in Film, but from my intuition, I am thinking a Masters in Film would put you where you want to be. It will solely be up to you to decide between the two options.

As for photography, you do not need a degree in photography to be successful in that field. It can be done on line through various courses, training and how to videos on You Tube. Adorama has a list of free on line photography lessons for which I have left a link for you below. Photography is basically obtaining the equipment and learning how to use it. You will need photography skills as a person working with film, also to take photos of possible locations, actors, continuity shots, costume and make up tests and going for a major in film will include some instruction on still and moving photography. Your combination of your Bachelors, interest in photography and plans for a film degree work excellently together. If you go into film, you will use your expertise of all three of your passions !

Just decide where you'd like to study film - Hollywood, New York City or where you live now. At this point it really doesn't matter, but I would advise Hollywood at the American Film Institute. You will get a good education anywhere, however the contacts you will make in either Hollywood or New York City will be very valuable. Things are changing, though and that is why you can study anywhere and still produce films, videos, TV, etc. because a lot of the industry is starting to go independent, with many independent film makers living in many different states now. It all depends on what you want.

I would suggest seeking out film students at the local colleges and ask if you could possibly volunteer as an assistant director, artistic director or actor so that you can get experience being around filmmaking.

Also remember that when you become skilled as a photographer, you can start your photography as a freelancer. A helpful thing too is that you can get your certification as a Certified Professional Photographer by passing the certification exam when you are ready. I left a link with information about this for you below. Your skills as a writer, artist and designer will benefit you greatly in a film career.

If you still need more information or advice, please return here as we are very happy to help out ! Best wishes to you !

Michelle recommends the following next steps:

FREE ON LINE PHOTOGRAPHY CLASSES https://www.adorama.com/alc/10-best-free-online-photography-courses/
CERTIFICATION FOR CERTIFIED PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER https://www.nyip.edu/courses/professional-photography/certification
Thank you comment icon Hie Michelle. I would really love to thank you so, so very much from the bottom part of my heart for these powerful words encouragements that I read almost several times just to appreciate and understand them. I will consider them wisely and practically in my pursuit for the filming and photography career. Thank you so much again for the links. I will see into it that I make use of them at all costs. Thank you. 🥰 Busani
Thank you comment icon With respect, the suggestions are valid but only stay is school if you are a trust baby. If you dont already have $100k to continue your education, start working in the business now and leave the further education for your employer to pay for as an investment in your future. If they dont pay for it, there's your answer about how important it is to them. Terry Cabak
Thank you comment icon Terry Caback - If a person wants to transition to a different field of work and the skills are specific as in transitioning from Hospitality to Film, one will need to invest the time and financial cost. His Masters would be for two years and scholarships can be applied for. Film studios do not pay for someone's education,, you have to be prepared entering that industry. Much of the work he will get will be from the contacts he makes going for his Masters, not to mention the hands on experience he will get doing film. It is a very heavy networking industry and people enter it with all backgrounds but unless he knows someone who will hand him a job, the Masters is going to put him where he wants to be. Michelle M.
Thank you comment icon Point taken. However, I stress practical experience first over continued education. For example, Disney Imagineers started their careers at Disney parks scooping icecream, sweeping floors, hanging pictures, fetching cookies and so on. Quentin Tarrantino himself was a gopher at the studios. Terry Cabak
Thank you comment icon And the greats such as Alfred Hitchcock and Woody Allen never went to college :) ! Thanks for your input on my advice ! Michelle M.
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