Which is the best college in Toronto to Study Photography? / by Alice Zilberberg

I recently answered this question on Quora.com: Which is the best college in Toronto to Study Photography? I wanted to share my answer here in case anyone is wondering the same thing


You have a couple of options when choosing a photography school in Toronto.

Ryerson University Photography Program

I hold a Bachelors degree from the photography program at Ryerson University. The program puts emphasis on the artistic side of photography, focusing on making work that is conceptually strong. If becoming a Fine-Art Photographer that shows their work in galleries is of interest to you, Ryeson is a great option. This program tends to put less emphasis on building a business, getting clients, and even rudimentary stuff like making an invoice. Students have access to photography equipment with basic information on how to use it.  Assignments are mostly designed to encourage students to make bodies of work, and write artist statements, instead of a commercial portfolio. You will learn about art history and the Ed Burtiskys of the world. Critiques are held with the professors and classmates for every assignments where you will be given feedback on your work. 


OCAD Photography Program

I didn’t go here but I know a little about this program. OCAD is similar to Ryerson in that it is an art school and is less commercially focused. In fact, it is even more academic, and students have to write essays about their work. Both Ryerson and OCAD are located Downtown Toronto.


Sheridan Photography Program

I didn’t go here but I know a lot about this program. If you want to learn about lighting, photoshop, business, and making a portfolio, you should go to Sheridan. The professors are industry professionals who are currently, or have recently worked in the area they are teaching. Part of the program requires you to intern with a photographer working in the industry.  Sheridan is a little far from Downtown Toronto.


None of the Above

Consider whether you should even go to school for photography in the first place. Tuition is expensive. You could invest the same amount of cash in buying the best photography equipment for your photography business. Some would say that diplomas are becoming less and less valuable, so asking yourself if you need this piece of paper is important. It’s possible to study photography for free by assisting professional photographers. If you want to be a fashion photographer, you will likely learn more from assisting a fashion photographer than four years of university. Same goes for wedding photography, baby photography, product photography, editorial, and so on. You can start by offering your services for free and slowly learn how to use the equipment and charge for your time. You can learn Photoshop by taking private lessons and workshops from people who offer them. You can even learn a lot by watching Youtube tutorials. 


Another thing to remember is that photography is a very entrepreneurial endeavour. If you need deadlines and someone to nag you about handing in assignments in order to get work done, then school will not help you once you finish your degree. Being a self-starter, constantly learning, and willingness to work as a freelancer are all important skills to being a photographer.


Final thoughts. If you want to be an art photographer, go to Ryerson or OCAD.  If you want to be a commercial photographer, go to Sheridan. Also, don’t go to school for photography.