I will begin my article by saying this is not a paid endorsement by any means. I am simply giving my personal account of my experience during my time as a student of the New York Institute of Photography (NYIP). I will begin with some basic info about the school itself taken directly from pamphlets and the schools personal website. I will then move on and talk about my personal experiences detailing things like time spent, experience before and after the course, personal research, practical applications, reviews, feedback, written tests, and finally I will close with my overall final thoughts of the course. This will include personal ideas that could make the course experience better (in my personal opinion) or how others may benefit from the courses offered from the school.
The New York Institute of Photography (NYIP) was founded in 1910. Founded by French immigrant Emile Brunel in a neighborhood clot to Penn Station. Resident programs ran from 1914-1975. NYIP was recognized as an accreditation distance learning program in 1956. It also is licensed by the New York State Education department. In order to measure a students progress, skills, and talent, each student is assigned to one professional photographer (mine was Pauline St. Denis). The professional photographer will provide all the evaluations for that student allowing the teacher to develop a sense of the individual student’s progress.
My experience prior to this course was 15 years as a hobbyist. I owned a Nikon 35mm F series camera since 1992. I did a lot of self study and research on how to use my camera. Along with a lot of ruined film through trial and error of learning settings and the interactions of what works I learned distance from lens and subject placements. I signed up for NYIP in 1993 however, after a divorce I was unable to complete the course. (camera and lenses didn’t survive) My then hobby was put on hold and I shot with basic point and shoot cameras and instants for the following 8 years. In 2007 I purchased my first DSLR (Nikon D40x). My passion sparked again to learn the craft in ernest. For 3 years I shot everything I could and had no clue what all those extra settings were on the dials. (auto settings) I only knew manual settings and thus have only ever shot in manual. During my 8 year span without a decent camera I did some college study of art history and human form art sketch. In 2010 I decided that I would restart the program I started back in 1993 through NYIP. I was deployed in Afghanistan when I received my materials and did not start the program until 6 months into the 3 year program. I then did a move and job changes along with a 2.5 hour one way commute to and from work really cut into my motivation yet again setting me back on my studies. The assignments range from self reading with computer generated testing based of the reading to actual photo assignments. Photo assignments that you are required to go out and shoot then turn in for evaluation by your assigned professional photographer instructor. I took personal drive to study more about the history of photography and to view photos of some of the greats that have been big influencers of photography. I looked at how they set up for a shot the equipment the angles lens types I dug deep into every detail of lighting and how the different effects were accomplished. There are video studies included with the course (cheesy in parts). For the most part the videos tie into the written course work and give good samples of how to accomplish the assignments. Once you turn in your projects the instructor will do a voice evaluation of your photos and send it back to you for download via web. My instructor was excellent in her approach to details in improvements I could make in camera settings to even looking at different angles to make a better impact. Her evaluations included a bit of personality and personal touches that truly made me feel that she cared about me the student and my learning of the materials. 2013 I finally pulled myself together and fully pushed myself through all the materials including all my photo assignments. I was able to complete my work and final testing before the 3 year mark. I received my certification in January 2014. I felt very accomplished. With the certificate I can at least display and show clients that I have been trained and proven my time spent and evaluated that I know my way around a camera and can accomplish the assignments that were given to me.
Overall my experience with NYIP was very good. I was impressed with the critiques that I received. They were straight forward and allowed me to build my skills through the assignments and curriculum used. The course begins with a great foundation of the fundamentals. Through a building plan the course then moves on to taking a student off auto to manual settings. The course does a portion of lab and film study that I found fascinating. There are areas of study dealing with outdoor lighting to studio lighting. These include using a single light source to multiple sources. The course did do a move to web based testing and a way to turn in assignments digitally and this was a great improvement towards modern technologies. The course at current is still being published in hard copy books that I felt could easily be moved to PDF format. Being a Marine and always on the move, 2.5 hour drive each way, the audio courses really were convenient to have. I would recommend to do the same with the course material to allow for lesson learning while on the go. Combined with the PDF format of books would allow for a student to have materials and reference information with them on a tablet at all times. I personally scanned all mine in order to do exactly that. It helped for the fact that I was able to study on the go without worries of taking written materials avery where I went and could have all of it with me so that if I wanted to refer to something from previous lessons I could easily do that. In closing for those that do not have the ability, time, or traditional classroom is not your style NYIP is an excellent alternative. The school has proven success and many different ways to exchange and interact information with students that allow for many different learning styles and abilities. My skills greatly improved and I am now shooting weddings along with doing publication and model testing. I now get paid to shoot and do what I love. It is early in my now professional side of photography and I can’t quit my job yet. The joy of creating great photos that can be placed on gallery walls or proudly displayed in a family home currently is enough to make me proud that I took the leap and trusted my training to the New York Institute of Photography.