Our Philosophy

Background

With photography going through the boom it has in the last years with the digital age, social media, and the drastic reduction in prices of prosumer cameras, there are many choices available for photography education. To go into why you should choose The CPLC as your school, we need to delve into why the school was founded originally.

The CPLC was founded by a team of full-time professional photographers who had been teaching at other schools for years, and decided to start a new school based on what they viewed as deficiencies in the approaches to photography education of the other schools.

First off, none of the founding photographers of The CPLC had a University/College education in photography, but took internships from students attending these institutes who were gaining ‘work experience’ in their internships. Through conversations with these students over the years, a consistent picture emerged of the current state of multi-year, full-time photography programs, namely the complaint that the majority of the classes and their work were filler, light on content (such as one course which involved writing a paper on ‘the difference between CS3 and CS4’), that the professors were mostly retired and therefore out of touch with the current state of the photography industry, which has changed drastically over the last years, and that very little practical photography was being taught and learned. The consensus from the stories of these interns was consistently that the most successful students appeared to be those who already had a good eye for and understanding of photography, and that those students who didn’t have these skills going in, did not improve much coming out.

Secondly, the schools that the founders of The CPLC taught at, which by contrast taught simple evening and weekend based courses, were commonly structured on the basis of inviting photographers who wished to teach to bring their own developed courses with them, and for these new courses to be added to the curriculum with little, and often without any, oversight on whether the new courses were redundant or duplicates of other courses in part or in whole.

Founding and core philosophy of The CPLC

With this background in place, The CPLC’s curriculum was therefore created and fashioned on these core principles:

  • Photography is a trade at its core, not a theoretical or diploma program. Like carpentry, plumbing, welding, etc. photography is best learned through an emphasis on practical hands-on experience, with the theories emerging alongside the practical application.
  • The core principles required to become a great photographer can be covered theoretically in a much shorter time than other fields (biology, physics, etc.) but take a lifetime to learn because photography is a growing, dynamic practice.
  • The best way to learn photography is to learn small packages of theory and then have ample and abundant time to apply these new concepts in the trade.
  • Students get the biggest bang for their buck by taking a curriculum that eliminates redundancy in its classes and oversees a full program layout from beginning to end.

As such, at The CPLC, we have developed the entire curriculum as a unit, eliminating redundancy, and created a concise, compact package of information required to become a great photographer. In our most lofty ideals, we wish students to take several years to complete our courses (like a 3 or 4 year degree I’d say a 2 or 3 year degree), even though many of our students opt to complete most of our courses in a year’s time, in order to apply what they have learned in what we view is one of several ‘correct orders’, rather a piecemeal learning of the principles from different sources.

Students attending The CPLC and choosing to complete most or all of its courses can rest assured that they will lack no essential theoretical knowledge at the completion of their studies, and if they take their time completing our courses and emphasize the concentrated application of their new knowledge in their own photography, they can also rest assured that they will be getting a photography education superior to many full-time, academic photography programs, at a fraction of the cost and a fraction of the time, provided, of course, the student puts in as much time into the application of the learned principles as they would otherwise put into ‘studying’ photography in an academic setting.

Individual classes

While the concept behind The CPLC is based on producing professional-grade photographers and maintaining a ‘classical’ knowledge-base (as opposed to the ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ that many photographers feel is the foundation of many newer photographers), many if not most of our students are interested in taking just a handful of our courses. These include both ‘amateur’ hobbyists wishing to learn new skills, to professionals who wish to brush up or learn more about areas they’re fuzzy on. Our classes can be taken in any order, and in any number, though our guided recommendation is available here.

For hobbyists

From learning how to use the very complicated DSLR you have, to delving into the nuances and beauty of lighting or compositional design, hobbyists never need to worry about being ‘out of place’ at The CPLC. Examples given by instructors often come from their professional background, but our instructors keep things light and relevant in their examples as well.

For professionals

Since photography is a trade, not a science, professional photographers are better to think of themselves using trade terms, like ‘apprentice’, ‘journeyman’, etc. describing their experience in the industry, rather than have the concept that by being professional, they should know everything before they take their first client. Many professional photographers feel uncomfortable taking classes as they might be seen to be ‘not good enough’ or ‘they should have known this already’, but just like tradespeople constantly brush up on basic and advanced skills, and just like they learn their craft by balancing small periods of theoretical education with ample periods of on-the-job application, so too photographers best learn their trade, even as professionals, by constantly learning new concepts and refining familiar concepts with new visions.