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Do any MFA photo programs like straight photography?


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Hello, I am trying to decide if I want to apply to MFA programs for photography again. I've been teaching an intro to digital photography course at a community college for two years and have twenty years of experience in the field. I was formerly an award winning photojournalist, and my photography teaching feedback has been outstanding. I absolutely love photography and teaching it more than pretty much anything in the world, but I've been having horrible luck at getting into an MFA program, so I can qualify myself to teach it full-time at the college level. 


Honestly, and I don't mean this to be offensive at all, I'm not really into the experimental fine art stuff which seems is what most MFA programs want. Most of what I've seen from successful MFA candidates would be stuff that I would have taken on accident or never intentionally. I'm more of a traditional photographer I guess. 


So do any of you know of any programs which are interested in what I'd hesitantly call straight photography? I'm talking about sharp and well-exposed landscapes, architecture, portraits, and photojournalism type stuff? I think in the past I've spent too much time thinking about the location and not enough about the specific programs. It might be a blessing that I wasn't accepted at some of the places where I've applied. I mean, just looking at the heads of the department's portfolios, I don't know if I could have lasted at a place where they like photos of sculptures that they made out of lightbulbs or photos of collages from 1970s porno magazines. 

Hopefully I haven't made anyone upset about this... different strokes for different folks, but instead of wasting money with guessing at this again, I thought I would post here to see if anyone had any suggestions. I do already have a master's in English, but the job market is really bad, and even though I know it's also really bad for photography, I feel much more competitive in photography than I do with English. One of my former advisors told me to see if there are any MFA photojournalism programs, but I haven't been able to locate any. 

Thanks for any and all suggestions. I really appreciate the help! 

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where did you apply?


there are many programs with students practicing straight photography. mfa thesis shows point to this. schools that practice straight photography:


Hartford Art School (low-res program with online components and in-person meetings in different parts of the world)

Massachusetts College of Art and Design


School of Visual Arts

Rhode Island School of Design

Columbia University (studio art mfa, if you are admitted to the photography department you have focused study with thomas roma who is a "straight photographer")

Arizona State University

University of Santa Cruz, Los Angeles (also studio art mfa)

Pratt Institute

Bard College Master Class (certificate, not an MFA, can study with "straight photographers" like Stephen Shore, Larry Fink, etc)



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The two programs that I can think of off the top of my head for photojournalism are ICP's one-year photojournalism certificate program and Syracuse's Newhouse School. 






They aren't necessarily MFA programs, but both are good, intensive forays into the journalism end of photography. Newhouse also has arguably one of the nicest buildings on Syracuse's campus. From what you're interested in it seems that a standard mfa fine art program wouldn't really help you.

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Wait, if you're already an award winning photojournalist and have twenty years of experience, why do you feel the need to go back to school? Sometimes schools are looking for someone who wants to develop and try new things rather than someone who is already great at what they do.


If you're doing it for jobs, I don't think an MFA would necessarily help. There are just fewer and fewer jobs in photojournalism, and I don't know that an art degree has ever helped anyone get a job other than in teaching art!

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