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M11 or SL2 for photography major in art school?


ymc226
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I want to get a graduation gift for my daughter who is graduating high school and has been accepted to art school in NYC.  I'm not sure how she even got in as she only worked on her portfolio several months before applying.  This is a surprise to both my wife and myself as she went to an academic boarding school with a concentration in languages and chose to go in a completely different direction at the last minute compared to her 2 older siblings. 

I guess I should wait until she starts her courses and the school directs her as what to use.  Do art schools usually lend out equipment for their students or do photography majors need to own basic camera equipment? I do have numerous 35mm film cameras that she could use.  Too bad I just sold my SL2 and SL + lenses as they were too heavy and bulky for me.  I had no idea she was even thinking about art school, much less photography..  

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Based on my kids’ experiences, it’s going to depend more on the specific professor as to what the required equipment will be. Usually, though, the instructors don’t care too much about the specific equipment used. My two daughters, both one of whom is graduating from an art school and one of whom is still attending a liberal arts college but studying art, the desire of the student makes a bigger difference. My eldest daughter was most interested in a camera that could do good quality video, so I let her use my SL2 for a while. My middle daughter wanted fully manual still cameras and actually adopted my Rolleiflex for a while (though she uses my CL more than anything else). I’d hate to spoil the surprise, but I’d recommend asking your daughter if you’re not sure.

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If you send your kid to art school with a 10-15k camera set up, she's gonna stand out, and not in a good way - she's gonna have a nicer kit than her professors most likely. I'm guessing this is SVA or Pratt? They've got stuff to check out, and plenty of it, but they will also probably tell your kid what's expected that they own for a given class - usually on the syllabus. 

Depends on the program and the course - some courses require specifics (usually it doesn't get more specific than ILC camera with "normal" lens) - but let her go to school and figure out what she needs, then get her a used kit from KEH. These kids make better art with shittier cameras because they are excited and have imagination - and a shiny kit isn't gonna change it. 

Not to put a damper on it but art programs are generally hurting for students right now. The top ones maybe not in the same way, but high tuition for low return career is giving people plenty of (justified) pause. Her portfolio might be amazing though. 

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What does she prefer? She may want something small and light like the Micro4/3, or a Fuji X series or something big like GFX series. Wait would be my preference. 

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Posted (edited)

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YMC266,  I second Ict's input at his post #2.  When I went to university to study as a photography art major, we students thought we could use our Nikons or Canons SLRs with our first classes...we were wrong.  Instead, we had to go buy and use a $5.00 totally plastic Holga (still made today) camera that uses 120mm roll film. We had to shoot our portfolio with the camera, do the darkroom work and submit the negatives along with the matted prints to be graded.  What the professor was trying to teach us, it isn't the brand, type or expense of the camera that helped create ones portoflio.  It was one's creative mind and using the tool at hand.  It was an excellent experience.  In later courses we could use our cameras or simply check out the school equipment...which at the time were mostly either Leica M cameras or Rollei's.  The most interesting part was during the lecture when the professor announced on day one the following..."If you think you are going to get job at graduation with a Fine Arts degree in photography...you better go find a different major".  I thought about what he said and wound up getting a degree in remote sensing engineering and had a highly successful first career.  I must admit the couple fine art photography classes did help me much later in my second life as a professional photographer.  Last, I am certain your daughter will do most excellent at school and whatever she decides her road of life might take her.  Just my 2 cents.  r/ Mark

Edited by LeicaR10
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I would either also wait and see what she wants / needs.

Frienkly I would think that a student would have other needs/ideas how to spend money than a camera for 8k $.

Depending what she really needs I might rather tend for something like a Fuji, where she doesn't have to be afraid to bring the camera with her and where she also could afford some more lenses if she wants.

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Absolutely agree to hold back and see what the course suggests. And absolutely agree that a new student turning up with a new M11 or SL2 will stand out in a way she might rather not. And have a high-value possession to worry about in student accommodation and on the street. Better (IMO) to tell her you will buy her whatever kit she finds she might need, rather than make the choice for her. She might prefer film!

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Hey, 

1. visit the school and check the equipment. 
i would buy the same camera that the school provides as a tool.

2. when she graduate’s, you can make the gift with the Leica ! 
 

3. if you really what to help , then a very good workshop would be a good start. 
 

cheers 🥂 

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22 minutes ago, mikelevitt said:

Some real world advice.....

Art school is a waste of money.

Going straight to a trade/specialized school is better than a liberal arts degree where the first two years are wasted repeating high school.

Every high school should have a mandatory class for seniors that helps guide them toward careers that match up with the kind of lifestyle they want to have by middle age. 

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Thanks for the advice given.  I'll wait and see what she needs once her classes start.  Maybe get her a basic kit and then add to it as she gains more experience and becomes more focused in what she needs.  

In terms of her going to art school, hopefully there will be some skills she will excel at to allow her to earn a living.  She is not at all interested in science, engineering, computers, medicine or law; which would be more practical.  My wife and I have promoted the advantages in pursuing a career related to the aft mentioned professions but her interest is more in writing and the arts. 

I was strongly steered into a profession and it did allow me to earn a great living so I can't complain but have always thought what if . . . 

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On 5/6/2022 at 8:18 PM, pgh said:

If you send your kid to art school with a 10-15k camera set up, she's gonna stand out, and not in a good way - she's gonna have a nicer kit than her professors most likely. I'm guessing this is SVA or Pratt? They've got stuff to check out, and plenty of it, but they will also probably tell your kid what's expected that they own for a given class - usually on the syllabus. 

Depends on the program and the course - some courses require specifics (usually it doesn't get more specific than ILC camera with "normal" lens) - but let her go to school and figure out what she needs, then get her a used kit from KEH. These kids make better art with shittier cameras because they are excited and have imagination - and a shiny kit isn't gonna change it. 

Not to put a damper on it but art programs are generally hurting for students right now. The top ones maybe not in the same way, but high tuition for low return career is giving people plenty of (justified) pause. Her portfolio might be amazing though. 

She is going to Parsons School of Design.  I would guess Parsons is still considered an art school.  We were hoping that on revisit day that she would reconsider her decision to attend if she saw a lot of fellow students that were "weirdos" but my wife who accompanied her found her fellow classmates to be quite normal unfortunately. 

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2 hours ago, ymc226 said:

...her interest is more in writing and the arts...

Writing and communications skills will let her Forrest Gump her way into some pretty good jobs. I'd be more worried if she wanted to major in painting/drawing/sculpture/ceramics, etc.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, ymc226 said:

Thanks for the advice given.  I'll wait and see what she needs once her classes start.  Maybe get her a basic kit and then add to it as she gains more experience and becomes more focused in what she needs.  

In terms of her going to art school, hopefully there will be some skills she will excel at to allow her to earn a living.  She is not at all interested in science, engineering, computers, medicine or law; which would be more practical.  My wife and I have promoted the advantages in pursuing a career related to the aft mentioned professions but her interest is more in writing and the arts. 

I was strongly steered into a profession and it did allow me to earn a great living so I can't complain but have always thought what if . . . 

I think this has been covered but I am in the camp of waiting / asking your daughter what she needs.  I work in an environment with a lot of young workers (I own & run a bar / live music venue), and their view of what is an amazing bit of kit can differ from ours too .  (Although if you have kids of that age I'm sure I don't need to tell you that !) .  One of my young bar-tenders turns up with a Polaroid Camera , which I think is extremely cool.  I'm not sure he feels the same way about my Leica but I am sure that if I had Yashica point and shoot or Contax T3 I would get more points.   So really we never know and it would be great to get her something that in her world is the M11 of our world : D

I also second the opinion that turning up with a sparking M11 might not be socially the best thing for initial impressions in a peer group etc.  it's a lovely thought though ! 

On the bigger picture, I think if she discovers her passion and follows it then she won't go too far wrong and as long as she is doing what she is happiest at then there is a very good chance the material success will follow.  Working in an industry you are truly passionate about leads to increased efforts, which leads to  .. plenty of other good stuff that one (and one's family) would seek out in a 'real job' , and as a bonus you don't feel like you are working. 

That's when it's all going well of course :D

 

Edited by grahamc
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Posted (edited)
On 5/7/2022 at 4:16 PM, mikelevitt said:

Some real world advice.....

Art school is a waste of money.

In some ways, yes. 

If a person is looking for a career that will give them a real shot at financial stability and security, art school may not be the best choice.  However - sometimes learning is its own reward.  If art is the most important thing in the world to a person, they will likely look back on art school as a good experience.

Being able to put "graduate of Blablabla Fine Art Academy" on your resume may help open some gallery doors for you.  

Bear in mind that as photographic artists, we all know what a freaking gold mine showing your work in art galleries is. 🙄

As for camera choice, I would wait and see what equipment the faculty recommends for her major.  Some classes may require a DSLR, some a film SLR and some a 4x5 view camera.  It's probably best to find out before spending M11 or SL2 level money.

 

Edited by Herr Barnack
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Posted (edited)

Society is becoming more visual than ever - she doesn't have to earn money as an artist necessarily, but knowledge of visual mediums is massive and she may have ideas to integrate that knowledge into a more conventional / commercial direction in the future .  It's incredible how people in society are able to find time to view visual content continuously. personally I think they should be 'working' but what do I know ! 

 

Edited by grahamc
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