Study Photography in Ireland
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Photography Studies in IrelandFrom the tall, rolling green hills of Donegal in the north to the tranquil coastlines of County Cork, Ireland is widely regarded as one of the most photogenic countries on Earth. Travelers have been coming here for centuries to enjoy its majestic landscape and unique natural features, and these same features (along with its rich cultural heritage) make it an exquisitely compelling subject for photography even today. In addition, Ireland itself has a long history of appreciating the arts in a way that few countries can match, so it’s a good place for aspiring photographers to be familiar with, as many artists decide to live full time in Ireland, especially in their younger years.
There are two main ways to study photography in Ireland: attending short-term study abroad program, or getting a degree from one of the two nationally accredited schools of art (Burren College of Art, and The National College of Art and Design). Many of Ireland’s other colleges and universities also offer Bachelor’s degrees in art, but for those who want an intensive art-focused degree such as an MFA, the art schools are the best option. Broader colleges such as those in the UC system offer a wider range of studies, but less depth of focus in photography. Meanwhile, a study abroad program is an excellent choice for people who want to study in Ireland for a short time (from a few months to a full academic year) and earn academic credit, but not a full Master’s or Bachelor’s degree.
Study abroad programs may be offered by any number of institutions in Ireland and elsewhere, and so the specific experience of each student will inevitably vary considerably from program to program. Some American schools, for example, have partnered with Irish art schools such as the Burren College of Art to offer short-term study abroad options for the summer. Students in these programs will spend just a few months in Ireland focusing exclusively on photograph (and/or whatever other studio arts they choose to pursue). Because of the constrained nature of their scheduling, these programs often give students ample free time to travel, wander the country, and find good subjects for their photography.
The photography program at the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) is particularly notable – in part because the institution itself is highly prestigious, and in part because the photography program is very unique. This program, called “Media” rather than “Photography” is noticeably different from other photography programs. Media students at NCAD, rather than being enrolled in a typical program of photography courses and workshops, have the opportunity to learn far more about the technology of digital and film cameras as well as the critical and cultural issues surrounding photographic representation in society throughout history. Thus, this program has a rigorous academic focus in addition to its focus on the craft of making beautiful photographs.