The New York Institute of Photography is the world's oldest and largest photography school . Established in 1910, NYIP has grown to become the premier provider of distance photography training, educating more than 20,000 students in the United States and more than 50 countries at any given time and publishing a regular newsletter for over 100,000 subscribers. Like all but the most tradition-bound and well-endowed schools, the New York Institute of Photography went through a number of phases in its first 100 years. But the constants have always remained the same—teaching photography to people of all classes and races, a focus on vocational photography skills, and close personal interaction between faculty and students.
In 1910, the Industrial Revolution was in full swing. The world looked to science and technology to make life better and American businesses led the way to that better life with new products, new inventions, and opportunities for people seeking to learn new skills. It was a natural time to start a school to teach the art and science of photography.
In 1910, America’s population was just over 90 million, less than one-third as many people as today. Transportation was bringing people closer and making the world smaller. Henry Ford sold 10,000 cars that year. In New York City, Penn Station, then the world's largest train hub, opened. The Wright Brothers conducted the first commercial cargo flight, and Thomas Edison demonstrated the first talking motion picture. In photography, the first infrared photographs were published in 1910 and the world’s first practical color photography process, the Autochrome, had appeared just three years earlier.
In the burgeoning neighborhood around Penn Station—still the location of many vocational schools—French immigrant Emile Brunel (1874–1944) opened the New York Institute of Photography (NYIP), starting as a retail operation that taught its customers how to use the photography equipment they bought. The school quickly expanded into teaching photo engraving, retouching, and cinematography, and began to publish its lessons in book form. In its early days, it was often referred to as the Brunel School of Photography or Brunel’s School.
Brunel was a man of many interests, including cinematography, sculpture, travel, and photographing Native Americans on his frequent trips to the West. He worked with Cecile B. DeMille in the silent film era and invented the one-hour photography process which led to the “dailies” in the motion picture industry. In 1914 Brunel registered the school as the New York Institute of Photography. By 1920, Brunel was gone and the school was now in the control of Samuel Fortune Falk and his two brothers. Falk was an entrepreneur who created a publishing company and started NYIP branches in Chicago and Brooklyn. In the 1930s and ’40s, NYIP trained a large percentage of the motion picture newsreel cameramen. In the 1970s, the School closed its residential program and focused exclusively on distance learning courses.
While the New York Institute of Photography began in the early 1900s as a residential school teaching both photography and motion picture courses, in the 1930’s the school began teaching via distance education. NYIP was first accredited for distance education when the National Home Study Council launched its accreditation program in 1956. The National Home Study Council eventually changed its name to the Distance Training and Education Council (DETC). NYIP maintains its accreditation with DETC and is also licensed by the New York State Education Department. In 1975, NYIP closed its residential school to focus on distance education.
By 1980 the school offered a multi-media home study photography course that included audio taped evaluations for every student from their individual instructors, and telephone contact with staff professionals. In addition to full-color lesson books, instruction was provided via pre-recorded audio and video programs. In 2010, the evaluations became digital and was sent to students as downloads.
Today, every NYIP student still has a single, highly-skilled and dedicated Instructor to work with throughout their distance education course. Each NYIP Instructor inspires his or her students and challenges them to build on what they know so they can constantly improve and reach their goals in photography.
In addition to an assigned Instructor, every NYIP student also has access to a professional Student Advisor who helps explain to students the materials in their lessons, provides advice about finding and working with clients, and offers expert opinions on the newest photographic equipment and latest technology.
“What began as a program for professional photographers in 1910 now appeals to a mix of aspiring professionals and amateurs wanting to improve their photography skills. We're very proud of our first 100 years, and we’re ready for what the next century will bring,” said NYIP's Director, Chuck DeLaney.