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Meet William Carruthers of New England School of Photography in Waltham

Today we’d like to introduce you to William Carruthers.

Thanks for sharing your story with us William. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
New England School of Photography (NESOP) was founded in 1968 by my father, Academy Award nominated documentary photographer John H. Carruthers. The school’s Professional Photography Program was designed with the goal of creating marketable artists who were highly proficient in the technical aspects of photography, while also being creative artists who could bring a personal vision to their professional work. Over the years many graduates of our Professional Photography Program have gone on to find tremendous success in fields a varied as photojournalism, advertising photography, portrait & wedding photography, fashion photography, documentary photography, magazine photography, fine art photography, and many fields related to digital imaging photography,

In addition, the school has always offered a wide variety of photographic workshops for adults in the evenings and on weekends, as well as photographic trips. In recent years the school has added programs for teenagers through the Camp Photo program. The school’s programs have been highly regarded and award winning for many years. Adults and teens can learn cutting-edge digital imaging skills and all the associated software’s, as well as all the areas of study offered in the Professional Program (listed above). We are in the final stages of building our new darkroom for film/analog processes as well as a range of alternative processes such as Tintype, Cyanotype, and more. Students in our programs can learn photographic processes from the mid-nineteenth century up to the most modern digital processes using the most advanced equipment.

I had been in and around the school my entire life, including working summer jobs cleaning floors and other related tasks. In 1988, after graduating from Bryant University, I began working full time at NESOP. Two years after that, I took over as President, and have been in that position for the past 28 years.

The school was in Kenmore Square from 1972 until 2017, when Boston University sold their portfolio of real estate in Kenmore Square to a development company who removed all the tenants from the buildings in advance of their redevelopment plans. After 45 years in Kenmore Square, NESOP had 60 days to find a new home, and re-create our school. We were very fortunate to find a building in Waltham that was the perfect size for our needs in addition to having previously been a school, which allowed for a seamless transition.

Now firmly established on Moody Street in Waltham, NESOP is offering all the same programming that we had previously offered, and in the early stages of adding new and exciting course offerings. Waltham has turned out to be an amazing location for the school, replete with great restaurants, a diverse population, and a vibrant and thriving arts community which we hope to be a part of for a very long time.

I am still NESOP’s President, and enjoying every minute working at this amazing, vibrant and creative place.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
There have been many struggles along the way. Over the past 20 years, many similar schools around the country have closed due to the inherent difficulties of running a small school. For many years, approximately 25% of NESOP students were coming from other countries. Students from Asia, Africa, South America and Europe were common sights in our hallways and classrooms. After the attacks of 9/11, and the restrictions on entry to the USA, our population of international students dropped significantly. Although we still have students from all over the world, it now is typically more like 10% of our population.

The most significant challenge, however, was losing our home and finding a new location. When it happened. it seemed like there was no way we would ever find a home in time, and if we did that we would NEVER be able to move out, move in, and set up at a new place. We NEVER could have imagined that we would end up in such an amazing place!

Please tell us about New England School of Photography.
Much of what the school does I put in the introductory page. I can add to that by explaining that NESOP is an accredited school, and that our Professional Photography Program is a two-year certificate program which focuses solely on instruction in the technical, artistic, and business aspects of becoming a successful professional photographer.

I am most proud of the fact that NESOP has thrived in a Higher Education environment that is causing many 4-year colleges to have financial struggles and has driven many dozens of small photography and art schools to close their doors. Despite all these pressures, NESOP has always done a superb job of educating our students and preparing them for successful careers, all the while receiving a stream of accolades from schools, professional organizations, professional educators, professional photographers, and even our accrediting agency. We are, essentially, the sole survivor of the small photography and art schools that once were everywhere, and we have maintained an exceptional level of quality throughout.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I think that we have been very fortunate in our achievements over the decades. Our management’s decisions to invest profits into the success of our students as well as the long-term health of the school, have proven to be prescient.

We have also turned down numerous offers to sell the school to larger school groups, a path that seemed wise in the early 2000’s, but eventually lead to the closings of many of those schools.

We resisted the temptation to over-expand during times when the industry was thriving, a mistake that lead to the closings of many more small schools when the economy weakened.

In short, I think that I would make all the same important decisions that I did. Perhaps I’d take a bit more vacation time to travel with my family!


  • Professional Photography Program tuition = $24,200/yr
  • Evening Workshops range from $200 to $675 per course
  • Camp Photo (Teen program) – $525 per week

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Tony Sahadeo (all images)

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