The Essential Guide to a Career in Photography

Are you interested in a career in photography? Do you have a passion for capturing images of people, places, or objects? Do you want to learn how to edit images? Working in this field requires more than just an interest in snapping the camera. There are a lot of skills and techniques that go into capturing these moments and putting out a product that interests a client or employers. Let’s take a look at what it means to work as a photographer and how you can make your dreams of becoming a photographer into a reality.

Daily Duties as a Photographer

Photographers work in a myriad of different industries; you don’t have to work at weddings or taking headshots to be a photographer (though these certainly are choices). You could work photographing celebrities for magazines, take pictures of food or consumer products for advertising purposes, work with photo manipulation, or even work as a crime scene photographer. There are many different industries that need skilled photographers. Although many photographers work exclusively with digital photography, some still work with chemicals, so you may also be responsible for developing film. You’ll be responsible for more than just clicking a button. Photographers:

  • Set up shots
  • Maintain equipment
  • Work with marketers and graphic designers

Photography Salary and Outlook

Some photographers are paid on commission rather than a base salary, and others work for magazines, ad agencies, etc. on a freelance basis and are paid by the project or even by the picture, so salary information can vary quite a bit. This field is growing about as fast as average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which means that while jobs are competitive, they aren’t impossible to find. Photographer jobs in some industries are undoubtedly easier to find than in others, with the most salaried positions being available in commercial photography studios. The BLS reported that the median salary for photographers was $29,440 in 2008, but these salaries ranged from $16,920 to $62,430.

Photography Education

Working as a photographer requires little more than a working knowledge of your camera, but to get a job in this industry, most studios, ad agencies, and other employers require a college degree. Many entry-level positions accept an associate’s degree, and you can also go to a four-year school to get a more comprehensive education. Bachelor’s degree programs also allow you to earn your degree in a related area and specialize or minor in photographer so you can work as a photographer in that field (for example, if you want to work as a medical photographer, you could earn a degree in biology).

Another essential component to finding work as a photographer is to put together a comprehensive portfolio of your work. This can include work throughout your education as well as your professional experience. Though many employers require you to have an education, what will make you stand out and what will speak for you during an interview is your portfolio. This is how you show off your skills and techniques to potential employers. They will be able to see what you are capable of and if the type of work you do fits in well with their business or company. Students should be building this over time, so don’t put it off until you are looking for jobs.

The Best Online Photography & Art Colleges

While amateur photographers abound, professional photography requires a high degree of knowledge and skill that can be gained through online learning. Currently, only the Art Institute of Pittsburgh offers an online photography degree (more details below). But many other colleges offer related online programs like graphic design.

Full Sail University — The BS in Graphic Design offered by Full Sail University focuses on honing the skills of established artists through classes in photography, design, and other forms of art. Students of this online program will work closely with a mentor. Many graduates pursue the Master of Fine Arts degree upon graduation.

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