How to Become a Photographer

Written by

George D. Baker


August 14, 2014


Trained photographers are needed to take high quality photos that captivate, inform and engage the imagination. Every picture tells a story. Capturing on film moments of people, places and things to remember experiences and display the beauty and significance of objects has become an important part of human history. Photographs are used to report news stories, sell products and services and entertain the public.

What does a photographer do?

PhotographerPhotographers create and preserve images that capture a moment, tell a story or document an event. They use professional equipment, creativity, and technical know-how to produce quality photographs.

Photographers select particular subjects to generate a specific effect and choose the right camera and other tools to create a desired image. They use different angles, lighting (natural or artificial), exposures and backgrounds to achieve the goal of the photograph. They can draw attention to or away from certain aspects of the image by using different lenses, filters, and distances. They also use a variety of flash attachments and tripods to create different moods or feelings.

Most photographers today use digital cameras instead of traditional film. Some photographers use both types, depending on the situation. Digital photographs allow photographers to edit them quickly and easily on a computer. Film from traditional cameras is often sent to a laboratory for processing, but some photographers have their own darkrooms in which to develop the film themselves. Photographers specialize in specific areas such as commercial portraiture, journalism, scientific, nature, or industrial photography.

What kind of training, skills & experience does a photographer need?

To pursue positions in industrial or scientific photography or photojournalism, a college degree in photography or other related area is usually required. In the world of digital photography, photographers expecting to land the best jobs must have experience with industry standard design programs, especially photo editing through Adobe Photoshop. Many photographers gather experience as assistants to experienced photographers to gain the necessary technical knowledge and skills. Most photographers freelance, meaning that they are paid on contract by job or photo, and not directly employed by a company full-time. Freelance photographers are sometimes self-taught, have received informal photographic training or have entered photography internships from a degree program.

Photographers also need to have good hand-eye coordination, be detail oriented and accurate. They should have a strong technical knowledge of photographic process and fundamentals, creativity, imagination and an eye for composition. They also need to know how to use computer software to edit and prepare photographs for clients.

What is the job outlook for a career in photography?

The job outlook for photographers is good, with opportunities for jobs in photography are projected to increase about as fast as average for all professions through the year 2016, increasing 10% from 122,000 jobs in 2012 to more than 134,000 jobs. (1) Self-employed photographers, including those in freelance photography jobs, make up more than 50% of all photography careers.

Since photography is an appealing field, competition is expected. Photographers with formal education, significant work experience, and distinctive talents and skills can expect the best job prospects. A computer or electronic background can also improve job opportunities.

Photographer salary: How much do photographers make?

Currently, the average entry-level photographer salary ranges between $42,368 and $62,996. The highest 10% earn over $71,000. (2) The freelance photographer salary is generally quite varied, depending on the discipline and how many photographs are sold.

For anyone considering whether and how to become a photographer, this is a great career choice for people who have artistic talent and can capture meaningful images. Photographers must have good communication skills, adjustable schedules, and a great deal of patience. They often have to work in undesirable conditions and they must be able to adapt to the needs and requirements of their clients. Those interested in becoming a photographer may also be interested in becoming a photojournalist or being a photogrammetrist.

If you are serious about a career in arts and design, check out our list of the best online graphic design schools.

Becoming a Photographer Requires Skills & Training Start Today

Are you serious about becoming a Photographer? Then you need to get the required skills and training to do it! To start your new career, first you must decide what school you want to enroll in, so you need to gather info about potential schools. Use the  College Mouse Degree Search tool  to find the right course and college for you, and get started towards your new dream job today! If you want more personalized assistance, call (888) 389-7996 TOLL FREE to speak with a college advisor, who will help you find the best college for you. After you sign up for your course, make sure you fill out and submit the FAFSA so you can take advantage of any financial aid currently available to you!

Written by:  George D. Baker

George D. Baker is a long-time contributor to College Mouse. Now retired, Mr. Baker volunteers at adult education programs in his local community.

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