If you love snapping photos of friends and have keen artistic instincts, perhaps a career in photography is for you. Read on to learn more about this creative field.
Photography is a scientific process whereby a camera utilizes light on a photosensitive surface to create a visual image, called a photograph. A photograph can be used for artistic, documentary, narrative or commercial purposes. Although some photographers are self-taught, it is generally necessary to obtain at least some education to work as a professional, since the photographer must also possess technical expertise.
Photography is a blend of science and art, and your success requires keeping abreast of the many technological changes occurring in the field. This need often prompts photographers to pursue a degree program or enroll in continuing education classes. While traditional photography requires an understanding of the nature of chemicals and paper, digital photography requires a familiarity with computers and photography software. For the modern photographer, knowledge of both traditional and digital techniques is a distinct advantage. The successful photographer is artistic, creative, has a good eye for composition and technical mastery of the camera and related equipment.
Many careers are options within the field of photography, such as fashion, commercial, advertising, fine art, portraiture and editorial photography. Scientific avenues are also available, such as biomedical and forensic photography. You may be able to utilize a degree in photography to become a photo editor, art buyer, art director or curator. An advertising photographer generally works with a client to render an enticing visual image that will sell a product or service to a target audience. Fashion and editorial photographers are most often found working for glossy magazines.
The fine arts photographer is an artist whose medium is photography and who usually shows his or her work in a gallery setting. Many photographers own their own studio and shoot events, such as weddings and other special occasions, as freelancers. Most studio photographers also do portraits.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that employment of photographers is expected to grow slower than the average for all occupations, at a rate of 4% from 2012-2022, and the field is highly competitive (www.bls.gov). In May 2013, the median annual wage for photographers was $29,280, the BLS noted.
Many types of programs are offered that may help you begin a career in photography. You may try a diploma program, which will prepare you to get right to work in an entry-level position in a commercial studio or as an assistant to an experienced wedding photographer. If your interest lies more in a scientific photography field, employment will typically require a photography degree that may include a combination of photography, biology and criminology courses.
Other options include the Associate of Applied Science in Photography degree that has various specialization areas, such as wedding or portrait photography. Some choose to pursue more rigorous programs, such as a Bachelor of Arts in Photography or a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography. Due to the highly competitive nature of the field, you may even decide to earn a photography master's degree. No matter what degree you choose, you take classes in lighting, exposure control, composition, camera operation, color processes, art and photography history and hands-on courses in the development of photos.