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How to Become a Photographer in 2021

October 4, 2021 | Staff Writers

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Everything You Need to Know About Photography 

Digital photography and social media have led to the disruption of the photography business, both as a career option and as a creative art. The demand for photography services has rapidly escalated with the need to capture memorable occasions such as weddings, travel escapades, among other occasions. The increased use of social media services has also caused an explosion in the photography business. 

The route to becoming a certified professional photographer is quite easy compared to other professions. The first step into becoming a professional photographer is by taking the right education path and completing a training program supervised by an experienced professional photographer. Upon completion of the training program, an aspiring photographer might pursue a photography career of their choice. 

The photography business has unlocked various career opportunities for professional photographers. Some of the possible careers for professional photographers include travel photographer, portrait photographer, wedding photographer, and fashion photographer. Another common photography option is a career in landscape photography. You also opt to become a freelance photographer offering photography to multiple clients.   

In most cases, professional photographers work in the field. Others work in studios providing photography services, especially to social media influencers. They might land jobs in newspaper publishing companies. Are you interested in photography and seeking to become a professional photographer? Well, this is the right article for you. It explores various aspects of photography, including: 

  1. How to become a professional photographer 
  2. Components of a successful photography career 
  3. Courses to help you become a photographer 
  4. Skills and equipment needed to become a photographer

How to Become a Professional Photographer

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the photography business is likely to witness a 4% job growth rate in the next few years. Despite a slower job growth rate than the 14% rate predicted for all careers, the demand for professional photography will continue to escalate. Currently, the photography business has employed close to 150,000 professional photographers due to the increased demand for photography. The invention of digital cameras and the reduced costs of acquiring cameras have made it easy for aspiring photographers to enter the industry. A photographer typically takes images using various types of cameras. There are many types of professional photographers. They include: 

  • Wedding photographer: takes pictures of weddings 
  • Portrait Photographer: Take photos of people such as those posted on social media
  • Landscape Photographer: taking pictures of landscapes 
  • Art Photographer: Take artistic photos of people, things, and places. 

What Steps Do You Take to Become a Professional Photographer?

It’s generally pretty easy to become a photographer. All you need is to follow the right education path, complete a training program, and buy the right professional photography equipment, and you are good to go. That said, becoming a professional photographer requires the right set of education and skills.

The photography business is a highly competitive field, and professional photographers need to be highly talented to be successful. Additionally, the profession requires commitment and one has to balance between their interests and professional interests effectively. The photography business is suitable for individuals passionate about photography. To be successful, you have to ensure that your passion for photography is the driving factor to becoming a professional photographer. 

Are you contemplating becoming a professional photographer and don’t know where to start? You need not freak out, but keep reading. Here is a comprehensive guide to becoming a professional photographer. 

  • Start with Self Inquiry 

Professional photography can be a satisfying career choice if you have the right balance between your entrepreneurial interests and creative passions. Before beginning a career in professional photography, you need to ask yourself the right questions and find the right answers to the questions. For instance, you need to determine the factors that motivate you to start a photography profession. Also, you need to identify the photography niches that excite you most. Some of the niches include travel photography, wildlife photography, portrait photography, and nature photography. 

  • Get the Right Education 

After identifying the driving factors to becoming a professional photographer, it is vital to identify an education program that will help you achieve your career objectives. Nonetheless, professional photography now has specific structured training. You might opt to attend a formal education from a recognized learning institution, self-learn from online programs, and get training from an experienced photographer. A formal education course is always recommended since college and university programs help aspiring photographers develop the right set of skills needed to be successful. Always ensure the education program aligns with your level of educational commitment and career goals. The programs are available from certificate levels through to master’s degree level. 

  • Complete an Internship Program 

All types of professions require students to complete internship programs to gain hands-on experience in their profession. A prospective professional photographer should network with other photographers to help them develop and sharpen their photography skills. You also look out for vacancies or volunteer as a photography assistant to help put classroom knowledge into practice. During the program, try to learn how to deal with different clients and manage a photography business. The experience will be crucial when you opt to become a freelance photographer. 

  • Choose a Focus Area 

Professional photography is a broad field with several specialty areas. Your photography education and internship help you learn the photography technique which is required to pursue any specialty. Concentrating on a specific niche helps you become competitive in the market and helps you build a specific client base. It would be best to consider whether you were interested in becoming a nature photographer, travel photography, or landscape photographer. You can create photo stories on social media to help attract clients.   , try to get views of your mentor concerning your progress until you become perfect in your photography profession. Create a website to showcase your talent and skills. 

  • Take Certifications Exam 

You need to take and pass certification exams to become a certified professional photographer. Some of the certification available to professional photographers include:

  • Certified Professional Photographer 
  • Certified Forensic Photographer 
  • Registered Biological Photographer
  • Acquire the Right Photography Equipment 

Beginning a photography business might be costly at the initial stages but profitable in the long run. Ensure you have proper high cameras that can capture high-quality images. Ensure the equipment is suitable for your focus area. Additionally, invest in the right hardware and software which you will need for production. 

What Education Do You Need to Become a Professional Photographer?

 No formal education is required to become a photographer. However, photographers wishing to remain competitive in the market might pursue various programs, with the bachelor’s degree being highly recommended. Some of the likely education programs that a professional photographer might pursue include: 

  • Certificate Photography Programs: These are short courses that are normally completed within a few months. The certificate program helps prospective photographers learn basic skills and knowledge in photography. 
  • Associate Degree in Photography: This education program is mainly offered in art colleges and universities. It takes approximately two years to complete the program. The program provides students with the necessary technical skills needed for photography. Students learn photography techniques and different types of photography. The program requires students to complete 90 credit hours at a minimum. 
  • Bachelors of Fine Arts in Photography: The bachelor’s degree is a four-year program that provides comprehensive knowledge and skills in photography. The program covers several aspects of photography. Hence it is the recommended degree program for those who seek to succeed in the photography business. Students are required to study completely at least 173 credit hours. 
  • Master’s Degree in Photography: This program is suitable for photographers wishing to advance their knowledge and skills in professional photography. Students learn both the theoretical aspects and also gain necessary practical experience.   , the master’s program can lead to advanced positions such as a senior photographer or art director. The degree takes approximately two years and includes 36 credit hours. 

How Long Does It Take to Become a Professional Photographer?

The number of years taken to become a professional photographer depends on the route an individual takes to become a photographer. Those who go it alone or try to learn photography through informational training might take 6-12 months to perfect their photography skills. However, those who consider formal education might take a longer period. For instance, those enrolled in associate programs might take almost three years to become a professional photographer, that is, two years of education and one year of formal training. 

Those seeking to obtain a bachelor’s degree could take longer periods, in most cases four or five years, indicating that the pathway to becoming a professional photographer influences the number of years one takes to gain knowledge and experience in photography. If you seek to make a quick entry into the profession, consider earning a certificate program or an associate degree.

Components of A Successful Photography Career

A photography career can be rewarding, especially when you have the right skills, tools, and credentials. Becoming a professional photographer is currently easier than in the past, particularly with the invention of digital photography. Those considering entering the photography profession must first obtain the right photography education and training. The education programs and training enables photographers to learn both basic and technical photography techniques. However, without the right components, your career as a photographer might face several hurdles. 

Successful photography entails a lot. It is all about having the right skills and tools for your photography business. For instance, a sports photographer needed to have cameras with high-quality lenses to help capture vital aspects of sporting activities. Well, this is just the tip of the iceberg. This article explores the components in detail, including becoming a top photographer and the benefits of a successful photography career. 

How Do You Become a Top Photographer?

Becoming a top photographer is always the dream of every professional photographer. Top photographers attract a huge clientele and run some of the most successful photography businesses. There is a lot to becoming a top photographer. Although you might have the right education and photography tools, you might fail to become a top professional photographer without the following: 

  • Constant Practicing 

Photography doesn’t end at acquiring education credentials and completing training and internship programs. Just as the adage says, practice makes perfect. Professional photographers need to practice the art of photography constantly. For instance, scientific photographers and artistic photographers need to practice the technicalities involved in the shooting continuously. We have seen several photographers with high-quality gears, yet their photos still don’t look great, demonstrating that these photographers are yet to perfect their photography skills. They practice developing their skill sets and perfect photography. 

  • Life-long Learning 

Photographers should never stop learning. The photography industry is dynamic, with technological advancements coming regularly. Life-long learning helps professional photographers keep abreast with the technological trends in the industry. Top professional photographers always communicate with their mentors, making inquiries here and there, helping them perfect their art, attracting a large client base. 

  • Networking 

Networking is a crucial aspect of every professional. Currently, the world functions on a service-based economy. Hence, having the right personalities within your networking could be a major milestone in your photography career. As a fashion photographer, you should be networking with other fashion photographers from different corners. Additionally, it is vital to attend various networking events to help you connect with potential customers. 

  • Market Yourself 

You might have everything it takes to become a top professional photographer, but your photography business might be miserable without an effective marketing strategy. In most cases, most people who hire your services do so because they are satisfied with your work. Your portfolio is a powerful tool that could help market you to the outside world other than friends, your associates, and your family. For instance, as a freelance photographer, you should have a collection of photos you show your clients when they inquire about freelance photography services. You can also use social media for marketing yourself by creating a social media page to showcase your portfolio. 

What Does a Successful Photography Career Look Like?

A large clientele base characterizes a successful photography career. The first thing that always comes to a photographer’s mind is how to attract and retain clients. Having several clients who hire your services constantly is a clear indication that you succeed in your profession. A successful photography career also entails having the right photography credentials, skills, and experience. The professional photographers who act as role models and mentors to aspiring photographers have a successful career. A successful photography career has the right marketing strategies, including having a solid portfolio that helps attract new clients. Being recognized among the top photographers in different gigs and blogs indicates your career is successful and rewarding. 

What Are the Benefits You Can Expect from A Successful Photography Career?

Professional photographers use their creativity and technical knowledge, and skills to produce images, record an event or tell a story. A successful career could be rewarding, especially when you choose the right specialty in photography. The career might unlock several opportunities, including greater financial returns and career growth. Here are some of the benefits of a successful photography career: 

  • Job Satisfaction: Creating high-quality photographs for your clients could be satisfying. Nothing makes a photographer happy than seeing his photography business grow into an empire. 
  • Networking: Being among the top and successful photographers offers you the opportunity to connect with different people in person. Also, you can network and learn from some of the top photographers in different niches. 
  • Client Base: Being among the top photographers will help you attract a large pool of clients, allowing you to grow your business and yield higher returns, especially to a commercial photographer.

Courses to Help You Become a Photographer

Although there isn’t a structured education for photographers, you need to take various courses to become a certified professional photographer, primarily in  degree programs such as bachelor’s degree and master’s degree. They help train and prepare photographers for various techniques in photography. The coursework entails both the basic and advanced areas in photography, giving photography students a well-rounded education. Are you considering becoming a professional photographer? Get informed on some aspects of becoming a photographer, including the required training for photographers and the courses you need to take. 

What Training Is Needed to Become a Photographer?

Professional photography is an extremely responsible career. Photographers make sure that the wonderful and happiest moments are preserved forever. If you want to be a freelance photographer or a pet photographer, your work shows the truth, whether ugly or beautiful. Photographers need to produce images just as they exist in the real world. To effectively do this, photographers must undergo training to learn skills and knowledge vital in photography. 

Professional photographers always begin their training by working assistants to professional photographers, enabling them to earn hands-experience in photography. They will learn basic photography skills such as taking images, photo editing, and production and gain experience in using photography tools. The assistant photographer’s job will enable them to learn how to build photographer portfolios, handle clients, and become a better photographer

How Can You Learn More About Becoming a Photographer?

Learning about photography does not only involve attending education and training programs. It also involves other aspects that will help the aspiring photographer know more about becoming a professional photographer. Attending networking events for photographers will help an individual learn the insights of becoming a photographer. The networking events are always attended by successful photographers who are always willing to mentor students to become professional photographers. There are also internet tutorials that you can make use of to learn more about becoming a photographer. All you need is to research the best tutorials, especially those offered freely. 

What Courses Should You Take to Help You Become a Photographer?

Before enrolling in any photography education program, you must understand some of the courses you’re likely to take to complete the program. The courses vary depending on the education level. Nevertheless, there are several commonalities. They include: 

  • Foundations of Digital Photography: Students learn ways through which professional photographers acquire and manipulate images. They also learn to use photography software such as Adobe Lightroom. 
  • Contemporary Photography: Students learn issues relating to contemporary images. 
  • Lighting Techniques: They explore lighting aspects such as shutter speed and lighting strategies such as advertising and editorial. 
  • Advanced Illustrative Photography: You will learn to use idea-based imagery in advertising and editorial processes. 
  • Nature Photography: They explore various techniques of photography in field settings. 

Other common courses include: 

  • Studio lighting 
  • Artwork critique 
  • Color theory 
  • Graphic design 

Skills and Equipment Needed to Become a Photographer

With increased competition in the photography business, having the right skills and photography equipment is the typical path to a successful career. As a professional photographer, you need to acquire the necessary skills for the business’s operational side and help develop your career. Clients will only hire your services when you’re highly talented and have photography equipment that produces high-quality images. Are you looking forward to becoming a certified professional photographer and opening a photography business? Here are some of the things you need to know before beginning your practice. 

What Skills Are Required for A Photographer?

Venturing into photography requires a wide set of skills to succeed in your career. The skills enable you to perform your duties perfectly and diligently. Here are some of the skills you need to have as a professional photographer: 

  • Artistic Ability: Before producing any image, photography needs to evaluate the quality of the photograph to ensure it is of high quality. They need to use shadows, colors, light, shade, and distance to produce good pictures. Hence, photographers are required to have a “good eye.” 
  • Computer Skills: Digital photography requires high technology equipment such as computers for post-production work. Photographers must be familiar with computer software needed for photo-editing and production.   , they need computer skills to maintain an online portfolio. 
  • Attention to Detail: Postproduction requires keenness to avoid overlooking minor details that might lead to poor-quality photographs. They should be thorough when editing images.   , they should be able to label photographs to avoid confusion. 
  • Interpersonal Skills: Photographers deal with people from different backgrounds. They should be able to communicate effectively with the client to satisfy their photography needs. 

What Lenses Does a Beginner Photographer Need?

Beginner photographers always shoot everything that catches their eye. Hence, they don’t require specialized lenses as those required by a commercial photographer, scientific photographer, and sports photographer. Here are the three main types of lenses recommended for a beginner photographer, especially portrait photographer and landscape photographer: 

  • Kit Lenses: Kit lenses are quite common with entry-level cameras. They are always bundled with the camera whenever you acquire one. Despite being for entry-level cameras, the lenses work perfectly well and help capture great images. 
  • Telephoto Zoom: This is always the dream lens for every beginner photographer due to its ability to use digital zoom. 
  • Premium Zoom Lenses: Premium zoom lenses are a good complement of kit lenses and a telephoto zoom. They are optically superior to the other lenses. Every beginner should strive to have one, particularly a freelance photographer. 

What Specialized Equipment Does a Photographer Need?

Specialized photographers such as those used in sports photography and underwater photographers need to have specialized equipment. Some of the specialized equipment includes: 

  • Study Tripod: Photographers mostly need a tripod when capturing images that need consistent framing. 
  • Color Calibrators: Are used to create the best color profiles. They are mostly used in Photoshop and Lightroom. 
  • Editing Software: Editing software lets you edit images depending on the client’s needs.

Conclusion 

A professional photography career is an exciting avenue for individuals who like creative expressions. A photography career gives you the chance to work in diverse settings, from office settings to fieldwork.   , it allows you to meet diverse people with whom you share common interests. The profession is considered to be among the most rewarding art professions. Although the job might be satisfying, it can be challenging at the same time due to the technicalities involved with photography. 

Since there isn’t any formal education requirement for becoming a photographer, making it easy to enter the profession, all you need is formal training, and you are good to go. However, those seeking to become certified professional photographers must fulfill certain education requirements. For instance, they might either pursue a photography certificate, an associate’s degree, or a bachelor’s degree in photography. Upon completing the education program, they must complete an internship program to earn hands-on experience in photography before taking certification exams. 

One might opt to specialize in several niches, including portrait, commercial, aerial, fine art, and scientific photography. An aspiring photographer might pursue any of the niches, depending on personal and professional interests. Professional photographers must possess certain skills, including artistic detail, detail-oriented, and interpersonal skills.

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