How To Become A Photographer
A career as a photographer can be an exciting avenue for creative expression, as photographers have the opportunity to work in many settings and meet diverse people. Yet it is also a technically demanding profession, so those interested in becoming photographers must consider the training they will need before committing to this career path. It is also important to know how photographers compare to similar careers in terms of education requirements, average salaries and projected job growth rates. This guide provides in-depth information that can help readers decide if a photography degree can put them on the right career path.
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Things You Must Do When Applying To Art College
28 June 2018
Confused about the process? Check out these great tips and tricks for prospective art college students.
So you’ve taken extensive art classes during high school, read the designer’s guide to the golden ratio, maybe experimented with paper art and perhaps even started to think about creating your design portfolio. Now that you feel ready to apply for art college, how do you start?
Remember, applying to art college is similar to applying to any other education institution. Here are five tips to help make applying for art colleges a little less daunting.
Education Can Take You To The Next Level
Having a solid photography education tends to separate hobbyists from professionals. Sure, there have been plenty of successful photographers with only a minimal educational background. But for most, taking classes and working with an instructor enable you to hone your technique and gain valuable experience.
How much can you self-teach? You often hear about self-taught masters people who ignored the classic paths laid out by academic programs and forged their own way to photographic mastery. And self-teaching could very well be the first step you take. There are countless instructional articles and videos online that can give you a basic understanding of the techniques professional photographers use every day. The downside of this approach is the mentorship you lack from not working with an instructor and the inability to give and receive feedback, which having classmates allows you to do.
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Is An Internship Necessary
Hows the best way to gain valuable experience? Thats right a photography internship! As an ambitious photographer, you will benefit from internship opportunities that will help you focus on the type of photography you are interested in.
Hows the best way to locate an internship? In most communities or larger cities, established photography studios or self-employed photographers are readily available and are willing to share their love of photography with others. Dont be afraid to introduce yourself and offer your services in exchange for experience. If possible, show them some samples of your work, your educational credentials, as well as your enthusiasm for learning.
Are there other ways I can benefit from an internship? Absolutely! Internships provide a great way to chronicle your work. They also provide great networking opportunities.
Amateurs may want to volunteer their services at weddings or other events to gain valuable experience, all the while, building a portfolio of their work. In addition, joining a photography club will also help you develop skills and make valuable connections with like-minded individuals interested also in the field of photography.
What Is The Bare Minimum Gear Needed For Photography
Camera. If you buy a dedicated camera , pick one with interchangeable lenses so that you can try out different types of photography more easily. Read reviews, but dont obsess over them, because everything available today is pretty much equally good as its competition. Find a nice deal and move on.
Lenses. This is where it counts. For everyday photography, start with a standard zoom lens like a 24-70mm or 18-55mm. For portrait photography, pick a prime lens at 35mm, 50mm, or 85mm. For sports, go with a telephoto lens. For macro photography, get a dedicated macro lens. And so on. Lenses matter more than any other piece of equipment because they determine what photos you can take in the first place.
Post-processing software. One way or another, you need to edit your photos. Its ok to start with software already on your computer, or software that comes with your camera. But in the long run, a dedicated program will do a better job. Adobe sells Lightroom and Photoshop as a bundle for $10/month, or you can buy standalone software from another company if you prefer there are tons of options. Whatever you pick, stick with it for a while, and youll learn it quite well.
Everything else is optional, but can be very helpful:
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Film & Media Production
This is the broadest film major and one of the most popular. Film production majors learn how make a film by getting involved in everything from set design, camera operation, screenwriting, lighting, cinematography, broadcasting, sound engineering, editing, and scoring. They may also study theory, film history, and the business of television and Hollywood.
Much of the work in a film production program is supposed to be hands-on. Students are often required to alternate jobs, serving as a production manager one day and an editor the next. Almost everyone is expected to produce a portfolio with a variety of shorts, documentaries, and feature-length films.
The Cost To Start A Photography Business
The cost varies greatly as a photographer whether youre starting out or looking to grow your existing business into something larger. Heres well cover the minimal costs for a beginning photographer or you can check out the costs associated with growing your photography business and taking your business to the next level.
What Classes Do You Need To Be A Photographer
Professional photographers can work in a wide variety of settings and may photograph weddings, historical events, families, nature or artistic endeavors. There are no specific classes you have to take to become a photographer and many successful photographers are self-taught. However, a strong background in photographic techniques can help you maximize your abilities and classes related to running a photography business can help you become more successful.
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You Can Access More Specialist Jobs
While a degree isnt always necessary to get a job , it can act as a passport to more specialist jobs that you otherwise wouldnt be able to pursue. For example, it would be impossible to become a doctor without the appropriate education, which includes completing a GMC-recognised degree in medicine.
That being said, there are different ways you can qualify for certain careers. For example, if you want to become a lawyer, you dont necessarily have to do a law degree. You can take the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives training programme and study to the same level as solicitors. But, its important to note that taking an alternative route to your chosen career might only allow you to progress to a certain level. So, make sure that you check out any limitations they may include!
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Stage : Scale Your Photography Business And Become And Entrepreneur
Revenue: $50,000+ per month
Problem: Where does one even go from here? Youve scaled up your business, have a rock-solid team, and things are moving along. But now what? Do you have purpose or impact? Has your business become so overly-complex that its impossible to manage?
You know the next level looks like a bigger impact and is going to require a vision that empowers your team to become photographers like who you were just a few short years ago. But how do you keep them working with you and not starting their own business?
How to Be Successful: Its time to start syncing up with other high-level photographers and entrepreneurs.
Remember how this stage used to look for you: all fun and games while the business runs itself?
Not the case, eh? Youve learned that you never arrive. There is no there off in the horizon as a destination.
The best thing about what youve built is that now you have a platform to speak from and a chance to help others. When you started your photography business, you thought things were going to be pretty simple.
Its time to start getting into genuine mastermind groups with other entrepreneurs at your level.
What Areas Of Photography Should I Consider
If you are serious about a career in photography, you want to learn as much as possible, right? Whether you enroll in a certificate course or college degree program, you may eventually have to answer this question, and that would be Which area of photography should I pursue?
Quite naturally, most would elect to focus on a specialization that interests them the most. You will have several options, such as the following:
- Portrait Photography
- Forensic Photography
- Landscape Photography
There are so many types of photography to focus on that you will never be bored or run out of subjects to photograph. For a solid foundation in photography, you can try your hand at several to see which ones interest you the most. If you can master several applications, you can instantly make yourself more marketable!
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A Degree Doesnt Guarantee You A Job
Doing a degree never has and never will guarantee you a job in your chosen field. Although, yes, it gives you a competitive edge over non-degree holders, that doesnt mean youll be able to secure employment once you graduate from university. Its important to remember that youll be competing with other recent grads for the exact same jobs. A 2015 study found that 6 in 10 graduates were working in low-skilled jobs, including call centres, bars and coffee shops, due to a shortage of high-skilled vacancies.
What If I Decide I Need A Bachelors Degree In Photography Should I Earn A Ba In Art Or Bfa
If you would like to advance in your career, your online Bachelors degree in Photography will provide more opportunities upon graduation, as they typically provide training in both film and digital photography.
There are two common degree programs to consider:
- Bachelor of Arts in Art degree
- Bachelor of Fine Arts degree
The Bachelor of Arts degree program in Art is probably the most popular degree however, it is not as intensive as the BFA degree program. Within a BA program, you may experience coursework in art, marketing, and in the foundations of business, and of course, you will have essential photography coursework. Coursework can include art and design history, art therapy, art criticism, along with gallery and museum studies. Your well-rounded degree will teach you how to market your business, too.
Through a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree program, you will earn the most prestigious degree in the visual arts through a large focus on photography. BFA programs, which consist of more photography credits, may also place an emphasis on drawing or painting.
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Stage : Lead Your Team
Youve built a team but the transition from photographer to business owner has been challenging, to say the least. The future of your business depends on your ability to empower others and stop being the bottleneck for growth.
Revenue: $25,000 $50,000 per month
Problem: Youve got team members and theyre doing a decent enough job, but you know that to get to the next level, youre going to have to make some hard decisions. Youre starting to question if leading others is something you even want or if you just want to go back to a simpler life of a solo photographer.
In your current state, youre not only trying to get new photography clients regularly, but youre trying to get your ideal client: the perfect client that is a dream to work with and refers other dream clients to you.
AND, despite your business making 300,000+ per year, itd be nice if you could start getting at least $100k of that.
How to Be Successful: First, if youre here, can I just give you a pat on the back and a congratulations? This is amazing. Youve done SO MUCH right so far just to get here. Youre in the top 5-10% of all photographers in the world and you should be proud of yourself.
But Im guessing that you arent, because the kind of photographer that gets to this level isnt the kind that is willing to settle down. Youre still working 12 hour days and you now know for sure that youre holding your team back.
Its time to transition fully from photographer to leader.
What Will You Learn
The first is important because, incredible as it may seem, you may not actually learn much while taking a photography degree. I know this is true because I studied photography at what was supposedly the UKs top photography college, only to find that the level of teaching was so low, that I made my way through the three year degree learning next to nothing.
Let me give you an example. In our third year, the tutor gave a single one hour class per week. After a few weeks he gave up on doing that because only five or six students were turning up. The reason for the low turnout? Most of the others were so worried about writing the required thesis that they couldnt concentrate on photography. And the reason they were so worried? The same tutor had spent weeks explaining how the thesis would be one of the most difficult things they had ever done, without giving any practical support or solutions to us.
Another example . We had one computer between 90 students, with an out of date version of installed on it. The college had identified digital photography as an important trend yet didnt support the students enough to learn it.
The truth is that degree courses are a tremendously inefficient way to learn. Whereas a typical working week is filled with 40 odd hours of work, a typical week in our course only had a few hours work. The rest of the time was wasted.
dPS writer Valerie Jardin runs photography workshops in the United States, Australia and Europe.
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Find A Photography School Near You
Enrolling in a photography school near you can be an excellent way to expand your technical knowledge and develop your creative sensibilities. By undergoing formal photography training at a college, university, or trade school, you can indulge your passion and prepare for a satisfying career.
Set Your Sights On A Career In Digital Photography
Have you dreamed of assisting major photographers on a fashion editorial or even photographing it yourself someday? Or maybe you see a future photographing the covers of leading food magazines or becoming a renowned wedding photographer in your area. Whatever your goals are, the bachelor’s in digital photography can help prepare you for a variety of professional opportunities.
Once you complete the online bachelor’s in digital photography program, you’ll have a skill set directly applicable to a number of fields, including:
While earning your online photography degree already gives you a competitive advantage in the job market, the best candidates have multiple talents and related skills such as picture editing and capturing digital video. For specialties like photojournalism and industrial and scientific photography, a bachelor’s degree is often a must.
At SNHU, we trust your artistry can take you far, but we also know your creative skills as a photographer are just the tip of the iceberg. Many career photographers are self-employed freelancing or even owning their own businesses which comes with additional responsibilities.
“Photographers today often are hired on a contract basis and it is essential that they are educated in the successful creation, marketing and running of a photography business,” said Sloan Kelly, associate dean of fine and applied arts at SNHU.
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Apply To Multiple Art Colleges
Let’s face it, we will not all get that coveted acceptance letter from our number one pick. This is just a fact of life. Narrow down your choices, create a list, and be prepared to apply to multiple art colleges.
Start with about 15 potential schools that you would be interested in attending. From this list, choose three ‘first pick’ schools. These schools may have a notoriously rigorous admissions process, or be highly selective. Don’t let this discourage you from applying. You have a chance of making it, but it can be a bit of a long shot. Be sure to review the admissions requirements, and send out those applications.
Your ‘first pick’ schools may be highly selective don’t let this discourage you from applying
Next, choose three more art colleges that better match your student profile. It’s good to dream big, but applying to ‘match’ schools increases your chances of acceptance into an excellent fine arts course. These schools are typically less selective, and are more likely to accept students with your academic standing and technical skill.
Round out your application list with three more ‘safety’ schools. These schools not only match your educational goals, but also accept students below your academic standing. In other words, a student like yourself would stand out among the crowd in terms of academic standing and technical skill.