5 Steps to Becoming a Photographer
Step One: Ask questions like, “What is a professional photographer?” and “What do they do?”
As a professional photographer, you’ll have numerous career options. Photographers specialize in areas such as portrait, commercial and industrial, scientific, news, or fine arts photography.
Portrait photographers take pictures of individuals or groups of people and usually work in their own studios. Some specialize in weddings, religious ceremonies, or school photographs and they may work on location. Portrait photographers who own and operate their own business have many responsibilities in addition to taking pictures. They must arrange for advertising, schedule appointments, set and adjust equipment, purchase supplies, keep records, bill customers, pay bills, and — if they have employees—hire, train, and direct their workers. Many also process their own images, design albums, and mount and frame the finished photographs.
Commercial and industrial photographers take pictures of various subjects, such as buildings, models, merchandise, artifacts, and landscapes. These photographs are used in a variety of media, including books, reports, advertisements, and catalogs. Industrial photographers often take pictures of equipment, machinery, products, workers, and company officials. The pictures are used for various purposes — for example, analysis of engineering projects, publicity, or records of equipment development or deployment. This photography frequently is done on location as well.
Fashion Photographers get paid to take pictures of beautiful models for the glossy pages of such publications as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Elle magazine. They typically travel often, as many shoots require them to be on location and must be comfortable working closely with fashion designers. Included within the field of fashion photography, are the following career paths:
• Ad agencies
• Department stores
• Fashion houses
• Modeling agenciesM
• Stock photography agency
Scientific photographers take images of a variety of subjects to record scientific or medical data or phenomena, using knowledge of scientific procedures. They typically possess additional knowledge in areas such as engineering, medicine, biology, or chemistry.
News photographers, also called photojournalists, photograph newsworthy people and places and sporting, political, and community events for newspapers, journals, magazines, or television.
Fine arts photographers sell their photographs as fine artwork. In addition to technical proficiency, fine arts photographers need artistic talent and creativity.
Choosing your desired field is a significant step in becoming a professional photographer. Take time during your phase as a student to determine which vocation feels right for you and be aware that because jobs within the industry differ greatly, as do factors like salary, education, and hours.
It’s also important to note that self-employed, or freelance photographers usually specialize in one of the above fields. In addition to carrying out assignments under direct contract with clients, they may license the use of their photographs through stock-photo agencies or market their work directly to the public.
Stock-photo agencies sell magazines and other customers the right to use photographs and pay the photographer a commission. These agencies require an application from the photographer and a sizable portfolio of pictures. Once accepted, photographers are usually required to submit a large number of new photographs each year. As a result, self-employed photographers must also have a thorough understanding of copyright laws in order to protect their work.