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Photography Educational Guidelines

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor

Education, Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement

Employers usually seek applicants with a “good eye,” imagination, and creativity, as well as a good technical understanding of photography. Entry-level positions in photojournalism or in industrial or scientific photography generally require a college degree in photography or in a field related to the industry in which the photographer seeks employment. Freelance and portrait photographers need technical proficiency, gained through either a degree program, vocational training, or extensive photography experience.

Photography courses are offered by many universities, community and junior colleges, vocational-technical institutes, and private trade and technical schools. Basic courses in photography cover equipment, processes, and techniques. Bachelor’s degree programs, especially those including business courses, provide a well-rounded education. Art schools offer useful training in design and composition.

Individuals interested in a career in photography should try to develop contacts in the field by subscribing to photographic newsletters and magazines; joining camera clubs; and seeking summer or part-time employment in camera stores, newspapers, or photo studios.

Photographers may start out as assistants to experienced photographers. Assistants acquire the technical knowledge needed to be a successful photographer and also learn other skills necessary to run a portrait or commercial photography business. Freelance photographers also should develop an individual style of photography to differentiate themselves from the competition. Some photographers enter the field by submitting unsolicited a portfolio of photographs to magazines and to art directors at advertising agencies; for freelance photographers, a good portfolio is critical.

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