How to Become Photographer

This article provides in-depth information into What is Photographer? What Photographer do? Degrees for Photographer, Steps to become Photographer and much more.


How to become a photographer?

A photographer is a creative person who utilizes his technical and artistic skills to capture photographs of people, landscapes, places and other. Photographers work with various techniques of photography such as aerial photography, portraits, wedding shoots, fine arts, commercial shoots with different studios. 

Most photographers are self employed and look for a new additional business.

They click high quality images and mostly use digital cameras. Also, being  well versed in photo editing techniques , printing and caring for the high end camera equipment which require more technicality.

Most photographers are self employed and look for a new additional business while working full-time as well as part-time depending on the workload and the season. 

Steps to become a photographer

Photographers are driven by their passion towards photography. There are various programs to assist every student to course there in this field, here are some simple steps for you to follow to become a photographer.

Step 1- Choose the right education.

Photography is a job to earn money using their creativity. There are different education programs to align with every beginner career goal. The courses are available from the certification to the masters level degree to help educate people with technical skills they require.

So you must choose the right program for you according to your interest.

Step 2- Focus of photography

As a beginner you start developing photography skills by experimenting, books, online. You then take the right camera and learn about photography tips and techniques to use it. You could  develop interest in any particular area for your choice such as Portrait, commercial, aerial, Fine arts or scientific photography.

Step 3- get an internship

Some photographers before landing on the job, look up to gain certain experience under professional photographers. They work as assistants and learn about the various techniques of photography. This also gives an exposure to students at workshops, studios, field works to think more creatively and technically.

Step 4- Take exams for certification

Getting a certification gives you higher earning potential and there are a number of certifications available and some are by the Professional Photographers Association. Here are some certification programs you can choose, Certified Professional Photographer, Registered Biological Photographer and Certified Forensic Photographer. 

Step 5- Start a business / Get a job

After acquiring the skill and certification for photography,you prepare yourself to get a job or start your own business. In this transition from student to being a professional, You understand their vision to put it across as a picture. To start a business, you list the goals to achieve, prepare the work schedule and start working on your business.

Step 6- Manage our business

Once your business is set up, you start interacting with people. Networking is a key in this business to get clients to shoot. Manage the investment you make on the high camera equipment. Balance your profession with also a search for a side business to increase your income as a photo shoot could vary depending on the seasons.

Step 7- Continue your education

After flourishing yourself as a successful photographer, you could get back to continuing your education, this could help you gain an advanced degree and increase the job opportunity.  

Types of degrees for a photographer

As a photographer you must choose your certification course or the degree in photography wisely to purse your career, certain degrees you can choose are:

Photography certificate programs: The certification programs can be completed in a few quarters and they are offered by the community colleges. It educates students with the basics of photography required at the entry-level. The program includes courses on the fundamentals of photography , digital photography and the history of photography.

Associate degree in photography: An associate degree in photography is a two year program with 90 credit hours offered at community colleges, art colleges and universities. This degree acts as a foundation to students who want basic knowledge on the technical skills of photography, various techniques and types of photography. It is useful for students who want to take up the bachelor's degree in photography.

Bachelor’s degree in photography

A bachelor's degree in photography is a four year program with an average of 173 credits given to the student. 36 hours is allocated for general education courses such as science, algebra, and economics, english. This program focuses on the fundamentals, digital and film photography, history and various techniques.

Master’s degree in photography

A master’s degree helps students to go in-depth and think as a professional in the subject they want to specialize in. In this two years with 36 credits programs, students gain both theory and practical knowledge with hands-on experience. Additionally students also learn the client management, business skills, marketing themselves to clients. 

Concentrations to be considered to become a photographer

The coursework offered to a photography students are essential to get an easy transition from student to being a professional, this allows them to use their creativity and technical skills they earn at their degree program, here are some concentrations to be considered to develop skills, 

Photography certificate program:

You could complete the courses offered by this program in less than a year and this gives you all the technical skill and develops creative thinking for you to start off as a photographer, they are,

Fundamentals of photography: 

This is an introductory course that educated students about the basic principles  of photography, the operations of photography, elements of a photograph.

Skills acquired:

  • Analysing the technicality behind every photograph

  • Its composition and lighting

  • Selections and editing techniques

Foundations of digital photography:

This course helps you to know your camera better, the basic functions and how a photographer can efficiently capture and manipulate the images 

Skills acquired:

  • Learn to use your camera

  • Learn photography software such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe lightroom

  • Basic setting that can be made to enhance the photograph

History of photography:

This course is to understand the evolution of cameras till  the present day, The artistic photographs clicked by historical photographers and the different cultural practices. The various technical processes ,vocabulary and issues of photographic theory and criticism

Skills acquired:

  • Learn the development of photography from 19th century

  • Commercial evolution of photography

Foundation of film photography:

This course educates students on how the film is developed, and how to film easily

Skills acquired:

  • Learning on how to operate in chemical darkroom

Associate degree in photography

In this two years program, you get the coursework of technical skills behind the photograph, types and techniques to be photographer, they are,

Color Photograph:

His course is to learn about the photographic theory and aesthetics, Understanding the camera eye, the colors.

Skills acquired:

  • Learn to use the transparency and negative film material
  • The primary and secondary color on the photograph
  • Enhancement of the photograph with editing techniques.

Nature photography:

This course teaches you to capture the nature around you, principles of photography in a natural environment.

  • Learn to capture the nature, the beauty around the world
  • Learn to work in natural daylight
  • Master the use of equipment

Studio photography:

This gives you the education of the studio settings , as an indoor studio can be challenging as there is no natural light. 

  • Technicality of studio settings
  • Controlling light in the indoor setting
  • The technicality in a studio

Photojournalism:

It is course to capture pictures that depict a story in that image which are suitable for the newspaper, magazines and their publications

  • Principles of narration and visualisation of thee story

  • Visual communication

  •  Utilize the lens 

Bachelor's degree of photography

In this four years program the students are offered with both the theory classes with the internship experiences. The course offered are, 

Contemporary photography:

This course emphasises on the 20th , 21st century of the photographic movements, concepts of photographic criticism, literature, exhibition and the trends.

Skills acquired;

  • Historical and critical viewpoints of the photographic medium
  • Examination of the photography
  • Trips to gallery and museums for practical knowledge

Photographic lighting techniques:

Course offers you the idea to start a photographic studio, how to use the professional lighting equipment , setting up the lighting with the variety equipment, and use of flash lighting equipment.

Skills acquired:

  • Control on the studio lighting

  • Creative with the lighting equipments

  • Use of studio lighting in locations

Narrative editorial photography:

Photographs have an ability to narrate stories and convey a message, but in this course you learn to click pictures as not just a document but as a photograph that narrates the idea behind it. 

Skills acquired:

  • Learn about execution of story idea with the photograph

  • Medium of constructing the narrativity

  • Understand the lens choice and the shutter speed

Advanced illustrative photography:

This course is offered to learn the advanced techniques to illustrate the message to be conveyed in the photograph, quality of the photograph, attract the attention of the customers, how to make one's photograph stand out of the group.

Skills acquired:

  • How to use the editorial skills in depicting the story to be conveyed

  • Idea based imagery advertising and for commercial purpose

Job concentrations

The job of a photographer could be a full time or a part time job , but a  photography certification or a degree could also fetch you other job opportunities such as,

Art directors:

The job of the art director is to supervise other artists and designers  for a visual style at a magazine, newspaper, product packing, movie or television production. They create the design and direct the other artists who develop artwork.

This job requires a bachelor's degree and fetches you a salary of about $80,000 annually.

Camera operator:

A camera operator is a person who operates the film camera to record images and videos as a material for entertainment, operates on the motion pictures, videos and he is required to have a bachelor's degree. This fetches him an earning of $48,000 annually.

Craft and fine artist:

The fine artist paints, sculpts and creates images with a variety of materials and techniques to create artwork. They participate at exhibitions and sales to exhibit their art and talent. They require a high school diploma and can earn up to $44,000.

Film and video editors:

He is a skilled and creative person who edits the film and video footages for the success of the production brands. They are artists who collaborate with the directors and producers and cut off the error and long unwanted segments. A film editor requires a bachelor's degree and earns up to $57,000 per annum.

Stand out skills required for a photographer

Many of you can own a camera and start off as a photographer, but when it comes to  profession you must have certain skills to stand out in that career, here are some

Wild creativity:  Since a photograph conveys a message and your ideas you want to portray, you must always be creative with your ideas to give a artistic message through your photography. You must have the photography skills to properly find the background, properly frame a scene and use various techniques to improvise the photo.

With your creative skills, you could specialise in the area of photography you want to pursue, and he must have a  creative eye to capture the right moment.

Good technical skills: the photographer must be technically sound, most of them use digital photography for digital photo editing programs.. They must understand the use of good lenses, knowing the equipment, appropriate lighting , natural light, flashbulbs, editing techniques and the exposure, choosing a proper filter.

Be Adventurous: You improvise with every photo you click, you must be adventurous with a creative personality to get the best of the lot. Always try to improvise and try new styles to click pictures. Being adventurous makes you stand out from the group.

Continuous learning: You get to learn something new everyday, being updated with the latest photography techniques or learning the various softwares to edit the photos could also take you on top of the crowd.

Patience and concentration: Perseverance is a key in photography. You must be extremely patient and put efforts till you get that perfect shot, this requires a lot of time and patience. For example, a wildlife photographer must be very patient to get the shot of the animal, he waits and tries to get the perfect shot.

Attention to detail: The smallest of the details could enhance the picture and hence the smallest detail is also essential in this profession. You must be very observant  to notice the changes and details to try adapting them to your photography skills.