Career Choices Using Photography and the Skills Needed to Succeed

There are many different jobs that involve photography, including:

-Portrait/studio/wedding – targeting images of people and selling images to families and individuals

-Sports – action photos, from children’s leagues to professional and Olympic levels

-Commercial/Product Photography – Each ad contains images taken by someone. Jewelry, food, car and fashion photography are some examples.

-Artistic/Landscape – scenic or artistically oriented images, often sold as works of art, postcards or tourist items

-Architectural – photos of buildings and other constructed items

-Forensic – used by police/detectives. Crime scene and related photography.

-Journalism – unstaged real-life images for newspapers and magazines

-School/Event – School photos, sports teams, church and other groups where high volume is typical.

-Stock Photography – Photographs taken that other people will buy and use for advertising and other purposes

There are other specialties such as astrophthography and microphotography.

Photography Careers FAQ

1) What skills do I need to be successful as a photographer?

-Conceptual- the ability to understand and communicate with your customers’ needs

-Technical – the ability to identify, configure and use camera, lighting and props to create images

-Edit – the ability to process and edit captured images to meet customer needs

-Marketing – the ability to get your name out there and connect you and your business to your potential customer base

-Sell – the opportunity to make money from your profession. Includes pricing, negotiating, meeting customers, producing their final products

-Manage – Take care of the daily needs of a business or professional, including buying things, paying bills, insurance, taxes, permits, etc.

-Leading – Building and/or working in a business environment where you need to create visions, define goals and actions and implement them to grow the business

-Operate – Contact and expand your customer base, measure customer satisfaction, solve customer problems.

You can see that only the technical and editing skills fall under the traditional photography/computer skills. However, because photography involves a high degree of interpersonal communication and subjective needs of the client base, you must develop and possess good people skills – listening, documenting, creativity, follow-up, etc.

2) What education do I need to be successful in photography?

You have to learn or learn the technical aspects of photography – lighting, composition, camera science, image editing and production. Some people can learn this along the way. Others take a special degree or certificate from certain schools, or you can get a 4-year degree in art/photography from a university. To be well prepared, consider a minor in business or marketing or a minor in your chosen specialty, such as criminal justice, sports, or journalism. This gives you an edge over candidates who do not have this training.

3) What type of experience is required?

To be employable, you must demonstrate competence not only in the technical field of photography, but also in the soft skills. I recommend building and growing a portfolio of your own images to showcase your technical and artistic development and skills. A proven track record in any service industry (food service, retail, etc.) will demonstrate your ability to work with people and meet their needs. Using your photo skills in volunteer areas will also increase your skills and experience.

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You can often get work as a “second gunner” or assistant to professionals in your city. Your ability to take on the dirty work and learn on the job will increase your chances of success in finding entry-level work.

4) What are the duties of a photographer?

They vary widely on the areas of work and the size of the company, but these are the common tasks:

– Create marketing plans to advertise and promote your products and services

– Interact with customers about proposals to secure the track

– Preparing photo sessions – logistics/planning, coordinating equipment, props, models, permits, etc.

– Run the photo session

– Edit and backup the images

– Publish and/or make the images available for customer review

– Interact with customers to develop the images into their ideal products

– Complete the sale and collect the payment

– Manage the business accounts – keep the office running

5) What are the prospects for this kind of career?

Good jobs can be found in all these areas. The development of high quality digital cameras has given the average person the ability to take very good images at a reasonable price, but the professional photographer will have the training, talent, tools and motivation to create better images. Pricing pressures will continue to force professionals to be more cost-effective.