Becoming A Professional Photographer

By:
Most successful potographers start out as assistants to experienced photographers. Assistants acquire the technical knowledge needed to be a successful and also learn other skills necessary to run a portrait or commercial photography business.

Portrait photographers take pictures of individuals or groups of people and often work in their own studios. Some specialize in weddings, religious ceremonies, or school photographs and 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.

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, such as placement of an offshore oil rig. This photography frequently is done on location.

Scientific photographers take images of a variety of subjects to illustrate or 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, 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.

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.

Working Conditions

Working conditions for photographers vary considerably. Photographers employed in government and advertising studios usually work a 5 day, 40 hour week. On the other hand, news photographers often work long, irregular hours and must be available to work on short notice.

Some photographers work in uncomfortable or even dangerous surroundings, especially news photographers covering accidents, natural disasters, civil unrest, or military conflicts. Many photographers must wait long hours in all kinds of weather for an event to take place and stand or walk for long periods while carrying heavy equipment. News photographers often work under strict deadlines.

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 a degree program, vocational training, or extensive photography experience.

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 need good eyesight, artistic ability, and good hand eye coordination. They should be patient, accurate, and detail oriented. Photographers should be able to work well with others, as they frequently deal with clients, graphic designers, and advertising and publishing specialists. Photographers need to know how to use computer software programs and applications that allow them to prepare and edit images, and those who market directly to clients should be familiar with using the Internet to display their work.

Portrait photographers need the ability to help people relax in front of the camera. Commercial and fine arts photographers must be imaginative and original. News photographers must not only be good with a camera, but also understand the story behind an event so that their pictures match the story. They must be decisive in recognizing a potentially good photograph and act quickly to capture it. Photographers, who operate their own business, or freelance, need business skills as well as talent. These individuals must know how to prepare a business plan; submit bids; write contracts; keep financial records; market their work; hire models, if needed; get permission to shoot on locations that normally are not open to the public; obtain releases to use photographs of people; license and price photographs; and secure copyright protection for their work. To protect their rights and their work, self-employed photographers require basic knowledge of licensing and copyright laws, as well as knowledge of contracts and negotiation procedures.

After several years of experience, magazine and news photographers may advance to photography or picture editor positions. Some photographers teach at technical schools, film schools, or universities.

Earnings

Median annual earnings of salaried photographers were $26,080 in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $18,380 and $37,370. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $15,000, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $54,180. Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of salaried photographers were $32,800 for newspapers and periodicals and $23,100 for other professional, scientific, and technical services.

Salaried photographers, more of whom work full time, tend to earn more than those who are self employed. Because most freelance and portrait photographers purchase their own equipment, they incur considerable expense acquiring and maintaining cameras and accessories. Unlike news and commercial photographers, few fine arts photographers are successful enough to support themselves solely through their art.
Share this article :

Most Read
• The Home Photographer - When is a Tripod Really Necessary?, by Christine Peppler
• Fashion Photographer - Through The Lens Of a Career In Fashion, by Corbin Newlyn
• Professional Skateboarding - From The Streets To The Magazines, by Gregg Hall
Top Searches on Photography
•  How To Become A Professional Photographer•  Become A Professional Photographer