Career Options Using Photography and the Skills Needed to Succeed

There are many different jobs that involve photography, including:

-Portrait/Studio/Wedding: Focus on images of people and sell images to families and individuals

-Sports – action photos, from little leagues to professional and Olympic levels

-Commercial/product photography: each advertisement has 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 built elements

-Forensic: used in police/detective work. Crime scene and related photography.

-Journalism: non-staged real life images for newspapers and magazines.

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

-Stock photography: images taken that other people will buy and use for advertising and other purposes

There are other specialties such as astrophotography and microphotography.

Frequently Asked Questions about Careers in Photography

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

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

-Technical: the ability to identify, configure and use the camera, lighting and accessories to create images.

-Editing: the ability to process captured images and edit them to meet the needs of clients

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

-Sale – the ability to earn money with your profession. It includes pricing, negotiating, meeting with customers, and producing your final products.

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

-Lead: Build or work in a business environment where you need to create visions, define goals and actions, and implement them to grow the business.

-Serve: contact and grow your customer base, measure customer satisfaction, solve customer problems.

You can see that only editing and technical skills are included in 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 interpersonal skills: listening, documenting, creativity, follow-through, etc.

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

You will need to learn or learn the technical aspects of photography: lighting, composition, camera science, editing, and image production. Some people can learn this as they go. Others seek a special degree or certificate from certain schools, or you can get a 4-year degree in arts/photography from a university. To be very well prepared, you should consider a minor in business or marketing or a minor in your chosen specialty field, such as criminal justice, sports, or journalism. This will give you an advantage over any candidate who does not have this education.

3) What kind of experience is required?

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

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

4) What are the job duties of a photographer?

They vary greatly from the areas of work and the size of the company, but these are the general duties:

– Prepare marketing plans to advertise and promote your products and services.

– Interact with clients on proposals to secure work.

– Prepare photo sessions: logistics/planning, team coordination, accessories, models, permits, etc.

– Carry out the photo session.

– Edit and backup images.

– Publish and/or make images available for client review

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

– Process the sale and collect payment

– Manage business accounts: keep the office running

5) What is the outlook for this type of career?

There are good jobs in all of these areas. The development of high-quality digital cameras has given the average person the ability to create great images at a reasonable cost, but the professional photographer will have the training, talent, tools, and motivation to make better images. Price pressure will continue to force professionals to be more profitable.