Whether it’s a high-profile news reporter who is known around the world for hard work in photojournalism, a street photographer or a famous fashion photographer capturing the stars on camera, there are many people who inspire others to enter the profession of photography.
For many years, with the increased accessibility to photography equipment and the boom in popularity of social media, taking and sharing impressive photographs is now easier than ever.
With tools and editing software readily available, anyone can now declare themselves a photographer – even if they have not received any formal photography training.
So, this begs the question: are photography lessons necessary to become a professional photographer?
Photography Courses: Are They a Necessity?
Of course, professional photographers aren’t just interested in the aesthetic element of photography – they also need to have a good grasp of photographic techniques and the technical side of the art of photography.
For professionals, photography isn’t just an art, but a discipline which includes all of the work, experience and learning that mastering the art involves.
True professionals, and even some amateur photographers are able to tell apart photographs that have been retouched using software such as Adobe Photoshop Lightroom from those which have been enhanced using photography techniques at the time the photograph was taken.
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If you’re a budding photographer who may be hoping to open their own photography business in the future, this ability to recognise specific features of photographs will come with plenty of practice as you develop your artistic eye.
What Qualifications Do You Need to Become a Photographer?
Just as for many other professions, there are several paths you can follow for a career in photography.
Whether you’re at secondary school, sixth form, college, university, or you’ve left education for a job, there is photography training available for all levels.
Photography courses vary in length and some may focus on specific styles or achieving a certain goal – so you have plenty of choice when it comes to exploring your personal interests.
Firstly, you should consider the duration of the training you wish to receive, the level of teaching and the level of expertise you want to achieve having completed the photo course, and think about how this will bring you closer to your ultimate goal. The benefits are endless!
Here are a few examples of the available qualifications which could help you further your career:
· Online Photography Course
With a simple Google search of the phrase ‘online photography courses london, you’ll find a whole world of instruction in photography for all levels, interests and budgets.
Many of the courses offered are distance-learning lessons from universities. However, if you’re not interested in university qualifications and want to have a go at something more casual, there are tutorials on websites such as Lynda which cover specific skills such as using photoshop.
· BTEC Higher National Certificate in Photography
There are many options when it comes to obtaining this qualification.
To look at one example, the British Academy of Photography offers the BTEC course, which lasts for around 9 months, for a price of £1050.
The course content covers the fundamentals of photography (including learning about using a digital camera and its modes, as well as getting to grips with techniques such as composition and understanding exposure, and creating a photography portfolio), practicing photography techniques and styles (such as portrait photography, macro photography, landscape photography, wildlife photography and working with studio lighting), and learning about the history of photography including the advancements in technology.
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· Degree in Photography
Should you choose to study photography at degree level, you will graduate with an arts degree.
As with any other course, studying for a photography degree will usually take three or four years depending on whether you’re studying for a bachelor’s or master’s qualification and whether you decide to have a year in industry.
Due to the nature of photography, many courses are offered exclusively or distance-learners, who are expected to download course content and submit their work online.
Types of Photography Career
The world of photography is wide and diverse.
It includes a variety of different professions. The simple job title of ‘photographer’ does not give away much about a person’s work if it is not qualified with an adjective.
As there are so many job titles when it comes to the profession of photography, each one with its own specific meaning, it would be nearly impossible to list them all.
So, if you’re looking for some inspiration or ideas on where to head with your career in photography, here are just some of the professions out there:
· Artistic photography
Artistic photographers are inventive and creative individuals. This type of photography is not about representing a landscape or a person realistically but in an original or abstract way.
So, in addition to mastering a range of photography techniques, having an artistic view of the world and good imagination is essential for artistic photographers.
However, artistic photography is not the most lucrative profession. For this reason, many artistic photographers work in commercial photography or photojournalism to earn a living while they produce photographic art on the side.
· Portrait photography
Portraitists are generally found working in studios where they photograph individuals as well as groups.
Portraiture has gone from strength to strength in recent years as the popularity of booking photoshoots as birthday and Christmas gifts have soared.
This discipline of photography isn’t restricted to the studio – many portrait photographers often work outdoors, shooting photographs of families on the beach for example.
As the name suggests, photojournalists work for the press.
Their role usually gives them the same privileges as journalists, meaning that they often have the first glance at new news stories. Photojournalists can be employed by newspapers and other news outlets; however, they are especially popular with magazines, which rely heavily on photographs for their content.
· Event photography
This is another category of photography which encompasses a wide range of possibilities.
Event photographers are invited to private events such as weddings and awards ceremonies to capture the event on camera and help immortalise the day through taking pictures. Common events also include music festivals, nightclub events, birthdays and other celebrations.
· Fashion photography
Annie Lebovitz, Helmut Newton, Patrick Demarchelier… there are many famous names associated with fashion photography.
Looking after some of the world’s most high-profile celebrities and working for the biggest fashion brands and magazines is what budding fashion photographers dream of – but achieving this level of responsibility demands decades of experience.
It’s not all about the potential of meeting some of the most highly-paid fashion models, though. A fashion photographer’s job is to work with the clothes they are given and make them look their best to win customers for the designer.
For this reason, fashion photography could be considered as a type of commercial photography.
Things to Consider Before You Become a Photographer
· Have you had any feedback from professional photographers?
Before you go it alone, it is incredibly important that you evaluate your work within the context of professional photography. Getting feedback and advice on your photography skills from experts will give you a better chance of success one you launch your business.
It is necessary to have the right business skills, especially if you want to become a freelance photographer. Understanding the different photography industries is also essential.
There is a variety of ways you can ask for this feedback. For example, you may wish to set up an exhibition of some of your work to give others a taste of your style.
· Do you know how to get your photos seen?
Exposure is what will get you customers.
When it comes to photography, the work generally speaks for itself – but you have to give it a voice.
Setting up an online gallery or a website where you can post your work can act as a window into your style and technical skills.
· Do you want to work as a photographer on a part-time or full-time basis?
Whether your full-time activity is a job or you’re a student, your current career situation will surely influence the direction you choose to take when it comes to your photography training and the level of expertise you aim to reach.
· What kind of service would you like to provide?
Again, the places your expertise can lead you to and the place you want to end up in your photography career may be incredibly different. If this is the case, you’re going to need some more training. If you just want to take and sell your photographs, you can turn it into a career, however, if you want to be a wedding photographer, you’ll need the relevant training first.
The art of photography is a beautiful one, and unlike many hobbies, photography can be turned into a career without too much difficulty. However, be prepared for the competitive nature of the industry. Photography jobs are often filled quickly and to be truly successful in the industry takes time and motivation.
There are, however, lots of things you need to know before you fully commit to professional photography. For instance, becoming a full-fledged professional will not be possible unless you have mastered the art of photography. This means learning and using a range of photography techniques, understanding photo-editing software and using the correct equipment.
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For those who dream of turning their passion into a career, there is the option of photography instruction.
Signing up to a photography course, regardless of whether it’s a beginner or advanced photography class, educate you and help you take your photography to the next level as you are accompanied by a professional instructor.
So, if you’re passionate about taking pictures and want to make a career out of it, don’t wait any longer! Decide on what sort of photography interests you and sign up to a course today!
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