A mix of creativity and technical training
The job of a photographer is to capture images that will convey a message, tell a story, record an event, promote a company or sell a product. Quality is what separates professional photographers from just anyone with a 35mm or digital camera. Many people can afford a good camera and equipment, but it takes a professional with the right training and a lot of experience to capture priceless images.
There are a number of introductory courses offered in photography that can last as little as a week to several months depending on how frequently classes are held. These programs are great for beginners who don't know where else to start or even whether or not photography is the right career for them.
A degree in photography will generally require between two and four years of training. These programs offer the most comprehensive education and often allow graduates the option of choosing one of several career paths. Some professional photographers require more education than others and might want to consider enrolling in separate career enhancing courses.
Skills and requirements
Not only should photography students have imagination and a good eye, they'll need the technical expertise to set up shots, understand and use a camera's features and accessories (aperture, shutter, ISO, lenses and filters) and edit electronic images on a computer. Many photographers have websites where they keep an online portfolio of work.
These days most photographers use digital cameras instead of film, although professionals should be skilled at using both. More often photographers are also being trained in film schools to add to their abilities and increase their hiring potential.
Photographers who work with film need to know how to develop their own film in a darkroom, although they may also send it away to be processed.
Typical photography careers
Freelance photographers often choose one area to specialize in. They can contract out to clients, license their photos for use by stock photo agencies, or sell their works directly to the public.
- News photographers - Also known as photojournalists, they capture images of people, places and events for newspapers, magazines and television.
- Portrait photographers take pictures of individual people, families or groups, often in a studio setting. They also attend events such as weddings, graduations and other ceremonies and set up mobile studios in schools to take student pictures.
- Fine arts photographers focus on producing art, displaying their images in art galleries and museums (once they are good enough, that is).
- Scientific photographers - Knowledge of engineering or science will help in this career, where images are used to demonstrate and record scientific or medical data.
- Commercial and industrial - Commercial photography subjects include models, merchandise, buildings and landscapes. The pictures are used for advertising and in books and catalogues. Industrial photographers capture images of machinery, products and workers for uses including record-keeping and publicity.
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