How to Become a Photographer

If you pay attention to detail and have a passion for taking pictures and the eye to discern a visually-appealing composition, you might be wondering how to become a photographer. Photography is an art used to capture visual representations of subjects. Photographers are the professionals who take pictures for the purpose of creating visual art, preserving the memories of special or historical events, selling products and services, telling stories, explaining scientific phenomena and educating people.

Professional photography is not as simple as pointing a camera and pressing a button. A professional photographer must be able to see and arrange the components of an attractive picture and have the technical skill to take photographs that are properly in focus and use lighting advantageously. While some photographers work for companies or in photography studios, many are self-employed and earn their money on a freelance or per-event basis. Some photographers specialize in news and photojournalism, commercial photography for marketing purposes, industrial photography, scientific photography, aerial photography, wedding and portrait photography, university photography for academic institutions or fine arts photography.

Photographers often have a natural talent for seeing what subjects and angles will result in aesthetically pleasing pictures. However, photography is a competitive industry, and becoming a professional photographer requires education and training. Amateur photographers often choose to prepare for their professional careers by earning associate’s or bachelor’s degrees in photography from technical schools, colleges or universities. During their education, aspiring professional photographers will often learn how to use photography equipment, such as digital cameras. They will become familiar with processes, such as developing film and editing photographs using computer software. Courses that focus on the art form of photography can enhance an aspiring photographer’s artistic eye by training them in photography techniques and teaching them how to seek out the elements of a good composition.

Although gaining this knowledge is important and a degree can help improve a candidate’s marketability, building an impressive portfolio is an even more influential in finding success as a photographer. Aspiring photographers can train under the guidance of a professional by obtaining a job as an assistant. As assistants, they can begin building their own portfolios. They may even take pictures for little or no pay at special events such as weddings in order to add to their portfolio.

Photographers earned a median salary of $29,130 per year, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Successful photographers understand that the career might not be among the most lucrative. Often, they are drawn to photography as an art form. They enjoy capturing special moments in beautiful, appealing or thought-provoking ways. If you have the artistic nature that allows you to determine the subjects and lighting that will compose a good picture and the discipline and computer skills to edit photographs carefully using computer software, knowing how to become a photographer could be the beginning of a rewarding new career that allows you to use your artistic passion to preserve cherished memories.

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