If you love art, photography may be right up your alley. This is a very versatile field to find yourself in – after all, you can take photos of just about anything! From weddings to wildlife, there will be something that sparks your interest and creativity. But what do you need to become a photographer and what are the top careers in the field?
What Skills Do You Need to Become a Photographer?
If photography sounds like an interesting career to you, you’re going to need to have a few skills under your belt. These can come naturally, but many will have to be learned, too. Beyond artistic talent, you will need to be:
- Able to work individually or on a team
On the technical side of things, you definitely need to know how to handle your camera, but you should also have a solid understanding of:
- Lighting and shading
- Color balance
- Shutter speeds
- The best cameras and lenses for your niche
- The camera and lenses that work for wildlife won’t work in wedding photography!
And if you’re planning on entering the field solo, you will also need to be able to handle marketing, sales, and business strategy – or partner with someone who can. It’s important to note that many photography positions will require you to freelance (at least early on), as full-time positions in companies can be hard to come by and others, like wedding photographers, can earn more going solo.
What Should You Major in for a Career in Photography?
Some schools actually have degrees available in Photography! Other popular majors for photographers can include:
- Media Communication
- Graphic Design
- Digital Arts
- General Art
- Visual and Performing Arts
But note, you don’t actually need a degree to enter the field of photography. Many enter the field after taking online courses or being self-taught. You may even just have a knack for it without much formal education. Taking art related classes in college, however, can help you better understand the relationship of light, white space, and color balance.
Top Careers in Photography
So now that you know what you need to enter the photography career field, here are just a few examples of “top jobs” in the industry.
When most people think “photographer,” their mind automatically goes to wedding photography. This field definitely has a lot of earning potential – it all depends on how much you want to work and your skill level. Where you live can also impact your salary. Beach-side cities, for example, can have more weddings than small towns in the middle of the state.
There are high and low periods of demand for wedding photography. A majority of weddings happen in the spring and fall. You will have to adjust your prices to account for those low demand periods, but you can absolutely set your own hours of availability. You should also note that you will have to build professional relationships with other wedding-related businesses.
If you love traveling, a job as a travel photographer may be right up your alley! You can visit far flung places and take photos of people, architecture, and nature. Depending on the position, you may have your entire trip paid for, too!
These positions can be difficult to come by, however, and money isn’t always a guarantee. Individuals interested in the field may have to work as a freelancer and sell their photos on their own website or to magazines, or they can partner with travel agencies.
Commercial photography can refer to a wide range of jobs and skill sets! These photos however will usually appear in marketing materials, such as websites, brochures, billboards, and social media. Just about every industry needs commercial photography, so you can absolutely find a niche you love. Some examples of fields include fashion, real estate, architecture, and food.
Photojournalists work with newspapers, magazines, news sites, and others to deliver powerful photos that have to do with current events. Many in this field have to start out as freelancers and sell their work to local newspapers and news companies. As you gain more experience, though, you may be offered a full-time position with a news agency.
Similar to a travel photographer, wildlife photographers can travel all over the world to capture stunning shots of animals in action. This position requires a lot of patience to get THAT shot but can pay off big time!
Wildlife photography positions are also hard to come by, and it will require you to be a freelancer, enter contests, and submit your work to magazines and other publications.
There are plenty of other areas you can work as a photographer! They can also specialize in:
- Real estate
- Scientific areas
- Stock photography
- Fine art
Photographers can also decide to work as assistants to other photographers or simply focus on editing other experts’ work. Many also go on to teach photography to other aspiring professionals.
Photography can be an extremely rewarding and exciting field, but it’s important to note it can be a difficult industry for beginners to enter. No matter your field of expertise, you need to have a unique style in order to differentiate yourself from the other professionals. However, if you put in the work, hours, and effort, photography has plenty of earning potential.
If you’re thinking about a career in photography or another art related field, it helps to understand responsibilities, median wages, expected job growth, and more about the career. College Raptor’s Career Finder allows you to get all this information and more.