5 Important Steps on How to Become a Photographer
If you’re serious about taking photography from a hobby to a profession, here are the five most important steps to follow for becoming a photographer.
1. Research the Profession
The first step on how to become a photographer is learning about the career paths available within the field. The goal of simply becoming a photographer is not enough. Eventually, you’ll need something more nuanced. For example, photographers may specialize in portraits, photojournalism, or commercial photography, to name just a few types of photography careers you might consider. You may also want to research photographers in your area to see what rates and packages they offer. Doing so can give you a sense for the marketplace and skills of other photographers.
2. Build Your Photography Expertise
You can begin to experiment and grow your photography skills on your own, but as for how to become a professional photographer, formal photography training will be key in reaching the next level. To become a photographer, you’ll need knowledge in areas like:
- Design and composition
- Natural and artificial lighting
- Color management
- Darkroom techniques
- Digital techniques
- Digital camera settings and capabilities
- Additional professional photography gear
- Image editing software
Studying and practicing different photography styles and techniques also helps you to establish and refine your own distinct personal photography style.
3. Create a Photography Portfolio Assembling a portfolio is essential for becoming a photographer. Before you’re hired, clients and employers need to see your past work. So where do you start? While a hard copy portfolio will be desired by some employers, many people prefer to start by looking at your online portfolio.
An online portfolio should feature organized examples of your highest quality work, a brief bio, a resume, and your contact information. Many photography programs (including those at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division ) includes courses on how to make a portfolio. For example, in our programs, our Digital Photography faculty draw on their vast experience as professional photographers to help you understand what to show off—and what to leave out. You’ll also explore how to customize your portfolio based on your interests and goals.
4. Promote Yourself Once you have your photography portfolio, it’s time to share it! For starters, order business cards with your website, contact information, and photography specialty. Tell friends, family, and professional connections about the work you’ve done for becoming a photographer and the goals you have for your future. Attend local events and find organizations where you can network and meet more people. And of course, apply for jobs that interest you!
This stage of finding a job or landing clients is where you can benefit from having business skills. When you’re choosing between photography programs, look for programs that teach the basics of business operations, marketing, and communications. To succeed, you’ll need to know how to work with clients as well as how to either run and market your own business or excel within a larger professional team. Having professional education and training can also help you to stand out when job searching in this competitive market.
5. Keep Learning & Practicing
Always keep your camera with you. And not just for vacations or sightseeing. Challenge yourself by photographing ordinary places and everyday life. Find ways to capture small moments of beauty and intrigue. Try to take interesting photographs in places you find boring. You can even take photographs repeatedly in the same area so that you can play with lighting, angles, and composition.
Whatever you do, keep practicing, learning, and pushing yourself. The more you shoot, the more you’ll improve your photography skills and the more comfortable you’ll get behind the camera. The same holds true for the post-production workflow. Only the hardest working and most highly skilled photographers rise to the top.
Develop Your Technical & Professional Photography Skills Online
At The Art Institutes, you can learn how to become a photographer in our fully online Digital Photography programs , including associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, and certificate programs. Our program faculty have years of professional photography experience and will work with you one-on-one to help you learn photography and editing techniques, build business skills, and create a stand-out portfolio. Request information or contact us today at 877.872.8869 to speak with Admissions about what program is right for you.
*Credentials and experience levels vary by faculty and instructors.
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