Photographer: How To Become A Photographer Job Outlook & Resources

Pictures can amuse, inform, amaze and shock and if taken in the right way, they can be creative and beautiful. Are you imaginative and creative? Does your eye concentrate on composition and fine detail? Do you prefer presenting things visually and use photographs to communicate ideas? Do you consider photography to be more than a hobby and feel excited when you imagine showing your photos to others? If it’s yes, then with this passion, you can get a lot if you take a profession.

In the past, coming up with an idea of taking photography as a profession didn’t appeal many, but that has changed nowadays. The increase in the importance of fashion and media and development of mass communication has brought about this change.

Most picture the photographer’s lifestyle to be interesting where they meet the famous and the rich and also travel first class anywhere in the world at somebody else’s expense. If you are hardworking and talented, this can be true.

How To Become A Photographer

If you want to put your creative talents to practice and get paid, then photography is a good choice. Photography is among the few jobs where college degree and age doesn’t matter that much as compared to a quality product, good eye, and self-discipline. A photographer should expect to start small and improve on the skills and create a comprehensive portfolio as time progresses. The steps in becoming a professional photographer include;

  1. Focus on your photography – This step requires a photographer to develop photography skills, obtain appropriate equipment, purchase equipment frugally, know his/her camera and do research on photography skills and camera technology. Apart from that, a photographer should learn how to use editing software, build a good portfolio, find his/her niche and finally meet the clients’ needs. The photographer should go to school and learn the techniques and skills.
  2. Create a Business – In this step, a photographer should intern with an experienced photographer, develop interpersonal skills, set goals, create a work schedule, advertise the business and accept challenging job opportunities. Also, a photographer should learn to work with teammates and ask for referrals when someone likes the work. With specific goals, it helps photographers to focus on one particular task. Accepting challenging job opportunities enable a photographer to learn more as he/she tries to satisfy a client.
  3. Manage the business – a photographer should give the business priority, organize documents and files, manage finances, create contracts and set rates. A well-organized business ensures success since most clients prefer a well-organized business.


Here is a list of photography niches:

  • Candid Photography – involves taking pictures without the awareness of the subject. Clueless looks and natural expressions looks are sometimes classic. Newspapers and books employ many candid photographs.
  • Wildlife Photography – it’s considered a hobby and profession by most people. Some essential characteristics are alertness and patience. It’s the most challenging and adventurous photography.
  • Studio Photography – if you like to have what you want such as full control of hair, lighting, and background, then studio photographer is a good option. Many settings for this photography exist such as weddings, passports, or model shots in the fashion industry.
  • Portrait Photography – involves letting expressions send a message. It involves capturing a person or a group of individuals and concentrating on the face. Some facial expressions such as frown or smile add some details of reality to the photo.
  • Food Photography – it’s a common type of photography as a result of high demand in advertising. Photographers in this field take pictures of food which are used in advertising, books or packaging.
  • Street Photography – aims to capture the social interaction of people on streets. It focuses on objects that have human characteristics or people.
  • Floral Photography – the primary focus is the flowers. This type of photography works in several settings. For instance, floral photography is required for medical and botanical studies. Also, they are needed for advertisement, books, and retail signage.
  • Sports Photography – it’s a branch of photojournalism and involves capturing sports moments for magazines, agencies, and newspaper
  • Underwater Photography – include taking photographs while submerged in water such as swimming, snorkeling, and diving. It usually requires specialized equipment and methods. The photographers capture marine animals, features, and landscape.

Degree Options

You have few options when you plan to pursue a photography degree. It depends on your career goals and college. One of the degree options is the Associate of Arts degree which focuses on art. This option is the best for those students who want to specialize in fine art photography. It’s the right choice for those who want to transfer their Associate of Arts degree to a four-year university and receive Bachelors of Fine Arts. The degree offers electives in ART photography courses and includes several general education classes.

Another option is Associate of Applied Science degree. It’s the best degree for those who would like to specialize in commercial and portrait photography. The degree is right for those who intend to go with concentrated photography degree program to a four-year school. It can also be used to attain a two-year AAS degree and go for an entry level job. The degree focuses on photography classes and includes several general education courses.

Here are some of the photography programs:

  • BFA – Digital Photography
  • Cert – Digital Image Photography
  • AAS – Digital Photography
  • BS – Graphic Design
  • BS – Graphic Arts
  • AAS – Graphic Arts
  • BFA – Studio and Digital Arts: Graphic Design

Job Description / Responsibilities

Photographers capture pictures of events, people, objects and places. In practice, most of the work involves capturing photos of family portraits and weddings. Others specialize in specific fields such advertising, clinical or fashion photography.

More and more photographers are turning to digital cameras instead of film cameras. Mostly, the photographers work alone, but some employ assistants and work with lighting technicians, journalist, and models.

Photography is among the most competitive occupation, and usually, photographers are self-employed since the full-time jobs are becoming hard to find. The independent photographers spend most of their time building the reputation and business.  For those working full time, they experience limited promotion opportunities since photography departments are usually small. Freelancers teach part time, and press photographers sometimes become picture editors.

Photographers do the following:

  • Utilize photo enhancing software
  • Market services to attract customers
  • Analyze and come up with a way to represent a subject
  • Employ several photographic methods and machinery
  • Maintain a portfolio on a site as a way to show work
  • Improve the subject’s appearance using artificial or natural light
  • Capture subjects in high-quality photographs

Job Outlook

Employment of photographers will grow 4% through 2022, which is slower than all occupation’s average. The growth is limited due to the decreasing cost of cameras and increased number of hobbyist and amateur photographers. With the improvement in the digital technology, the barriers that hinder entry to this profession is reduced allowing more business individual consumers to take, store and have access to photographic images by themselves.

Reduction in the demand won’t occur for portrait photographers since people will always want new pictures. Also, corporations will still need commercial photographers to come up with compelling advertisements for their products.

Reduction in newspaper industry will lead to a decrease in demand for still images thus reduction of the request for news photographers. Employment of news photographers will decline by 36% through 2022.

Related Careers

  • Craft and Fine Artist

Craft and fine artist utilize various materials and techniques and come up with art for exhibition and sale. They create objects such as glassware, pottery, textiles, etc. Fine artist including sculptors, illustrators, and painters create original art for aesthetic value.

  • Architects

Articles design factories, office buildings, houses, and some other structures.

  • Fashion Designers

Create unique accessories, footwear, and clothing. They come up with sketch designs, pick fabrics and patterns.

  • Desktop Publishers

Use a software to create page layouts for books, newspapers, brochures, etc.

  • Graphic Designers

Create visual concepts to convey ideas that inform, captivate and inspire consumers.

  • Film and Video Editors

They manipulate moving images to entertain or inform the audience.

  • Industrial Designers

Develop concepts for products such as home, cars, toys, and appliances for manufacture. They combine business, engineering, and art to create products that people need. Industrial designers consider production cost, aesthetics, function, and usability of the products when designing.

  • Correspondents, Broadcast News Analyst and Reporters

Inform members of the public about what’s happening locally, nationally and internationally. They give news for magazines, websites, newspapers, radio, and television.

Working Environment

The work environment can vary widely depending on the specialty of the photographer. Most photographers work irregular hours and unsociable which include working on weekends and evenings. Portrait photographers can work in studios but often travel to client’s location to take photographs.

Commercial and news photographers may travel anywhere in the world. News photographers usually do their job for long tiresome hours and in undesirable and sometimes risky places. They also need to be available when called to work anytime. For instance, a photographer may have a task in a war-torn country to take pictures.

Aerial photographers usually work in helicopters and planes.

Most photographers walk and stand for extended hours at the same time carrying bulky and cumbersome equipment.

Tools And Technology For Photographers

Certain tools and technology are required for successful photography, and these include the following;


  • Scanner – a photographer should have scanners such as flatbed scanners, film scanners, etc.
  • Camera lens filter – the filters includes haze filters, wide angle lenses, GND filters and white balancing filters.
  • Camera lighting and flash – a photographer should have focus assist, studio strobe flashes, camera flash attachments and soft boxes.
  • Photography light reflector – these include zoom lenses, macro lenses, and telephoto lenses.
  • Photography light reflector – lamp reflectors, snoots and board reflectors.


  • Spreadsheet software such as Microsoft Excel.
  • Accounting software such as Intuit QuickBooks software and Blindbid software.
  • Photo-imaging or graphic software such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.
  • Database user software such as Microsoft Access, Tave Studio Manger, SuccessWare and Cradoc fotoBiz.
  • Editing and web page creation software such as Word Press.


To improve photography skills, you need to have the right resources to find out more. There are many resources available for learning photography which may range from books, websites to online tutorials. You won’t miss what you prefer due to different varieties available. Some of the most common sites are;

  • Digital Photography School: Offers resources, free tutorials and daily tips which will help you learn the techniques and capture amazing photos. Visit
  • Photodoto: Improves your photography skills through high-quality e-books which were selected from the web. You can learn many techniques with these e-books. Visit:
  • Photography Now: With different exhibitions, you learn of many ways to capture amazing pictures. The exhibition offers photos from various specialties. Visit:
  • The World Press Photo: You can explore over 50 years of great photojournalism. You can search images by theme or year. Learn about the stories behind these photos, and you can create a fan board in which you tell your story. Visit:
  • National Geographic Photography: There is great photography in National Geographic, and with the amazing collection of pictures, you can learn ways of capturing great photos. Visit:


Business skills – A photographer should be able to plan marketing strategies, anticipate seasonal employment and reach prospective clients.

Artistic Ability – Photographers should have the capacity to use shadows, colors, light, distance and shades to create good photographs.

Computer Skills – Most photographers perform post-production work and therefore must know how to use photo editing software. Also, they use computers to communicate with clients and keep a digital portfolio.

Detail Oriented – When doing post-production work, photographers shouldn’t overlook details and should be thorough during editing.

Customer Service Oriented – A photographer should be able to understand what the client need and recommend solutions.

Interpersonal Skills – Since photographers take photographs of people, they should be able to communicate effectively.


With the right credentials, any photographer can face the stiff competition in photography and become successful. Apart from becoming a certified professional photographer, there are other certifications that a photographer can get such as;

  • Certified Portrait Photographer
  • Certified Child Photographer
  • Forensic Photographer
  • Registered Biological Photographer
  • Certified Newborn Photographer
  • Certified Wedding Photographer

A photographer can also get certification in particular software such as:

  • Adobe Photoshop CC
  • Adobe Lightroom 4
  • Adobe Photoshop CS6

Training Program Overview

Course in Photography provides instruction in shooting and lighting techniques, as well as digital cameras, specialized equipment, and software. The course may be part of graduate or undergraduate degree programs. Also, certificate programs are available. Some schools provide classes for photographers or hobbyist who want to expand their skills.

The main topics address may include:

  • Lighting and design
  • Portfolio creation
  • Photoshop
  • Digital and analog cameras
  • Photography marketing

Here is a list of courses;

  1. Introduction to photography course – students learn about the primary camera and the lighting techniques. They also learn about film and digital cameras.
  2. Digital Imaging course – students learn ways of capturing images with cameras and overview of digital camera application file formats, storage devices, and options.
  3. Portrait Courses – covers the techniques for posing subjects, working in studios and applying different forms of lighting to capture portraits of groups or individuals.
  4. Photojournalism course – Students learn to find relevant images for news and to communicate a message using photos and also understand the rules of publishing photos in print.
  5. Photography portfolio and business course – students learn more about their goals and specify them and learn the basics of the photography business.


Just like other art professions, one needs to be competitive to survive in the industry. With a degree, however, any photographer will have high chances of getting a good job.

For instance, some institutions hire staff photographers with proper training. A photographer has several options of working such as newspapers, photography studios, website design agencies and advertising agencies.

However, self-employed photographers have a lot of freedom. They can choose and select any job they want. Some may want to capture photographs in a wedding while other may prefer to sell photos at specific magazines.

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