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Photographer


How to Become a Photographer
Photographer Job Details
Skills and Qualities of a Photographer
Salaries for Photographers
Influential Professional Photographers
Leading Organizations for Photographers
Top Cities for Photographer Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Photographer

Photographers are people that make a living by taking photographs in a professional manner. Whether they sell those photographs, or are paid photographers that do this as their main job, the thing that matters is that the photographs are taken in a professional manner. So do not confuse a professional photographer with someone taking pictures with their cameras while on vacation.

It is said that the first ever photograph was taken by Leonardo Da Vinci, however history books say that the first permanent photograph, that took eight hours to develop, was produced in 1826 by Nicephore Niepce, a French inventor.

It is usual to categorize photographers based on what they photograph. Some of them are artists, and they convey their art through photography, whilst others can be journalists, documentary makers, fashion photographers, wedding and party photographers and advertising photographers. Basically, the distinction is this: artistic photographers invest their own tastes, art and personality in the photographs they take, whilst the others just take the best possible photograph of a person, event or whatever else they're paid to provide.

You don't need any formal training to work as a photographer, however most employers will want to see some credentials attached to your name. Either a great portfolio or courses taken will do. Without a college degree you won't be able to get the higher paying jobs. So, the bottom line is this: you can be a freelance photographer, but without formal training you won't be able to really get your career on the move.

You can get a degree in photography at most of the Liberal Arts colleges in the United States of America, and photography courses abound, whether offline or online. Another very important thing to keep in mind if you want to become a professional photographer is this: the equipment is extremely expensive. With low quality equipment you'll get nowhere, so be prepared to have some money to invest beforehand.

What does a Photographer do?

A professional photographer takes photographs for a living. No matter for what purpose the photographs are to be used, he's responsible for the quality of the delivered photographs. So the photographer has to make sure he or she understands the need of the client, and what the photograph will be used for. More than that, the photographer is responsible for choosing the proper location for the shot and, when necessary, for the talent direction.

A photographer will work everywhere he is needed. Either indoors or outdoors, depending of the specialization, the photographer must be ready to go to any lengths the project requires. Being specialized in such a liberal profession, the photographer's lifestyle is a hectic one. Today in Milan, tomorrow in New York, there's no telling where the job will take him.

Most of the time, however, there won't be such extreme fluctuations. A normal newspaper photographer will move around the city in which he is based, taking photographs needed to illustrate the news features of the current issue. So, as you can see, being a photographer is not a job for those that prefer the relative calm of a corporate office environment.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Photographer?

The main requirement for a photographer is to have some sort of artistic background or inclination. It doesn't matter that you're a news photographer, you're going to still need to have an eye for artistic composition, to make sure your photographs need no words attached.

Other than that, you'll have to be computer literate, and possess a thorough knowledge of photograph manipulation software, as you'll work with it on a daily basis. You'll need to be tech savvy, as working with a camera - whether digital or film - requires a good deal of tech knowledge.

Since you'll be working with people, you should have excellent communication and interpersonal skills. This is crucial for a photographer, as he depends on the cooperation of his subjects in order to take the best photographs. Poor human skills will slow down your career to a halt.

Even though it isn't mandatory to have a diploma, having one will sky-rocket your chances of finding work. Take all the classes you can, study as much as you can. These are things that will be tremendously useful later on.

How much do Photographers make?

A certified photographer can earn as much money as his talent and skills can afford him. All liberal professions have this rule attached. The sky's the limit.

Depending on the type of work, the company that hired you, your experience and skills, you'll get to make anything between $40,486 and $61,605. If you have no experience and are at your first job or maybe even with a poor company, you'll bring in about $29,493. If you're at a great company, and are very talented, you will be making approximately $69,840.

But if you're incredibly talented, own your own studio or work with the best, you will make more - much more than the averages. So it's all up to you, really.


Who are some influential professionals in this field?

Since there are as many photography genres as there are well known photographers, we can't list all the greatest photographers here. However, we can talk about Gil Stose, a photographer who has taken award winning photographs in more than 50 countries. Or we can talk about Herb Ritts, who is considered one of the leading advertising photographers of today's world. He jump started his career in the 80's, and is now enjoying the fruits of his profession and worldwide recognition.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

Again, for every photography genre, there's a leading organization to talk about. For instance, we can't talk about photo journalism without talking about Reuters, in the same way as nature photography is now equivalent with National Geographic. In the United States there are two important photography organizations that deal with photographers, no matter their genre: The Photographic Society of America, a group that's open to both amateur and professional photographers, and American Society of Picture Professionals, only open to professional photographers.

What are the top cities for Photographer jobs?

Photographer jobs will be available as long as people will read the news, buy fashion magazines, and as long as human beings appreciate art. Right now, the best cities to be a photographer in are Chicago, Illinois, Los Angeles, California and, taking the third spot, New York, NY.

Other Careers of Interest

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