Become a Photographer

By Eric Hammer

Those wishing to become a photographer will need stellar skills, both with a camera and with business skills. It's not that photography jobs are scarce-- there are plenty of such jobs available. The problem is that photography is a competitive market where a lot of people want to do it. Therefore, it requires you to be able to show not only that you understand how to wield a camera but also that you understand how to market yourself effectively.

One in two photographers in the United States is self employed, a much higher percentage than for almost any other profession. The reason is simple - many photographers work for individuals at weddings, bar/bat mitzvah celebrations and other life cycle events. Therefore, it only makes sense that they would work independently.

However, that independence also means that it takes more than skill with a camera to do the job. You also need to know how to market yourself effectively if you wish to become a photographer, at least one who works regularly. You'll also often have to partner with a videographer to arrange for a package deal since many people purchasing such services today prefer to get both as a package rather than contracting separately for the two services.

How Much Can You Make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a photographer in 2008 was $35,460. Of course, top photographers can easily command low to mid six figure salaries while others often need to find other work in order to supplement their income.

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Even though many photographers do work in the field of life cycle events as freelancers, that's not the only kind of photography you can do. There are a number of other jobs in the field including news photographers and fashion photographers. A number of photographers are also self employed by arranging to do model shoots for children or adults hoping to break into the world of professional modeling.

It also helps for photographers to understand more than just how to use a camera effectively. Increasingly, there is demand for chroma key work and professional Photoshop editing of photos. If you want to become a photographer today, you would do well to become certified as a Photoshop professional.

Qualifications / Requirements

While there are no formal requirements whatsoever to become a professional photographer, most photographers do need to take the time to learn how to handle a professional camera and how to do more than the consumer style point and shoot with such devices. This often means going to school though you can learn on your own if you are willing to experiment and learn a lot about your chosen profession through reading on the Internet and reading books.

First Steps

Start by taking pictures. Even if all you have at your disposal is a point and shoot camera, train your eye to see what a picture would look like. Understand the difference between a snapshot and a photograph (a snapshot is unplanned whereas a photograph is a planned shot). Take the time to learn about f stops and shutter speeds and why they affect what you will see in your finished results.


Check out these helpful resources to learn more about how to become a photographer:

Digital Photography School: How to become a confident photographer - This is a school for learning how to be a photographer and it includes a wealth of information on the subject.

Digital Photography Magazine - A magazine devoted to digital photography, which most people who wish to become a photographer study today (film is rapidly becoming an antiquated field with no real value).

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