Do you require a degree or diploma to become a photographer?

The answer to this is a simple no. Be aware that owning a camera does not make you a photographer. A career in photography, or even pursuing photography as a hobby requires some technical knowledge if you wish to successfully create an avenue for creative expression, the same applies for commanding a client brief that will produce satisfactory results.

It is therefore my suggestion that one completes some kind of course to enhance the skills and necessary technical know – how required to perform in this field. Thereafter, practice on a regular basis, undertaking small projects of interest will help develop the confidence and improve your performance. It’s a practical application that will provide you with the ability to achieve your goals. Trial and error in the field is definitely the way to go.

Considering Photography as a career.

Many new photographers will assist professional photographers or agencies for a short time in the field as apprentices, where they are able to work with clients on various assignments, gaining the confidence and routine on an “actual real time” job brief. Asking questions, while keeping an eye and ear to the ground will not only instill the pace and standards that are expected in this industry, but will allow opportunities to build an impressive portfolio. It is the portfolio that will lead you to greater things. As photography is visual, clients need to see your portfolio. It’s the visual content that counts. The intention from client is to determine that your style and content meets the requirements of the brief. In accordance with this, your personality needs to favor the environment. You need to illustrate that you are a “peoples-person”, someone able to communicate with a team and coordinate a brief, while paying attention to every detail until handover.

There are many working photographers who have managed to walk straight into a career without any formal training, but again training of some kind will make things easier. Many colleges and schools offer undergraduate degrees and diplomas in photography, however, I suggest a short, intensive part time course is necessary, as the rest is up to you to develop and explore the g areas of photography that you wish to pursue. The genres are endless, so do not be narrow minded, think out the box and explore taking photos of everything that comes your way. Often you are better at capturing something you never would have thought of in your wildest dreams. You may like shooting fashion, but better at shooting food, meatballs don’t talk back, and food is colourful and creative. Work in an area that is best for your personality, then you will really shine. Bottom line, you want to maintain the passion in what to do and photography allows this, it is all up to you as too how you map your journey.

To conclude, once you are up and running, you will need to decide if working independently or for an agency is best for you. Certain people are better suited to working for a boss as it provides a stabilized and safer income, where others are better working for themselves. Neither option is easy, it is about you and where you are most comfortable.

What does a Photography School cost?

There are many institutions available catering for learners wishing to learn photography, it is all about deciding on your purpose and the reason behind your intention to become an aspiring photographer. Longer and more intensive courses are available on a full-time basis which are more intensive than shorter part time options, but they are more costly, often providing levels beyond the necessary requirements to becoming a photographer. It is these colleges that will equip you with intense amounts of theory and delve into the “history” of photography like the pinhole camera and film and darkroom photography. The question to ask yourself is where do you fit in to this as a whole.

Today, most individuals are mastering the digital principals and lighting options of photography, making use of editing and post production options, opposed to the darkroom alternatives, which are not relevant for everyday client assignments due to the turn around and cost factors. This however may change in time, although I doubt it, as most clients are concerned about budget and delivery time and want to see the image just after the “click” of the button.

Again, I would recommend learning as fast as possible by considering a part time practical alternative, then take it from there to build your portfolio and market yourself through the various channels and medias out there to suit your style and genre. No school or college is going to find you a job, it is up to you, so the sooner you are able to perform as a photographer, the better.

What does a professional photographer earn?

This is a very open question. Based on the genre that you specialize in shooting, along with your experience and ability to perform professionally will determine your rates and income potential. Your portfolio, marketing expertise and contacts have proven to be helpful in closing deals and building client relationships. This is key for photographers as there are many up and coming qualified and brilliant photographer competing for the same work.

Again, depending on your location as to where you are based, rates will vary according to demand. It is advisable to be open to travel related assignments and be able to offer more than just photography as a service. Learn the art of editing and post production and include this as part of your service. Clients generally expect this as outsourcing editing often is regarded as an inconvenience and ends up being costly.

Owning most of your own equipment, or being able to borrow from friends keeps your costs down, as hiring gear can become costly when you are on a tight budget, the same applies to studio hire, make-up artists and stylists.

The less you have to outsource the better the net profit.

Last words…

Finally remember, it is not about the qualifications, it is about you and your portfolio. Qualifications does not mean you are a good photographer, you either have an eye or you don’t. At the end of the day, your eye, your ability to communicate professionally and deliver, along with great marketing and an impressive portfolio will get you to the places you want to go. It’s a wonderful career, look at it like a holiday, be passionate and open to learn and experiment every day and the money will come.