Step by step guide to becoming a commercial photographer

A career as a photographer can be an exciting avenue for creative expression, as photographers have the opportunity to work in many settings and meet diverse people. Yet it is also a technically demanding profession, so those interested in becoming photographers must consider the training they will need before committing to this career path. It is also important to know how photographers compare to similar careers in terms of education requirements, average salaries and projected job growth rates. This guide provides in-depth information that can help readers decide if a photography degree can put them on the right career path.

What does a commercial photographer do?

On the most basic level, photographers use cameras to capture images. However, there are various types of photography, including scientific and aerial photography, and photographers may work in a variety of settings, ranging from photographic studios to newspaper publishing companies. Some photographers work in the field; others are studio-based. While some photographers work full time, many work on a part-time basis, and their workload may vary depending on the season.

Many photographers begin working as a photographer’s assistant. Some may have a certificate in photography – or even just a high school diploma. They may gain a competitive edge with more education because many employers prefer applicants who have been formally trained as opposed to amateurs who may not be as knowledgeable in many of the technical and creative aspects of the career.

Photographers who work in photojournalism or as scientific or industrial photographers generally need a degree. Some photographers are also voluntarily certified as Certified Professional Photographers through the Professional Photographers of America.

Photographers capture professional-quality photographs. Most use digital cameras as opposed to film cameras. Because digital cameras are electronic, photos taken on them can be stored and transported on portable memory devices and edited using computer software. Photographers may use a variety of editing techniques, such as cropping the photo or enlarging the image, or applying filters to make the photo lighter, darker or sharper.

What kind of skills are required?

The critical skill required of a photographer is the ability to take a fabulous photo. This involves knowing your camera, understanding lighting and developing an eye for choosing the right angle. Photography training is available in vocational schools and colleges, with bachelor’s degrees offered in photojournalism and commercial photography. However, many professional photographers learn by attending workshops, taking lessons from another photographer and even studying online tutorials.

The steps to becoming a commercial photographer

  1. Choose the right education
  2. Choose a focus
  3. Get internships
  4. Take exams for certifications
  5. Land an entry-level job
  6. Return to school for continuing education or an advance degree