Do you delight in capturing special moments on film? Do you have an eye for composition and a deep appreciation of aesthetics? If you answered yes to any of the above, and consider yourself to have a creative personality, you might enjoy a career as a professional photographer.

Photography Job Description

A photographer tells a story through pictures using both creativity and technical skill. In order to create wonderful, high quality photographs, a photographer must first know how to use professional equipment, lighting and enhancing tools. There are many ways to create a certain mood within a picture: a photographer might use a special lens, a special angle and natural or artificial light to give the photograph a certain feel.

While being a photographer once meant toiling away in a dark room, photographers today often rely on a digital camera. However, regardless of whether a photographer uses an old fashioned silver-halide film camera or a digital camera, they must still make use of different lenses, filters and tripods in order to produce quality images.

One advantage of the digital camera is that it allows the photographer to store and edit photos on a computer. This makes it easy to create electronic portfolios to display on your webpage, allowing you to attract customers if you are a freelancer. This is just one of the many reasons why photography students should have up to the minute computer and software skills to accompany their skill set.

Professional photographers can specialize in a variety of areas, including: portraiture, commercial photography, advertorial, news photography and fine arts photography. Many portrait photographers also specialize in weddings, religious ceremonies and school events.  Many portrait photographers work for themselves, or independently.  This means keeping records, scheduling appointments, and sending out invoices. If you are thinking of being an independent photographer, you should consider taking classes in business—because you will essentially be running your own.

Some photographers also take photos for the purpose of scientific study. If you have a scientific mind you might consider specializing in this area of photography. Courses that may help you prepare for such a specialization include biology, medicine, engineering and chemistry.

Photography Degree

Most entry level positions as a photographer (especially photojournalism) require a college degree in photography or a related field to the specific industry in which the photographer wishes to work in. Even freelance photographers need to be technically proficient in order to make good use their equipment.

Most universities, community colleges and many vocational and technical schools offer courses and majors in photography. Courses usually cover composition, processes, equipment, and business and marketing. If you choose to go to an art school for photography, you will likely spend more time training in design.

Photography Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Median annual wages of salaried photographers were $29,440 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $20,620 and $43,530. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $16,920, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $62,430.” It should also be noted that salaried photographers tend to earn more than independent or freelance photographers, although being freelance allows for more autonomy.