The best part about making a career in photography is that you don’t need a degree!
Sure, it is great if you have one, but you don’t necessarily need a certificate to practice this profession. A quick conversation with a professional photographer will help you understand that experience and honing your skill will help you succeed better in this profession as compared to any degree or certificate.
Keeping this in mind, we’ve compiled a beginner’s guide on ‘how to become a professional photographer’ that you shouldn’t miss!
How to become a professional photographer if you’ve not studied photography?
This is the most commonly asked question. Several aspiring photographers aren’t really pursuing a formal degree. Well, for all such dreamers out there, we’ve got good news – Yes, you can become a photographer even if you don’t have a degree!
The 6-step process to becoming a photographer from scratch without a degree
Step #1 – Attend a workshop
Sure, you can take a photography course online, but wouldn’t it be better to educate yourself in the presence of professional photographers?
Consider attending a photography workshop to better your art. Do your research and find a class that will not only benefit you as an artist, but also inspire you to challenge yourself. You can look for workshops that interest you here.
Step #2 – Find a mentor
The easiest way to get your foot into the door is by finding a mentor who will teach you the technicalities of photography as a business.
You can also intern with a successful photographer in the niche you are interested in. An internship will help you gain knowledge of networking and true-life experiences that most professors cannot teach.
During your internship, focus on learning how a photography business is run and how to deal with clients. If you’re lucky and passionate about your craft, the photographer you intern under might just turn into your mentor!
Step #3 – Network
Whether you want to pursue a career in photography with or without a degree, the first step is to network!
If you are switching fields or don’t have a degree, then you’ll have to work from the ground up. Starting from scratch isn’t easy, but it’s doable.
From social media promotion of your new business to letting people know about your new career through word-of-mouth, you need to advertise yourself relentlessly to make a career in this profession.
Step #4 – Join and participate in an online community
Photo communities are a great way to generate exposure for your work, get great feedback from other professionals in the field, and stay updated on the latest news, trends, techniques, and gadgets.
Online communities even allow you to engage in collaborative projects which will significantly boost your skills and experience. You also get to interact with other photographers, which is a great way of gaining new perspectives, learning new things, and even finding some shooting opportunities.
Some of the most popular online communities for photographers include Instagram, Flickr, 500px, EyeEm, Behance, Fstoppers and Lightstalking.
Step #5 – Participate in contests
Participating in photography contests will push you to produce your best work and give you an idea about the steps you can take to better your photography skills. Participating in a photography contest can help you raise your profile as a photographer, and it will also be something that you can add to your CV, portfolio or website. Most photo contests also come with great prizes, such as equipment, which you can use in your work or monetary rewards, which you can use to invest in your upcoming projects.
Step #6 – Practice, practice, practice
There’s no substitute to practice.
Practice shooting photos every day, experiment with your camera settings, different perspectives and angles, analyze your work and get better with the basics concepts of photography. Also, keep improving your technique, and then before you know it, you’d have ended up building an impressive portfolio.
Practice is how you can apply what you learn and constantly keep getting better as a photographer.
How to become a professional photographer if you still haven’t chosen your preferred degree?
If you’re contemplating pursuing a photography course, here’s how you can make a career in photography!
The 4-step process to becoming a photographer with a degree in photography or a relevant field
Step #1 – Earn a bachelor’s degree in photography
If you want to pursue a career in photography, make sure you get a bachelor’s degree in the same field. Though a formal education is not necessary for this field, you can consider a degree as an add-on.
Several arts and liberal arts colleges in India offer courses in photographic design and composition. Completing a photography program will help you learn the necessary technical skills.
While you’re at it, take advantage of facilities like darkrooms and digital laboratories at your college to practice your photography skills.
Step #2 – Gain work experience
While you’re studying, apply for internships with top photographers who practice photography in the niche of your choice. By working with a professional photographer, you will learn important technical skills and learn how to run a photography business.
What’s more? As a photography assistant, you will also gain access and exposure to potential clients. If you don’t want to work under someone, you can also take up freelance projects.
Step #3 – Learn to use editing software
Most colleges cover photo-editing and processing in their syllabus. But if your college doesn’t, make sure you learn to use editing software on your own. This is because even some of your best photos may require minor editing. I
f you know how to use a quality editing software, you’ll be able to take your photos from good to great. Some of the most common photo editing software programs are Photoshop, Canva, PhotoScape, and Fotor. You can pick up these skills through online courses like Digital Image Editing and Understanding Images.
Step #4 – Find your niche and build a portfolio
If you’re a student who is studying photography, you’ll have the time and opportunity to try multiple areas of photography. Make sure you use these opportunities wisely before settling on one as your favorite.
Once you’ve found your niche, focus on building a relevant portfolio. Use photographs from several shoots with varied subjects to highlight the range of your talents. Make sure that your portfolio is comprised of more than 10 photos from the niche you are interested in.
For instance, if you’re interested in fashion photography, you can hire amateur models from local agencies. Offer free prints in exchange for free modelling. Take a look at these examples of outstanding photography websites.
Professional photography is an excellent career choice if you want to get paid for using your creative talents. It’s one of the few fields where age and college degrees aren’t as important as a good eye, self-discipline, and a quality product.
Found this interesting? Then check out the pros and cons of photography as a career here.