Jeff Fried
Content Maker

How to Become a Photographer

How to become a photographer in a nutshell:

  1. get your hands on a camera
  2. take pictures
  3. edit your pictures
  4. show your pictures to people
  5. call yourself a photographer

Is taking pictures and showing them really all that makes a photographer?

What makes a true photographer?

Consider this, you can give 100 people in a full room a pen, a piece of paper, and a lifetime to write; that doesn't mean you will have a single poet. Photography is no different.

This article will consider what it means to be a photographer and how to become a professional photographer in a wide variety of fields.

example of a model headshot

How to Start a Photography Career

There is not just one path to take when considering how to start a career in photography — there are countless paths to starting a career as a photographer. First, let's clear up some misconceptions that may be floating around about what it takes to have a career as a photographer.

Some people think that you need to go to school for photography, others believe that you need thousands of dollars worth of equipment. But in reality, there are many different paths that can lead to a successful career in photography.

The misconception is also prevalent among aspiring photographers who have never picked up a camera before. One such misconception is that you need to buy expensive gear and go through years of schooling in order to become a photographer. This isn't truth.

There are many different ways for someone who wants to pursue photography as a career to get started and the most important thing is being able to find what works best for them so they can start building their portfolio and finding jobs in their desired field.

In the next section we'll go over some photographer requirements.

Education for Photography

Education for photography has traditional routes as well as more modern, internet-based means of transferring knowledge. If the question is, "do you need a degree to be a photographer?" The answer is almost always no. There are a small handful of photography career paths that require degrees. For example, become a forensic photographer requires a college degree and often government clearance which may require a master's degree.

The general answer is that you do not need a degree to be a professional photographer. What you need is a portfolio and clients. How to attain those two things is where the work comes into play. 

Educating yourself through experience is often the best way to improve as a photographer. Shoot. Show. Share. Critique. Repeat. Follow that process and you'll grow as a photographer.  Watch films and notice frames that catch your eye. Analyze them. Copy them.  

There are university programs for photojournalism as well as art schools you can consider. Learn from today's pro photographers by finding a professional photographer and following their Instagram. If they offer courses or guides, consider trying one. 

Schooling for Photography

If you really want to attend schooling for photography then you should consider a major university that has either a photojournalism school or an art photography program, or both. The approach to photography is very different with each department. 

New York University, Rochester Institute of Technology, The Savannah College of Art and Design, and Syracuse University all have great programs for photography. 

How Many Years of College to be a Photographer

The real answer is you need zero years of college to be a photographer. It's rare that working as a photographer will require a degree. Being a successful photographer requires that you have excellent communication skills — this is a factor when communicating and defining expectations with clients, art directors, creative directors, producers, PR agents, when working with models or non-professional subjects, when coordinating with crew, and beyond. 

College is often a place where young students can begin to hone communication skills, learn new concepts, experience new ways of life and viewing the world. These are all assets when becoming a photographer. 

While college isn't a requirement to becoming a photographer, it is most often a benefit.

If college isn't an option, don't worry. In photography, portfolios speak louder than any degree. Getting unique experience and developing as a person does not require college, but it does require effort and breaking outside of your comfort zone.

Whether you go to college or not, push yourself to experience things that don't natural appeal to you. Get used to doing things that challenge you emotionally. Get comfortable being uncomfortable and have your camera ready.

Do You Need a License to be a Photographer

You do not need a license to be a photographer, professional or otherwise. There are many different companies that will sell certificates or offer certificates if you complete a course. These may impress some clients or employers but be meaningless or insignificant to others.

What Degree Does a Photographer Need

You do not need a degree to be a photographer. More specifically, you do not need a degree to be a professional photographer. If you are in your early 20's, having a degree may prove to a potential employer that you are hard working and complete challenges. 

How to Become a Professional Photographer

If you asked a hundred photographers how they became a professional photographer, you'll hear a hundred different ways on how to become a professional photographer. Of course there will be threads, similarities and overlaps leaving us room to gather some knowledge. 

A prerequisite for being a professional photographer is having a passion for taking, editing and showing photos.

There is a saying amongst photographers, "shoot what you love, show what you love, and you'll get hired to do what you love." This saying holds true under a few assumptions: first, you're good; second, you can show the right people or get in front of the right audience, third you beat the competition and win the bid or the position, and fourth, you are consistent. If you've got these four things, then shoot, show, and get hired.

Shoot, show, get hired makes it all sound simple. The hard work is real. Shooting can be a time consuming process. Editing means sitting in front of the computer and doing the work. Showing is marketing. Marketing is not just one simple thing. There are many ways to market yourself as a photographer. Marketing is often a challenge for aspiring professional photographers.

Consider both digital and traditional forms of marketing when you are becoming a professional photographer. Get a website for you portfolio. Share it on social media. 

Old fashioned word of mouth marketing is still an excellent way to find photography work, so tell people what you're up to. Tell people about your photography services — tell them about your website, show them if you have their attention. Leaving people with a business card including your web address, email, and name is still a strong way to leave an impression. 

How To Become A Freelance Photographer

Becoming a freelance photographer is not complicated. Surviving as a freelance photographer is not an easy task. It takes commitment, hard work, diligence and a host of other requirements. 

A freelance photographer is anyone who earns money using a camera while not being a full time employee for the client paying them. Ultimately it is about taxes and how they are collected. Money earned as a freelance photographer should be claimed to the IRS as a 1099. This the code given to the document a freelancer uses to file taxes. Freelancers are known as independent contractors.

What are the steps you need to take to go from not earning money to earning money using a camera? Starting small is fine. You'll need to identify someone who needs images then convince them that you can provide the images they need at a price they agree to. 

How do you find someone who needs images? By looking at the kinds of photography that exist you can start to understand who the clients are for a given type. For example, real estate photography is used by realtors to sell properties. Modeling portfolio images are use model modeling agency agents who are trying to book their model with advertising agencies. E-commerce photos are used by online retailers selling their goods.

It's important to know that if you make more that $400 in a year from photographer you need to file a 1099. On the subject, the IRS website says "Income under $500. —A single person with less than $500 income should file a return to get a refund if tax was withheld. A married person with less than $500 income should always file a joint return with husband or wife to get the lesser tax or larger refund for the couple."

Do Full Time Jobs Exist for Photographers

Yes, you can absolutely find full time jobs for photographers. A wide variety of companies have full time photographers including some places that you may not expect. For example large hospital systems sometimes have in-house marketing and creative departments. Government agencies like the FBI have highly trained forensic photographers. Major retail brands often have in-house photographers to products.

Larger cities will have more full time opportunities for photographers. They will also be more competitive.

How to Become a Photojournalist

Photojournalism is a profession that requires the skills of a photographer and a journalist. The photojournalist captures events in the world and records them with their camera. They then write about them for publication in newspapers, magazines, books or on websites.

Photojournalism is a profession that requires a lot of skill, talent, and dedication. It is not for the faint of heart.

Photojournalism is about telling stories with pictures. Photojournalists are journalists who usually work in the field and use photography to illustrate news stories. They may also cover sports, entertainment, or other events. Photojournalists can be employed by newspapers or magazines, television stations, online media companies such as video news services, or they can freelance and sell their images to multiple buyers.

Take your camera everywhere. Cover the events of your life. Go to local events and use your camera. Edit your images to tell the story of the event. Write about the event. Improve your writing ability. 

How to Become a Travel Photographer

To be a travel photographer you will need to dedicate your life to exploring the world and capturing its beauty. Sounds rough. If you want to become a travel photographer, you will also need to consider where to specialize within travel photography. What do you want out of your day? Once you have decided what type of photography you want to focus on, your next step is going out and practicing! The more photos that you take and the more varied they are, the better your portfolio will be when it comes time for an interview or an opportunity.

How to Become a Real Estate Photographer

Real estate photographers need cameras with full frame image sensors and wide angles lenses — a 16mm is common among real estate photography. You'll need a tripod. Some companies will require the photographer to follow specific settings and techniques when shooting.

To become a real estate photographer you'll need to understand color balance, exposure, and composition, among other skills. Start by shooting you own home. Clean up the place. Make it look as nice as you possibly can. Shoot each room from a variety of angles that communicate the space. Shoot the interior as well as the exterior. Ideally you can shoot when the lighting is optimal but in reality a real estate photographer has to keep a schedule, usually shooting multiple locations in a single day — so you'll need to learn to deal with bad lighting conditions.

Shoot your friends homes to build up a portfolio. If you are extra ambitious you can go onto airbnb and search for homes, apartments or rooms in your area that have bad photos. Reach out with an offer. If you don't have a portfolio yet, consider shooting a few for free while you build up the portfolio. Your portfolio is a timeless asset, so invest in growing it.

Get on Linkedin and search for real estate photography jobs. Consider working for a company that specializes in shooting for real estate companies rather than trying to reach out to the individual realtor.

How to Become an Event Photographer

If you want to become an event photographer you will need to be able to shoot in any lighting condition. This means you'll need a high-quality camera, fast lenses, and comfort using flash and/or strobe lights. 

Get out there and shoot. Event photographers need to be able to shoot candidly but also need to be able to walk up to strangers, interrupt them and get group shots. Different clients have different requests. You can have a style you are known for and that's why you get hired or you can cater your style to the desires of the client. That's up to you.

Reach out to event planners. Get to know other vendor that you may find at an event. Maybe that's the caterer or the floral designer. All of the vendors also need to market and advertise which means they may need images. That's where you step in and provide your services.
red carpet photography for a women's wear daily event in nyc

How to Become a Wedding Photographer

Wedding photographers are in high demand and there is a lot of competition. There are many wedding photography schools that offer courses on how to become a wedding photographer.

In order to become a professional wedding photographer, you need to have the right equipment and skillset. You should learn how to use your camera properly and take good pictures of people.

Some people might think that becoming a professional wedding photographer is just about snapping photos, but it’s not. It’s also about capturing emotions and telling the story of the day through your images.

Practice capturing candid emotion in your photographs of your friends or strangers in your daily life. Get comfortable in a wide variety of lighting conditions. Learn utilize an off-camera flash. And get comfortable directing people.

How to Become a Wildlife Photographer

Wildlife photography is a very rewarding profession. It takes patience and dedication to be able to capture the beauty of animals in their natural habitat. The fact that you are working in nature and not in a studio, makes wildlife photography all the more challenging.

Start local. Go for hikes. Get close.

Wildlife photography is a popular and growing field, with several different types of photographers.

Some people specialize in photographing animals, while others focus on the natural environment.

If you want to become a wildlife photographer, there are some things you need to do. You'll need to take pictures of animals in their natural environment and also get good at editing and post-processing your photos.

How to Become a Crime Scene Photographer

The path for how to become a forensic photographer is a hard one. Forensic photography is a branch of photography that deals with the documentation of crime scenes, accidents, disasters and other events that may require expert examination.

Forensic photographers are usually employed by law enforcement agencies and may work in conjunction with forensic scientists. Their job is to document the scene, collect evidence, help establish the sequence of events and provide information on who was present at the scene.

Forensic photographers use their skills to tell stories about the crime or event they are documenting. They need to be able to take accurate notes, have an eye for detail and be able to think creatively when composing photographs.

Forensic photographers are responsible for capturing images that can be used in court as evidence.

It is common that a forensic photographer will have a master's degree of some kind. To be a forensic photographer with the FBI you will also need government clearance. 

One pathway into this line is through the military. Each branch has some form of photography-related military occupational speciality.

How to Become a Sports Photographer

If you are interested in photography, sports photography is a good choice. There are three main skills that you need to become a sports photographer:

1) You should have an understanding of the game being played.

2) You should be able to anticipate what will happen next and be ready to capture it.

3) You need to know how to use your camera and equipment well.

What are the benefits of becoming a sports photographer?

Sports photography is a very popular and lucrative career. It is a great way to combine your love of sports with your love of photography. Sports photographers can earn up to $1,000 per day shooting sporting events and upwards of $100,000 per year.

How do I become a sports photographer?

There are no formal educational requirements for becoming a sports photographer. However, you should have some knowledge about photography and basic computer skills to be successful in this field. Next step is to start shooting locally and build up your portfolio. Talk with local coaches and tell them what you're doing. See if you can photograph practices or games in exchange for social media content.

How to Become a Concert Photographer

A concert photographer is someone who takes photographs at concerts. Concert photography is a type of photography that captures and preserves live performances, events, and moments in music history. Concert photographers are often hired by the artist or the event organizer to capture images of the show. They may also work for magazines or newspapers that want to publish pictures of the show.

The different types of concert photography include:

- Stage Photography: This type of photography captures onstage performances from a distance

- Audience Photography: This type of photography captures audience members enjoying the show

- Photojournalism: This type of photography captures live events with journalistic integrity

- Fine Art Photography: This type of photography captures moments with aesthetic beauty

Concert photographers are often hired by the bands themselves to shoot their performances, but they can also be hired by the venue or event organizers. As a concert photographer, you will be responsible for taking photographs of the event and then presenting your work to the band or event organizer in order to receive payment.

The following are some skills you will need if you want to become a concert photographer:

- Technical skills: You should have knowledge of photography and editing software, such as Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom.

- Creativity: You need to have an eye for composition and good timing so that your photographs capture the essence of what is happening on stage.

- Attention to detail: You should be able to take excellent shots even when there

How to Become a Fashion Photographer

Fashion photography is a field that has seen a lot of change in the last decade. The industry has seen an influx of new photographers, and models are now more than ever using their own social media to get noticed. The competition is fierce, but it can be done.

In order to become a fashion photographer, you will need some basic skills with a camera and Photoshop. You will also need to know how to take good pictures, as well as what type of model you want to shoot.

Becoming a fashion photographer is an exciting and challenging career.

There are many different routes that you can take to become a fashion photographer. You could study photography in college or university, or you could get experience working as an assistant to a fashion photographer. However, there is no set route for becoming a fashion photographer so it’s up to you how you want to achieve your dream job!

Building a fashion photography portfolio is the first step. Once you have a few shoots in your portfolio you can start to market yourself local brand or brands you find online. The best clients are recurring clients. You'll want to find clients that need images on a regular basis.
white male model in his twenties with shoulder length curly hair aviator sunglass and a red shirt

How to Become a Food Photographer

There are a few things you can do to make sure your food photography is at its best. Here are some tips for taking pictures of food:

- Shoot in natural light.

- Use a tripod.

- Keep the food simple and minimize distractions.

- Use a shallow depth of field if you want to focus on the dish and not the background.

- Get creative with your angles, zoom in, or use different perspectives to show off your dish.

Photography is a fun and rewarding profession. And with the rise of Instagram, it’s never been easier to get noticed for your work.

But how do you become a food photographer? Here are some tips on how to get started in this industry.

- Find a niche that interests you

- Study the work of other photographers

- Start small by photographing food at home or at work

- Get creative with props and backgrounds

How to Become a Photographer for a Magazine

Magazine are a dying bread but some do still exist. Magazine have traditionally been known as low paying. Editorial photography is often used by photographers as a means for getting their name out to a large audience while also getting that stamp of approval that the namesake of a given magazine may bring.

Photographers are usually hired by magazines to shoot and edit photos for the magazine. The photographer can be hired as a freelance or on a full-time basis, depending on the magazine’s needs.

The photographer will have to have an understanding of what makes a good photo, so they know how to take the perfect shot. They must also be able to edit their photos in order to make them look professional and aesthetically pleasing.

The photographer must also know how to work with people in order to get them into the best positions for the shots and make sure that they are happy with their final product.

The first step to becoming a photographer for a magazine is to start out by taking photos of things and people that interest you. This will help you build your portfolio and gain experience as you go along.

You should also find photographers who inspire you and study their work, techniques, and style.

How to Become a Model Photographer

A model photographer is a person who takes photographs of models, fashion models, or other types of models.

In order to become a model photographer, one must have the following qualities:

-Creativity: A good photographer is creative and has a good eye for photography. They should be able to capture the right angles and lighting that makes the perfect shot. 

-Patience: Photographers have to have patience in order to make sure they get the perfect shot. This means not rushing and taking their time so that they can get the best pictures possible. 

-Empathy: Photographers should be empathetic in order to connect with their subjects on an emotional level which will result in better shots.

-Talent: A good photographer must possess talent and skill when for repeatedly getting quality images
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How Long Does it Take to Become a Photographer

Becoming a photographer is not as easy as it may seem. You need to have the right equipment and know how to use it. You also need to have a good eye for capturing the perfect moments. Becoming a photographer will take time, but if you are willing to put in the effort, it can be very rewarding.

There are many different types of photography that you can specialize in. When you are first starting out, you should try your hand at different types of photography until you find one that suits your style and personality best.

How Much Does a Photographer Make per Year

Photographers are people who make their living by taking pictures, whether it be for commercial or personal purposes. A photographer's job is to take photographs that are aesthetically pleasing and capture the subject in a way the client wants to see.

The average salary of a photographer ranges from $30,000-$90,000 per year. This number can vary depending on the location and type of photography they do. For example, photographers who work in the city tend to get paid more than those who work in rural areas because it takes more time and effort to travel there.

It is possible to make much more that this range. Top photographers can make well into a six-figure salary.
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