Guide to becoming a Photographer

HowToBecomeAPhotographer.org is an information hub for students interested in photography degrees and careers. To obtain a photography degree, you learn how to work various cameras and lenses, and how to utilize computer programs for the best possible images. Digital photography and media are a massive part of a photography degree and allow you to manipulate and enhance images. This is for professional photography and working on photo shoots or specializing in photographing sports or nature.

A photography degree goes well beyond Adobe Photoshop and prepares you for a career. You will learn how to put together and present a portfolio when studying for a photography degree. Many photography degrees are labeled photography and digital media.

Full Sail University . Full Sail University's BS in Digital Cinematography synthesizes the concepts of traditional filmmaking with the technological tools that can be utilized. Courses include lighting and cinematography, aesthetics of scene composition, color theory, and creative writing. Full Sail's BS in Graphic Design, meanwhile, teaches students how to use the tools and software used by design professionals, and thereby sharpen one's design skills.
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The Art Institute of Pittsburgh . The Art Institute's BFA in Graphic Design program confers the knowledge, experience, and confidence required to become a graphic designer. Students will learn how to create a story through composition that connects with the viewer. The program will also provide you with an insider's guide to techniques that will help you create thought-provoking imagery.
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What Do I Have to Do to Get Into Photography School?

Many photography programs at conventional schools or art schools require a portfolio when submitting an application. Photography programs often work the same as art programs and require a portfolio for the department to see where a person is in their craft. It is important to build a portfolio before photography school and to continue to add to it as you learn new techniques. Photography school does not teach you how to land a job in photography, but how to work in various settings, use lighting properly, and use computer programs for your editing. Editing is a major part of any photography program. It shows you how to make your images look their best and how to tailor an image for the client. This client may be commercial or high fashion, active photography, or wanting to capture nature. Regardless of who your client is, it’s important for you to see the vision they want you to create when taking pictures. Most photography schools require a minimum of 2.0 GPA when applying to a program from another school.

What Type of Photography Degrees Exist?

There are both undergrad and graduate degrees for photography. There’s a bachelor of arts with studio concentration on photography and digital media, as well as a master of arts with the same focus. An undergraduate photography degree takes about 120 hours to complete, if a student is attending school full time. For students going to school part time, it can take longer to complete an undergraduate photography program. Masters programs for photography and digital medial take about 36 hours to complete. This is coursework only and does not include lab hours that many schools require of students.

Do I Need a Special Computer to Study for a Photography Degree?

Most photographers work on MacBooks. Mac computers have become the go-to computers for those in creative fields such as art, photography, and music because of their very specific programs. You do not have to have a Mac computer to study photography, but if you plan on working as a professional photographer, keep in mind most publications and companies work with Mac computers. It’s important for you to become comfortable working on a Mac. Any professor or working photographer will tell you Mac computers are the computer of choice for the industry. Check with your school’s program before buying a new computer. While most do not require a Mac computer, it may be highly suggested that you work on a Mac for convenience and experience. If you’re buying a new laptop anyway, it is best to buy a computer that you’ll use for a few years.

You will need certain computer programs for your classes, but this will vary. Do not buy any software until you know for sure you will be using it in class. This is usually on the department’s website or in the syllabus for each class. There are both advanced and beginner photo editing programs. What you need depends on the classes you’re taking and what you will be utilizing the program for later down the road. While techniques and trends in photography change regularly, software stays the same for a number of years. If you feel a program is very expensive, remember that you will use it beyond your degree. It is something you will hopefully use to make a living after graduating from a photography program. To give you an idea of how much photography software costs, budget versions of advanced and beginner editing programs run anywhere from $60-$100. Advanced editing software can run in the hundreds of dollars. If you are attending classes and buying the programs for school, you can claim the purchase on your taxes.

What is the Difference Between Getting an Online Photography Degree and a Traditional Photography Degree?

Ultimately, there is no difference. Regardless of the setting, the coursework will cover the same information and material. For many programs, lab work is also required, so if you take your courses online, you may still be required to attend a campus to obtain the hands-on training you need to complete this requirement. What students should keep in mind throughout their program is that potential employers will want to see your work and your skills. The way you will show this is through a portfolio you put together as you learn various techniques and skills. Your degree will teach you the necessary tools and skills you will need in a professional setting, but ultimately it will be your portfolio that will show your future employers what you are capable of.

Where Could I Work as a Professional Photographer?

Photography can be a tough field to get into. With newspapers and magazines cutting back, it is a competitive market. In many instances photographers work for themselves, developing a client list from taking photos that capture occasions such as weddings or newborn pictures. People take professional photographs for many occasions these days, including engagement photos, wedding photos, pregnancy photos, newborn photos, and holiday pictures.

Developing a personal network of clients and getting your name out their is one way to start building up your business. Word of mouth can definitely help when it comes to people looking for a photographer for their events. This type of photography is usually the highest paying gig for professional photographers who want to work on a local level. In this position you are always working on growing your business and getting your name out there. You can take out ads online and in local publications, as well as via social networks, but your main source of clients might possibly be current clients who can spread your good reputation.

Photographers working with publications usually do so on a freelance or contract basis. The publication comes to you for a project and once that project is done, you may move on to another project with the same people or for another company. This is the norm for the highest paid and well-known photographers in the business. Seldom is a photographer on a publication’s staff and paid a salary. It is more often on a project by project basis. Still, this freelance work can pay well and is an option for those working in large cities with many publications to work with.

After I Have My Photography Degree, How Do I Network to Get a Job?

When you’re still in school, you can begin networking, and you may even be able to land freelance work. This depends on your experience and portfolio. It is very common for photographers to have online portfolios where potential clients can look at your work easily. This gives potential employers and clients a look at your photography style and past work.

Networking can also begin while you’re in school. Meet with local makeup artists, hairstylists, wardrobe stylists, and models. Everyone working in these careers starts somewhere and often joins forces to create images that can be used for everyone’s portfolios. These will be unpaid jobs, but they will give you the opportunity to collaborate with other creative minds and see what it’s like to work to create a series of looks. You can meet makeup artists and hairstylists by exploring trade shows. You can also check out local fashion events to meet people in the fashion field who may need a photographer. Remember it is your job to adapt to a client’s needs. It is important to have a well-rounded portfolio with images for potential clients who want a commercial look, as well as those looking for a more artistic approach.

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