Do you want to capture the world around you for others?
“A picture is worth a thousand words.” -Anonymous
There are no words to describe all of the detail and imagination that a single photograph can offer. If photography excites you, learn how to make your passion into a career.
Do what you love.
How do I obtain a degree in photography?
Making a great photograph and becoming a successful photographer requires foundational coursework that involves education in concepts such as color theory, composition, and contrast. Instructors also provide guidance on using the latest software to correct, enhance and adapt their photos to the meet the demands of their audience. Those who are pursuing photography as a career have a few options to consider that meets the constraints of time and budget.
Those who are beginning to investigate this option can look into obtaining an associate degree. An associate degree can prepare graduates for entry-level positions in the field. An Associate of Science in photography can lead to your first job as a digital retoucher or photography assistant. The program takes one to two years to complete if the coursework is taken as a full-time student.
A Bachelor of Science in photography is another path to a professional photography degree. This degree may also be called a Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography. Full-time students finish the program in three to four years.
Investment into a Master’s degree is worthwhile for those truly passionate about making photography a career. Intensive training occurs during only two years. Master degrees are an advanced degree and offer students more credibility in the workforce. Programs include components on theory, practice and extensive hands-on field work. Students will develop a quality portfolio and network with those in the field of photography.
Online programs both free and paid are available in addition to the programs mentioned above. The most important aspects of an education in photography is to develop a hands-on working knowledge of the techniques and processes that photographers use within your chosen specialty, learning the business and marketing needs that will help you to promote your services to others, developing a portfolio that showcases your talent.
What will I learn in a photography program?
If you are interested in a career as a professional photographer, an accredited photography program helps students to hone their skills and develop a portfolio that demonstrates your aptitude and unique perspective as an artist. The program also allows the students the ability to incorporate internships and paid positions within the industry. There are programs for every level. Associate degrees and vocational certificates offer career-targeted courses. Bachelor and associate level programs prepare those new to the field and master’s degree classes help more seasoned professionals build additional skills and credibility within the industry. A photography student will:
- Learn about color, design and principles of light.
- Understand marketing and relevant legal knowledge to assist in career growth and accepted practices.
- Incorporate image-editing and capture techniques.
- Explore animation techniques, graphic arts technology and how to optimize an image.
The programs are comprehensive and extend beyond the skills and concepts listed above. Students learn business and communication skills that will help them prepare to enter the workforce, deal with clients, and market themselves. Students learn a variety of techniques and are able to develop a showcase of their talents within a professional portfolio.
What will my degree prepare me for?
The choice of degree allows a student entry into various industries. You can be a portrait photographer, a commercial photographer, a scientific or fine arts photographer and more. Portraiture and commercial photography within advertising are anticipated to see the most growth. The level of education, experience and personal desires will determine the most appealing opportunities. Depending on the setting, credentials and industry, your responsibilities can include:
- Photographing subjects for commercial-grade images
- Familiarity and fluency with using a range of photographic techniques and types of equipment.
- Using different types of light during a session for special effect.
- Establishing and maintaining a website or digital portfolio.
- Deciding on the composition for an image
- Marketing to build awareness of services while attracting and convert prospects.
Examples of careers open to photography students include:
Portrait photographers- Photographers usually work from their own studios and capture images of individuals and groups of people. Many specialize in special occasions such as weddings, school photography or religious ceremonies.
Commercial and industrial photographers- Subjects include models, buildings, merchandise, landscapes and artifacts. Images may be used for magazine covers and for engineering analysis. Photographers often travel to location.
Aerial photographers- Planes, helicopters and gyrostabilizers are used to take high-quality images of landscapes and building.
Scientific photographers- The focus is on accurate imagery of a subject. They record scientific data and phenomenon. Microscopes are part of the equipment used to take images.
News photographers- Photojournalists photograph places, people and events for all forms of media outlets. Photographs take still photographs and work with digital video.
University photographers- These photographers work with larger academic institutions and serve as general photographers. Duties include portraiture, photographing an event or creating images to coordinate with a press release.
Fine arts photographers- Photographs taken are sold as artwork. Photographers require artistic talent and creative flare. Many use silver-halide film rather than digital cameras.
What does the future hold for photographers?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities for photographers are anticipated to grow 4 percent from 2012 to 2022. More companies are expected to contract freelancers than offer salaried positions. Work environment and expected hours can vary greatly. Those working in advertising can expect more of a business day schedule while those in news photography and travel photography may be subject to different hours and demands for a fast turnaround. When considering a career as a photojournalist, industrial or scientific photographer, a bachelor’s degree is a typical requirement. When interning and connecting with those in the industry, ask their advice for breaking into the field and developing your talent further.