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All you need to know about photography as a career
Manpreet Juneja
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October 10, 2007
Part II: Photography as a career: Getting certified

Are you the one of those people who's famous for snapping pictures at parties or who enjoys capturing various shades of life through a lens? If you want to earn a living using your creative side but need more information, then you've landed at the right page.

Career in Photography = Business and Technical knowledge + Creative eye [Get Quote]
A creative eye with visual imagination is the basic trait required in a photographer. However, getting a decent technical background helps complement the creative side.

There are some diploma and certificate courses that you can pursue to add technical specialisation. You can also pursue these courses along with your college or do part-time courses.

A background in computers also helps in gaining the technical expertise. Such skills are required to get just the right look of your pictures as per the client needs. This involves camera and lighting skills, digital imaging skills and knowledge of the technical intricacies of the equipment.

To get started, it's a good idea to get on-the-job training by working with an established photographer. This will help you gain business acumen, client handling skills and a good idea of the problems a photographer faces in the field and learn how to them. Photography workshops are great hands-on experience as well.

Showcasing your work in online albums, communities and forums is another great way to get started. Enhance your skills by getting direct feedback and tips from visitors to your album. You can complement this by doing some freelance work. It further builds up confidence to approach other photographers and organisations from where you can get full time work.

Subodh Chatterjee, who owns a studio, shares his experience on taking up photography as a career. "I started as a freelancer and used to get my portfolio published in some magazines. This is where I got noticed by some ad agencies and got some more freelancing work," he says. "This gave me the confidence to start my own studio." The most important thing in the beginning of your career is to 'showcase' your work and get noticed, he advises.

Technical operational skills, visual eye and a distinguishing portfolio of your work will be required to help you stand out. Use it as a marketing tool for your skill.

You can be self-employed and run your own studio or take up freelancing projects. You can also start as an assistant with a professional photographer or work with creative people like art directors, depending on your field of photography. You can also assist various news reporters.

Pay prospects
Initially, it's bit hard to make a living in this field but if you're extremely creative and prepared to put in the hard work along with getting equipped with good business skills, it could become a rewarding profession for you.

An assistant working with a senior photographer can earn between Rs 3,000 to Rs 6,500 per month. You can also take up some freelancing jobs and then later work as a full time professional which could fetch you anything from Rs 25,000 to 40,000 a month. Some fields such as fashion photography are even more lucrative if you're an expert in the field.

In case you're self-employed, you can earn from 10,000 to 50,000 a day depending on the kind of assignments you get. For example, you can make huge money if you are a wedding photographer and get a big assignment.

Your salary varies based on the place you're working in and the creativity you bring to your work along with your experience in the field.

The real picture
Initially the earnings may be less and you may have to settle for whatever assignments you get. However, perseverance is key.

It's fun to express your creativity with colors, shades and objects. However, a career in photography may require you to work under pressure and in difficult working conditions. It could be demanding and involve irregular working hours.

Career options
A career in photography offers the following options:

~ Photojournalism
It's a part of journalism in which images are used to tell news stories. It requires promptness and instinct to generate ideas to make a news story from pictures. You can create a news story from pictures taken during a war or riots in the city/country. Photojournalists should be prepared to take risks like going to war zones, disaster zones etc.

This also covers feature photography like capturing pictures for an entire theme or subject and telling a news story. You can work independently or work for a news agency.

~ Fashion and advertising photography
If glamour attracts you, then this is for you. It involves working with models and is quite a lucrative and creative field. The work could be used for advertising agencies, fashion houses and fashion magazines.

~ Nature and wildlife photography
If you're a nature freak and also have a passion to capture it, then go for it. You can work for travel and geographic magazines, calendars as you travel around capturing waterfalls, landscapes, wildlife and other interesting shades of nature.

~ Event photography
Event photographers work for weddings and other events like sports meets, family functions etc. This still has strong demand for film photography, since most clients would like a copy of the negatives.

~ Still photography
This involves the capturing of inanimate natural or man-made objects. Portrait photography is one example of this, where you can capture pictures of children, pets etc. You can run your own studio or work for someone. Capturing pictures for cookbooks is another good opportunity.

~ Travel photography
If you love adventure and travelling then travel photography could be good option for you. Travel photographers can work for the hospitality industry, travel magazines and websites. It requires being able to capture the right shot at the right moment.

If you've a passion for photography, there's no reason why you can't make it your profession -- be wise and practical and go for it!

Part II: Photography as a career: Getting certified

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