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Career Advice

How to Become a Photographer

A few weeks ago we discussed how to become a video/film editor so it seems a natural progression that photographywe now turn our attention to the profession which began all this visual media, namely photography.

The term “photographer” will undoubtedly bring to mind some tired clichés such as the overly enthusiastic class photographer of our school days, but in truth photography can be an engaging, varied and extremely satisfying career choice.

Alongside the traditional view of the photographer there are now a vast range of photography “types” including publishing, photojournalism, fashion, fine art and advertising and as such the scope for professional development is equally wide ranging.


Whilst there is no specific qualification which is absolutely essential in order to become a professional photographer (legendary American Ansel Adams was almost entirely self taught) those of you who wish to master your craft the more traditional way will be interested to know there are many options available.

Some pioneering secondary schools are now offering A-Level and GCSE courses in photography whilst others adopt photography based modules within their existing arts courses. If this isn’t an option for you then there are courses offering BTEC QCF levels 1,2 and 3 in photography and also HNC diplomas in photography levels 4 and 5, whilst a large number of UK universities feature photography as a BA degree.

It is interesting to note that there is a significant overlap between other subject areas and photography and you may find yourself suitably placed to begin a photography career on the back of experience gained in media production, art, graphic design and other similar disciplines.


Whilst it is true that the majority of Photographers begin their careers in the academic arena, it is certainly not a prerequisite. For those committed to becoming a professional photographer, gaining an entry-level position as a photographer’s assistant can be the perfect jumping off point. This will allow you to gain experience of a working photography business and move yourself up the ranks and closer to your ultimate goal.

As with any profession, hands-on practical experience is absolutely essential and you should be ready to further develop your skills at any opportunity. Freelance work is fantastic if you can get it, but remember that work doesn’t have to be paid to be valuable and doing unpaid work for friends and family can be a great way to hone your skills and build up a portfolio.

Skills to become a Photographer

Make no mistake about it, photography is an art. It requires technical skill, impeccable timing, artistic vision and often immense patience but most of all it requires passion. Anyone can hold up a camera and point but it takes someone very skilled to produce results which are stirring, emotive, provocative and beautiful. Indeed it would be fair to say that photography is less of a career and more of a calling.

Still fancy a career as a photographer? Good Luck! We hope these basic tips help you along the way…

Looking for a job, but not sure what career path to follow? Check TheEmployable “How to become” career directory.


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