“The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do.”
— Andy Warhol
Most individuals seeking to build a career in photography feel restricted due to a lack of certification or training in this field. But is it possible to become a professional photographer and build your photography careers without a need to take a formal photography course is the question that most individuals tend to ask.
With the arrays of resources within our reach now, the art of photography is now one of the easiest and most accessible career paths in Nigeria today when one combines passion and motivation. With the advent of top-notch smartphones, everyone can now take captivating pictures couple with photo editing software such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom, and DxO PhotoLab 4.
Gone are the days when photo paper taken to negative rooms is bathed in chemicals before they become images. As of today, with the help of Adobe and other software, great images can be spun out without much stress. With this amateur knowledge that one developed as a hobby, it is also possible to go professional as a photographer.
Can I Learn Photography by myself?
It is very possible to learn the arts and techniques of photographing, especially when you are autodidact – and capable of mastering lightening techniques and lensing. To others, it might involve taking free classes of photoshoots by snapping during family events, church programs, and taking shoots around town and nature.
Notwithstanding these basics, there is a much higher need to understand some other technicalities if one intends to pursue careers in photography. To go professional, you need to pay major attention to some factors such as your camera.
Your camera must have a lens, mirrors, light sensors, image recording devices (film or memory card), and an aperture. And if you want to specialize as a studio photographer, then there is a need to purchase different lenses, a tripod or mono, a light meter, and studio lighting.
Essential Equipment Needed for Professional Photographing
In purchasing a good camera for your photographing jobs, one needs to understand the different types of cameras in the market. The camera takes centre stage in the photographer's collection, and this very important equipment can be categorized into three different categories. These includes
- Compact Cameras: These types of cameras are easy to carry about and lightweight. It is also affordable but comes with limited capability and storage capacity. For individuals wishing to go PRO, you must avoid this type of camera except for practice or hobby.
- Reflex Cameras: These cameras are higher than the compact cameras in functionalities but are a bit cumbersome and expensive. It comes with interchangeable lenses and ideal for professional photographers.
- Hybrid Cameras: This is a combination of both the compact and the reflex, but it comes in a smaller version. The difference between this and the reflex is that the lenses are not interchangeable unless you go for a higher-end model. This is great and durable equipment with more flexibility.
But remember that as a beginner, it is important that you invest in a reflex camera, even if it's a low-end model than a compact or hybrid. With the ideal camera type agreed upon, it's now important to select the right type of lenses to suit your photo shooting needs. In making your selection for good lenses, the following factors show guide you.
- Focal Length: This is measured in millimetres (mm). Purchasing a lens with a high/long focal lens will allow you to capture far or distant images, while a short focal length allows you to capture bigger images or subjects.
- Aperture: This is another parameter to look out for when buying a lens. It is a known fact that the greater the aperture, the more lights flood the image, which helps in a faster image capturing. Having a big aperture is suitable for capturing fast photos such as in sporting events or as a wildlife photographer.
With the ideal camera type and lenses, we can now focus on other accessories needed if you want to go PRO.
- Flash: These are an essential accessory that will help to compliment low light conditions
- Filters: With the right filters, one can easily change the mood and emotion of your images to avoid reflections and to optimize contrasts
- Tripod or mono: Tripod stand is used to shoot portraits while the latter is used to stabilize the camera for fast and action shoots.
- A camera case: It’s a great accessory for protecting your collection and transporting them.
Basic Concepts about Photographing
Knowing some of the concepts of photographing is important if one is planning to pursue a career in this field of photographing. Some of these concepts can be gotten online via YouTube and other free video sites. Some very important concepts that are worthy to note includes
- Light: In the art of photographing, lighting involves the balancing of white versus grey. A properly balanced white gives sharp and clearer images with captivating and true to life colours. To achieve a great image while using a digital SLR camera, set the white balance to matrix, miltizone, counterweight, or spot.
- Aperture: This is the part that allows light to come into the camera when capturing your image. To ascertain the aperture's size, it's important to consider the aperture number popularly known as the f/n (number). The higher the number, the smaller the aperture and Vis versa.
- Setting Exposure: Depending on the amount of light and contrast, one's photograph could be under or overexposed. The shutter speed and aperture settings determine the amount of incoming light. When taking a shoot at night, it is advised to set the camera to a higher aperture and longer exposure.
- Shutter Speed: This is also known as the exposure time. It helps to determine the amount of time that the digital sensor or film is exposed to light.
- Sensitivity: the amount of light needed for good exposure is what is known as sensitivity.
The Nitty-gritty of Composition
In designing and composing a great image, you must understand the fundamentals of what is known as the rule of thirds in photographing. This rule of third is one of the most important and useful composition tools in photography. It involves placing your image into a total of nine fields, which comprises of three columns and three lines.
By aligning your image or focal point with any of the four dots, the grid produces set your image off-centre, thereby giving it a more mature outlook and depth. Learning how to use this rule of thirds will help you to master one of the highly guided secrets of professional photographers.
Marketing your skills as a professional photographer in Nigeria
Since you now understand the fundamentals of photography and have fully equipped yourself with the right equipment that suits the niche you intend branching out to in photography, it is now time to sell yourself to people around you in other to build your portfolio.
The first jobs for photographers are not always easy, but you can make it easier for yourself by telling people about your skill and offering free services at the early stage to family and friends in other to get your name out to people. This is most important if you don't have the requisite certification and photography degree that would have helped establish your credibility in professional photography.
Another way you can use in marketing yourself when starting out as a photographer is working with established photographers. With this, people are sure of your capability, and you can fix a premium price for your services. one needs to gain some professional experience by working with a professional photographer in the niche you intend specializing in. You can start by asking around for studio photographers looking for an apprentice or offering an internship placement. For other areas such as commercial photography, you must look for people casting or shooting a movie to get involved with.
Remember that you might have to do the menial jobs when attaching to a professional, such as carrying props, pose subjects and brandish light meters, but it's for your good in the long run. These apprenticeships can add much value to your CV when you are branding your website and portfolio.
Finally, the major work of landing your first and subsequent jobs lies in your hands. Get in contact with your friends, family, social media contacts as any of them might land you your first gig. You can also visit businesses that are related to the niche that you intend to focus on. If you want to become a wedding photographer, it’s expedient to visit and connect with wedding planners and bridal shops or make friends with actors, actresses, and musicians if you wish to focus on that niche.
Get a Professional Portfolio
As a professional photographer, your portfolio is the most important tool in your arsenal to become a successful and popular photographer. Having an impressive portfolio will help to pave the way for success since most of your potential clients will judge you by your past works.
In creating a captivating portfolio, it's expedient that you select your best images that show the full range of your works. In designing your portfolio, you can create an online photo album, a picture blog, or a web page dedicated to uploading your works.
A picture is worth a thousand words and showcasing your photos goes a long way in convincing prospective clients and employers than big words and resume. In compiling your portfolio, the following should be put into consideration.
- Ensure that you display your most creative and original pictures
- In displaying your portfolio, always follow the "less is more" principle by showing 20-25 of your best images at a time. You can send more to the prospective client if s/he asks for more.
- If you are good at capturing different scenes and images, ensure that you put up a sample of those images on your portfolio.
- Update your portfolio always with newer and more innovative images that were recently taken.
To get your work out to the public, it is necessary to create a website, a Facebook page, and an Instagram page, and ensure that you continuously publicize the pages. You can also set-up a blog page where you can write things related to photography in other to direct traffic to your sites and pages. This will also help to give you more credibility.