"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." — Dorothea Lange.
The passion for becoming a photographer is often innate, and a lot of people are born with it. Some individuals were born with a strong aesthetic sense and a strong power for observation. These people love to capture every scene that they encounter and derive joy in recording them for posterity.
Even as a beginner, this drive tends to propel you to create beautiful images that can stand the test of time, but you should know that it takes time to master any craft. With the avalanche of beautiful pictures online, most people believe that there is a shortcut out there to become a professional without adequate training and drive.
Even if you have the best equipment and secret that your favorite photographer has, you might not just become the next superstar. To stand-out among the teeming crowd - there is a place for hard work, willingness to grow at your own pace, and even following some of the Superprof platform's tips on photography.
Things to Know as a Professional Photographer
In setting out into any field of endeavour, it's important to consider the upsides and the downside of the trade-in order to know what to do at any point in time. Preparation is key to success, and this statement is never truer than as it is found in the world of professional photography.
In starting out as a professional photographer, there are three major factors that one needs to consider and perfect before he/she can be called a professional photographer. This triumvirate approach is fundamental to photography.
Capturing of the Images
"It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter." — Alfred Eisenstaedt.
In the art of photography, the photographer's main duty is to capture the subject, notwithstanding the niche on which they are focusing on. In capturing great images, there is a need to understand your environment and your subjects' nature. A fashion photographer that is specialized in portraiture and shooting indoors would require completely different skills from another photographer that focuses on taking landscape pictures.
As you move from one scene to another, variables such as lighting, framing shots, angle calculation, and environment changes. Therefore as a professional, there is a place for understanding the uniqueness of different scenarios and the need to adapt.
Therefore, before you capture that image, it's important to arrange the subject, confirm if there are wearing colours that complement the background and if there are putting on adequate makeup.
Remember that it's also your job to pose them, and in the case of street photography and photojournalism, you are expected to make the picture more real. As you can see, capturing a great image involves more than just pressing the shutter button but other in-between preparation.
Handling and Post Handling of the Images
Now that you have captured those amazing images, you are now expected to process them in other for them to come out great. As a pro, your next duty is creating visual art out of the images taken.
For photographers that still depend on films, you have to develop the negatives in the darkroom. You can also develop your film in the lab if you are more comfortable developing your images in a lab. The major shortcoming of this route is that any retouching is out of the picture.
Digital Photo Editing
"There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer." — Ansel Adams.
Unlike in film photography, where there is a cost for every click of the shutter, making the photographer more conscious of pressing the shutter, the digital camera affords one the luxury of snapping the same subject multiple times.
With digital cameras' advancement, one can discard images that you think are not adequate after capturing without it costing you anything. Most times, even a multitude of images captured might not suit your taste or customer's taste.
Here comes the superpower of digital editing using up-to-date software such as Photoshop and Lightroom. This photo editing software is seen to be the best friend of any digital SLR photographer. One can easily adjust the brightness of the images, enhance the image focal points, erase unsighted shadows, and even add some beautiful background with this software.
Sell and Market Your Own Photography
To last in the business of photography, you must learn how to sell your work and name to the outside world. If you cannot sell your pictures or get quality clients, then there is no way you can make money as a photographer in Nigeria.
How well you trust your ability and image will determine if you will be willing to sell the images you capture to a third party. Most photographers in Nigeria have carved out a niche for themselves, which involves capturing fanciful scenes and subjects and selling them to clients willing to buy or online sites such as Shutterstock or Pinterest.
Qualities of a Professional Photographers
To progress as a professional photographer in today's world, you must master some essential skills that will help you stand out among the multitude of amateur photographers flooding the market. Russell, a popular photographer, stated that one does not automatically become a professional photographer just because of their wish to or passion for it but through continuous improvement. Some great skills and qualities that are required for any photographer includes
- Creativity and Technique: The debate on whether formal education helps to unlock one's creativity or does it cloud and crimp people's imaginative ability has always been discussed when discussing arts that require artistic ability. Studies have shown that creativity and techniques are two equal part that helps people bring out the best in them. With creativity, you can see what others are not able to see as a photographer, and with techniques that might come from education and training, you become perfect. As the popular saying goes, " Practice makes perfect, and the best photographers continuously push the boundaries while injecting new emotions and creativity to their art."
- Communication Skill: The ability to relate with others is another important quality of a good photographer. As a wedding photographer or a photojournalist, there will be needs to discuss with your clients, giving out instructions to your models and team (lighting technicians, makeup artists, and assistants). In doing this, you will need all the civility and diplomacy and self-confidence, and professionalism in discharging this duty.
- A Great Knowledge about Camera and Lighting Equipment: Photography equipment has fully evolved in the last twenty-five years, and to compete, you need to keep up with the changes and advancements. It's important to attend workshops, seminars, and tutorials to learn new ways of handling cameras and different photography equipment, such as lighting.
Get Photography Training in School
Presently in Nigeria, no rule states or compels one to acquire any formal education before becoming a professional photographer, but it's important for one to acquire some form of certification and degree before establishing oneself in the field of photography.
Suppose you intend to go international and work with bigger clients and foreigners. In that case, it's necessary that you earn a degree in photography or certification online if a 2-4 years degree is out of your reach. Before enrolling in any photography school in Nigeria, ensure that they are accredited and certified to carry out the classes; otherwise, the certificate issued to you will be a waste.
Some of the professional photography courses that most of the photography classes and schools in Nigeria will cover includes
- Basic and advance photography skills
- Developing and editing images
- Editing (photo screening)
- Portrait Photography
- 3D lighting
- Enhancing digital images
- Lighting and centering
- Framing and composition
- Documentary & Street photography
- Creative and product photography
- How to set up a standard Photo Studio
- Editing and Retouching in Adobe Photoshop
- Image adjustments and exposure adjustments with Adobe Lightroom
- Marketing and Business aspects of a professional photographer
Other areas that you would be taught include the history of photography, the art of developing and retouching images, and how to work with black and white or colour films. The good thing about these photography institutes and schools is that they help you hone your skills better and guide you into the niche or area you wish to specialize in. You also have the opportunity of interning with them after graduation or being assisted by them for job placement.
How Much Can I Earn as a Professional Photographer in Nigeria?
Most people wishing to start out as a photographer are also eager to know if the career choice can sustain them and maybe their family, even if they have a passion for the job. Passion without consummate rewards can be frustrating in the long run. It's therefore important to know the average earnings or salary of a professional photographer.
The answer to this question is that your earning will directly depend on your area of specialty and the caliber of customers that you serve. In Nigeria presently, Commercial photography, wedding photography, Studio Photography, and portrait photography ranks higher on the list of high earners.
You can also earn more if you are a personal photographer to a celebrity or a high ranking politician such as the governor or the president. And since they are no regulation governing the business in Nigeria, the charges solely depend on the bargaining power and the packaging of the photographer and client. Note that the average fee for a wedding photographer in most cities in Nigeria is ₦150,000 – ₦250,000
The art of photography is an artistic skill that might be innate. To compete with other popular photographers within your niche, there is a need to possess some qualities such as creativity and technique, communication skill, and a good knowledge of photography and its equipment.
It's recommended that one attend a photography school or institutes or obtain certification to enable you to work in some established organization and build credibility to learn photography. With this, you can market your images and network with other professionals in other to earn a living from following your passion and dream of becoming a photographer.
You can register for any of the photography classes in Nigeria at Superprof.