Lately, blogs, social media, and smartphones are the in-vogue thing. With their existence, everyone thinks of himself or herself as an amateur photographer. WIth specialised mobile apps that have been developed for everyone to edit and modify pictures, it is much easier for anyone to venture into photography than before.
However, does easy access to photography tools give people the right to label themselves photographers even when they've not undergone any form of training?
Short answer: No!
For you to be considered a professional photographer, it means that you have adequate knowledge of photography basics and you can use them to churn out great images.
Understandably, these points are bound to raise many questions. Can we conclude that people who have enrolled in photography classes need to gain some form of knowledge before they can operate professionally? What does it entail to be a photographer? Is a photography degree a must-have for anyone who wants to venture into photography full-time?
Before we provide comprehensive answers to these questions, we need first to get a clear explanation of differentiates an amateur from a professional photographer. Also, we need to examine how broad the photography field is and how much of living you can make out of photography.
What Does it Entail to be a Photographer?
Contrary to popular opinion, the bulk of a photographer's job isn't capturing images. Studies have shown that photographers do not even spend up to a quarter of the total time used to create a high-quality picture. If you aim to become a photography professional, you must do other activities apart from capturing images.
- Before you delve into taking pictures, you need to set up your location and organise the necessary tools required for the shoot like the professional that you are.
- When you've captured your images, it is time to edit your pictures. Usually, there are many parts of a picture that need to be edited; for example, you might need to reduce the saturation of a photograph or remove dark spots.
- If you're a photography entrepreneur, it means that there are other capacities you function in. You need to handle the administrative aspect of your business. You're in charge of your finances because it is your responsibility to keep your business running.
- As a photographer, it is beneficial to pay rapt attention to your clients and note their needs. Clients usually have needs, and you need to know them as a photographer. Therefore, discuss them before events come up to make everything clear.
- For the continuity of your business, you need more clients. An excellent way to secure clients is by marketing. It is the most feasible method of gaining more clients and increasing your revenue. The most popular type of marketing right now is social media marketing. You can market your products and services on social networks. Alternatively, you can advertise on blogs and websites. Also, email and affiliate marketing are great options for you. If you want to go old-school, you can consider billboard and newspaper marketing as well as radio jingles and tv ads. Even when you're meeting people, you can market your services. That's a great way to network.
- Finally, maintenance is an essential aspect of photography. Buying camera accessories are expensive in Nigeria, and you do not want to waste your money on avoidable things. Service your tools regularly and repair faulty ones at lower costs.
The truth is, starting a photography outfit and nurturing it is a challenging task due to the many processes that surround it. As you take each step, there are new things to learn along the way. With these lessons and the experiences you garner, your photography business is poised for greatness.
Attributes of an Accomplished Photographer
There are attributes that a person should possess to become a successful photographer.
This is the most fundamental attribute to have. Photography is all about replicating an idea and creating imagery with a picture. To make it possible, you need to think out of the box. First, you need your creative sense to visualise what you want to create. Also, you need to find a perfect angle for your pictures, use the best lighting scheme, apply the right photography tools, churn out the ideal image.
Like we mentioned earlier, capturing images doesn't even take time. However, it would be best if you were patient enough to go through other aspects. First, you need to find a perfect location for your shoot. It might take a while. If you're shooting humans, finding the ideal models can be burdensome too. There are props to put in place, unprofessional attitudes to check, and modifications to make on pictures.
Overall, all these take time. Therefore, you need to be patient to succeed.
If you need to approach a stranger to have their photos taken, you need to make them comfortable. Not many people feel comfortable with strangers approaching them, especially Nigerians. We're mostly apprehensive because of past experiences and what we've heard. Therefore, your manner of approach needs to be calm. It would help if you sounded polite when talking to them.
It is why you need to have reassuring skills, especially when shooting strangers in your studio. It's normal for people to feel nervous. It would be best if you calmed them down.
This is a highly important trait you should have as a professional photographer. As much as you seek validation from others, it would help if you believe in yourself first. You should be confident of your craft and the quality you churn out. If you're unsure of yourself, it'll be more challenging to 'shoot your shot' and gain more clients.
Even if the demands of your client are high, you should be confident that you'll surpass their expectations.
If you have these qualities, it means that you're close to being a successful photographer.
Learning to Become a Professional Photographer
To become a pro at photography, you need to achieve a certain level of expertise and experience. The journey you take before you become a professional defines your interests and goals.
Creative Arts Lessons
If you develop a passion for photography early on, you can attend creative art lessons near you. It doesn't have to be something so formal. You can understudy a professional photographer or pay attention to the ones around you. There are instances when you do not have any photographer available for you to study. It shouldn't stop you from learning, though. Since you most likely have a smartphone, you can learn photography basics on YouTube or download E-Books that teach the art of photography.
Diploma in Photography
Many Nigerian schools offer diplomas in photography. These courses have different durations, but the least is three months. For people who have an interest in learning more, they can opt for advanced classes. The good thing is, most of these diploma courses offer work opportunities to these students because these schools double as professional photography outfits.
Diploma courses you apply for contain the art of photography, how to shoot the perfect picture, and how to use photography-related software like Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, Corel Draw, etc. With all these, you'll be on track to setting up your photography studio.
Creative Arts Degree
Nigerian institutions do not offer photography as a standalone course. The closest course to study for a photography hopeful is creative arts. Your creative arts degree usually takes between three and five years to complete, depending on the institution and your choice of study.
The advantage you'll get from studying creative arts is that you'll have access to seasoned professionals in art-related careers. Also, you have start-of-the-art equipment at your disposal to explore and learn their uses. Upon graduation, you can use your creative arts degree to begin your photography journey and start your business.
Job Prospects for Photographers
More often than not, photographers work for themselves. It means that there is ample time for photographers to gain enough experience that'll help them forge ahead in their career and secure jobs whenever they want to. As a photographer, you'll likely get job offers like covering events' shoots such as weddings, birthdays, dinners, corporate meetings, etc.
Furthermore, your services can be required for landscape photography, street photography, etc. Besides, you can choose to capture images, display them during art exhibitions, and sell them to interested parties. There are full-time jobs available for photographers too, and the income is dependent on your job description and the organisation.
Benefits of a Photography Career
Photography has numerous benefits attached to it, and they have made photography career lucrative for enthusiasts. For you to become a photographer, it means that you're passionate about your craft. Therefore, people involved in the craft will feel fulfilled doing what they love to do.
Also, photography unlocks opportunities. For a photographer who covers events, you'll meet people from different walks of life, and you can network. You can also provide real-time pictures on social networks to keep people posted. You can become society's go-to person for current happenings. This way, you're on your way to stardom.
Yes, there are disparities between an amateur and a professional photographer. Apart from the fact that a professional earns more, clients will rather entrust their projects in a professional than an amateur. It shouldn't discourage you, though. All you need to gain are skills and experience.