Capturing that special moment… every photographer’s dream shot, right? But, without a doubt, it is a skill. Quality training in the field of photography is a must, because you may only get that one instant to capture the all-important right moment… it’s best to know what you’re doing. If you are serious about photography as a profession, perhaps you may be interested in what type of training is available to you.
A focus on photography may have sparked your interest as a child. What once was a process, such as having a roll of film developed, is easier than ever with the Smartphone technology that we all now carry around in our pockets today… we just snap the picture and go on about our business. But for a real photographer, just the casual shot from a phone for our Instagram page is simply not enough.
A true photographer is the creative type. They often photograph their subject as they experiment with light, camera angles, and just the right vibe; all things that the casual Smartphone camera user doesn’t give a second thought to. A true photographer is skilled in their craft and lives to get just the right shot!
Check out our quick “Jump-to” links to answer your questions:
- Will you make a good photographer?
- Is formal education required?
- What if I decide I need a Bachelor’s degree in Photography? Should I earn a BA in Art or BFA?
- What will I learn with a Bachelor’s in Photography?
- Where will a Master’s degree in Photography take me?
- Is an internship necessary?
- What areas of photography should I consider?
- What photography equipment will I need?
- Should I earn certifications to be a photographer?
- Are there other tips for learning photography?
- Top Online Schools for Photography Degree Programs
Will you make a good photographer?
So, not everyone is cut out to be a photographer. First and foremost, you must have a genuine interest in the field of photography. As most look at a photograph and think it’s nice or pretty… photographers are fixated on what the photo communicates to them. They focus on the logistics and how the shot makes others feel as well.
It goes without saying that a photographer must have knowledge about what they are doing. In some instances, you only have one chance to capture the moment, such as needed in action shots; however, depending on your expertise, such as still photography, you can adjust your subject accordingly. In whatever instances you have been hired to photograph, you must be creative and imaginative. Artistic ability is a must!
Unless your photography skills will be limited to inanimate objects, you typically will need to have a genuine interest in people, the important events in their lives, as well as the best way to capture them. Customer service skills are a must as you work closely with others to determine their vision, along with implementing your own ideas and expertise.
Being a photographer takes organization. You must also be detail-oriented. Before a shoot, you must have all of the equipment that one could possibly need available to you, and sometimes backups, just in case of a malfunction. You must have a dependable appointment system, as well as a good management system for notes, files, and bookkeeping.
Speaking of bookkeeping, as most photographers are self-employed, you must be a good office manager, too! It demands excellent business skills, as well as good computer skills to succeed. Computers are used for photo-editing and digital portfolios. You will be responsible for advertising and marketing your services, scheduling appointments with future clients, and scouting venues for photoshoots.
Can a grumpy photographer get the right shot? No way! Your excellent interpersonal skills and ability to work with others will be key to your success, no doubt. To get the desired shot, most people will react positively to your kindness and concern as you guide them in photographing precious moments that they will cherish forever!
Is formal education required?
Generally, depending on your end goals, formal education is not required to be a photographer; however, in some situations, employers will require a certificate or a bachelor’s degree. Self-employed photographers can work in a variety of fields, such as in the field of journalism, fine arts, or in the field of science.
Photographers are tasked with capturing images with quality cameras and editing the images using special software and, if you are truly serious about a career as a photographer, earning your online Bachelor’s degree in Photography will give you the most complete scope of training, while providing you with the credentials that will put you ahead of the competition.
At the associate degree level, you will learn about the importance of proper equipment and how to sharpen your technical ability. Your education, at this level, will help you get your foot in the door at a variety of positions to help you at the beginning of your career.
What if I decide I need a Bachelor’s degree in Photography? Should I earn a BA in Art or BFA?
If you would like to advance in your career, your online Bachelor’s degree in Photography will provide more opportunities upon graduation, as they typically provide training in both film and digital photography.
There are two common degree programs to consider:
- Bachelor of Arts in Art (BA in Art) degree
- Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree
The Bachelor of Arts degree program in Art is probably the most popular degree; however, it is not as intensive as the BFA degree program. Within a BA program, you may experience coursework in art, marketing, and in the foundations of business, and of course, you will have essential photography coursework. Coursework can include art and design history, art therapy, art criticism, along with gallery and museum studies. Your well-rounded degree will teach you how to market your business, too.
Through a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree program, you will earn the most prestigious degree in the visual arts through a large focus on photography. BFA programs, which consist of more photography credits, may also place an emphasis on drawing or painting.
What will I learn with a Bachelor’s in Photography?
Through both types of online Bachelor’s of Photography programs, you will be instructed on the technical aspects of using your camera, taking photos, in addition to the history of photography and photography theory. You will learn about photographic composition, digital photography, color, along with, black and white photography and studio photography. Students also learn how to master digital technology through lighting, angles and lenses to enhance photos, as well as how to properly store photographs. For graduation, students are expected to use their knowledge in required studio time to gain hands-on experience and to build a portfolio of their work.
Where will a Master’s degree in Photography take me?
At the Master’s degree level, you will gain an in-depth knowledge of art and will experience a more hands-on practice of photography, including all types of lighting to set up a photo shoot, how to create a mood and how to connect with your subject, how to integrate the element of surprise, as well as visualizing and creating backdrops to portray a story. Through the Master’s program you will learn how to be a true professional, personally and in business and will learn the importance of effective communication to translate the client’s thoughts into an interesting photograph.
Is an internship necessary?
How’s the best way to gain valuable experience? That’s right… a photography internship! As an ambitious photographer, you will benefit from internship opportunities that will help you focus on the type of photography you are interested in.
How’s the best way to locate an internship? In most communities or larger cities, established photography studios or self-employed photographers are readily available and are willing to share their love of photography with others. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself and offer your services in exchange for experience. If possible, show them some samples of your work, your educational credentials, as well as your enthusiasm for learning.
Are there other ways I can benefit from an internship? Absolutely! Internships provide a great way to chronicle your work. They also provide great networking opportunities.
Amateurs may want to volunteer their services at weddings or other events to gain valuable experience, all the while, building a portfolio of their work. In addition, joining a photography club will also help you develop skills and make valuable connections with like-minded individuals interested also in the field of photography.
What areas of photography should I consider?
If you are serious about a career in photography, you want to learn as much as possible, right? Whether you enroll in a certificate course or college degree program, you may eventually have to answer this question, and that would be “Which area of photography should I pursue?”
Quite naturally, most would elect to focus on a specialization that interests them the most. You will have several options, such as the following:
- Portrait Photography
- Fashion Photography
- Editorial Photography
- Commercial and Industrial Photographers
- Food Photography
- Still Life Photography
- Aerial Photography
- Sports Photography
- Fine Arts Photography
- Drone Photography
- Architectural Photography
- Scientific Photography
- Forensic Photography
- Landscape Photography
There are so many types of photography to focus on that you will never be bored or run out of subjects to photograph. For a solid foundation in photography, you can try your hand at several to see which ones interest you the most. If you can master several applications, you can instantly make yourself more marketable!
What photography equipment will I need?
The correct equipment makes the job easier. Before beginning your coursework, you should be prepared. By now, you probably have a preference in the brand name of camera you cater to; however, depending on your budget, you can certainly start with the basics and work your way up. Below is a small sampling of a few things to invest in:
- Quality Camera of your choice
- Lighting Equipment
- Various Lenses
- Camera Strap, Cleaning Kit and Bag
- Photography Editing Programs/Computer
Your photography program will let you know before you start what kind of equipment is best for their coursework, and in some cases, your program may have loaner equipment for you to borrow while enrolled.
Should I earn certifications to be a photographer?
As you think about trying to impress a future employer or client, what will look good on your resume? Without a doubt, earning certifications are very beneficial. They speak of your knowledge and dedication to the craft of photography. Although not a requirement, certifications (as many as you can earn) are a great way to showcase your talents.
Certifications are offered through:
- Professional Photographers of America
- For the Forensic Photographer, International Association for Identification
Are there other tips for learning photography?
Sure, there are many ways to sharpen your skills, such as:
- Buy a book on photography, preferably authored by someone you admire,
- At first, focus on photographing subjects that excite you the most,
- Watch YouTube online tutorial videos,
- Attend art shows,
- Join a photography discussion forum,
- Visit local artists and photographers,
- Set up a social media page for your photos; accept praise, as well as constructive criticism,
- Begin as a hobbyist and work your way into a professional career,
- Find a mentor,
- Enter photography contests,
- Learn to hone your editing skills,
- Set high career goals and construct a dream photography shoot list,
- Attend community workshops or community center art or photography classes,
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes; experiment every chance you get,
- Practice, Practice, Practice!
As you can see, you may begin your career in photography with a simple certification class from your community college or just by being self-taught; however, if you truly have a love for photography and intend to choose professional photography as a career choice, please consider a degree program to ensure your success. If you would like to learn more about photography, please see our list of the Top Online Schools for Photography Degree Programs.