Recommended Training and Education for Aspiring Photographers
There’s more to becoming a professional photographer than simply picking up a camera and snapping shots or playing with the filtering apps on your iPhone. You not only have to know how to work all sorts of photography equipment and develop negatives, but these days you must also understand the role digital photography plays and become adept at manipulating digital images (i.e. Photoshop). And of course, there is composition, color, and other artistic elements to be aware of. In short, mastering the art and science of photography is not something you’re going to do overnight. It will require education, whether that means attending a collegiate program or apprenticing under a skilled professional (although ideally, it should include both forms of training). So if you’re serious about turning your time behind the shutter into a career, here are a few steps you’ll probably want to take in order to reach your professional goals.
In truth, all you probably need in order to get behind the lens is a high school education. Most photo studios will hire and train you without any skill or higher education whatsoever. But if you really want to turn photography into a lifelong, professional pursuit, this probably isn’t the best way to go. Or to put it more succinctly, you should take further steps. Becoming an assistant at a photography studio isn’t the worst place to start, although the chances that you’ll get an in-depth introduction to the art form are pretty slim. Still, it’s not a bad way to earn a few bucks while you’re in college, and you’ll learn your way around a typical photo studio, picking up skills such as framing in a tight space and basic photo editing, for example.
However, you’re not likely to win the Pulitzer Prize or become a top fashion photographer with the tricks you pick up at a Sears photo studio. Luckily, there are all kinds of college degree programs and even special schools for people interested in turning photography into a career. For example, many colleges and universities offer programs in photojournalism, while a variety of notable art institutes can offer you the opportunity to pursue a variety of potential career paths in the field of photography. All of these programs should give you the basic artistic sensibilities to begin seeing the world through a virtual lens at all times and the technical knowledge and skills to utilize the equipment and processes at your disposal as a photographer.
But honing your skills and developing your own sense of artistic style will take time, and your best option is to follow your time in school with instruction under a professional mentor. Not only will you have the opportunity to work in a professional, real-world setting, but you’ll learn tricks and techniques that won’t likely be offered in class. Although there are plenty of good colleges for photography, no classroom is going to be as good at helping you to develop your aesthetic as actual experience in the field. So if you truly aspire to become a great photographer, and not just for fun, but as a way to earn a living, you’ll want to do your time in school, as well as train under a pro. Both will give you the best chance to realize your dream of getting paid to take pictures.