Become a Professional Photographer|Turn Your Photography Hobby into a Career

Turn Your Photography Hobby into a Career

Are you the one who's never in the picture, because you're always behind the camera? Improved technology and the falling prices of digital camera equipment have created an explosion in the number of amateur photographers in the U.S., and the Internet has made it easier than ever to share your pictures with others. It has also created major changes in the professional photography industry, making this a time of unprecedented opportunity for shutterbugs who want to turn their hobby into a career.

Photography Classes
At a glance, a career in photography seems simple: you take the pictures, you sell the pictures. In fact, most photographers actually spend relatively little time behind the camera. In an industry where half of the workforce is self-employed, the ability to market yourself and find new clients is every bit as important as the ability to take a pretty picture. And there's a good bit of technical knowledge that separates the amateurs from the pros.

Most salaried photography positions require some career training. Many colleges, and most art and design schools, offer photography classes. This is a good way to pick up the less intuitive technical aspects of photography, and learn about composition, framing, lighting, and other visual aspects that separate a good picture from a great one.

Many schools also offer classes on film processing and making prints from negatives. This is a vanishing skill that will remain valuable, particularly for higher end portrait and fine art photographers who make large prints of their work and benefit from film's higher resolution. Depending on your particular interest, you might also want to consider taking journalism, business, and marketing courses to enhance your chances of success.

Picture Yourself as a Photographer
Photography is a competitive field, but there are lots of ways to get your foot in the door. Experienced photographers often hire assistants, which is an excellent way to learn both the technical and business sides of the field. Many newspapers and magazines also offer internships, which can help you land that critical first job.

More recently, freelancers have begun shooting events on spec, then posting the pictures on a Web site and allowing people to order prints online. Whichever route you choose, it is vital that you have an impressive portfolio. Fortunately, digital cameras and the Internet have made it easier than ever to compile a portfolio and post it online. Maintaining and updating on online portfolio is also good preparation for the work you'll face as a photographer when you're not behind the camera.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, photographers earned an average of $31,830 in 2006. Photographers working in the media and publishing industry fared better, earning $37,800 on average.

If you love taking pictures, there has never been a better time to turn that passion into a career.

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