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Useful Career Advice For Young Photographers

Northumbria University has put some tips together for budding photographers who are thinking of turning their hobby into a career.

|  General Photography
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Northumbria University wants to help its students, and anyone else for that matter, who's trying to decide if a career in photography is for them by providing a basic overview as to what's required and what you can expect in terms of a wage. 


Pick A Photography Genre 

To start, the University suggests you pick an area of photography you'd like to specialise in which is a rather good suggestion as honing your skills in one specific area can be easier than trying to learn a multitude of things that fit various genres. The University has listed the following 14 genres of photography you could explore a career in, all of which you'll find excellent examples of over in our gallery

  1. Fashion
  2. Corporate
  3. Wildlife/pet photography
  4. Fine art
  5. Micro photographer
  6. Family/baby photographer
  7. Advertising
  8. Editorial
  9. Portrait photographer 
  10. Event: weddings, parties etc.
  11. Sports
  12. Photojournalist
  13. Food photographer
  14. Crime scene/forensic photographer




Skills, Qualifications & Experiences 

You, obviously, need a good understanding of cameras and other photography equipment. Plus, knowing how to use editing software as well as having knowledge on what products you can offer people is also essential. You'll also need a good business head on you and a good grasp of marketing, social media and the online world, in general, will help you on your chosen career path. 

Even though these points are important, your ability to get the most out of people and good teamwork skills are two things you really don't want to be without. You also need to be comfortable and confident working on your own as for quite a bit of time, that's the way it might be. 

To help you acquire the practical skills needed for your career, you can undertake an under- or postgraduate degree in photography but you still need experience in photography and an impressive portfolio to back it all up. 

Work experience is a great way to learn the ropes from someone already working in the industry so don't be afraid to approach local photographers you admire and ask if you can shadow them or help out in their studio. Hands-on experience is essential, so when you approach them, make it clear how enthusiastic you are and how ready you are to learn.

You also need a portfolio that’s relevant to your specialist area, current and attractive. Make sure you have a hard copy of your portfolio, so you can take it with you to interviews and talk through the thought processes behind your decisions. It’s also handy having a digital version that's saved online so you can send potential employers links to your work.


Photo shoot


Salary Expectations & Working Hours 

According to the payscale website, salaries range from £14,000 - £50,000 with an average salary sitting around £20,010. You've also got to be prepared to work a variable week and this includes unsociable hours. Your hours and place of work will vary, you could be in a studio one day and out on location the next, and the job, even though it can be fun, can also be rather physically demanding. 


Looking at prints


Day-To-Day Duties

These, of course, aren't set in stone but they give you a rough idea of what to expect if you go into a photography-based career or indeed if you plan on doing some work experience with an established photographer.  

  • Working with clients to determine what photos they need and how they want to use them.
  • Finding locations, setting up shoots and organising other people who will be helping out. For example, make-up artists. 
  • Setting up lighting and other equipment that's needed.
  • Considering the composition and qualities of the photos you take based on client feedback and your experience. 
  • Image editing and processing. 
  • Presenting and printing photographs.
  • Creating finished products for sale such framed prints and albums.
  • Marketing and social media interaction to promote the business. 
  • Essential business activities (paying bills, tax returns etc.)

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