Professional photography is an attractive career option for anyone interested in the creative arts. As well as being a way to make a living doing something you love, average salaries for professional photographers mean it can be rewarding financially. Ultimately you may choose to start your own photography business once you have experience in the industry.
There are different paths you can take to a career in photography, but most require some form of formal training and qualification. A foundation course will give you a good understanding of the technical aspects of digital cameras, lenses and other photographic equipment. Once you decide on the field of photography in which you’d like to work, then you can consider more specific training and qualifications.
Some of the most popular careers for professional camera operators include the following.
1) Wedding photographer
There is a high demand for professional wedding photography, and you can rely on a constant supply of work once you’ve established yourself. Digital cameras have revolutionized the way wedding photographers work, but the core skill requirements remain the same. As well as technical camera skills, you need excellent organizational and people skills to shoot weddings professionally. Working as an assistant to another professional is a great way to break into the niche, and it gives you practical experience to build your confidence.
2) Sports photographer
Professional sports photographers shoot everything from athletics to motor racing, and it’s an exciting field to work in if you’re interested in sports. Some work for newspapers and magazines, but many others work on a freelance basis. Shooting stock pictures of games and events to sell through agencies is another way to make a living in this field. Telephoto lenses and high-end digital SLR cameras are the standard tools of a sports photographer.
3) Travel photographer
Working as a professional travel photographer is a dream job for many people. Visiting exotic locations, meeting new people, and shooting stunning scenery has a distinct appeal. It’s not all glamorous, however, and professional travel photographers work long hours and have to be prepared to spend weeks away from home. There can also be risks involved, as you may have to travel to hostile regions or areas where access to medical care is limited. If you develop a reputation as a travel photographer, there are opportunities to have books published.
4) Aerial photographer
Aerial photography was a highly specialized and expensive field, but that all changed a few years ago with the development of drones. Originally used by the military, drones have replaced helicopters and driven massive growth in aerial photography. As well as capturing views a camera on the ground can’t see, you can use drone technology for aerial surveys and other commercial applications. The Aviation Administration regulates commercial use of drones in the US and issues licenses to those who work as an aerial photographer.
5) Newborn baby photographer
Babies have always been a favorite subject for portrait photographers. New parents are keen to have pictures of their offspring to share with family and look back on in years to come. Many photographers are now specializing in newborn portraits, photographing babies within days of birth. Working with newborns requires specialized training, but it can be a lucrative career option for a professional photographer.
A career in photography can take you in many different directions, and the industry is evolving as technology improves. Formal training is the first step, and it can set you up for life if you’re determined to make a living as a camera operator.
About the Author
Hi there, I'm Kush Sharma, the founder of Creative Pad Media, an organization dedicated to simplifying photography and videography education.
We have over 40 online courses that cover various genres in photography & videography, catering to both beginners as well as professionals. These courses are available via Udemy.com. Our courses have been downloaded in over 170 countries.
I hope to see you inside a course very soon!