Careers in Photography

Careers in PhotographyPhotography is a unique and creative medium of self-expression. It is an art form requiring aesthetic sense as well as technical expertise. A hobby that can be made profitable by going professional by the talented.

With the explosion of the communication network, the growth of advertising and media and the fashion boom, and digital photography, it has now become a profession with great commercial value. Photos are an essential part in both print and electronic media. So this is an area offering great scope for those who have an interest and attributes needed to be a professional.

Being a creative medium, photography requires more of inherent talent for success than formal training. However training hones the inherent skills and help to shine in this competitive field with various specializations like portraiture, fashion and advertising photography, journalistic photography, wildlife and outdoors photography etc. Creating a commercial quality photograph requires the skill for choosing and presenting a subject in a way to achieve the maximum effect with the appropriate equipment. One should have a definite know how of the angle, lighting and the latest equipments and technology to make a name in the field.

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Educational: There are no specific academic requirements for full time courses in photography, however, candidates who have cleared the 10+2 exam are eligible for the diploma/certificate courses in photography. There are many students who learn photography along with their college degree, doing a part-time course. Besides the Certificate and Diploma courses in the field, Photography is also offered as an optional subject for a bachelor's degree in Fine arts. Some institutes offer full fledged B.A courses in photography of three year duration.

Besides the academic requirements, having a background in computers or electronics, related work experience and training is beneficial for making a break in the field.

Personal attributes: Successful photographers are creative individuals who can think and communicate in visual terms. They are able to interpret a client’s needs, translating their ideas into images that work. Thus photography basically requires a keen, observant eye, and an intelligent, curious and perceptive mind. A photographer must have full knowledge and command over the variety of cameras, lights and props, and all kinds of photographic techniques. They should have a sense of light and shade and the magic of colours. Photographer must have creativity, determination and good powers of observation. They must also have the ability to work quickly under pressure, in difficult conditions and irregular hours.

Job Prospects

One of the most exciting aspects of photography is the variety of jobs available in the field, ranging from highly specialized, technical work to jobs that require creativity and Visual literacy.

One can begin your career as an assistant of a senior or professional photographer, so that he/she can grasp the finer points of photography. Photographers can specialize in areas such as portrait, commercial and industrial, advertising, scientific, fashion, news, wildlife photography etc. They have the option to either take up jobs with news papers, magazines, advertising agencies, government agencies, industrial houses or work as free lancers. The government employs photographers on a regular pay scale to do general photography documentation, for covering day-to-day events and functions and for making photo features and captioning. Fashion photographers can find employment with fashion houses, designers, fashion journals and news papers.

Career Options

Press photographers are also known as photojournalists. Press photographers supply pictures to the national and local press, and must be versatile with an ability to photograph all kinds of subjects. They must have journalistic instincts, know what makes a good news picture, be able to write accurate captions, work well with reporters, be quick and often work under difficult conditions.

Feature photography essentially involves telling a story in pictures and therefore requires knowledge of the subject. Feature Photographers cover an entire theme or subject with a set of photographs. The work is varied, and leads to assignments at any time and in any place-photographing people at home, or life in foreign parts, or schools at work, anything that makes a story. Photographers specialise in the photography of wildlife, sports travel, environment etc. They may work with news reporters or work as free-lancers and take independent assignments on environment, wild life etc.

Editorial Photographers work normally for magazines and periodicals, nearly always as freelancers. The main task of an editorial photographer is to pictorially illustrate what is written in the article or report. Work can be varied, depending on the article or report, which needs illustration.

Commercial/ Industrial photographer takes pictures of merchandise, exteriors and interiors of factories, and machinery both indoors and outdoors to be used for company brochures, annual reports, and in advertising and selling. An industrial photographer's main emphasis is on taking pictures for a single company or firm. The main intention is to make the company's factory, machines or products look good.

Portrait / wedding photographers: They take pictures of individuals or small groups. Portrait subjects like pets, children, families, weddings, functions and activities of sports and social clubs. However, there is an increasing demand for portraits in the home, garden or workplace, especially in the case of children's portraits. Portrait photographers may work for a studio or be self-employed.

Advertising photographs are either taken by the photographic departments of advertising agencies, by photographic studios, or by freelance photographers. A large number of photographers do catalogue work, while some studios specialize in 'mail order' photography. This is the best paid and most competitive branch; success in this sphere depends entirely on ability, efficiency and the right personality. Advertising photographers are usually provided with instructions as to what exactly has to be photographed. However they are also expected to suggest their own ideas for new angles.

Fashion photography as a career developed recently in India. It is an extremely creative and well paid profession. Most fashion photography is done by specialist studios or freelancers who are commissioned by fashion houses or advertising agencies. They usually work under the direction of a fashion expert. The bulk of fashion photography is carried out in either Mumbai or Delhi and involves by highly sophisticated and well-equipped studios by freelancers who are commissioned by fashion houses of advertising agencies. They can also find employment with fashion houses, designers, fashion journals and news papers.

Fine arts photographers sell their photographs as fine artwork. In addition to technical proficiency, fine arts photographers need artistic talent and creativity.

Digital photography involves the use of a digital camera. The images are captured on a disk, floppy or directly on to the computer. In conventional methods of photography the images were captured on film which had to be processed and then scanned with the help of a scanner onto the computer for any further changes or effects that the image may need. Digital photography saves time and money that goes into scanning images. Digital photography is used largely in the media, as digital images can be stored easily and conveyed quickly over long distances.

Nature and Wildlife Photography involves taking photographs of animals, birds, plants and landscapes. While photos of rare species are in great demand, nature photographs are also widely used as pictures for calendars or covers. Romantic sunsets, flowers, trees, lakes and waterfalls, etc, all make interesting subjects for a nature photographer.

Forensic Photography: A crime scene must be photographed from every angle clearly to show detail, with the emphasis on accurately recording the size and distance of objects. They can find employment with law enforcement agencies, police, legal system and in the investigative services of the government and also private detective agencies.

Freelancing has been the most popular career choice among photographers. Photographers who want to be self-employed need to have business management skills. They must have good communication, problem solving skills, and be able to work independently. They can do freelancing in any of the above fields.


Photographers can start working as assistants to senior photographers, in which capacity they are paid around Rs. 3,500 - 6,000. Your earnings can go up to 25,000, depending upon the designation and the organisation likewise and maybe more once you have established yourself as a freelancer.