Skills Necessary for a Career in Photography

So you’d like to become a professional photographer! I’m guessing you’re either an amateur shooter who has suddenly decided to try and make a career out of your passion or just another person looking for a job that earns you a decent living. Either way, the skills you require to take photographs on a professional basis are the same; the only difference is that if you’re an avid photographer, you probably have a head start in the skill acquisition department. If you’re serious about photography as a career option:

  • Find out if you have a creative streak: No matter what people say about creativity and how it can be taught, in my book, there’s only one rule – you either have it or you don’t. Creativity is something that your genes and environment endows you with, something that can be nurtured and nourished but never taught. So if you’re creative, if you have an eye for art or an artistic temperament, photography is a good career option.
  • Get to know your equipment: It’s a rule that’s common to any kind of work – it’s important to be armed with all the information about and know intimately the tools of your trade. As an aspiring photographer, it’s your first task to get to know how cameras work, what kinds of cameras there are out there, and the right kind of equipment for different kinds of assignments. You also need to learn about the various kinds of lenses and how they’re changed according to the shot. Besides this, there are various other aspects of photography like shutter speed, format (like JPEG and RAW) and others that you need to master if you want to be exceptionally good at what you do.
  • Learn to read the light: Good photography is mostly about light and the way it falls on your subject. Whether you’re shooting in natural light or using artificial sources, you need to know the kind of arrangements that will fetch you the kind of look you’re aspiring for. Learning the tricks of lighting is a skill that comes with experience and experimentation.
  • Know how to develop/process and print photographs: It’s not enough that you know how to focus the camera and complete the shot – you also need to learn how to develop and print the photographs on paper. An essential part of the printing process is the processing part of the exercise – you use software to edit the photographs and gain the exact look you want, and this means that you need to be technologically savvy to be a skilled photographer.

Other skills that are relevant to this career option are specific to the specialty you choose – if you’re a portrait photographer, you need to be good at interacting with people and making them feel comfortable around you; if you’re a photojournalist, you need to have a nose that can sniff out a good news story as well; if you’re into snapping children, you need to know how to handle their myriad moods; if you’re a wildlife photographer, you need oodles of patience and persistence, and so on. The key to success is to identify your strengths and play, or should I say click, to them.