The routes to take to become a professional photographer

by Mark Bailey

With cameras on every device and easy access to editing software and online display platforms, it is easy to catch the photography bug these days -but what do you do when you realise you want to take this hobby further?

If you have been snapping away with exciting results and have received positive feedback from others, you may now be considering how to make your photographic pastime your future profession – so what are the routes to take to become a professional photographer?

While there is no set path that all professional photographers follow, there are a number of key elements that can help to prepare an amateur photographer for the world of work – building skills and confidence until you are ready to begin to charge people for your services.

Purchasing equipment and taking a photography course

One of the best ways to progress from amateur photography to a more focused practice of this visual art is by investing in both your photographic equipment and artistic education.

If you are planning on taking a photography class it is a good idea to see what the course equipment requirements are before you make any investment, so take the time to speak to the tutor in charge of the programme and see what they would recommend if you have not already purchased any professional grade equipment.

Photographers looking to grow their skillset can choose from a range of photography courses. With everything from weekend and evening photography classes to degrees in the visual arts on offer at the places like University of Bolton, art schools and many other UK educational establishments. Choose a photography course that suits the level of time and effort you are able to dedicate to this new career goal.

Courses in photography will help you to gain an understanding of a number of elements that are important to professional photographers. Composition and framing, lighting, shutter speeds, exposure and post production work – teaching you tricks of the trade that professional photographers use to achieve the amazing effects and results that we see displayed to us in the media every day.

Gaining experience as a professional photographer

While you are learning about the art and working towards photographic qualifications, you should also consider how you would go about gaining experience in your chosen field. Being able to demonstrate how you have used your talents in a professional setting is likely to give you an edge over competitors when it comes to landing professional gigs in the future.

Offering to work free as an intern or work experience is one good way to gain valuable experience as well as helping to add a range of shots to your portfolio. Contact local newspapers and offer your skills for free, offer up and coming local bands free photography at their gigs or even step up to capture the big day for friends who are getting married on a tight budget – but make it clear they you want to use some of the images as examples of your work in return for your efforts.

Alternatively, you may wish to contact a local photographer and offer to work in their studio in return for tips and advice on how to become a professional photographer – even the famous David Bailey started out as a general dogsbody in another photographer’s studio so, with dedication, who knows where this move could take you?

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