Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Click the way to success!

Are you one of those people who are known for always snapping pictures at the parties, hangouts, or who enjoys capturing various shades of life through a lens? A creative eye with visual imagination is the basic trait required in a photographer. Do you think you have that quality in you? If yes, then what’s stopping you from a career that has your interest inculcated in it as well as decent money?

Since the invention of the photography, those working in the medium have made an impact on society, offering a way to document anything imaginable, from everyday life to moments in history to the marvels of science and medicine. A wide variety of career paths are open to photographers. But the competition here is high too.
To succeed as a professional photographer, you’ll need sharp technical skills, innate creativity, imagination, and the ability to stay on top of new technologies. You'll also need to understand the culture, common practices, and requirements of your area of specialization.

The main areas of specialization for professional photographers are:

  • Architectural
  • Commercial
  • Editorial
  • Fashion
  • Fine Art
  • Movie Still
  • Nature/Environmental
  • Medical/Scientific
  • Photo Journalism
  • Underwater/Marine
  • Sports
  • Wedding/Portrait

Architectural - Architectural photographers are among the most technically skilled of all photographers. Knowledge of the view camera and a thorough understanding of lighting, exposure, and film and digital imaging are requirements to excel at this profession. You’ll also need a superb portfolio, knowledge of architecture and interior design, and the ability to work on location. Consider working as an assistant to a successful architectural photographer to learn the tools of this trade.

Commercial - Commercial photographers usually specialize in advertising and corporate assignments. Subjects may range from common consumer products to elaborate scenes with models to industrial sites. The commercial photographer must understand lighting, film, and digital and analog cameras, and must have the ability to multitask and work well with clients and models in the studio and on location.

Editorial - Editorial outlets abound for photographers, from local newspapers to glossy magazines with huge circulations. Editorial photographers work on story assignments, usually pairing with the writer of the story.  You may travel with the writer, or independently.  Editorial photographers work on human interest, culinary, travel, and all general interest stories. They travel to unusual places and need to be ready for anything, sometimes working for long periods of time away from their home base. A good portfolio, an interest in culture and current events, patience, and the ability to work as a team player are requirements to make it as an editorial photographer.

Fashion - Photography is one of the most important elements of the fashion world. Who better to show off a new design or clothing line than a talented photographer? Fashion photography is hard work, requiring a lot of international travel and long hours. Sounds good to you? Having an excellent portfolio is important for getting an assignment. You’ll need a distinct style and the ability to imbue your photographs with it to make it as a fashion photographer. Consider working with a photo agency to promote your talents and get your work seen. 

Fine Art - Fine art photographers generally present their photographic images as finished prints for sale. Fine art photography ranges from images of landscapes to surrealistic patterns to everything in between. The artist generally sells his or her work through local or online galleries, at art shows, and from their own studios and websites.  Successful fine art photographers also use reps to promote their work.

Medical/Scientific - Photographers that work in the medical or scientific communities work in research labs, hospitals, and healthcare facilities—and in the field.  They use tools such as cameras, microscopes, video cameras, and specialized equipment designed to capture biomedical images. Specialties include ophthalmic photography, forensic biomedical photography, photomicrography, and dental photography. Since medical photographers frequently work with patients, physicians, and researchers, good people skills are necessary.

Movie Stills - Movie still photographers, work on movie sets, capturing both behind-the-scenes images and photos of the scenes being shot. These images are used for movie promotion, record shots, and other applications. The best way to get into photographing movie stills is to have an outstanding portfolio showing people and their interaction, along with a great personality and the ability to be flexible in your work habits. Think about volunteering to learn the business.

Nature/Environmental - The nature or environmental photographer usually works on location, and may work in conjunction with a researcher, newspaper, or magazine. Knowledge of the natural world is a must for photographers choosing this path, and can include a background in zoology, botany, or other earth and natural sciences. Great patience is required, as well as a love for travel.

Photojournalism - Photojournalists make many of the photographs you see on a daily basis in newspapers, in magazines, and on news and current-events websites. This career can be a rewarding one, and it requires not only photography skills, but also the negotiating skills, knowledge of different cultures, and physical and mental strength. Photojournalists frequently travel and may be away for extended periods of time covering conflicts or working on assignments. The National Press Photographers Association has a national mentoring program for students, which offers an excellent way to work and learn from a professional photojournalist.

Sports - The sports photographer records sporting events as they happen, and must have lightning-fast reflexes, superb timing, knowledge of the sport, and great technical skill with a variety of cameras. Some sports photographers specialize in only one sport, while others photograph many different sports. They travel extensively, work nights and weekends, and typically endure extremes of weather. Sports photographers generally own their camera gear, and work for several magazines or newspapers.

Underwater/Marine - The underwater photographer not only needs excellent technical skills in photography but also must be certified as a diver who can work comfortably in a marine environment. Diving, swimming, and underwater safety skills, combined with a thorough knowledge of marine life, the ocean, and boating, are requirements for this career. Underwater photographers often shoot images for stock photography.

Wedding/Portrait - The wedding or portrait photographer usually works out of a studio, but frequently shoots on location with clients. Capturing the big day for a bride and groom is a daunting responsibility. Wedding photographers need top-notch equipment and the technical knowledge to make it work. Photojournalistic wedding photography has become quite popular, and this is an area you may choose to specialize in. Making portraits of people and families requires great patience, as well as creative flair.

You should and understand that being a successful professional photographer requires a lot of hard work, dedication, and a little bit of luck. The advice I hear most often is don’t bother trying, do it as a hobby. But everyone has a camera these days, and almost anyone can take a solid photo. Put almost any DSLR on auto and point it at something interesting and you’ll probably have a pretty good photo. How do you compete with a million people doing that, especially the ones calling themselves a professional photographer?

Being a professional photographer is really about three things – being very professional, working hard every day, and offering something unique.

Follow these steps if you are serious about your career in photography:

1.      Follow good business practices: Have a professional logo, website, etc.

2.      Actively market yourself

3.      Stop trying to please everyone: Master in only 1-2 areas of specialization.

4.      Click everyday: Practice makes a photographer perfect!

5.      Make sure you have a Plan B: Always keep back-ups of all your pictures.

6.      Be humble, not arrogant: Your photograph might be perfect but you have to re-click if your client wants that!

7.      Call yourself a photographer: Take pride in your skill.

I understand that as an artist you probably detest the thought of having to run a business. Marketing and promoting yourself makes you want to puke. And acting professional when you just want to create art makes your head hurt. I don’t know many artists who enjoy this stuff. But guess what? All the successful ones do it anyway.

Like any successful business, being a professional photographer will require you to spend as much time on the business side of things as the artistic.

Do you act like a professional? Are you working your ass off? Are you differentiating yourself from other photographers?
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