Photographers use their technical expertise, creativity, and composition skills to produce and preserve images that visually tell a story or record an event.

As a photographer you would use cameras to take still photographs. You would use your technical skills and artistic ideas to take images of people and products. You will also take pictures of places or events and you’ll also need to be able to make people feel relaxed.

Most professional photographers take a college or university course to develop their technical skills.

Today, most photographers use digital cameras instead of the traditional silver-halide film cameras. Digital cameras capture images electronically, so the photographer can edit the image on a computer. Images can be stored on portable memory devices, such as compact disks, memory cards, and flash drives. Once the raw image has been transferred to a computer, photographers can use processing software to crop or modify the image and enhance it through color correction and other specialized effects. Photographers who edit their own pictures use computers, high-quality printers, and editing software.

Photographers who work for commercial clients will often present finalized photographs in a digital format to the client. However, wedding and portrait photographers, who primarily serve noncommercial clients, often also provide framing services and present the photographs they capture in albums.

Many wedding and portrait photographers are self-employed and photographers who own and operate their own business have additional responsibilities. They must advertise, schedule appointments, set and adjust equipment, purchase supplies, keep records, bill customers, pay bills, and—if they have employees—hire, train, and direct their workers.

In addition, some photographers teach photography classes or conduct workshops in schools or in their own studios.

Photographers typically do the following:

  • discussing the project with the client, or receiving instructions from them (known as a brief)
  • choosing and getting locations ready for the photography session (the shoot)
  • selecting the right cameras, film and accessories
  • setting up lighting and equipment
  • composing and taking shots
  • checking image quality
  • retouching images - by hand or with digital software such as Photoshop
  • processing and printing photos
  • marketing and running your business if you are self-employed

In some cases you might employ an assistant to help a shoot run smoothly. Assistants set up equipment, prepare sets and props, look after clients, keep records and help with printing and administration.

Most professional photographers have taken a college or university course to develop their technical skills. Experience and personal contacts in the industry are also important for building a successful career.

There is a wide variety of full- and part-time photography courses at all levels, from beginner to advanced, which could help you to get into this career either as an assistant photographer or by meeting the entry requirements for a higher education course. These include:

  • Certificate/Diploma in Photography and Photo Imaging at Levels 2 and 3
  • Certificate/Diploma in Photography at Levels 2 and 3
  • Certificate/Diploma in Art and Design (photography option) at Levels 2 and 3

A working knowledge of digital software, such as Photoshop and Photoshop Lightroom, would also be useful. Training in these packages is offered by many colleges either as a standalone course or as part of a broader course like those listed above.

Higher education photography courses at foundation degree, HND and degree level are widely available, and you can choose to study aspects of the subject from fine art and documentary through to design and commercial.

To do a higher education course, you will usually need A levels in art, design or media, or a photography or art and design qualification at level 3. You will also need a portfolio of work to demonstrate what you can do and to show your potential.

Courses that offer industry contacts and work placements are especially useful. Some HNDs and degrees include the opportunity to apply for the British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP) Licentiateship qualification, and the Association of Photographers (AOP) has links with a number of affiliated colleges  Check with providers about course content and entry requirements.

CLICK HERE to watch industry professionals working in PHOTOGRAPHY talk about their jobs, experience and top tips!