There are no set educational qualifications for becoming a photographer. A photography or related degree is often required for entry-level positions in photojournalism, advertising, scientific photography, or industrial photography. Even freelance and portrait photographers may need at least a photography certification to help prove their credentials. Levels of education range from certification programs lasting days to months to two-year associates degrees and four-year bachelors degrees. Advanced degree programs are also available, but uncommon. Degree and training programs will often cover subjects such as use of photography equipment, photo processing, and photography techniques. Programs through an art or design school may focus more on the design and composition aspects of photography. Bachelors degrees will include courses on business skills, important to those looking to be their own boss.
Along with an extensive technical understanding of photography, photographers must have a wealth of creativity and imagination. Successful photographers are generally patient, detail-oriented, and dedicated to getting a photo just right. Most photography work now involves the use of computer software, so you should be comfortable working with computers and familiar with photo-editing software programs. Photographers also need to be able to work well with others. You'll often be dealing directly with clients, designers, advertisers, and publishers.
Experience is extremely important for aspiring photographers. Your portfolio will make all the difference when it comes time to starting looking for a job. A strong portfolio can be built up while in still school or through freelance work or apprenticeship. A number of photographers use an apprenticeship as a way to gain valuable work experience. As an apprentice, you will work with an experienced professional who can teach you the skills you'll need to be successful in the field.
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