Tag Archives: job

Capture Your Passion in a Paycheck: Promising Careers for Photographers

[tweetmeme]This guest article was written by Ellen Berry, a member of the BrainTrack writing staff. She writes about a variety of job and career related topics.

It’s hard to find photographers who aren’t passionate about what they do. Perhaps it is the boundless potential of what can be done with photography – and the images that it captures – that inspires such enduring interest. Used to create art, document details or tell a story, photography is both an artistic and scientific medium – unlike any other.

But there are so many ways that photography is used – in almost any industry and location – and it can be hard to choose which career or careers are best suited for you.

Careers in Photography

Now more than any time in history, images are used to make money. Trends in innovative design, documentation methods, diagnostic approaches, and Web-based services combine with technological advancements in camera equipment and image processing to create an ever-increasing demand for skilled photographers. Industries that rely on photographers to conduct business, and the careers within them, include:


My camera makes an ideal travel companion, and taking photos that I plan to sell allows me to write off expenses from my trip.

News / Publishing – still photography is used in combination with multimedia to record and present what is seen by the photographer

  • Editorial photography used to illustrate stories in magazines and books in print or online
  • Photojournalism for newspapers and news websites
  • Paparazzi candid photography of celebrities and newsworthy figures
  • Teaching photojournalism students

Fine Arts / Craftsmanship – producing original works of art using artistic techniques for display, production and sale

  • Fine arts photography for exhibition, commission and print sales of frameable art; includes still life, abstract, portrait, documentary, nature, botanical, and landscape
  • Crafts photography for creating pieces of art sold as crafts or used to create art pieces such as fashion accessories, tableware, giftware, etc.
  • Teaching of artistic techniques and use of camera equipment

Learning graphic design changed the way I take photos – now more than just to capture an image, photography allows me to create the foundation for a final product.

Scientific – used in scientific research and applied sciences, business, military, and the arts

  • Medical photography for keeping medical records, publishing journal articles, and diagnostic purposes
  • Forensic photography to aid in investigations and courtroom cases by accurately reproducing a scene of a crime or accident; black and white, infrared, and spectroscopy may be used
  • Astrophotography to record astronomical objects and large areas of sky and space
  • Aerial and satellite photography for use in the archaeological, geophysical, and cartographic sciences
  • Stereophotogrammetry used in archeology to combine photos to create mosaics which document and reproduce large areas. Equipment uses satellite GPS technology to map specified areas
  • Geologic photography for surveying, mapping, and documenting rocks, minerals, and formations
  • Photomacrography and photomicrography for capturing magnified images through lenses or microscopes
  • Infrared, ultraviolet, fluorescence, and high-speed photography, and thermography for capturing unseen scientific elements or processes
  • Industrial photography for documenting equipment, production processes, work organization, employees, products, and layout for administrative or industrial relations use
  • Teaching scientific photography techniques and use of camera equipment

I try to keep things simple by taking pictures of my jewelry on my kitchen table using household knick knacks and natural lighting.

Commercial / Industrial – used to create images (as compared to works of art) for sale

  • Stock photography for creating collections of photos sold in catalogs or online that are purchased for use in brochures, websites, magazines, posters, etc.
  • Advertising photography for illustrating and presenting products; used by marketing departments and ad agencies
  • Fashion and glamour photography for taking pictures of clothing designs or products presented by models, or the models themselves
  • Restaurant / food photography for use in packaging, advertising, magazines, and websites
  • Real estate photography presenting the structure and decor of commercial buildings and private homes for sale or rent; includes 360 degree panoramas
  • Event photography for ceremonies, parties, conferences, and promoted events
  • Studio / portrait photography for families and individuals, pets, school pictures, and headshots for performers
  • Teaching of commercial photography techniques and use of camera equipment

Underwater photography is used in many of these industries, and uses special equipment to capture images that cannot be captured by standard camera equipment.

Choosing a Photography Career

Most careers in photography require a combination of creativity, knowledge of specialized photographic equipment, specific knowledge of the relevant industry, a keen eye, patience, and the ability to travel frequently and carry equipment. Some jobs in dangerous situations require courage and risk. Many photographers are self-employed (so business training is essential) and expected to own their own equipment. Additional considerations when choosing a photography career include:

  1. Building a portfolio

    Even before you know what industries or kinds of photography interest you, start taking photos. In every aspect of your life, look for ways that you can try different camera equipment, take photos of different subjects, experiment with techniques, and create pieces for your portfolio. Challenge yourself to tell stories with images, capture telling moments, make objects look aesthetically irresistible, and portray commonplace things in uncommon ways. Nothing is more important in photography than being able to demonstrate your talent and skill.

  2. Exploring careers

    Start with an assessment of your current interests and skills – perhaps with the use of career tests and books, or career counseling. Consider which industries (like real estate or news) elicit a deep interest in you and offer lots of areas for discovery, and then become familiar with the details of the various kinds of photography careers relevant to those industries. Research blogs and websites about different kinds of photographers and their careers. Find successful photographers and ask if you can shadow them on the job, or apprentice with them, to get practical experience. Check out the many professional associations for different fields of photography. Be sure to include the creative, technical, and business sides of photography in your exploration.


  3. When taking stock photo images, I try to think of all the ways the image might be used – by graphic designers or administrative assistants in specific industries for use on websites, in brochures or presentations, etc.

    Identifying complementary careers

    Once you’ve identified three primary areas of interest, consider how you can combine them. By developing skills and knowledge in complementary areas, you create a unique skillset that distinguishes you from the competition, and establishes a wide foundation for career growth and stability. For example, knowing how to use Adobe Photoshop and other post-processing programs, scanners, and graphic design techniques can infinitely enhance your skills and hireability. Adding formal training in marketing, business, science, food photography, or fashion are examples of ways to further increase your earning potential.

  4. Personal branding

    As early as possible, begin to consider yourself as a marketable commodity when it comes to your career. Consider becoming self-employed (even if you are working or in school full time) as soon as you’ve identified your career path, since becoming a sole-proprietor is easy, usually free or low cost, and can provide tax benefits and support your business learning. Keep in mind that your presence online, in addition to in-person, reflects your personal brand so be sure to put your best foot forward when networking and interacting through social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

  5. Gaining skills

    Having identified a career path that appeals to you enough to warrant formal training, compare different options for learning. Photography programs are readily available through four-year colleges and vocational schools, both on-campus and online. College degree programs for photographers are usually in the fine arts, and can vary in length from two to six years. Any program should be accredited through the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or the United States Department of Education (USDE).

Ellen Berry is a member of BrainTrack’s writing staff, and contributes regularly to BrainTrack’s Career Planning Guide, which features additional articles about developing career goals, matching passions with careers, and job searching.

Join Me in Welcoming Randy to the Team

It’s official… Epic Edits is now a multi-person effort! Last week, I put out a “now hiring” post for an ad manager position, and that position has been filled.

Randy is our new… Ad Manager… Advertising Salesperson… um… VP of Revenue Generation? Whatever we label him, Randy will be handling all of the advertiser accounts and direct revenue generation for the site. He’s been running his own business for many years and I’m confident that he can hold down the fort on the financial side of things. He’s also a fellow photography enthusiast and regular reader of Epic Edits, so I’m stoked to have a partner who knows the lay of the land.

This new development should give me a little extra free time for writing while providing a higher level of income (aka motivation). I have high hopes, so we’ll see how things pan out in the near future. Who knows, if the site starts doing well enough, I may be able to bring on an additional paid writer so you guys have more stuff to read. In the meantime, Randy needs an official title…

WHAT JOB TITLE SHALL WE GIVE RANDY?

I’m kind of partial to a “VP” designation just because it sounds cool, but let’s hear some ideas from you guys. And be sure to say hi to Randy and welcome him to the team!

Now Hiring: Ad Manager

I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, and I’m hoping some of you will be interested in helping out with the blog while earning some extra cash for yourself.

I’ve been running direct ad banners here on the site for a while, but all the spots have never been filled at the same time. I don’t have the time or energy to keep on top of things, so I’m looking for somebody else to manage advertisers and ad banners. I’m hoping this will make the site more profitable while freeing up some time for me to focus more on creating content.

JOB DESCRIPTION

Here are the basics of what I’m looking for and what I’m offering in return.

  • Manage direct advertising accounts for banner placement on Epic Edits. This includes communicating with advertisers and placing their banner orders and line items in Google Ad Manager. I will take care of invoicing and approving orders.
  • Seek out new advertising partners relevant to photographers.
  • Announce new partnerships with a short blog post.
  • “Thank the Sponsors” once per month with a short blog post.
  • Pay will be 30% commission via PayPal upon receipt of funds from advertiser. Willing to negotiate commission if justified with experience. You will also be free to price banners as you see fit.

APPLICANT REQUIREMENTS

  • Must be able to communicate with prospective and current partners (epicedits.com email address will be provided to do so).
  • Some experience required — applicant should understand how direct advertising works and have a grasp of common terms used in communicating.
  • Must know how to use Google Analytics.

BONUS POINTS

  • Working knowledge of Google Ad Manager will be a big plus. It’s pretty simple, but it takes some time to learn it well.
  • Basic knowledge of using WordPress to post short announcements, but I’ll be proofing the posts before publishing them.
  • Photography background, either as a personal hobby or as an ad manager for a photography website.

HERE’S HOW THIS WILL WORK

Upon hire, you’ll be given an email address to work from, access to my Google Analytics stats, and access to my Google Ad Manager as a “salesperson”. I’ll also give you the run down on how I’ve been pricing banners, the terms and conditions for advertisers, how the ads are sold, and previous advertiser contacts.

Once you get an advertiser that wants to partner with us, you can load up the orders, line items, and creatives. You’ll notify me of the pending order, I’ll send the invoice, approve the order once the invoice has been paid, and transfer you the commission. If this is a new partner, you’ll need to run a quick post that welcomes them and describes their company/product/service.

It’s all pretty basic, and if you have ideas on how to do things differently, I’m open to discussing it. Just remember, this is for direct ad sales — no ad networks, no AdSense, no affiliate programs, etc. I’m looking for one person to manage this whole thing and I would expect that it requires approximately 15 to 20 hours of your time per month.

APPLY NOW

If you’re interested in this position, contact me with your experience and qualifications. I’ll review the applicants as they come in, and I’ll make a decision in about a week from now.

[UPDATE 01/25/2010] The spot has been filled — check it out.

Build Your Portfolio With Local Gigs

Love triangle
Creative Commons License photo credit: Pensiero

As a short extension to Christine Howell’s guest post, How to Become a Sports Photographer, I’d like to rehash a very important point she made. As she was talking about the importance of gaining experience, she stated “… you will be better off on the sidelines of your local high school baseball game than in the stands at the World Series.

But this concept of working local gigs to build a portfolio and work your way up is applicable to just about any type of assignment photography (and other types of paid photography). Here are just a few examples of using local and amateur events/jobs to get some experience.

SPORTS – As Christine mentioned, start shooting local games just for the experience. There are all sorts of local leagues just about everywhere you go.

CONCERTS – Similar to sporting events, there are a lot of local concerts and shows in most cities and urban areas. A show might cost you $10 or $15 to get into, but you’ll probably be able to get shots from any spot you choose (just make sure the venue is cool with cameras).

WEDDINGS – If you want to get into wedding photography, start off by hooking up with a wedding photographer and tagging along on a couple jobs as a backup photographer. As your comfort level rises, start taking on lower-budget weddings and working your way up as you become more sought after.

FINE ART – Start participating in local art shows, fairs, and contests. The most important thing is to get your work in front of people’s eyes, and you’ll be familiarizing yourself with the standards of the industry at the same time.

And as a comment in Christine’s article, Kevin Winzeler gave a great piece of advice for becoming a better sports photographer: “… getting experience in the sport you’re shooting; even at a small level.” Absolutely! This applies to other sides of photography too — shoot the things you enjoy doing yourself and it will show in your photos.

What are some other photography examples of working your way up from local/amateur to global/professional? (I suppose this applies to just about everything in photography, but let’s share some specific examples)