Photography Schools & Careers

By Dee Dee Donato

  • Overview

    The photography industry is a field that provides a little variety, allowing you to spend a little time photographing people, objects or nature, and then a little time on the computer working with those images. Getting into this field is quite competitive and requires a lot of hard work, skills and sometimes education. To obtain the upper hand over the competition there are plenty of photography schools to study at with professional photographers teaching the classes.
  • Types of Photography Schools

    There are many photography schools that require meeting in classrooms, face-to-face with a student's professor and fellow classmates. Due to helpful technology, there are also online photography schools that allow students to take all their lessons online and upload their assignments to the school's website to be critiqued. Based on the nature of the field, it's probably more beneficial for photography students to attend schools with actual campuses to get the benefit of interaction and feedback from others concerning their art.
  • Noteworthy Photography Schools

    Many colleges and universities offer programs that can eventually lead to a career in photography. Even community colleges have several options that may be good, particularly for those who have financial restrictions. However, a student can really excel at these schools scattered throughout the country: Brooks Institute, located in Santa Barbara, California, offers Bachelors and Masters programs with disciplines in Advertising, Portrait, Graphic Design, Visual Journalism, Film, and more. The Center for Digital Imaging Arts at Boston University has programs in Digital Filmmaking, Graphic & Interactive Design, and 3D Animation. The New York Institute of Photography is known as the world's largest photography school. With courses in Professional Photography, Digital Photography: Photoshop for Photographers, and NYI Short Course: Fundamentals of Digital Photography, students can experience at-home study while being trained by professional photographers.


  • Courses

    Courses vary from school to school. The following is a selection of the most popular courses found in a photography program. Digital photography teaches the basics of a digital camera, photo editing and enhancing, photo archiving, and how to take professional photographs. Lighting courses teach students what type and how much lighting is needed for the subject they are photographing. Other photo courses including black and white photography, photo journalism, use of equipment, nature and portrait photography. Other more specific courses may be required depending on field of study. For example, a student interested in fashion photography may be required to take a course on shooting live moving subjects.
  • Photography Careers

    This highly competitive field offers many career options. Newspapers, magazines and online news sources are in need of photographers to take photos that correspond with their news stories. Advertising agencies hire photographers to capture images for their ad campaigns. Photography studios go to the client's location (such as schools) or take portraits in their studios. Freelance photographers partner with government agencies or commercial businesses to meet whatever photographic needs come up. Some even take photos at weddings and other life happenings. Catalogs companies need photographers to take shots of their products.
  • Job Qualifications

    Although it's not always required, a good education with a Bachelor's degree at minimum is always helpful. Other necessary characteristics of a good photographer include an attention for detail, top-notch equipment, perseverance and physical stamina. Creativity is of the utmost importance, as is patience to deal with clients, and an outgoing personality to interact with subjects. A shy photographer may have a tough time getting a shot and may not be comfortable leading a photo shoot. Since most projects are digital, a good photographer must have the latest computer skills to manipulate photographs using various software programs. A freelance photographer may also need good business skills to keep track of appointments and financial records.
  • Salary

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, photographers can make between $23,000 for beginners and $54,000 a year for those more experienced. The industry a photographer works in dictates what her earnings will be. A small-town newspaper with a limited budget will pay a lot less than an advertising agency in a big city. Freelance photographers' salaries vary as well. The more work they are willing to take on, the more money they will net. It must also be considered, though, that freelance photographers take more of a financial hit because they have to purchase their own equipment, which can get quite costly.
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