It is one thing to have a passion for photography, it is another to actually go ahead to get a photography degree. Of course, doing the latter sounds like a really good idea, but it can actually get one a little anxious, because really, what can you do with a photography degree?
Well, a lot actually. There is a whole lot you can do with a photography degree.
Of course, the primary aim of going to school to get a degree is to come out and secure a really good job and perhaps even make a career out of it. And it is no different with photography.
The opportunities available to a photography graduate are very many. And in fact, if you are very creative, the opportunities could be endless.
Well, today, we will touch on as many opportunities as possible. And for a better read, these opportunities are grouped into broad fields/industries. Let us get straight to it.
In What Fields/Industries Would A Photography Degree Be Useful?
4. Making publications
8. Photography assistant
12. Real estate
15. Photography agency
We will now look at each of them in detail…
Of course, you know that there is literally no event where photos will not be required, so, there is pretty much a job opening for you at every event in your community and beyond.
Here are 2 of the most lucrative types of events photography:
ii. Dinners & conferences
These days, people don’t just want photos from their wedding, they want a visual story about their love life. And as a photographer, it is your job to bring that wish to life.
Your knowledge of photography will take you a long way here, but it is your creativity that really stands you out.
From the pre-wedding shoot to taking photos on the D day to properly documenting all those photos for the clients, wedding photography really does require a lot of dexterity which you are expected to possess with a photography degree.
Also, it would please you to know that wedding photography is one of the most lucrative ways by which you can make money via photography (source).
ii. Dinners & Conferences
Most people go for these functions simply for the food and the pictures. And well, except your photography degree also equips you with culinary skills, you know you have just one job; take the most amazing photos!
Apart from the organizers who would love the event documented, guests also want photos for social media or just for keeps. As a professional photographer, it is your job to meet these needs.
And best believe, if you are really good at what you do, these opportunities will continue to present themselves.
Other major events where you could get a job as a photographer are:
a. Birthday ceremonies
c. Get togethers
e. Festivals; and so on.
Basically, every event you hear of is a job opportunity for you, reach out and apply.
As a photography graduate, you could decide to help aspiring photographers by imparting the knowledge you have already acquired.
You could, of course, do this in a formal or informal system, whichever you are more comfortable with.
Going the formal route (i.e., becoming an actual photography professor in a university or college) might require that you acquire postgraduate degrees in arts and photography.
On the other hand, the informal route would require you putting in a lot of work to create an audience for yourself. When you have, you can then set up workshops where you can have practical and interactive sessions with attendees.
Another way to go about teaching photography is through social media, YouTube being the most popular means. You could make videos giving tips, hacks, and all sorts to photographers and enthusiasts.
You could also have a blog for the same purpose, or perhaps do it on Facebook or Twitter. Through whichever means, educating people is really a huge way to put your photography degree to good use.
The fashion industry, as you probably already know, is huge and broad, and in it lies many opportunities for people with photography degrees.
Whether you are capturing models on the runway, doing shoots for a magazine or commercial, or taking shots and making a lookbook, as a photographer, there will always be an opportunity for you in fashion.
Fashion photography really does involve a lot of technicalities, so, if you really listened in class, you can trust that your degree will come in handy here.
4. Making Publications
As the popular saying goes, write what you know. You have a degree in photography, so, you definitely know quite a lot about photography. Putting what you know into writing is surely something to do with your knowledge.
Now, about what particular topic to write on, there are very many options to pick from. You could decide to be educative, analytic, critical, narrative; whatever path you tow, there are readers who are waiting to read whatever you have to write.
And well, a reader would be more willing to read a book on photography written by a person who actually studied it as a course in college than by someone who just stumbled on it, don’t you think?
By the way, who says that a publication only has to be a write-up? A collection of photos is also a publication you could consider making as a photographer. People do want to see those. Plus, you could use it as a medium to advertise your work.
Of course, your photography degree can land you a really good job as a member of the press.
As the popular saying goes, a picture speaks a thousand words. So, best believe that for every article, every report, every documentary, every press release, a couple of pictures will be needed to better pass the intended message. So, that means they need you.
So, get your resume ready and start applying to media houses already!
Mind you, working with media houses is not the only opportunity available to you in journalism. However, you could say it is the safest.
Your other option would be to embark on photojournalism on your own. You could do research and make discoveries and bring them to light using your photos.
You could even make a documentary about your findings and sell them to media houses you think might be interested in such content. Or if it isn’t about the money for you, you could post it up for free on YouTube or social media.
It might be hard to get people to recognize and acknowledge your work at the beginning, but with consistency and diligence, you will get just the right traction.
There are millions of opportunities for photography graduates in sports, from amateur all the way to the pro level. With knowledge of photography, you could really make a career for yourself in sports.
Every sport (and there are thousands of them) needs photographers, so, why not put all you learned in college into good use already? You could start from the local league in your city and possibly climb all the way to the international level.
The best salesperson is the one who has a lot of information about what he is selling. So, with a degree in photography and ample knowledge of the profession, you are perhaps in the best position to sell photography equipment.
You could apply to work with already established photography-related companies (for example, Nikon, Canon, Sony).
Or, on the other hand, with the right capital, you could start your own business in selling and maybe even renting out cameras and photography equipment.
Well, for the latter, you might not exactly need the degree to get a job, but the knowledge you acquired in college will be very useful.
More so, you could sell your own photos. Fine art photographs are always in high demand to beautify homes, hotels, offices, and the likes, so, if your photos are nice enough, why not sell them?
You could also sell your photos online; on stock photography sites, or on your own site, or sell them to magazines or media houses; just sell!
8. Photography Assistant
This might not sound like a very ambitious way to put your degree to use, but it really is very effective if you know what you are doing.
Applying to assist a top and well-established pro photographer could be that push you need towards actualizing your own photography dreams.
The first thing here is to scout properly. Don’t just apply to anybody. Reach out to those photographers who are big in the field of photography you would like to specialize in.
That is, if you have dreams of being a big sports photographer, apply to assist a big sports photographer. You learn more quickly on the job, and with time, the skills and experiences of the pro will begin to rub off on you.
Furthermore, working as an assistant to a pro helps you get more familiar with the industry before you actually start your own career. There are indeed so many advantages of a job like this.
And with a degree, your chances of getting the job are surely higher than without, so, why not try.
Over the centuries, science and art have had major confluences; photography is another of such. Scientific researches and discoveries need to be documented; they need a photographer for that.
You could apply to research organizations, universities, or even hospitals. Yes, hospitals. Some medical procedures need to be documented — most especially in plastic surgery and maternity. So, if you feel you are up to the task, start writing that application.
This is yet another sector where your photography could be put to good use. We all know a good ad requires awesome images to grab the attention of the audience really quickly.
So, look out for advertising agencies around and start applying. Your creativity in this sector is what will really stand you out.
If you are a professional photographer, it means that you could also be a documentarian. And you can run a documentary on pretty much anything; humans, wildlife, pets, behavioral patterns, or just nature.
Most documentarians work with media houses, so, that could be a good place for you to start. Television networks like National Geographic Wild, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, employ photographers to run documentaries on so many different topics. So, go ahead and reach out.
Of course, if you do not have much experience, it is always better to start small. You could always run a documentary on your own and put on YouTube for starters.
12. Real Estate
Believe it or not, real estate is an industry that is in steady demand for professional photographers. Agents need to be able to show clients real and yet beautiful photos to be able to lure them into buying.
As you know, not everybody can take a good photo, so, your skills are indeed very much needed.
Learning to use a drone will give you added advantage in this industry as aerial photos are very much required.
Photographers are pretty much the guardians of the tourism industry. Think about it, why do you want to visit that island so bad? Because of the beautiful photos of it you saw, right? Exactly.
Some of these tourist centers, museums, hotels, guest houses, and the likes, employ photographers to help them with branding and publicity so as to pull clients to them.
You could decide to apply to any of such places, or if you have the means, you could be a travel photographer yourself and go on discovering new tourist spots. Then you could strike deals with the rather new spots, offering to help them promote their brand with your services.
Also, while you do that, you will also be creating great content that people would love to follow you for, further widening your reach.
You could apply to retailers, manufacturers, advertising agencies, telecommunications companies, or even the government, to help create multimedia products for them.
Here, your knowledge of Photoshop and After Effects would be really useful.
Anyway, multimedia is really broad, and sincerely, your photography degree might not always be sufficient to land you a job in this field. You might need to further a little and widen your skill set and knowledge base.
15. Photography Agency
If you are a graduate of photography but you are not so enthused over taking photos yourself, you could apply to work with an agency or maybe even set up your own.
Beginner photographers usually need help getting jobs, so, if you think you have the right connections, why not make a career out of it?
What you are basically doing is acting as a bridge between photographers and clients. So, you know you need more than just a degree. You would need a solid network of good photographers in different fields as well as credible potential clients.
Technically, these guys fall under journalism, but over the years, the paparazzi have pretty much formed and entirely independent industry on their own.
We all are familiar with the fundamental duties of a paparazzo; follow celebrities with your camera and do all you can to get the best shots of them.
And when we say the best shots, we don’t necessarily mean the most beautiful, we mean the juiciest, the ones the media are ready to pay an arm and a leg for.
It indeed is not an easy job, it can be very demanding, but it is very profitable.
To become a paparazzo yourself, you could apply to a media house, mostly those that specialize in entertainment or sports.
On the other hand, you could venture into the business on your own, get great shots and try to sell them to media houses.
Here, you might not necessarily have to further your education, but you would have to do a lot of research to understand the industry because being a paparazzo involves more than just chasing down celebrities with a camera in your hand.
If you have a degree in photography, then you surely know a few things about motion picture. Maybe not enough to shoot a big box office blockbuster yet, but definitely enough to shoot a short film at least.
To become a pro director of photography (especially on the really big stage), you would need further education and training, because it is really a huge responsibility.
So, in fact, not only can your photography degree get you to take photos of people in Hollywood, it could actually get you into Hollywood yourself lol.
Of course, there are also opportunities for photography graduates in the music industry — i.e., to record and direct music videos. The skills required are fundamentally similar but actually, the role here is different from what is required in filmmaking.
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Some Other Interesting Stuff You Could Do With A Photography Major
- Creating wallpapers and backdrops.
- Community arts work.
- Manage an art gallery
- Web designing/editing
- Graphic designing
- Digital marketing
- Video editing
- Visual merchandizing
- Visual effects artist
- Birth photography
- Web content managing
- Magazine features editing
Some of the professions listed here are not directly linked to photography, but knowledge of photography and even a qualification could really be helpful in these areas.
Now, as we mentioned a couple of times in this article, in many cases, having a degree will not be enough to secure you your dream job as a photographer.
Photography is practical, so, it would really help to just keep taking beautiful photos, whether you have a job at the moment or not.
A lot of your potential employers would love to see that you not only have the right qualifications but also have the right skill set and experience required to deliver on the job.
So, in summary, there is indeed a whole lot you can do with a photography degree. But while the degree will get you through the door, your skill set and creativity are what will actually grant you that job you have always dreamed of.
And please, do note that it will also be very beneficial for you to further your education/training in photography if you can. Getting a Masters Degree or a PhD in photography, filmmaking, or other related fields could hardly ever go wrong.
Related FAQs — What Can You Do With A Photography Degree?
Does an event photographer need to have a college degree?
You really will not need a college degree to be do photography coverage for most events. When it comes to events photography, most of your employers will not care so much about your degree, they will be more interested in your portfolio as a photographer.
So, whether or not you have a photography degree, you will need to show your potential employer how good you are with the camera and prove to them that you can capture the best memories from their event.
Is photography a good career option?
As a matter of fact, photography is a great career option; better than most people actually realize. Provided you are ready to constantly and consistently put in the work, there are myriads of career opportunities in photography.
Photography does not always have to be just a hobby or a pastime. It could morph into something much bigger; into a full time job, a career, provided you are ready to give it as much dedication as every other job out there.
Is getting a photography degree worth it?
Going to a university or college to get a photography degree will always be worth it. You come in direct contact with experienced professionals who go beyond just the surface into the most intricate technicalities and complexities of photography.
Furthermore, in a formal setting like a tertiary institution, it is much easier for you to test your skills in different photography fields and determine for yourself where your strengths lie. This way, you are open to a lot more resources than when you have to teach yourself or learn by understudying a photographer who probably isn’t in your preferred field of practice.
Do photographers pay models or do models pay photographers?
Sometimes photographers pay models, sometimes models pay the photographers, sometimes neither of them pays. Now, if the model needs to built their portfolio, it most likely will be them paying. If the photographer is working on a project or needs to build their profile, then the photographer will be paying.
Also, both model and photographer could decide to help each other and collaborate, which means none of them has to pay each other. And of course, there is a case where a company or brand employs both the photographer and model.
What are the different types of fashion photography?
i. Street fashion photography
ii. Editorial fashion photography
iii. Lifestyle fashion photography
iv. Social media fashion photography
v. Catalog fashion photography
vi. Advertising fashion photography
vii. High fashion photography
ix. Alternate fashion photography
How much do photographers earn?
As at May 2019, the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded a mean annual wage of 45,440 USD and a mean hourly wage of 21.85 USD for photographers. And the top 10 percent of earners earn about 80,000 USD per year and 38.19 USD per hour.
Also, states with the highest earning photographers are California, Florida, New York, Texas, and Illinois, with the annual mean wage in New York being recorded as 65,070 USD.