What every photographer wishes they had learned earlier in their career How to make a start in a career in photography


What are the best photographer skills? If that’s what you’re wondering, you’re not alone! As well as being good with a camera, there are many skills a photographer needs alongside being a keen shutterbug. In this post we will go over the skills and qualities you will need to make it as a photographer, as well as careers in photography, what being a photographer is like, and what photographers wish they knew before they became one. In this post we will look at:

    • List of careers in photography
    • Photographer job description
    • Photographer skills resume
    • Photographer skills and qualities
    • Photography skills to learn
    • What every photographer should know

List of careers in photography

Careers in photography include:

Photographer job description

As a photographer, you won’t just be taking photos. The job will also include:

    • Seeking photographic opportunities
    • Working closely with clients to meet their project requirements
    • Working with other professionals to collaborate on projects e.g. magazine editors, gallery managers, etc.
    • Researching and preparing for shoots
    • Working with camera equipment
    • Understanding film and digital photography; keeping up to date with industry trends
    • Photo editing
    • Processing images
    • Preparing photo proofs
    • Managing business and admin; finding and booking jobs. marketing, invoicing, basic accounting, and website maintenance
    • Building a portfolio
    • Creating a network of contacts

Photographer jobs available


Photographer skills resume

As a photographer, a CV or resume is not as important as it is for other careers. It is more important for you to have a strong portfolio to demonstrate your capabilities. However, having a CV is still advantageous for you as it can highlight your skills, qualifications, and relevant experience succinctly for potential clients; especially in the editorial and corporate world. This article from Zety on how to write a photographers’ CV, with a template is an excellent example of what to do. 


Photographer skills and qualities

As well as hard skills such as expertise in your chosen area of photography, use of specialist equipment, and photo editing skills, there are also some soft skills to develop and include on your CV such as:

    • Creativity
    • Communication
    • Collaboration
    • Interpersonal skills
    • Detail-oriented
    • Patience
    • Professionalism
    • Physically fit (you will likely need to travel for work and carry heavy equipment to shoots)
    • Self-motivated 
    • Ability to meet deadlines
    • Ability to work under pressure

Photography skills to learn

To master the craft of photography you should learn:

    • How to use your camera and its settings – understanding how to shoot in Manual Mode, Aperture Priority Mode, and Shutter Priority Mode
    • How to expose your images properly 
    • Shooting in RAW
    • How to shoot in a variety of natural lighting conditions
    • How to shoot using external flashes and other studio lights
    • Photo composition and design
    • Post-processing 
    • Retouching and photo editing

What every photographer should know

Here are some things that photographers wish they had learned earlier in their career:


You don’t need a degree to be a photographer

You don’t need a degree to be a photographer. While a degree can be an advantage when looking for photography gigs, it is not a mandatory qualification to become a photographer – it is highly unlikely that a client would ever ask about your educational background. Instead, to prove your skills as a photographer you need experience. 

That’s why it’s so important to build up a photography portfolio to demonstrate your photography skills. If you want to go to university for the experience and to learn more about photography, those are still good reasons to go – plus you will have a degree to fall back on if you change your mind about photography as a career. But bear in mind that you can save time and money, and kick-start your career by not going to university. A good route into the industry is working as a photographer’s assistant to get exposure to the field and make connections within the industry.


A lot of your time will be spent with clients

Of course, a photographer’s love of photography is what keeps them going, but to be a photographer you also have to be a people person. Only part of the job is spent taking photographs – more of your time will be spent editing and delivering photos, dealing with clients before and after shoots, meeting their demands, and most importantly, keeping your clients happy. Remember that it is important to be polite and professional – even when clients have unreasonable and odd requests! Maintaining a good reputation is important to be a successful photographer.


Photographer work


You will likely need to travel

Good news – there is lots of work available for photographers. Corporate and social photography work can be found all over the country, so there is work to be had if you are willing to be travel for it. For people who experience wanderlust, it will be welcome news that a career as a photographer may require overseas travel, too. If you don’t enjoy travelling, you could perhaps consider working in a fixed location, such as a museum. Some museums, for example, have permanent photographers whose job is to catalogue exhibits and contribute to educational materials.


Treat your job like a business

Many photographers go into the profession with a different expectation of how their career will be to how it turns out. Many photographers start out because they are creative people who don’t want to have a 9-5 office job, which is fine, but to become a successful photographer you will have to consistently network and market yourself to land clients, especially in the beginning. 

Because the photography industry is a saturated market with a lot of talented competition, it’s not enough to just rely on your talent. To build a sustainable career as a photographer you have to treat it like a business and stay productive when you’re not on shoots, market yourself, and network. Build a website for yourself and set up and run professional social media accounts to help build your reputation, and look into SEO.


It is very difficult to make a living from your creative niche 

Passion is very important and you should never stop practising your passions, as this is part of what makes us feel alive and happy. However, it is very difficult to make a career from your creative niche. You may be a very passionate still-life photographer or an avid documentary photographer, but the chances are slim that you have an abundance of clients for this type of work only – especially in the beginning. Therefore it is important to diversify your work and try out commercially viable genres of photography – at least until you have made a name for yourself.


Start saving

As a self-employed photographer, it’s important to think about your plan for the future – do you want to retire at 60 or continue being a photographer? If you do want to retire, it’s a good idea to set up a personal pension as a self-employed person. You can add regular contributions or make ad hoc payments into your self-employed pension, and your pension provider can even claim tax relief and add it to your pension. General savings are also a good idea – putting away a regular amount each month will add up quickly without you even realising it. 

Of course, there is a lot more to photography as a career – and these suggestions are pointers to encourage you to dig a little deeper into each of the topics mentioned.

If you require a photographer, book with Splento. At Splento, we provide you with professional photographers, on-demand. Get in touch with us today to discuss your photography needs.

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