how to become a photographer
The image pervades every aspect of our lives. Despite huge upheavals in the industry due to the arrival of the digital image. Talented photographers can still carve out a profitable place for themselves. There certainly remains a huge demand for images. You can take many different directions as a photographer. This is very much a career for individuals who wish to forge their own path in the world.
Working as a photojournalist capturing images of the moments you witness is one possibility. Or you could work in artificial studio conditions to create images for magazines or different media companies. You might work with people, capturing moments in their lives which are special to them (like Weddings). Photography uses a range of equipment which requires technical know-how combined with creativity. Most photographers work for themselves. This means you may need to tackle your own promotion and marketing. You will spend time meeting with clients, hiring studios, and setting up for a photo shoot. You will also need to learn how to touch up and perfect your images using digital software.
If you have an independent spirit and a passion for everything photography, then why not consider a career in the field? Keep reading to learn more about what it takes to get a foot on the career ladder, and how to get a step ahead of your competitors.

Step one: Choose a specialisation

Photography is such a wide field with so many different possible roles to play it is a good idea to plan your specialisation from the start. You can then tailor the path you need to take to meet your goals. In a field which is as varied as life itself, here are a few ideas to get you thinking.

Sports Photographer

If you are an avid follower of sports then combining your interest and passion for photography into one opportunity makes a lot of sense. Sports photographers usually snap fast-moving moments with beautifully executed images. These images capture the important moments of the days sporting event. You have special access to the events you photograph up close to the action. In this speciality, your focus is on capturing movement in beautiful and creative ways.

Fashion Photographer

The fashion industry revolves around the image. This is the way in which they capture their products, beautify them and spread their images to give coverage and reach. You may be working in a studio with models, or on the side of the catwalks. Excellent skills with a range of technical equipment and knowledge about lighting is essential in this speciality. Don’t think you can forget about being creative though. Especially in photo shoots, you will need to push  boundaries with your creativity. Excellence is a must they only accept the highest quality images in the fashion world.

Still Photographer/ On Set Photographer

A very particular speciality Stills photographers work behind the scenes on film sets. They focus on taking images of the stars and teams involved in the film production. Often they will use these images for documentary and promotional purposes. A knack for capturing people in natural moments, without being intrusive, will be an important strength to have in this job role.

Step two: Select a course to develop your skills

Once you have chosen the field you would like to work in and the style your work will fall within. You can choose a course which will best help you to learn the practical skills you need to succeed. Use your training to focus on perfecting your technical skills, and being creative within those bounds. 

Step three: Look for work

After completing your training you can begin to look for work. Photography is a skill which needs to be consistently updated and improved upon. You must continually assess your work and take more training if you need to.

You may want to apply for a job as a photographer – making sure to tailor your resume for each application. Or at this point, you could begin to work independently. There are many possibilities for self-employed photographers to earn a living. You can earn money by selling images from stock photography sites or working with people capturing photos for them. You could travel and sell those images. Or you can enter photo competitions and sell images to magazines/ media.

Step four: Gain experience

Use your skills and training to live and breathe photography. Use every opportunity to capture images, and seek perfection every time. As you continually follow the process of capture, select, touch up you will find everything gets easier and natural. Gain experience, then refocus and pursue your career progression of choice.

What do Photographers do?

A photographer’s duties can hugely vary according to the field you work within. To give you a general idea, your tasks will revolve around three primary areas of activity. Firstly, the technical and creative process of capturing your images. Secondly, selecting and preparing images for sale. Lastly, networking and marketing to sell your work to others and to earn commissions. Those three broad categories will involve different tasks depending on the area of your work. A studio photographer will follow a different process capturing images to a photojournalist. Many photographers will enter their best images into competitions where you can win prize money.


  • Choosing appropriate equipment for the task at hand
  • Knowing how to use a variety of equipment in different situations and light conditions
  • Setting up a studio for a photoshoot
  • Cleaning and sorting lenses and other equipment
  • Using your photography equipment to capture high-quality images
  • Communicating with clients
  • Selecting the best images from the “shoot”
  • Touching up and perfecting images 
  • Marketing your images
  • Advertising your services

Skills for Success

In photography paying attention to detail is critical. You must aim for perfection. Focusing on how the composition works, the light, the exposure, the focus, all these details can make or break an image. Each element must work together in an extraordinary way. Mediocre doesn’t make the cut. When you work you must also consider all the details as you capture images. For example, you will note the light and adjust settings if needed. However, the work is not just technical, all the technical skills won’t help you if you don’t also approach your work from a creative perspective. You need to be bold and unafraid to forge your own path. You will often work alone, but you may work in a team, or with people who are paying clients.

Skills and attributes

  • Creative
  • Fast thinker and mover
  • Pay attention to detail
  • Understand how lighting and different conditions work
  • Can work independently, and in a team
  • Good communicator

What do Photographers earn in Australia?

In Australia, photographers earn a median wage of $53,807 per year. This varies according to a number of factors and is intended as a reference only, from Payscale 05/’18.

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