Professional Photography As A Career

Posted on March 3, 2016 by Admin under Career, Job, Photography, Skills
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This piece has been written for the aspiring photographers of Edgbarrow School, Crowthorne, and anyone who is fascinated in this career path.

Before looking more closely at photography as a career, let’s dispel a few myths: being a photographer is not a glamorous job, nor is it a guaranteed route to riches! However, it’s creative and diverse, you see interesting places, meet many people and use cutting-edge equipment. Nothing is more rewarding than presenting your work to delighted clients or seeing your images in print or on display. Photography is also a useful life-skill for recording memories and bringing people together.

Children at a wedding

Photographers’ Work: An Overview

It helps if you know what field of photography you want to enter, and there are plenty to choose from: wedding, portrait, sport, landscape, commercial, forensic, medical, advertising, public relations, aerial and marine, to name a few. Some photographers complement their photography skills with another skill such as journalism, travel writing, or graphic / digital art.

Most photographers work for themselves and make a living through commissions for websites, magazines or businesses. Those who specialise in private wedding and portraiture work will often have their own company, perhaps with a studio, or they will work for other photographers as they start out. Specialised agencies give some photographers assignments, but take commission on their fees. Others find a handy little side line in photographing “stock” images for photographic libraries (from bunches of flowers to landscapes for post cards).

Bridesmaids bouquets

There are also rewarding careers as a service provider to the industry, such as in retail, printing and IT. Many photographers work for a camera shop or manufacturer during the week and get behind the camera at weekends. Others work as photographic printers or do digital editing work. Some become programmers for photographic software. These are all good careers that demand an in-depth knowledge of photography.  Working for a photography studio, such as in sales or admin, can also be a good way of starting out.


What Skills do I Need?

You should be able to creatively apply the basic artistic principles of colour, shape, form, texture, lighting, perspective and composition to all your work. Your knowledge of technology—your cameras and flash equipment, your image-enhancing software such as Photoshop—should be thorough and instinctive. Good social skills are essential to get the best out of the people you’re photographing: some say photography is 80% psychology!

Photography is largely about making the people in front of your camera feel as comfortable as possible.

In fact, relatively little of the photographer’s work constitutes being behind the camera. Much of your time will be spent researching, planning, communicating with clients, photo-editing, designing albums, and keeping up-to-date with your skills and knowledge in a rapidly moving technological world. Because most photographers are freelancers, you will also need good business skills (marketing, social media, sales, accounting, negotiation, legal, and health and safety to name a few…) and the ability to manage your workload and meet tight deadlines in a changing market. Flexibility, versatility, long hours and a great amount of self-motivation are key to success as a photographer.



Some people discover photography in GCSE Art and progress via the art qualification route. Others study photography at A-Level, or take a qualification such as City and Guilds / BTEC HND at one of the local colleges. There are also degree courses at universities, and hundreds of part-time leisure courses and on-job NVQs.

Eventually you will need to work for a professional qualification: the main certifying bodies are The British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP), the Royal Photographic Society (RPS), and the Master Photographers Association (MPA). They are a benchmark of quality and skill. Earning these certifications takes hard work over a few years but they will increase your credibility massively: some jobs require industry-specific qualifications.

Studio traineeships are few and far between, but are worth investigating. Government organizations such as the Police Force or the Armed Forces offer apprenticeships. (Imagine being an RAF photographer – wow!). Once you are qualified, the learning never stops. Even the most successful photographers still invest in further training and development, and challenge themselves by entering professional competitions.



The Pay

In your early days, expect to work as an assistant for very little or nothing: you will need both the experience and opportunity to build up a portfolio and enter some competitions. Most photographers start out this way, but it can be a difficult time as the pay may be low and you will need to invest in your own equipment. Expect to be a dogs-body and work very long, anti-social hours. You will truly know if photography is for you if you enjoy this stage! As an experienced photographic assistant you may earn £100 – £150 a day (though you won’t be doing this every day).


As with all creative careers the industry has a small handful of millionaires, but most full-time photographers may earn from £15,000 to £50,000. The market is highly competitive, so business acumen will be as vital to your income as your photographic skills. Success will not come overnight and many photographers maintain other jobs whilst growing their business.


So, Where do I Start?

There are many and varied ways into photography. First and foremost, get behind the camera and practise as often as you can. You do not need armfuls of expensive kit to start out–many incredible images are taken on camera phones—but after a while you will need a more substantial camera. Work out what you enjoy photographing, photograph it, and you will begin to develop your own unique style. The internet is teeming with information and tutorials on how to take good photographs, but going on a course or studying with a seasoned professional is invaluable and will help you to get the qualifications you need. Spend time getting to know the work of other photographers and don’t be afraid to experiment.

Guest shot heart

Start to build a portfolio, preferably on a blog, website or social media platform such as Flickr, Facebook or Instagram. A good portfolio shows potential clients or employers that you’re serious about photography. Invest some time into learning your way around Photoshop and Lightroom, two of the big software players in the photo-editing world. Volunteer your skills to local charities and community groups—some of my first work was for a local dance show!—and approach relevant photographers for assistance work or experience with a photography-orientated CV and portfolio.


About: Sally specializes in wedding and portrait photography and runs The Moment Images. She has been a professional photographer for over 10 years and is qualified with the Royal Photographic Society and the British Institute of Professional Photography. Sally is also a lecturer of Photography at Bracknell and Wokingham College. To find out more about her work, please visit her website: or contact



Welcome to our Brand New Blog!

Posted on February 5, 2016 by Admin under Uncategorized
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Hello, come on in!

This blog is a place to pick up some fab tips for if you want some professional portraits but don’t know where to start. Drawn from over a decade of photographing people professionally, I hope you’ll find this a useful (and entertaining!) read.

In the coming weeks I’ll be covering topics such as:

Why pick a pro?

How to choose your wedding photographer

Things to ask your wedding photographer

How to look your best for your photoshoot

What to expect from your Business Headshot session

Some of my favourite venues around Berkshire for portraiture and weddings

Jazzing up your photo shoot: props and hobbies!

A whole series on Displaying Your Photos: Albums, photo books, wall-art…


Do you have any more suggestions? I’d love to hear!


Sally x

No newer/older posts

The Moment Images Photography by Sally Hitt