What Can You Do With A Photography Degree?

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Photography is the process of taking and developing photographs for recreational or occupational purposes. It is a form of art in which a mere click of a button has the ability to capture and preserve a special moment to view for years to come. It’s about lighting. It’s about angles. It’s about image. It’s all about capturing the perfect presentation to represent that second in time, that special event for decades ahead. Photography is a learned trade that, with the proper education, may just be the icing on the cake of your dream career.

Photography Talk

Click. Click. SNAP. Click.

The fantastic world of photography runs on caffeine and creativity. Approaching the field at just the right angle to capture the home team’s final touchdown…snapping the bride’s glowing smile as she feeds her beloved a small portion of their wedding cake…catching the President in mid-speech as he addresses the nation…. Pictures are worth a thousand words, but do you know the lingo?

Get a glimpse of some of these words and phrases below unique to this otherworldly industry.

Aspect ratio – horizontal and vertical dimensions of an image

Burst mode – setting in which a camera captures multiple consecutive images; holding down the shutter button activates this mode in many cameras

Calibration – matching color schemes in multiple devices so that an image appears exactly the same; often used between computers/cameras and printers

Digitization – conversion of various forms of information–photographs, text, etc.–to digital form to allow manipulation on a computer

Full bleed image – refers to a print that covers an entire printable surface so that no border is present; trimming is often required post-priting

Gradation – adjustment to the hue or shading effects of an image

Hot shoe – connector atop an advanced digital camera that allows for the addition of accessories such as an external flash unit

Intervalometer – function in advanced digital cameras that allows for the capture of multiple images at specific time intervals;time lapse photography

Parallax – displacement of an image due to the use of two different viewpoints (e.g., viewfinder is not at the same angle of the camera lens)

Skylight filter – filter that absorbs ultraviolet rays in order to counteract the ample amount of the color blue when capturing an image; not always necessary because now many digital cameras possess features that balance the color temperature of a scene

Unsharp masking – use of digital editing programs in order to increase the sharpness and detail of an image

Vignetting – use of an add-on or a filter lens to create a darkening effect around the edges of an image; also done during the image editing process

Photography Degree Programs

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Photography courses are often available in high school that can help hone your skills and educate you on the basics. Consult your guidance counselor for specifics. It is very important that should you choose to pursue further education in photography after high school, you choose the right school for you. Trade schools, colleges, and universities around the world offer excellent photography degree programs, so you should heavily weigh your options before making the final decision on where you will earn your degree in photography.

Salt Lake Community College offers students the chance to earn an Associate of Applied Science in Visual Art and Design with a Photography Emphasis, a degree program that takes approximately two academic years to complete. In this program, students learn everything from how to manipulate and utilize lighting to how to work with both digital imagery and film. Students are taught the ways of photo development for both black and what images and colored images in order to help them develop their own photography companies or to become a part of an already existing photography company. This associates degree program is also highly beneficial for those looking to pursue even higher education in the photography industry, as well, by teaching them the basics of camera technology.

Located in San Fransisco, California, the Academy of Art University offers an associates degree, a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography, and a certificate to undergraduate students and a Master of Fine Arts in Photography to graduate students interested in earning the education necessary to pursue the careers of their dreams. In addition to the basic liberal arts and writing courses required, students earning photography degrees here are also required to take art history courses to help shape their understanding of how far the visual arts have come over the centuries. Students in the bachelors degree program are encouraged to decide whether to focus their studies on commercial, editorial, fine art, or documentary courses to gain knowledge necessary to succeed in a career of that particular area. Students in the masters degree program experience a more in-depth approach to theories and concepts applied to the digital, traditional, and experimental forms of photography. Students in all programs will develop professional portfolios for future use.

At Brooks Institute, undergraduate students interested in pursuing photography can earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Professional Photography. Graduate students have the opportunity to earn a Master of Fine Arts in Photography. The bachelors degree program is designed to educate students on not only honing their creative eyes but on the business end of the photography industry, as well. Students gain hands-on experience behind the camera and knowledge of ethics and common practices in the photography business. Brooks Institute understands the importance of successful business practices that land and keep desirable clients, and the faculty strive to pass this knowledge on to their eager students.

Careers in Photography

If you decide to pursue a future in photography, then you should explore the various career options available to people who have studied professional photography. Determining a career path now will help you shape your studies to fit the requirements necessary to fulfill your dream. Take a look at the careers in this section to get a better idea of what types of careers are out there for people with a passion for pictures.

Entry Level Careers in Photography

Many career opportunities will become available to you once you’ve earned a certificate, associates degree, or bachelors degree in photography. Some of the starter careers described below may be ideal entry level positions for the next step on the journey to your ideal career.

Assistant Photographer

An assistant photographer works alongside a professional photographer to ensure clients receive the best possible service. He or she may perform everything from equipment maintenance to light adjustments on the scene of photo shoots. Assistant photographers who work freelance or for companies that cover events should consult with the professional photographer to be aware of dress codes for specific events, such as weddings or conferences. Assistant photographers also often help set up and tear down equipment before and after the shoot. Although a degree isn’t a requirement for some photographers, possessing a certificate or an associates degree in photography can be helpful in landing a job as an assistant photographer. Being highly personable with a professional demeanor is also beneficial.

Assistant photographers may earn an annual salary of around $22,000, based on education and experience levels as well as whether they are freelance or work for professional independent photographers or studios.

Photojournalist

A photojournalist spends much of his or her time behind the camera out in the action. He or she may work from various angles, covering news stories on politics, sports, events, and more in order to provide the general public with images worth more than a thousand words, images that shed light on conditions third world countries are experiencing, images that take them back to the previous night’s epic football game, images that show the results of new and popular recipes in home magazines. Photojournalists may work freelance and sell their photos to magazines and newspaper companies, or they may work for specific companies. They often possess bachelor degrees in journalism or photography and have excellent communication skills. Their work often requires traveling from location to location, so reliable transportation is a must-have for photojournalists.

Photojournalists may earn well over $34,000 annually, based on education and experience levels and whether they are freelance or work for magazines or newspaper companies.

Advanced Careers in Photography

After earning a bachelors degree or masters degree in photography with a few years of experience under your belt, you may find that you qualify for one or more of the positions described in this section. Also, an impressive portfolio often does wonders for your probability of acceptance.

Fashion Photographer

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A fashion photographer holds photo shoots to capture the latest trends of the season, from classy clothing to eccentric accessories. From working with models to mannequins, it is important for a fashion photographer to possess excellent people skills and a particularly creative eye in this fast-paced industry. It is not always necessary for professional fashion photographers to possess degrees in photography; however, degrees are particularly helpful. Photography degree programs not only educate you on more than just the basics of the art, but you also learn how to put together the ideal portfolio to show off your projects from time behind the lens. Experience is incredibly beneficial, and apprenticeships help individuals receive on-the-job training.

Fashion photographers may earn over $40,000 annually, based on education and experience levels and employers. Photographers at the higher end of the fashion industry who may work with professional designers are capable of earning over $90,000 a year.

Advertising Photographer

This type of photographer works for an advertising company in order to collaborate on projects that enhance people’s desires for a particular product or service. He or she may work on a team to come up with ideas on creative photo shoots that help spread the word of products and/or services to specific audiences, photographing everything from people to places to objects, often a mixture of the three. Companies often prefer people with photography degrees or training over those with little to no experience. A well-developed portfolio is also particularly impressive.

Advertising photographers may earn over $44,000 annually, based on education and experience levels.

*Note: Many photographers gain experience through first jumping into the field as assistant photographers. Salaries often vary in each career due to needs of employers in addition to applicants’ levels of education and experience.

Companies that Hire People with Photography Degrees

If you don’t take the entrepreneurial route and start your own photography business, you will have plenty of other options to choose from. Below is just a brief list of examples of companies that hire people with photography degrees.

General Dynamics Information Technology – locations across the US; hires positions for forensic photographers, editors for online magazines, etc.

RR Donnelley – headquarters in Chicago, IL; hires positions for fashion photographers, premedia technicians, digital art production team members, etc.

FILA – headquarters in Sparks, MD; hires positions for apparel production managers, digital technicians, studio assistants, etc.

More and more people are relying on Instagram and other free photo apps to capture their favorite moments, so getting gigs as a professional photographer isn’t the easiest line of work these days. You need an impressive resume and portfolio demonstrating your exceptional experience to wow potential clients, to help them see the world through a more creative lens, through your lens. Although the noises of cameras may sound monotonous, each image snapped is unique. It is an image that may otherwise have been forever missed, an image that will never occur again. Captivate the world with your creative eye. Start earning your photography degree today.

Author: Rose Boettinger

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