Education Needed for a Photography Career
Photographers work in industries like portrait photography, journalism, advertising and science. Because many photographers prefer to be self-employed, only a small number hold salaried positions. A fine arts undergraduate degree in photography is the most common degree sought after as a career entry point.
Education Needed to Become a Photographer
An undergraduate fine arts degree program in photography is different from a standard arts degree because it emphasizes studio work and the completion of a final project. Applicants to such a bachelor's degree programs in photography should have strong artistic sensibilities and be able to grasp technical concepts and techniques.
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography (BFA)
A Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography program is studio intensive and challenges students to master photographic principles and develop distinct styles. Many fine arts programs allow students to choose a major area of study. Some possible concentration areas include commercial photography, fine arts photography and biomedical photography; however, most BFA programs in photography focus solely on the area of fine arts. Some key topics covered in a photography curriculum include photographic practices, color digital photography, large format photography and documentary photography.
Many of these classes require that students spend a significant amount of time taking pictures in the field and gaining experience with photographic equipment, such as tripods, lighting equipment and meters. During the final year of the photography program, each student develops a portfolio of work on a particular subject of interest, working closely with their advisors to develop a theme that is closely mirrored in the work. Graduates can use these portfolios to demonstrate professional competency to future employers. It is not uncommon for a student's final project to be exhibited at a university's museum.
Optional Photography Certification
The Professional Photography Certification Commission offers the Certified Professional Photographer (CPP) designation. Those interested in certification must declare their candidacy by filling out an application and paying a fee. Then, candidates must take the CPP examination. The exam covers technical topics in lighting, color and exposure. Finally, candidates must submit photographic images for review. Benefits of the CPP designation include proof of professional competency to potential clients and a listing in the photographer referral service offered through the Professional Photography Certification Commission.
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