The more expertise you have, the more likely your photography business will be a success. Find out how to improve your skills with these six sources.
October 29, 2019 6 min read
It’s assumed that if you’re planning to launch a photography business, you already have photographic skills as well as familiarity with your photography equipment. You may even be a graduate of an accredited school with a degree in photojournalism or fine art. Regardless, continuing your photography-related education and training is essential if you want to succeed and stay ahead of the competition. For example, even if you’ve become highly proficient shooting with a digital SLR camera, you may discover the equipment upgrade involves a steep learning curve if you’re about to upgrade to a full-frame mirrorless digital camera.
There are many opportunities for learning about photography from accredited colleges and companies that offer recognized certification programs both in-person and online. Following are some ways to obtain training that will help you fine-tune, enhance, or expand your photography knowledge and skill set.
Go back to school
Across America, you’ll find a number of accredited photography schools that offer training, certificates, and diplomas in photography and digital imaging. These schools enable students to get the necessary credentials to help launch a successful photography career. At the very least, they boost an individual’s confidence as they acquire more knowledge in the field.
Many universities and colleges offer photography courses through their liberal and fine arts programs. You can find schools and courses that meet your requirements using a quick internet search. Be sure to obtain information about tuition and financial aid at the same time. Try searching for “accredited photography schools” or “photography schools in [insert city or state].”
Typically, these programs offer a combination of classroom and hands-on experience while helping students prepare their portfolios. They can also assist with internships and job placements.
The cost of photography courses varies greatly; however, they won’t be easy on the wallet. Financing is often available in the form of scholarships, grants, and loans. Some of the schools you apply to may also offer their own need- and merit-based scholarships.
Distance learning (online education)
Distance learning is one of the fastest-growing learning methods for education. This structure allows students to learn on their own time, in the comfort of their own home, at their own pace, while scheduling time around family commitments or work obligations. It doesn’t require formal classroom attendance, which means that you won’t need to reside on campus or even nearby. Usually all coursework, examinations, reading, research, and writing assignments are done independently through an online study program.
Distance education classes can offer full-credit hours equivalent to those offered by a traditional course. It’s also possible to sign up for one-time specialty courses that are relevant to your business.
Workshops and seminars
Workshops and seminars are continuously offered throughout the country. These are specialty one-, two-, or five-day courses that focus on a particular area in photography, such as lighting techniques or becoming a certified Adobe Photoshop professional.
You’ll discover that camera manufacturers, including Nikon, Canon, and Leica, offer classes, workshops, and training programs to teach photographers about their latest equipment. Authorized camera sellers, including B&H Photo Video and Adorama, also offer their own training programs.
Your local library, retail bookseller, or favorite online retailer has a wealth of information on photography, business, marketing, and other relevant areas. Pick specific photography and/or business-related topics you want or need to learn about, then read at least two or three books that cover these topics in-depth.
Online learning opportunities
Whatever photography or business-related topics you need to learn more about, video-based education is just a few keystrokes away. YouTube (www.youtube.com) offers thousands of free tutorial videos on photography-related topics, including specific camera models and how to use a variety of gear.
Other online education services offer many free and low-cost business and photography-related courses. Following are just a sampling:
Become a photography assistant
Yet another option for improving your photography skill set while gaining hands-on experience is to find work as an assistant to an established and successful photographer. Working with and being able to learn from other photographers in a real-world setting will offer a realistic preview of what to expect when you’re out on your own. Plus, by working with other photographers, this gives you exposure to various photography specialties to help you determine which you enjoy.
As an assistant, your primary objective is gaining knowledge and experience—even if you have to volunteer your time. Initially, you may not get many opportunities to stand behind the camera while on assignment. However, you’ll likely learn how to set up props and lighting, interact with customers, and successfully navigate your way around during an on-location shoot.
Just as you would with any employer, do your homework and research the photographers you’re considering working with. This will help you assess their needs and be sure they’re ethical and trustworthy individuals who won’t take advantage of you.
Once you have a list of photographers you’d like to contact, approach them in a professional manner by sending them your resume and a note expressing your interest in working with them. You can use the “Contact Us” function on their website or message them using LinkedIn. Also, based on the photography specialty you’re considering, find a professional association or organization that caters to that niche and join it. Be sure to attend local chapter meetings so you can meet, interact with, and potentially learn from other members.
Some of the professional associations/organizations you might consider joining include: