How to Become a Photographer

 There are two routes into this career and they are formal and experiential. 

A course or formal training in the subject opens options for working with magazines or newspapers. With a regular income, there is always an opportunity to experiment with a wide range of subjects. The second is to learn as an apprentice to a professional photographer, which can involve learning the basic jobs before getting to know the real techniques of the profession. Photography is learnt more through practice and training of the eye. Technical training and information cannot make you 'see' things unless you have that inner ability, an intelligent, curious and perceptive mind.

Most BFA or Applied Art Courses impart specialized training in photography. Design courses at National Institute of Design have photography as a subject. Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi and Mass Communication Research Centre, Jamia Millia Islamia offers basic courses in photography. After Class XII, one can join as an apprentice with a photography unit. Graduation could be pursued through correspondence.

One can join a graduate course in Applied Art. (Look up art schools in the section on art for list of institutions). The commercial photographers generally begin by working in a studio to work for the ordinary customer. Beginnings can be made with Rs.15,000 which may grow in leaps with expertise and perfection. Agencies and newspapers normally pay for each assignment

Skills

  • Physical endurance and a certain level of fitness.
  • An eye for detail and a knack for photo composition.
  • Curiosity about events and quick reflex is required.
  • An inclination for reading up on current affairs.
  • Have knowledge of the customs and culture of various places.
  • Communication skills are required if you have to get through to the locals and do great shoots.
  • Must be able to manage with limited resources if you land up in inhospitable terrain.
  • You have to have the ability to stay patient for a good shot to come your way.

Important Facts

  • You get to travel around the world, stay in good hotels, enjoy diverse cuisines and meet people from different cultures.
  • Money is good if you are able to sell your work to international magazines.
  • Unless you have a regular job, it is very challenging to arrange for regular flow of money.
  • Takes time and patience to zero in on the novelty factor of a popular tourist destination.
  • Element of danger — at times you might land up in an uncomfortable situation, in inhospitable terrain or come across unfriendly people. 
  • Academic brilliance not required. This job is all about spontaneity and creativity.
  • You get to travel to a lot of places, constantly meet people, explore cultures.
  • The work remains physically demanding even as you become established in your career.
  • Freelancing may not pay well.