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Photography Design Degree Outlook

A photographer is a person who produces and preserves images that tell a story. Photographers can alter those photographs to produce artwork, or they can become part of a journalistic team and use photographic skills to record an event. To become known as a "professional photographer," a person must learn technical expertise in addition to acquiring and retaining a creative ability. Like an artist, the photographer needs to learn how to compose an image either through the lens or in editing, as well as understand color, balance, rhythm, and all the other elements and principles of design.

This field is ultra-competitive, especially now that digital cameras have become affordable and efficient. Online news venues rely on "iReporters," or ordinary citizens, to become eyes and ears for their studios in exchange for a moment's worth of fame. Photography competitions can weed out the weak photographer, or convince that person to try harder. Online galleries are available for individuals to share family photos, travel journals, and artistic efforts. It may seem at times that this field is rarely worth pursuing because of the competition.

What you might want to remember is that many of these individuals have not studied photography. They may be self-taught, but they haven't laid hands on a manual Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera, nor have they ever worked in a darkroom or worked through the results provided by various filters. They may produce pretty color photos, but they may not have created a series of serious black and white images (which, many professional photographers will tell you, can make or break a photographer's career). This is why a serious education in photography is a plus for anyone who wants to excel in this field.

This means that you can take classes outside of college, as many photography studios and camera stories offer classes in basic photography and offer students use of a darkroom. They also may hold classes in digital photography to help sell their newer cameras. But, be sure that you also take classes in basic design, where you learn all the elements and principles of this craft. This alone will take you light years beyond most photographers who never learn how to compose a shot.

Photographers produce and preserve images that paint a picture, tell a story, or record an event. To create commercial-quality photographs, photographers need technical expertise, creativity, and the appropriate professional equipment. Producing a successful picture requires choosing and presenting a subject to achieve a particular effect, and selecting the right cameras and other photographic enhancing tools. For example, photographers may enhance the subject's appearance with natural or artificial light, shoot the subject from an interesting angle, draw attention to a particular aspect of the subject by blurring the background, or use various lenses to produce desired levels of detail at various distances from the subject.

Photographers who have reached a level of professionalism can create portfolios of their work and apply for jobs in various fields. Some of the opportunities available include work as a commercial or industrial photographer, as a scientific photographer, as a news or journalistic photographer, or as a fine arts photographer. Many photographers who work in commercial fields may develop art photography to enter contests or to try to obtain a gallery show (both online or offline). Many photographers try to earn more money still by selling photographs through stock photography agencies.

These jobs can put the photographer in a position where he or she is working with a studio, a television station or newspaper, a travel magazine, and more. Often, photographers work as freelance artists and are paid on commission. The more time a photographer spends as a freelance artist, the less time that person usually spends behind a camera especially if that camera is digital. Much time is spent on the computer with digital composition, organization, and selling. Some more successful photographers often hire salespeople or agents to represent their work. This allows the photographer more time to spend behind the lens.


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DEC Professional Photography
  • A private, accredited distance learning college based in Norcross, Georgia founded in 1987.
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Digital Photography (BS)
  • Has been training students for creative careers since 1921.
  • Provides interactive course materials and unique approaches to curriculum that  support multiple learning styles.
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  • Accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
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