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Career Paths For Budding Photographers


If you have decided that photography is more than a hobby to you and that you’d like to make it your primary source of income, then here are some career paths to enter the world of full-time photography. It’s a tough world but there are great rewards such as travel, exciting locations and great events.

Here are some careers that are not only enjoyable in themselves but will help as stepping stones to get further in the industry. Key to any photographer’s dreams is getting a foothold in the industry and gaining the necessary experience.

1. Photographic assistant

The humble photographer’s assistant is bottom of the food chain unfortunately, but, many of the world’s top photographers started out in this position. Being the general dog’s body for a photographer will see you learning the trade fast from the bottom up. A photography qualification is great but actually doing the job while being mentored by a professional photographer takes the cake in my view. You will gradually learn every aspect of the trade and gain valuable experience. The pay is bad and sometimes nothing but the experience beats all of that. If you are able to work for next to nothing then this one is for you.

2. Scientific photographer

This field is often coupled with research and educational institutions. Documenting the process of a study or research project or even the stages of an archaeological dig can be fascinating if you are that way inclined. There is not much scope for creativity because you are basically just recording a process that needs to be documented as accurately as possible. Your creativity is very limited and scope for your own personal style virtually zero. It is however a job in photography and will open other doors as well. Learn your trade well and it will prepare you for better things.

3. Forensic photography

This can be quite rewarding financially because there are many people willing to photograph the gruesome and gross of dead bodies and crime scenes. It takes a tough person to do this as you standby at a post mortem. Many times an allowance is paid just because it can be so disgusting. I know a photographer who makes a lot of money doing this but I personally couldn’t do it. I have another friend who moved from forensic photography into art photography based on his eye for detail and the ability to capture the reality of the situation. So this is a another good stepping stone.

4. Staff photographers

Many big businesses employ staff photographers these days especially those with large internet sites that need regular content. It becomes expensive to outsource this work so they resort to an in-house photographer. This type of work can be quite broad from shooting products to documenting processes to events and company occasions. Often you would need to be part of the communications team and contribute to in house magazines, newsletters and some advertising campaigns.

You would need to be quite a generalists in order to meet all the requirements a company may need.

5. Cruise ship photographer

This is one that is always in demand and one that pays well. Basically your salary is for you to spend or save because all your needs are catered for. You are provided with accommodation, food and other basics onboard the cruise ship. You do tend to work long hours but the rewards are good. Besides your personal needs and a few luxuries you are able to save and work towards financing a business or photographic equipment. It is demanding and the work is quite repetitive and there isn’t a lot of scope for creativity. The big bonus is that you are able to shoot lots of personal images at great locations. If you shoot for stock then this one is for you as you will build a fantastic portfolio.

These are just a few of the many career paths you can take in the world of photography. As I have said, although you may not want remain one of these photographers, they do open doors and give you valuable experience which can be used as a stepping stone to further your career. What I would highly recommend is that you learn digital photography and fill in any gaps you might have.

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