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Photography: Capturing the world on lens

Upcoming career

With the explosion of the communication network, the growth of advertising and media and the fashion boom, photography has become a lucrative career option. Earlier considered a hobby, photography is both a science and an art. Until some years ago, popular opinion had always slotted photography as a hobby and one could relate to photography as a profession only in the field of photojournalism.

Photography is emerging as a popular career choice amongst all the age groups. Requirement for photographers is expected to increase about as fast as the average for all occupations through 2010. The subject calls for natural instinct, observation power, training, a great degree of discipline, practice and an eye for detail apart from an intelligent, curious and perceptive mind. A photographer must have the ability to blend the details with his creative ability so as to catch a picture well in his camera.

Few vocations offer a greater variety of opportunities than does photography. Some professional photographers work as full-time employees, some run their own businesses, while others free-lance.

Specialization

Press / News photography

This is also known as Photojournalism. Press photographers, also called photojournalists, supply pictures to the national and local press. They must be versatile with an ability to photograph all kinds of subjects. Photographers, who work for the print media, are almost reporters, because each of their pictures tells a story. They must have journalistic instincts, know what makes a good news picture, and be able to write accurate captions, work well with reporters, be quick and often work under difficult conditions. They photograph newsworthy people, places, and sporting, political, and community events for newspapers, journals, magazines, or television. News photographers may be salaried or freelancers.

Feature photography

This involves telling a story in pictures and therefore requires knowledge of the subject. Feature Photographers cover an entire theme or subject with a set of photographs. The work is varied, and leads to assignments at any time and in any place-photographing people at home, or life in foreign parts, or schools at work, anything that makes a story. Photographers specialize in the photography of wildlife, sports travel, environment etc. They may work with news reporters or work as free-lancers and take independent assignments on environment, wild life and so on. 

Commercial/ Industrial photography

This involves taking pictures of merchandise, exteriors and interiors of factories, and machinery both indoors and outdoors to be used for company brochures, annual reports, and in advertising and selling. An industrial photographer's main emphasis is on taking pictures for a single company or firm. The main intention is to make the company's factory, machines, or products look good. These photographs are used in a variety of media, including books, reports, advertisements, and catalogs. This photography is usually done on location.

Portrait / Wedding photography

Portrait / Wedding photographerstake pictures of individuals or small groups. Portrait subjects range from pets, children, families, weddings, and functions to activities of sports and social clubs. Portrait photographers may work for a studio or be self-employed. Portrait photographers take pictures of individuals or groups of people and often work in their own studios. Some specialize in weddings or school photographs and may work on location. Portrait photographers who are business owners arrange for advertising, schedule appointments, set and adjust equipment, develop and retouch negatives, and mount and frame pictures. They also purchase supplies, keep records, bill customers, and may hire and train employees.

Advertising photography

Advertising photographs are either taken by the photographic departments of advertising agencies, by photographic studios, or by freelance photographers. A large number of photographers do catalogue work, while some studios specialize in 'mail order' photography. This is the best-paid and most competitive branch; success in this sphere depends entirely on ability, efficiency and the right personality.

Fashion photography

As a career, fashion photography has developed only recently in India, and work opportunities in the field have grown with the increasing fashion awareness. It is an extremely creative and well-paid profession. Most fashion photography is done by specialist studios or freelancers who are commissioned by fashion houses or advertising agencies. They usually work under the direction of a fashion expert.  

Digital photography

This involves the use of a digital camera. The images are captured on a disk, floppy or directly on to the computer. Digital photography saves time and money that goes into scanning images for any further changes or effects that the image may need. Digital photography is used largely in the media, as digital images can be stored easily and conveyed quickly over long distances.

Nature and wildlife photography

This involves taking photographs of animals, birds, plants and landscapes. While photos of rare species are in great demand, nature photographs are also widely used as pictures for calendars or covers. Romantic sunsets, flowers, trees, lakes and waterfalls, etc., all make interesting subjects for a nature photographer.

Scientific photography

They photograph a variety of subjects to illustrate or record scientific or medical data or phenomena, using knowledge of scientific procedures. They typically possess additional knowledge in areas such as engineering, medicine, biology, or chemistry.

Forensic photography

A crime scene must be photographed from every angle clearly to show detail, with the emphasis on accurately recording the size and distance of objects. They can find employment with law enforcement agencies, police, legal system and in the investigative services of the government and also private detective agencies.

Freelance photography

Freelancing has been the most popular career choice among photographers. Photographers who want to be self-employed need to have business management skills. They can do freelancing in any of the above fields. Self-employed, or freelance, photographers may license the use of their photographs through stock photo agencies or contract with clients or agencies to provide photographs as necessary. They should also develop an individual style of photography in order to differentiate themselves from the competition.

How to begin?

Individuals interested in photography should subscribe to photographic newsletters and magazines, join camera clubs, and seek summer or part-time employment in camera stores, newspapers, or photo studios. Best thing for anyone who doesn't know much about photography and camera basics is to read books.

One can begin his/her career as an assistant of a senior or professional photographer, so that he/she can grasp the finer points of photography.  They have the option to either take up jobs with newspapers, magazines, advertising agencies, government agencies, industrial houses fashion houses, designers, fashion journals and newspapers or work as freelancers. 

After several years of experience, magazine and news photographers may advance to photography or picture editor positions. Some photographers teach at technical schools, film schools, or universities.

Working conditions for photographers vary considerably. Many photographers work part time or variable schedules. Some photographers work in uncomfortable, or even dangerous surroundings, especially news photographers covering accidents, natural disasters, civil unrest, or military conflicts.

Institutes and training

A basic course in photography, where they teach you how to develop photos, history and other basic stuff, can be a useful experience. It is possible to become a photographer without a college education. Formal training provides knowledge and command over a variety of cameras, lights and props, and all kinds of photographic techniques, besides honing creativity.

Many universities, community and junior colleges, vocational-technical institutes, and private trade and technical schools offer photography courses. There are now a number of institutions offering courses in photography, including government recognized ones. The courses vary from six months to three years. Bachelor’s degree programs, especially those including business courses, provide a well-rounded education. Art schools offer useful training in design and composition. Photography is also offered as an optional subject for a bachelor's degree in fine arts.

The minimum academic requirement for the full time courses in photography is 10+2. There are many students who learn photography along with their college, doing a part-time course.

Some of the prominent institutions offering Diploma and Certificate courses in photography are:

  • College of Art, New Delhi
  • Bharitya Vidya Bhavan, New Delhi
  • Mass Communication Research Centre (MCRC), Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
  • National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad.
  • JJ School of Art, Bombay
  • Film and Television Institute, Pune.
  • Fergusson College, Pune (B.A Degree Course in photography)
  • Triveni Kala Sangam, New Delhi

For Comments: psjamwal@amity.edu

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