How to Start a Career in Photography

Why Pursue a Career in Photography?

The field of photography has changed tremendously in the last couple of years. Photography had, traditionally, been restricted to events, weddings, and movies; but in the recent years, the boom of e-commerce, advertising, mass media, and related fields has created a large demand for professional photographers.

The hectic life schedule that people follow these days is difficult to keep up with. All of us have become highly dependent on various websites for clothing, cosmetics, food, etc. and this has led to a huge demand of good photographers in the commercial field, such as fashion photography and food photography. There are other fields as well, such as sports photography, wildlife photography, pet photography, etc., that have gained popularity.

Now that you have got a basic idea with respect to the vast career opportunities this field entails, it’s time we move on to the next important thing.


1. Take a Course

To make a career in today’s digital photography world, you need to stay updated with the new techniques and equipment. Earlier, where people learned photography all by themselves, the changing times and increasing zeal to learn photography have led several institutions to offer courses to train people in the required skills and techniques. You can get a degree in photography (Bachelor’s or Master’s), or pursue diploma courses, the duration of which may vary between 3 months and 1 year.

Some institutes that provide an Undergraduate diploma/degree in photography*

  • Jawaharlal Nehru Architecture and Fine Arts University, Hyderabad
  • Nation Institute of Design, Multiple Locations
  • National Institute of Photography, Mumbai
  • Delhi College of Photography, Delhi
  • Sir J. J. Institute of Applied Art, Mumbai
  • Mass Communication Centre, Jamia Milia Islamia, New Delhi
  • Symbiosis School of Photography, Pune
  • Raghu Rai Centre of Photography, Gurgaon
  • Indian Institute of Digital Arts & Animation, Kolkata

Some institutes that provide a Postgraduate diploma/degree in photography*

  • Sir J. J. Institute of Applied Art, Mumbai
  • The Indian Institute of Digital Art and Animation, Kolkata
  • Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
  • Jawaharlal Nehru Architecture and Fine Arts University, Hyderabad
  • Asian Academy of Film and Television (AAFT), Noida

Graduating from such institutes will help you hone your existing skills, eradicate your flaws, develop your knowledge, and will, thus, help you progress.

2. Understand the Basics

Enrolling yourself in a course will help you understand the basics of photography, like:

  • Framing (Mid-shot, Close-up, Aerial shot, etc.)
  • Rule of thirds, which is the alignment of the subject in a way to produce a more engaging image.
  • Shutter Speed, also known as exposure time that helps create dramatic effects by freezing action or blurring motion.

Understanding these basics will help you take balanced and interesting photographs.

3. Participate in Competitions/ Take up Internships

Once you learn the craft, the next step is to practice it, and become proficient. Participating in photography competitions and events can give you an opportunity to grow, recognise your strengths, and develop your skills. Competitions also provide you with a great platform to showcase your talent and the skills you have acquired. They give you a chance to get your work evaluated and critiqued by a panel of judges with the requisite knowledge of the field, and inculcating their suggestions not only improves your work, but also motivates you to outdo yourself in the next task.

Apart from participating in competitions, you can also do internships, explore freelance opportunities, engage in pro-bono work for cafes and products, or take up work in any genre of photography you’re interested in. Working on such projects will provide you with great exposure to the field, and will give you the opportunity to meet and network with like-minded people.

4. Create a Niche for Yourself

After you are done participating in various competitions and engaging in lots of freelance work, you can work to take your skills to the next level. To become a professional photographer, it is important to experiment with different genres that allow you to gain knowledge about different areas of photography. For instance, covering a social event will give you exposure to candid photography, while working with models will give you exposure to fashion photography. So, venturing out into various domains will help you understand your areas of strength, and help you build up your expertise in the areas of your choosing. In the long run, you will be able to carve a niche in your chosen area of photography

5. Create a Portfolio/ Blog/ Website

Showcasing your skills is as important as doing good work. A portfolio, blog or website can easily be turned into your marketing brochure. Making a portfolio communicates your views, abilities, skills, etc., and gives you a professional outlook. When you have your own blog/ website, you can showcase your work to increase your chances of getting noticed. There are a lot of websites and online communities, where you can learn to create your own portfolio, such as Fabrik, Folio, FolioHD, Portfoliobox, SmugMug,, 500px, Paulakluth, ASCD, 1X etc.

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