In this day and age it's not too hard for anyone to be a photographer. Most of us have a camera in arm's length at all times. The camera on our phones are continuing to improve and in some cases rival even high end cameras. While we all have the ability to whip out our phones and take a picture, there is much more to taking truly professional photographs.
If you're wondering about the best way to become a Professional Photographer, the truth about it is there is no "best" way. I emphasize that because there are so many options to develop and refine your skills. For some, instructional classes work while others choose the self-learning method. There can be benefits and drawbacks to either method. Although, if you're intent is to make a profession out of photography earning a degree in the field is highly recommended. That degree might be what gives you the edge when applying for photography jobs.
In regard to earning a photography degree it's not uncommon for many high schools to offer photography classes. If this is an option a class in high school can be a great opportunity to learn the basics. Already out of high school? No worries because almost any local community college around the country will offer photography classes. There are learning paths to fit all needs. A simple associate degree or certification programs are available. If higher education is your desire you can earn a bachelor or even a master in the field. An associate degree can typically be achieved within 2 years and a bachelor degree in approximately 4 years. To earn a master degree in photography you should anticipate about 6 total years of schooling.
Photography classes will allow you to obtain hands on training with professional instruction. If terms like metering, bokeh or shutter speed are not in your vocabulary they will be after you take a photography class. Not only will your vocabulary increase but your understanding of these terms will be put to practice in the form of in class exams and outside photography projects. You'll learn fundamentals like the rule of thirds, framing and how to use space. Not every camera is the same and having a solid understanding of how a camera functions and the ability to use your camera are critical components to becoming a professional photographer.
We absolutely live in a digital age yet when capturing that perfect image it may require the use of a standard camera that operates with film not SD Cards. Learning the method of developing your own photos is a skill any professional photographer should have in their toolkit. Film cameras allow for natural imperfections that just might add that element of interest that a digital camera can't without photo alterations. One other benefit of the film camera is that it doesn't require being charged and there are no batteries to worry about. A good photography education will help introduce you to different cameras and the abilities and drawbacks of each regardless if you are using a standard film camera or a digital camera.
Depending on the photos you are taking or trying to create there may be a need for editing. Digital images can easily be manipulated with current software like Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom. Just like the camera itself the digital editing tools will take time to learn and properly use. There is no question that digital editing classes should be a part of your formal education. Again many of these media type classes are even offered at the high school level.
In addition to photography technique classes there are other classes that will be of benefit. Journalisms classes are an excellent way to get a feel for how the media industry works and how photographers work within that atmosphere. Art classes will expose you to basic fundamentals of using space and perspective. Even those math classes will help when you're calculating shutter speed or trying to adjust the aperture of the camera.
Beyond the route you choose, either the formal education or self-learning method, one of the most important aspects of becoming a photographer is practice. Take photos of the same object in different light, learn to adjust shutter speed to capture stunning motion photos, shoot close up and full landscapes. Don't limit yourself and find new locations. Taking pictures on a farm of tulip fields will take a different perspective than photos in a busy city. Experiment and keep notes of the photos you take. Indicate in your notes the lighting and camera settings so you can analyze that information when reviewing your photos and make adjustments for your next outing.
Simply put, working towards a degree in photography will provide hands on experience; clear understanding of how a camera works and the ability to develop a portfolio along the way. For the individual looking to make a career in the industry, earning a degree is worthwhile and may even be a requirement in some job positions. Moreover treat earning the degree as an investment rather than an obstacle to achieving your goals.
There are also numerous ways a photographer can earn a living. You might work in a photo studio taking family photos or a clothing company developing photos for their next catalog. There is always a need for wedding photographers as well as becoming a photojournalist working for a newspaper or magazine publisher. In addition you can also go freelance and sell your photos in galleries or even on the Internet as stock photos. Salary will vary depending on your choice of employment. It's estimated that a photographer can make in the range of $20,000 to $75,000 a year. Even if you're not looking to make a career of it, photography can be a good source of side income for those that are looking to make a little money on the side doing what they enjoy.