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Many beginning photographers (and experienced photographers) dream of one day becoming a professional photographer for National Geographic, or ESPN, or maybe even having their own studio and selling the work that they want to create. But before you can get to that point, you have to start at the bottom and work your way up. You'll need a lot of experience and a good body of work to backup your skills. So if you're looking to start your photography career, consider some of these great beginning outlets.
High School or College Yearbook/Newspaper
Yearbooks always need photographers. They need photos of events, sports, organizations, and extracurricular activities, as well as portraits of all the students and faculty. The best part about this job is that you don't really need a lot of experience, yet it looks good on a resume. Trying to get a job as a photographer for a college may be a little tougher than a high school, but you'll probably get paid a little money as where you probably won't at a high school. Some bigger schools may have newspapers too.
Local Sports Teams for Kids
Parents love photos of their kids playing sports and most are willing to pay for good photos. Usually there is some local photo company that has already taken advantage of this niche. Your job is to find out what company that is and see if they need more photographers. Depending on how big of a city you live in, there could be lots of potential for an extra photographer. Plus, many of these companies work on commission. So the more high-quality photos you take, the more earning potential you have.
It can be difficult to break into the magazine business. Some magazines may have a full-time photographer and others may rely on a series of freelancers. However, if you start sending them photos that they like, you may become the person they call when they need more. Unlike national magazines, regional ones will be looking for photos of people and events in your area, so you have the advantage of being close to all the sources of content they need. What a magazine will want photos of depends on what their main subjects are. Some focus on the local culture scene like music, food, and social events, while others may focus on a group of certain people like organizations and communities in the area or sports in the area. Regardless of their content, they all need photos. Take a look at a few magazines in your area that you're interested in to get a feel for what content they need. Then give them a call and ask if they need any photos of a particular event or person.
Photo Studio Assistant
Any decent-sized city is going to have multiple professional photography studios where people go to get family and senior portraits done. These may not be the studios like you see in the movies with a hundred lights and fans and a photographer snapping away saying, “Brilliant, yes, incredible!” But it is a good starting point for an upcoming photographer. As an assistant, you probably won't be doing much camera handling (unless you're carrying your employer's camera), but you will learn a lot of things about how to pose and shoot families and individuals, and how a photography business works. In fact, learning about the business side of things could be the most important skill you learn, seeing as you may already know a lot about photography.
Photographing local bands can be a good way to start a portfolio. The great thing about shooting bands is that you can set your own prices. You might start out with a low fee, but you can increase your fees as you become better and gain more experience. Bands who are really trying to get their name out there will be willing to pay for quality photos. They'll want photos to post on social media sites and possibly make fliers for their shows.
Okay, so entering a photography contest may not actually be considered a job, but it is a way to get your name and your work out into the world and earn a little money. When looking for contests, you have to be selective in the ones you choose and careful to read the rules and guidelines for each. Most contests will require an entry fee so you have to consider that cost against the how much the prizes are, how many prizes there are, how many entrants there are, and who can enter. Also look at what subjects are open for submission. Many contests break their prizes down by category or subject matter so that a photographer from each niche earns a prize.
Also Read: THE 19 MOST EXPENSIVE PHOTOGRAPHS EVER SOLD
Written by Spencer Seastrom
Image credit: stockbroker / 123RF Stock Photo