Photography as a Career
Photography is a creative medium of expression and has given a new way of perceiving the world. Photography requires an eye for aesthetics and a person has to have some inborn talent to do well in this field. But, if you have it in you, then go for it who knows, you could be another Cartier Bresson, Raghubir Singh or Raghu Rai!
Being a specialised course and an art form in itself, students can find themselves doing a very fulfilling work. Photography is a unique and creative medium of self-expression. With the explosion in mass communication and media, photography has become an important medium of communication. It plays a major role in education, publicity, industries, scientific and technical researches.
A couple of years ago, the suggestion of photography as a profession, would not have been taken seriously. Photography has mostly been considered a hobby, and at best, a part-time, extra pocket-money earning activity. But today, photographers are so much in the news, in demand and respected financially, that those who have the talent and interest in photography can now seriously consider this a viable career option.
With the explosion of the communication network, the growth of advertising and media and the fashion boom, photography has now become a profession with great commercial value. It has become a good source of income and a means to a comfortable life. Although it is mainly men that dominate this profession, there are now a fair number of well-known women photographers. But women still have a little more difficulty than men gaining entry, especially to press photography.
Photography is both a science and an art. It is an artistic means of expression, the camera replacing the pen or the paintbrush. A photographer must be able to create a good composition of any subject, a piece of machinery, a scenery or a child's smile. It is rightly said that a single picture can sometimes say more than a thousand words.
There are several areas of specialisations for photographers:
Press photographers supply pictures to the national and local press, and must be versatile with an ability to photograph all kinds of subjects. 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.
Feature photography essentially involves telling a story in pictures and therefore requires knowledge of the subject. Many photographers specialize in the photography of wildlife, sports travel, environment, etc.
In Commercial photography, a photographer takes 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, although this area has its own particular specialisation.
Portrait and wedding photographers take pictures of individuals or small groups, handling subjects like pets, children, families, weddings, functions and activities of sports and social clubs.
Advertising photographs are taken either by the photographic departments of advertising agencies, by photographic studios, or work as freelance photographers. Advertising photography is possibly the best paid and most competitive branch; success depends entirely on the ability, efficiency and the right personality.
Fashion photography has developed recently in India. Most fashion photography is done by specialist studios or freelancers who are commissioned by fashion houses of advertising agencies. Other photographic specialities include aerial photography, scientific photography, film and television photography and so on.
It is possible to become a photographer without a college education. Photography basically requires a keen, observant eye, and an intelligent, curious and perceptive mind. It is an art and a craft and thus, the more a person practises the better he gets. It is essentially a training of the eye, and thus no amount of training enables a photographer to 'see things' without an intrinsic inner ability.
However, training provides the know-how for taking pictures and getting the best from any camera. A photographer must have full knowledge and command over the variety of cameras, lights and props, and all kinds of photographic techniques. Training also hones the creative skills in the candidate.
Photography has been introduced at the 10+2 stage as a vocational subject in several schools. There are no specific academic requirements for the full time courses in photography. However, candidates who have cleared the 10+2 exam are eligible for the diploma/ certificate courses in photography. Photography is also offered as an optional subject for a bachelor's degree in fine arts.
While the short-term courses vary from three to six months, the degree programmes can be of 3-4 years duration in different institutions.
A 3-year diploma in motion picture photography is offered by the Film and Television Institute, Pune, while the Mass Communication Research Centre (MCRC), Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi offers a 2-year post-graduate diploma in motion picture photography to graduates in any discipline.
Quite a large number of institutions are now offering courses in photography. These include a number of government-recognised institutions providing diploma courses/training in photography. Photography is also a subject taught for the Applied Art/ Commercial Art degree programmes at the Govt. Art Colleges, of which there are six in several parts of the country. Some of the prominent institutions offering Diploma and Certificate courses in photography are listed below:
1. College of Art, New Delhi
2. Bharitya Vidya Bhavan, New Delhi
3. MCRC, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
4. National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad
5. JJ School of Art, Mumbai
6. Film and Television Institute, Pune
7. Academy of Photography, Kolkata
8. Jawaharlal Technological University, Hyderabad
Personal Attributes Required
Those who go into this profession must have visual imagination, an eye for detail and composition, artistic sensitivity, creativity and good power of observation. They must also have the ability to work quickly under pressure, in difficult conditions and irregular hours.
There is no clear cut career graph in the profession of photography. A photographer's prospects depend entirely upon the calibre of work that is done, and ability. Opportunities in the field of photography are plenty.
Freelancing is very popular amongst a large number of photographers. Tremendous opportunities are presented by advertising agencies to photographers who are good at their work. Newspapers and magazines also provide an option to the professionals. Thus for a good photographer, the sky is the limit.