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Old Sep 28, 2007, 8:49 AM   #1
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I am a graduate and after gaining a diploma in Web and Graphic designing and animations, I joined a organization as a Graphic Designer handling all projects related to print media, web animations, product promotional videos etc… for 4 ½ years and from there I shifted to web development in a Global Organization. Now I am 33 and doing as Quality Assurance engineering for a web base product. I don't see my age as a end towards my passion.

I strongly feel that I am not able to get connected with what I am currently doing. I was in need of a tool to express my self. To fulfill that gap between my early creative job and current job I bought a non SLR camera to start with (Sony H2) one year back. I really like this tool which worked perfectly as a medium to express my self. I feel that I am connected with the tool and the type of challenges in the field related to this tool.

Some how I want to take my casual photography to the next professional level. For that I am ready to leave my current job and join graduate program on photography in a good university. I have already won couple of prizes in photographic compitation.

The options I see are:

  • Find a University abroad and try to get a part time job to support my self. Why abroad is as I am planning to leaving my current job to learn photography there won't be any source of income for me and I have some commitments here. So I am looking for a source of income for supporting myself and save a bit. I am looking for some scholarship graduation program or a free graduation program if possible. [/*]
  • Find a University abroad and apply. Get a educational loan from bank to pay the fee and try to get a part time job to support my self.[/*]

The reason why I am opting for abroad instead of India, not easy to find a good part time course in India. I can't get a decent pay to support my and take care of my commitments in a part time job. And doing fulltime job its very difficult to attend a graduation program.

I am not sure if this is the right place to post this but I desperately need your suggestion on this…

Thank you very much in advance.


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Old Sep 28, 2007, 2:44 PM   #2
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I noticed that this is your first post.
So I thought I'd welcome you to the site. Its a great place on the web, with very few trolls and lots of knowledgeable people.

The desire to switch to become a professional photographer is something that comes up here every now and then. I would highly suggest that you use the forum search to look for previous discussions. I doubt anything has changed since the last time this came up.

First off, so you know where I come from:
- I sell my work professionally. Almost exclusively "fine art" prints.
- I teach photography (both one-on-one and to groups)
- I have a day job which lets me afford the equipment
- I take my photography *very seriously* both in the money I put into it and the time, effort, and travel.

Now, on to your question...
You never really seem to come right out and directly ask your question (unless I missed it.) It looks like you're asking how you should go about getting a photographic education and avoid your obligations in India.

If that is your question, then you're asking a very specific question.... and I'm not sure I know the answer. Getting an education in photography can be useful, but many, many great photographers didn't go that route. They just followed their passion and look lots of pictures. They critically looked at their images, learned what worked and what didn't... and kept taking pictures. They studied the work of others and learned from it. They shared their images and learned from the comments....

You don't need to go to school to learn how to become a professional photographer. You just need to be good at photography and you have to be good at running a business. Now the latter is definitely helped by some formal education (running a business), but the former (being a professional photographer) doesn't require it. Sure, it can help... but you can go about it in other ways and still do very well.

If you really want to, though, definitely take some classes on it. As to where you should go? I haven't a clue. I didn't take any classes

So what, exactly, are you asking? Did I cover it?

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Old Sep 29, 2007, 10:23 AM   #3
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well said eric

totaly agree 100% with what u say

it is something that u get better at over time, i too criticaly look at my own images to see how (if at all) i could have taken shot better.

if u got a feel for use of natural light, what angle works what doesnt and a sense of composition and prespective then your getting somewhere

as for going abroad taking a course and working to support yourself.......thats something different all together, and by no means certain to get u to your goal of been a professional. thats something we all aspire to....id love to be able to not work and earn enough of my pics to live on but in a real world is ever so hard

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Old Sep 29, 2007, 2:34 PM   #4
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I'm kinda in the same boat and want to chime in here... I don't think a photography diploma is going to help much, what does it really give you that time and practice doesn't? And don't get me wrong here, I'm not insulting people that have gone that route. I'm just wondering what it gives you?

I was wondering as my thirst for photography grows how people do go "pro". I hear people talk about being "on assignment" and wonder how do you get to go on assignment? That sounds really interesting to me but I don't know a darn thing about it. So if someone could fill me in on that I would appreciate it.
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Old Sep 29, 2007, 6:22 PM   #5
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fisheye4 wrote:
... I was wondering as my thirst for photography grows how people do go "pro" ....
Never done it myself, but have thought about it off-and-on for about 50 years. Got as far as figuring out what tax forms (State, Federal, Income, Sales, ...) and thinking about advertising/marketing when I gave up on that idea. Often heard folks say that becoming a pro photographer is a way to ruin a good hobby.

That doesn't really stop you from shooting your cousin Fred's third wedding and reception at Ed & Hellen's Saloon for a bit of cash and all the pretzles you can eat.

fisheye4 wrote:
... I hear people talk about being "on assignment" and wonder how do you get to go on assignment? That sounds really interesting to me but I don't know a darn thing about it. So if someone could fill me in on that I would appreciate it.
You can go "on assignment" any time you want: just make the assignment yourself. Not a bad exercise, but it doesn't often pay anything.

You might get a couple of bucks from you local paper for shooting the Turnup Festival pie eating contest.

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Old Sep 29, 2007, 10:03 PM   #6
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Being a semi-amateur, unedumacated early retired picture shooter myself, I do understand that one of the big things a degree in photography, or whatever, gets you is contacts. Your professors will know people, who know people, who can get you work. Much of it, while you are in school, is unpaid, but becomes part of your education, and gets you set up with - that's right, more contacts. Works this way for many professions.

If you are determined to be a professional photographer, going to school for it isn't a bad idea at all. And think of the incentive you have to succeed when you graduate with all that student loan debt!:evil:

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Old Sep 29, 2007, 11:28 PM   #7
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BillDrew wrote:
Often heard folks say that becoming a pro photographer is a way to ruin a good hobby.
I like that quote.
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Old Sep 30, 2007, 11:11 AM   #8
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Some really good and interesting advice here. I'm goint to throw out two different types of advice:

1. Becoming a good photogrpaher. IMO, plain old practice will get you decent results but that's not the same as getting results that are sellable. That's the challenge here - you want to make money. So you not only want to take good photos you want to take good photos people want to buy. So, my advice is to find a photographer that is doing that and see if you can get a job with him/her as an assistant. Besides learning how to be a better photographer you'll get an appreciation for the business side of things - AND you'll get an appreciation for the types of photos that sell and those that don't.

2. The 'what sells' angle dove-tails into my second point. You are saying you want to make a living off photography. Like anything else - photography has all sorts of aspects to it. Most people that make money specialize in a specific type:

Wedding / Event

Studio / portrait




And probably in that order. My point is - what aspect of photography you LIKE to shoot and what aspect you can make money at aren't necessarily the same thing. For example, I love sports shooting. But here in the USA, there really aren't that many full time sports shooting jobs. A major newspaper may have 5 sports photogs on the payroll. And they don't make very much money. More glamorous jobs for big magazines or AP get a little better pay but you're talking maybe 1,000 such jobs in the entire country. And you often have to work your way up. So, bottom line - it is unlikely I could make a decent career doing what I love to do. So I choose to do it mainly as a hobby - making enough money selling to the local paper as a freelancer and selling to parents of athletes to afford my gear. I keep my regular job which pays me much better than I could make as a sports shooter and I still get to enjoy my hobby. So, my point here is you can't just let your heart dictate what you do. You're talking about a career change not a hobby - so make sure you have a good idea that the type of photography you decide to go into will actually put food on your table - if indeed you want to pursue it as a career.
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Old Oct 1, 2007, 1:12 PM   #9
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I want to second JohnG's comments and add a few things.

In some areas of photography (wedding, event and stock mostly) being the best is not a requirement.

Once you get to a certain skill level it is much more about how well you run the business. This is because once you reach a certain skill level "better" doesn't matter
any more. You are good enough.

This is why you can find what most would consider "Bad" wedding photographers that still do a fairly good business. It's because they are good enough for the price and the audience they are selling their services to. They advertise well (run the business side well) and so people hire them.

And some great photographers go out of business because they don't run the business side well enough.

In my opinion (*warning*) people buy a picture because they have some connection to it. That connection can come from many different angles (its their kid playing sports, its a mountain that they hiked, it strikes them at an emotional level, it makes them go "wow"... whatever.) But they need some connection to the picture.

If you are going to try to become a pro you need to figure out what style of photography you want to do, and then figure out what people will connect with (and hopefully that aligns with what connects with *you*) and then you need to take those pictures with technical skill that is good enough to convey what you want. Now it isn't that easy, of course.

This can mean shooting high school sports and selling pictures of players to their parents. It can mean taking pictures of locally important buildings when they look their best (at certain seasons and/or in great light) and then sell them locally. It can mean traveling around to find the interesting wildlife in your area and trying to get pictures of them doing interesting things in interesting backgrounds with (hopefully) interesting light.

So there are three "hard" parts to selling pictures. Trying to figure out what might sell, then trying to get those pictures, then trying to sell them. Each have their own challenges.

There is a book by John Shaw:
"John Shaw's Business of Nature Photography (Hardcover)"

[/b]that you might find interesting. I own it and learned a good deal from it. I don't do everything in there (and it was produced awhile back so the internet has changed things some) but I found it a very helpful read.

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Old Oct 1, 2007, 3:17 PM   #10
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I want to second the hard work and business side of this. I just watched Chase Jarvis' presentation on Strobist (which I thought was pretty cool, although long). And he stresses a lot of HARD WORK is what it takes to get to the top (ie high paying photo career) along with being good at business (echo what eric said above).

For a while I thought it was something that most people just fell into accidentally, but now (that I'm older) I realize there are a lot of photographers out there and only a hand full of famous ones. However, if you see some of there work (any famous photog) you might think... "that's a nice shot, I could do that, why is he so famous?" It's because of all the hard work and exposure he went through to get to where he is. To prove my point, look at the ad campaign by nikon (where they supposidly give a camera to joe shmoe for a week) and see the pictures they come up with. Some of those shots are really good (IMO) and yet none of those people are famous photogs although their shots could be mistaken for one. Now granted it is an ad campaign so you have to take what they are saying with a grain of salt here but I'm sure you get my point. Even look at county fair photo contests, some people beat out "pro" photographers just out of luck, some may have just got there camera a week before the contest. So does that mean they are better than the pro's with their first place ribbon? Unless they put a lot of hard work in making a name for themselves, they are just a flash in the pan. I hope that makes a little bit of sense.

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