Take Your Best Shot: Photography Degree

Online degree programs in photography can help prepare you for a rewarding and potentially lucrative career in this creative industry. From learning the basic theory of photography to the latest innovative techniques and equipment, online classes can help you reach your academic and employment goals while fitting comfortably within your daily schedule.

Photography Degree Information

Students can pursue an associate's degree or a certificate in photography if their goal is simply to sharpen their photographic skills. Those looking for a career in photography may wish to earn a bachelor's degree in photography at certain colleges or online, or a master's degree in photography.

Photography Degree Study Options

An associate's degree or certificate in photography can be completed in months, rather than years, and will teach the student the basics of technical photography. Students completing this coursework will be able to take and develop high quality pictures with the right equipment. Those interested in a bachelor of arts in photography will usually find such a program online or at an arts and design college.

Advanced Photography Degrees

Students interested in a career in photography will usually want to pursue a master's degree in the discipline. Before entering a master's program, the student will be expected to have a portfolio of work that demonstrates their skill in the art of photography.

Master Of Arts Degree

Students pursuing a master's degree in photography will study a variety of different photographic styles and their development. They will take courses in photo illustration, photo journalism and digital photography. They will receive guidance in developing a unique photographic style. These programs usually take two years or less and prepare one for a career as a photographer.

Further Education

Students who are interested in a particular sub-discipline of photography that they were not able to pursue during their degree studies may choose to take individual courses online in that particular discipline. This can give the photographer a wider range of skills and make him or her more appealing to potential employers.

Choosing A Degree

With the advent of digital photography, the photographic arts have exploded in potential. Photographers can do more with their skills and talents than ever before. There has never been a better time to master the discipline of photography.

Career Opportunities

Photographers can enjoy careers as portrait photographers, taking pictures of individuals and families for display, commercial/industrial photographers who take pictures of artifacts, equipment or landscapes for analysis, scientific photographers such as forensic photographers who take pictures of crime scenes, photojournalists who take pictures for newspapers and magazines, fashion photographers who photograph models or fine arts photographers who take pictures as art for its own sake. Many photographers own their own studios and need not answer to an employer. Others enjoy flexible work schedules and still others have the opportunity to travel to exotic locales to take their pictures. Some people find there to be many perks to a career in photography besides simply the wages they earn.

Earning Potential For Photography Careers

Photographers are often self-employed and therefore set their own pay scales. The median earnings for salaried photographers in 2006 was $26,170 per year, with the top ten percent earning over $56,640 per year. Some photographers, such as photographers for the most successful fashion magazines or those whose art has been recognized for its excellence can make well into the six figures in salary.

Getting Your Degree Online

For continuing education students, an online photography degree is a popular choice, since students can take the courses to earn the degree without a fixed curriculum that interferes with their current job or other obligations. A distance learning photography education from an accredited online university can be just as effective as a brick-and-mortar degree, especially since much of what you will be judged on in your photography career is the quality of your portfolio, which is something most students develop on their own time.

Getting Your Degree Offline

If pursuing a photography degree at a brick-and-mortar institution, you will want to try to find a top arts and design school that will have the instructors, curriculum and equipment that you will need for a top-notch photography education. Remember that getting into a master's program in photography or securing employment as a photographer will require a top-notch portfolio, so it is important to find an institution that will help you develop this. You may even want to research the professors at the brick-and-mortar school you are considering and see if you can find samples of their work. This will give you a better idea if a particular school is the best one for you.

Photography Degree FAQs

Do I Need a Degree to Be a Photographer?

If you aspire to be a photojournalist or find employment as a professional photographer, then a degree in photography will increase your opportunities. At its base, photography is a creative art form that is more dependent upon one's talent than actual academics. However, many firms and publications will only consider candidates who have a degree from an accredited college or university.

What Does an Online Degree Program in Photography Cover?

While every learning institution offers an individualized curriculum, many of the basic elements are the same. You can expect to learn about photography equipment, processes and techniques in nearly every online or campus course for photography.

Some programs touch on the business side of the industry and others include training in different aspects of the field, such as design and composition. Before choosing an online course in photography, research the institution's curriculum to discover what the course will cover.

What Can I Do with a Photography Degree?

There is a broad range of jobs available for photographers. These include photojournalists working for newspapers or other publications, portrait photographers, commercial photographers, scientific photographers, fine art photographers and many other specialty areas. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, more than half of all photographers are self employed.

Who Is the Ideal Candidate for a Career in Photography?

In photography, detail is everything. The candidate should exhibit a keen eye for detail, lighting and mood. Good hand-eye coordination is a must and a professional photographer must have an impressive level of patience.

In addition, depending on the type of photographer you aspire to be, there can be a lot of travel required. If self-employed, you should have a basic understanding of how to run a business.

What Is the Future Job Forecast for Photographers?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, the number of jobs for photographers is expected to grow in accordance with the average through 2016, which is ten percent. However, as the population grows, there will be an expected demand increase for the number of portrait photographers and the Internet offers huge potential for those just entering the industry. From stock photos to online versions of newspapers and magazines, photographers who specialize in taking digital photos and computer editing will find a variety of potential opportunities.

Photography Student Guide

Photography study involves learning the correct technique for taking pictures, along with helping students develop a pleasing aesthetic style. Successful photographers are world-renowned for their ability to capture a certain subject in perpetuity, and the photographic arts are among the most respected arts in the world.

Photography Books

Most of the photography books that students will be studying contain pictures taken by successful photographers, in order to give students a sense of what types of shading, angles, poses and atmosphere create an appealing picture. Photoeye.com has an online bookstore featuring over 1,000 photography books for the photography student.

Photography Articles And Databases

Photoeye.com also has a searchable database of not only American and foreign photography materials, but also the option to search Amazonís photobook database, so you have a great chance of finding the photography article or book that you need from their site. For more photography database options, consult your college or university library under photography.

Photography Online Journals

There are a great many photography journals and magazines featuring photography styles and techniques from all over the world. A wonderful source for these online is Penrose Pressís International Directory of Design (Penrose-Press.com/idd/?REGION=NONE&SUBJECT=SUB10036&TYPE=journal). Here you can find links to information about a wide variety of photography journals and magazines including Photographie, Master Photographer, Aperture, American Photo, Photo and Better Photography.

Other Photography Research Tools

A tool that may prove incredibly useful in photography study is the USA Photography Guide. This comprehensive guide will provide information about photography supplies, services, festivals, galleries and much more. 

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