Becoming a professional photographer is difficult, but not impossible. A formal degree or certificate in photography is not required to pursue this career path.
A bachelor's degree of some kind is helpful though for advancement opportunities within the field, but it will take time and hard work before you're even considered for any of these jobs.
If you love photography, are persistent in developing your talent, have an interest in entering contests that would enable you to further showcase your talent are willing to get on-the-job training while working on getting industry experience, then the following steps may help you become a successful photographer without a degree:
1. Pursue Your Passion
One of the most important things people should know about being a successful photographer without a degree is that you will need to have a passion for photography.
That's right, no matter how great your "technical" skills are or if you have built up a solid rapport with clients but lack the long-term enthusiasm about being in this industry, it will be unlikely to find lasting success.
If you've always enjoyed taking photos of any kind since you were young, then chances are you already know photography is what you want to do when working as a professional photographer.
2. Take Photography Classes/Workshops
Taking classes in photography can help lay the groundwork for your future career in this field even if you've yet to earn official certification in it.
If not taken seriously, these classes can also give an individual the false impression that they're already ready to become a professional, and they soon find themselves quickly disappointed when entering the field.
3. Participate In Photo Contests
While winning a contest is no guarantee of future success in the field of photography, taking part in them can help generate some early excitement about your work and serve as an opportunity to get on-the-job experience while still honing your craft.
What's even better is if you win these contests, it can serve as a great portfolio piece you can use during job interviews later on down the road. Just don't get too hung up on only entering these contests either because that could also be counter-productive to building contacts and making positive impressions on employers by showing how willing you are to go above and beyond the call of duty.
4. Submit Your Best Photos For Critique
If you aren't already, begin engaging in networking and building rapport with professionals working within the field of photography by not only attending workshops and seminars but also by becoming a member of professional organizations for your state and region.
Afterward, ask them if they wouldn't mind taking a look at some examples of your best work to offer feedback on how they can be improved upon or what kinds of changes you might want to consider implementing in the future when developing new photographs.
Even better, ask them if there is anyone they may know who could serve as a mentor for you if it hasn't been made clear enough just yet that their guidance alone would be invaluable to someone wanting to become a professional photographer.
5. Get On-The-Job Training While Working On Getting Industry Experience
Once you've completed all of the above steps, you can begin looking for job openings within this industry where your skills and portfolio will be valued by employers working in the field of photography, even if it means taking an entry-level job to get started on paying your dues.
Just don't be discouraged if you're not given any hands-on experience during your first few months or even years at lower pay than you may expect because doing so requires that management trusts that you are capable of handling certain responsibilities without direct supervision.
This is something they usually want to see demonstrated first before giving anyone this kind of authority over what happens with client photos after they've been taken.
To become a successful photographer without earning a degree, you'll need to have a passion for the work.
Taking photography classes or workshops can help lay the groundwork for your future career in this field even if not formally certified. Participating in photo contests and submitting your best photos for critique will also be invaluable steps on this path.
After completing all these steps, find an entry-level job with the opportunity to get hands-on experience while working towards industry success that's valued by employers looking for someone who has their skillset and portfolio ready to go!
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