What Classes Do You Need to Be a Photographer?

There's no legal or academic requirement to becoming a photographer.
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Professional photographers can work in a wide variety of settings and may photograph weddings, historical events, families, nature or artistic endeavors. There are no specific classes you have to take to become a photographer and many successful photographers are self-taught. However, a strong background in photographic techniques can help you maximize your abilities and classes related to running a photography business can help you become more successful.

1 Photography Techniques

Basic photography techniques are the key to your success as a photographer. Classes in lighting, both studio and natural, can prepare you to shoot quality images in a variety of settings. Classes on different types of photography, such as portrait photography and candids, can also be helpful. Classes on how cameras work can help you learn to adjust your shutter speed, aperture and other settings to produce the best photos. Classes in photographic style and eliciting natural poses and behavior from your subjects can also improve your photography skill. In a world increasingly driven by digital content, digital photography classes can help you expand your photography practice and classes in digital editing can ensure you provide your customers with the perfect shot.

2 Artistry

Classes in color, composition and creative concepts such as photographic symbolism can be helpful. If you plan to pursue a specific type of photography, such as portraiture, you can take classes that focus on the creative techniques you can use in your chosen field. For example, courses in photo journalism might be ideal for a wedding photographer who wants to capture candid images.

3 Managing a Business

If you're planning to strike out on your own as a freelancer or business owner, you'll need to know how to market yourself and manage your business. Classes in accounting, employee management, marketing and advertising, search engine optimization and Internet business strategies can all improve your chances of success. Running a business is not easy and the skills can take years to learn if you don't have the educational background.

4 Journalism and Communications

If you want to be a photographer for a newspaper or magazine or a freelancer who specializes in news and world events, classes in photographic journalism and media communications can help. You'll also need a general awareness of politics and history. If you want to photograph in a specific area of the world, courses in that area's history and geography can help you choose the right images to capture. For example, if you want to photograph animals in sub-Saharan Africa, take courses in African ecology and history. If you only know that you want to capture important events, world history, government and political science classes can help you pick out what events might be important to photograph.

Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.