Michael, Freelance Photographer
What does a photographer do?
Michael was always interested in media studies while at school. However, it took a good deal of motivation and hard work to get where he is today.
Currently Michael owns his own photographic studio in Melbourne and works for a diverse range of clients: "The work I do is really varied. It ranges from product photography, where I take pictures of commercial products for advertising purposes and then scan the images into a computer, through to digital imaging, which involves retouching pictures. I also do architectural photography, corporate functions, and portraits of models and families."
How did you become a photographer?
Michael worked as a freelance photographer for four years - while studying part-time - before opening 'Studio 11' two years ago. "I'm really happy about the way it's worked out. There's a lot of freedom in running your own business, but I'm still at the building stage," says Michael.
While Michael really enjoys what he does now, he cautions that it's certainly not easy to establish yourself as a photographer: "You don't make much money in the first 18 months to two years as a photographer. It's a real hard slog. You have to make a lot of sacrifices to finance it all, and you really have to be prepared to go the extra mile. While I was studying, I had a part time job in a photo lab to earn the extra money I needed to buy camera gear," says Michael.
What sort of skills and qualities do you need?
You need to show some initiative and try to get as much exposure in the industry as early as possible. Michael suggests assisting professional photographers, on a voluntary basis if need be, much as he did himself:
"On school excursions when there'd be photographers, I'd offer to work as an assistant, or I would help photographers whom I met through my job at the photo lab," says Michael. "Starting off working for nothing can be a good way to get your foot in the door, because if you do a good job, they might keep you on as a paid assistant."
And the hard work doesn't stop once you're established either. "It's a very competitive industry," says Michael. "If you want to win the business of new clients, you need to be better and faster than the rest. You might even do a job as a trial to convince them of this. And of course, you need to be able to maintain this standard," he adds.
Any tips for getting a job as a photographer?
"Don't try to specialize too much in one area. Photography is an expanding industry, so doing some digital imaging and a bit of design work can give you that extra edge. Plus it's never too soon to start building a good folio."
Find out more
Visit the MyFuture website to find out more about duties and tasks, work conditions, earnings and required qualifications for a career as a photographer.
Find out more about this career path at myfuture.edu.au (new window) (Note: free registration is required to access the myfuture site).