There are a number of alternative career paths open to photographers. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll break it down into two categories: jobs that require an in-depth, solid understanding of the “science” of photography and those with an artistic talent for it.
Technical Photography Jobs
Back in the olden days, when we shot film, a photographic related career required a much different set of technical disciplines. Now, the photo lab is all but a thing of the past, at least as it once was. Those related careers are now something very different and nowhere near as prevalent. Today, we can buy a relatively high quality photo printer for 100 dollars, eliminating the need to go through a photo lab. (The positive is that we no longer pollute the environment with the chemistry that film required.)
Digital photography has spawned a new science and a new set of technical professions that are related to, or support, photography. The chemical engineer is now an electrical engineer. Labs are now digital print services and are online. The air brushers are still around but use much different tools. The new careers are big and growing, and mostly revolve around software and application development. There is still some chemistry involved for those who develop inks and papers to support the home printer and the online print services. Expertise on the gear side can still apply to design, development and repair of equipment as well as technical support. Retail support careers still require at least some of the tech side of photography.
Artistic Photography Careers
For those with the artistic talent but not the technical interest, the options have not changed too much. Most of these careers are in advertising and design, as art buyers, photo editors, art directors and creative directors.
The direct-support careers (working in the industry, creating images) have remained much the same as well. Business support in the form of management, accounting, production and artist representation is still a big role for a successful photographer or studio. Studio assistants, digital techs, set designers, and photo stylists are all still mainstays in photography support careers.
Each of these require the interest and maybe even the passion of a photographer and their craft and are most definitely what make photography a strong, growing, creative industry.
Ric Deliantoni is a professional photographer and director with thirty years of experience, with a focus on still-life and lifestyle imagery for advertising, design and publishing. He has developed a unique style that has been described as impressionistic and bold. Ric has also spent much of his career teaching and mentoring students of all levels to better themselves as artists.