As a photographer, you understand the power of a photograph. The right picture can capture a beautiful memory or change a whole nation’s point-of-view. Unfortunately, your desire to set the art world ablaze with your thought-provoking work isn’t exactly paying the rent or even allowing you to purchase new equipment. If you’re struggling to make ends meet in the highly competitive world of professional photography, here are a few of the most exciting and lucrative career options to consider.
Listed as one of the “Top 10 High-Paying Jobs That Don’t Require a Degree” by online magazine Finance, freelance photography is often the ultimate goal and passion of several budding artists. The website lists the average salary of a freelance photographer at $47,800 a year; however, with the right connections, gear, experience and discipline it’s possible for a freelance photographer to earn a six-figure salary. Of course, the world of freelance photography is also fraught with potential pitfalls, including lack of steady work and the pressures that inevitably accompany being your own boss.
Do you have a passion for the outdoors and would love to integrate it into a successful career? Luckily for you, many institutions, from publications to the U.S. government, are always looking to hire a trained, talented wildlife photographer. The reason wildlife photography is so lucrative is because the work can be tedious and requires unflappable patience. It can often take several weeks to snap the ideal photo, but if you have the right qualities, you can expect to always be in demand and command a very high price for your services.
Imagine someone handing you a paycheck for traveling the globe and snapping photos of exotic locales and people? As a travel photographer, this is a completely realistic scenario for individuals at the forefront of their field. In reality, you’ll probably start smaller working for a more modest publication. Aside from the opportunity to draw an impressive salary, travel photography is the best way for you to visit some location you’ve only seen in books and magazines.
Forensics is the ideal career path for anyone with a keen eye for detail, although it doesn’t hurt to also have a strong stomach. As a forensic photographer, you’re charged with snapping crime scene photos, which are used as evidence during a criminal investigation. An expertly photographed crime scene can often make the difference in a case, allowing you the opportunity to enjoy a craft you love while making a real difference in your community. Many private investigators, police departments and government agencies on a local or state level hire forensic photographers, and the remuneration is often dependent on their budget and your experience.
Oftentimes, the best photographers are the ones who are great with people. In general, the majority of portrait photographers are freelancers who rely heavily on birthdays, weddings and company events to build their business and pay the bills; however, it’s possible to secure a very comfortable and stable job through a private corporation or even a civil service position, such as snapping portraits for a city, state or local governmental agency.
The scope of a photojournalist’s career varies greatly depending on the publication. For instance, you could secure a job with your local newspaper snapping photos of high school football games, school board meetings or the yearly Christmas parade; however, a more high-profile publication could have you traveling the globe capturing images of political coups, royal weddings or photos of war. On the more extreme end of the spectrum, photojournalism can be exciting, rewarding, highly lucrative and even a bit dangerous.
The first step to landing a career in wildlife photography, travel photography or any of the other quickly growing photography careers is obtaining your degree. There are a number of reputable, affordable and flexible photography schools that can help you achieve your ultimate career goal in less time and for less money than you thought possible.
About the Author: Samantha Myers is a photography student and blogger. She’s graduating in the fall and cannot wait to begin an exciting career in photojournalism.