career: Photography

What's it all about

Photography is all about capturing moments and making them convey a message. The reason for shooting is what varies industry – and each role has different ways of getting started. For example, if you want to be a photography journalist you might want to do an apprenticeship in journalism. If you want to be a family portrait specialist, you might want to try teaching yourself the techniques you need to make a successful business.

Everyone has their own style of photography and what you do with it depends on what you’re interested in. If you’re interested in wildlife and nature you might want to be a photographer for the National Geographic channel. If you’re obsessed with celebrity gossip you might want to be a member of the paparazzi. Maybe you like fashion and can see yourself styling models for the latest edition of Vogue. Whatever it is you want to do, it’s possible to do it without a degree.

What could I be doing 

What could I be doing

  • Portrait photography
  • Concept
  • Marketing
  • Wedding
  • Corporate
  • Fashion

Routes in

When it comes to photography, there are loads of different ways you can get into the industry. One of which is university, but there are plenty of options if that’s not for you. Depending on the type of photography you are interested in, internships are a very popular route. This is like an extended work experience and can last anywhere from three months to a year. It generally involves being an assistant to the main photographer and this is where you’ll learn all of the skills you need to become one yourself.

Another option is to do an apprenticeship. Photography apprenticeships are fairly new so aren’t easy to get into – but if you have built up a portfolio of work and have experience on your CV, an apprenticeship could be the perfect way for you to train on the job. Photography apprenticeships are quite similar in that you’ll probably start out with a more assistant-style job role and work your way up to being behind the lens as head photographer.

It’s also possible to start your own business as a photographer, which would involve freelance work in either commercial or personal photography (eg weddings). This would require you to have a vast knowledge of taking and editing photos as well as being able to find clients and build a reputation as a respected and reliable photographer.

What skills will I need? 

What skills will I need?

  • creativity
  • practical and technical photography skills
  • excellent communication
  • ‘people’ skills
  • patience and concentration
  • reliability
  • good organisation

Been there, done that

We spoke to Lauren Iball, 20, from Imago Photography shoot assistant:

I think university is a great idea if you are determined to work in an industry where a degree is a necessity. The cost of university was definitely a large part of the decision-making and whether it would be worth it in the outcome. A great thing about an apprenticeship is you get to earn money while you gain work experience, so you aren’t left in debt. Being hands-on in a work environment is great experience to have and although a university student may know all about a job role, they don’t get to put it into practice and learn important skills that you can’t get from a text book.

Being an apprentice has allowed me to study while gaining knowledge of actually being in a workplace so I get a better, in-depth understanding of how important communication and other day-to-day skills are.


A benefit of an apprenticeship course is that they are only around a year long, compared to a minimum of 3 years of university where at the end of it, you aren’t guaranteed a job in your desired sector.

With an apprenticeship, you get a head start into the industry and have the opportunity to prove yourself to your employer so that they take you on as a full-time employee once your course finishes. I am really happy with choosing an apprenticeship course over going to uni, it has allowed me to develop skills that are needed in the fashion photography industry as well as developing personal skills and finding my strengths within the industry sooner than if I chose the university path.

Expert opinion

Are you an expert in this field? Then we want you to tell us what it takes to make it in this industry. Get in touch by emailing us at hattie@unisnotforme.com to find out more.



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