Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated in 2016 that photographers have median earnings of only about $34,070, a career in photography can be creatively rewarding. BLS further notes that 33 percent of photographers work part time, which can lower the reported average wage. The upside of working part tme is flexibility, which supports work life balance. Moreover, a few photographers become wildly successful and are able to make large incomes if that is your ambition. If you're contemplating a career in photography, several high school classes can help you gain basic skills and prepare you for college or an apprenticeship.
Journalism classes focus on every element of journalism, including photojournalism. If your school has a good journalism program, you may even learn how to develop your own photos. Because many photographers become photojournalists, journalism classes can give you the basic media background you need and may even teach you some additional skills you can use to supplement your photography income. Even in this age of digital photography, knowledge of darkroom techniques is helpful in understanding what goes into creating the perfect image that will accentuate a story.
Film and photography are closely related. Learning about the angles from which famous movies were shot and the emotions directors aim to convey can help you master the basics of conveying emotion in your own photos. Use your course in film studies as a chance to contemplate the power and effect of a single still from a movie, and then think about ways you can imitate this in your photography.
Art courses can include courses in photography if your school has a sufficiently large and diverse art program. Even if it doesn't, though, taking art courses can help you develop a good eye and a creative approach to photography. Art classes will help you master color composition and enable you to convey emotion and meaning with a single image. Some art majors in college choose to specialize in photography or graphic design, which is an option you may want to consider down the road.
Photographers need to be able to edit their work, change the file extension on photos and even create their own photo books. Basic computer skills courses can help you master these challenges. If you can take a course on graphic design, you'll also know the basics of how to design a photo book or advertisement. If your school offers classes on Photoshop or photo editing, be sure to take them. Working for the school newspaper or the yearbook offers great hands on training. For example, you can practice taking photos and artistically working them into a page your are designing. Because photograghy and graphic design are related, and a career in one area can lead to a career in the other.
- United States Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics: Photographers
- Indiana University: School of Journalism: All Courses
- The Art Career Project: Shoot for a Career in Photography
- Big Future by the College Board: Photographers
- United States Department of Labor Statistics: Photographers: Pay
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.