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What Skills Are Required of a Photographer?

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Photography is more than taking shots and videos because photographers use images to tell a story. Professional equipment has changed drastically since the early years of the art, and most photographers use digital equipment instead of silver-halide film. However, many of the skills necessary to take great pictures have remained unchanged.

Sense of Composition

Photographers need the ability to analyze a subject and decide how to compose the photo. Practice, mentoring and classes are the best ways to acquire these skills, which are often the most difficult to develop.

Sense of Color

An understanding of color plays an important part in creating a successful photographic image. Even for monochromatic images, a photographer must understand the different hues between black and white.

Mastery of Technology

Digital cameras use computers to print modern images, but art photography still uses traditional darkrooms. Mastery of computer hardware and software is necessary to be a professional photographer.

Love of Trial and Error

Professional photographers rarely take one print of an image, preferring instead to manipulate the composition and light to create multiple interpretations of one photograph.

Ability to Look Beyond the Obvious

Great photographers look at life and see something unusual -- sometimes called a photographic "eye." It takes practice to develop this skill and capture interesting scenes.

Ability to Wait

Waiting for the perfect light to take a photo might take hours or even days. Photographers must develop a keen sense of patience.

Training or Degree

Photography is one of the few professions that hire on based on a portfolio rather than a degree, although a degree is helpful in making contacts for full-time employment. Art schools, technical schools and colleges offer useful classes in photography.