Many artistic students consider an online photography bachelor's degree but wonder if they can teach themselves instead. While many photographers are self-taught, earning a degree helps formalize knowledge, create a network, and develop a portfolio before entering the workforce.

If you want to learn more about what completing an online photography degree entails, keep reading. This guide offers details on how you can use your degree, the skills and knowledge you can gain, common careers available, and average professional salaries.

What Is Photography?

Photography encompasses a wide spectrum of industries and settings, but learners can choose to focus on specific areas of interest. Some students may feel drawn to portrait photography, while others choose to work as news photographers and travel the globe capturing important moments in world history. Fashion photographers often snap the latest looks on the runway and capture stills of models showing off emerging trends. Meanwhile, aerial photographers take to the skies and capture wide views of particular places or events.

Students should know that an online photography degree at the baccalaureate level prepares them to take on entry-level positions immediately after graduation. While it's no guarantee for landing a job, holding this degree can help grab the attention of a senior-level professional, often resulting in booking a significant gig.

Like other creative pursuits, a professional can make their way up the career ladder without ever setting foot in a college classroom. That being said, taking four years out of your schedule to gain formal knowledge about both technical and creative aspects of the discipline can save time down the road. By attending classes with accomplished faculty, students gain insight and knowledge to hone their skills more quickly than if they had to teach themselves.

What Can I Do with an Online Photography Bachelor's Degree?

Because photography presents such a broad field of work opportunities, degree seekers must narrow their interests to establish the type of photography they want to pursue. For instance, a student who knows they want to focus on photojournalism can begin taking electives from the journalism department.

The following section can give you a sense of what to expect from this degree and how you can make the most of your education.

Skills and Knowledge Gained

Students enrolled in an online photography degree gain myriad soft and hard skills that prepare them for the professional and creative aspects of the industry. Some skills gained include:

Technical Knowledge: Students learn about the variety of lenses alongside technical terms, such as aperture, ISO speeds, DSLR, and what they all mean when composing a photograph. Learners also explore how to use various digital imaging and editing software to enhance their photos.

Composition: This term refers to how an individual chooses to frame the image they take. Qualities of concern when compositing a picture include form, lighting, color, shape, design, and balance. A photographer must look through their lens and find the best composition given the setting.

Administration: Given that many photographers work in freelance capacities, they must know how to handle the business side of the industry. Students can take classes in entrepreneurship, marketing, accounting, social media, communication, and finance to augment their creative skills.

Ability to Work on a Team: Photographers rarely work alone. On any given shoot, professionals can expect to collaborate with an art director, makeup artist, wardrobe director, lighting specialist, or scene designer. Because of this, photographers must learn how to interact with a variety of different personalities.

Since photography represents a broad landscape, students must proactively hone their skills for the industry or career to which they aspire. For example, photography students who want to work in fashion should seek out a fashion internship to begin building professional contacts.

Careers and Salary Potential

As discussed throughout this guide, photographers can find work in many different industries. People enjoy seeing the world around them in visually stimulating ways. Whether that means picturing an article of clothing before purchase or searching for images of locales on the other side of the world, people rely on photographers to bring them these clear images.

Below, you can find some of the standard industries for photographers and a few common and uncommon jobs professionals can seek.

  • Marketing, Advertisement, and Public Relations: When selling a product, potential customers like to visualize the item. Photographers serve as the backbone of many marketing and advertising campaigns.
  • Newspapers, Magazines, and Other Publications: Photographers commonly provide photos for newspapers, magazines, and other printed and digital publications to compliment articles.
  • Motion Picture and Video Industries: Most individuals think of films when they consider the motion picture industry, but photographers take promotional stills, capture red carpet moments, and keep up with celebrities.
  • Retail and Fashion: Photographers drive the retail and fashion industries by providing photography of the items for sale. They take photographs for catalogs, advertisements, runways, and store marketing materials.
  • Independent Artists: Photography also exists as an art form. Independent artists use their creative eye to capture beautiful, harrowing, happy, and memorable moments, often selling their work in galleries.
Photographer

Annual Median Salary: $34,000

Photographers work in all sorts of settings to capture images. They work with models, analyze photographic composition, position lighting, and give artistic direction. Photographers also edit digital and film images before presenting them to a client.

Art Director

Annual Median Salary: $92,780

Art directors oversee photography shoots and creatively direct the scene to ensure visually strong concepts. Professionals decide which photos to use, provide style directions, approve designs, and liaise between photographers and clients to produce the best outcome.

Film Editor/Camera Operator

Annual Median Salary: $58,990

These professionals work on television, film, and commercial sets to record live footage. They collaborate with directors and producers to ensure they shoot with correct lighting and composition and may sometimes edit this footage themselves.

Graphic Designer

Annual Median Salary: $50,370

Graphic designers work in advertising and marketing to create visual images that convey a message, idea, or feeling. They may design images for books, magazines, commercials, websites, or any other medium requiring a specific graphic.

Fine Artist

Annual Median Salary: $48,960

Fine artists use their talents to develop original pieces of art. They may work in photography, paint, ink, clay, marble, or any other medium that brings their vision to life.