If you believe everything you read then California is just teeming with photographers looking for the one picture that will make them enough money to retire. If you look a little deeper into the reality of photography in California then you will soon realize that real life is a little different. There are not as many photographers as you think, and they are not all paparazzi! And taking one shot of a celebrity will not necessarily get you anywhere. It takes much more hard work and effort than that.
Whilst taking photographs of celebrities may not be as fun or as fulfilling as most serious photographers would like, it is an option. However, the majority of photography jobs available in California are with large corporations and companies that have their own in house team for commercial purposes. They tell you what they want and need and you then go and photograph it.
There are some magazines and publishing houses that employ in house photographers as well but if you plan on being a freelancer then opportunities are harder to come by. You really have to stand out from the crowd and make an impression. In house photographers earn an average of $34,000, but a freelancer’s annual income can be as little as a third of that amount if he or she does not market him or herself correctly.
There are several ways that any freelancer can stand out from the crowd, and four of them happen to be the same ways that individuals looking to work in house get their break in the field of photography:
1. Complete an educational qualification in photography – There are so many schools, community colleges, art centres and colleges that offer workshops, basic courses and advanced qualifications in California that it is easy to fit a photography course into even the most hectic of schedules. A little formal training will give you a foundation to work from. It will also indicate to employers that you are keen to forge a career in photography.
2. Showcase your work – Art centres are always looking for work from new artists to display. They will often set up exhibitions free of charge, but there are galleries that will also display your work if you pay the set up costs. This can be a wise investment. Enquire about this possibility with California galleries. It may also be very wise to set up a website because potential employers then have easy access to your portfolio.
3. Apply for an internship – An internship at a magazine, newspaper or commercial company will give you on the job experience that could make you stand out head and shoulders above the rest.
4. Make contacts – Sometimes it’s not what you know but who you know, and this does apply in the photography industry. If you are well known then people are more likely to hire you, but if your name is not out there then it may well be a struggle. Send out business cards, make a few calls and market yourself to the hilt. All of your effort will pay off eventually.
Photography jobs are harder to come by in California than the majority of other states in America because there are so many potential photographers looking to make it there. The market is saturated but the work is there. Work harder than the next person and you may just get to here you want to go.