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How long does it take to become a professional photographer?

If you’re interested in how to learn professional photography, you might be wondering what kind of time investment is involved. With any new career path, or career pivot, time and effort has to go into making that change – so it’s got to be worth it!

While the exact figure for how long it will take you to become a professional photographer is up to each individual, the industry standard is around 3-4 years. This journey is totally flexible, depending on a number of different factors we’ll look at below, but is the usual path from being a total beginner to having a thriving photography studio.

So how can you make the most of that time, or even hit the fast forward button and be a step closer to your dream photography career today? Let’s find out!

Step 1 – Training

Timeframe:  Anywhere from a few months to 4 years

Training is of course an essential part of your journey to professional photography. But with several different options for honing your skills, which one is the best?

A Bachelor of Arts (BA) in photography is available from most universities, and would give you a general grounding in photographic elements. This may involve travelling and suspending any current work to take this course, and could take 3-4 years to complete. 

Continuing your studies, a Master of Arts (MA) in photography could help you specialise in a particular area of interest and hone your skills to a high level. Generally, a full-time photography Masters will take 1-2 years to complete, and require a prior degree for entry. Part-time courses offer more flexibility, but can last up to 3 years. 

Online photography courses are growing in their popularity, as they can both streamline and accelerate this part of the journey. With affordable payment plans that won’t saddle you with thousands of pounds of debt, they are often more accessible than a degree too!

With both general foundational courses and niche options available, such as our Photography Business Course Online, you can choose the syllabus that suits your current experience level & your specific interests. 

With this option, you can enjoy a flexible learning system that fits around your current job or family commitments, meaning you can learn when it suits you best. Taken at your own pace, your training could be completed outside of your day job over the course of 1 year, or completed in a focused burst of less than a few months!

If you’ve got the drive and initiative to hit your targets, our courses can provide you with a solid foundation of knowledge and ensure you develop the practical skills to go professional sooner!

Step 2 – Get some equipment & experience

Timeframe 6 months – 1 year

Once you have the technical skills under your belt, it’s time to take them out in the real world. 

Try speaking to local photographers via their websites or social media, and ask if they need an assistant for a day or during an event. Ask questions, learn from their experience & start to build your network of contacts. Take photos at any opportunity – a friend’s weddings, at local events & wherever inspiration strikes.

You’ll know you are ready when your camera feels as if it is an extension of your body, the technicalities are your second language and your creative eye is drawn to the same places and styles time and again. 

A key benefit of our courses is that our payment plans include a DSLR camera! Meaning you will waste no time getting started straight away. You can even start building these important  experience steps into your training phase, accelerating your trajectory towards becoming a professional photographer by a few months or even a year!

Step 3 – Build A Portfolio & Attract Clients

Timeframe 1 month – 6 months 

Use all that amazing experience and apply a critical eye, so you can start building a strong portfolio of images. This is what will draw in your clients and keep them coming back!

Keep the images specific to the niche you want to conquer, and remember that less is usually more. Choose the images that represent your style, personality & amazing skills the best. 

Make sure you keep on top of your organisation, to ensure your calendar is well scheduled and clients are given a fantastic memory of their time with you. You can also enter competitions to boost your visibility, enhance your image & get those all important followers. 

What will become invaluable to your studio’s success are the marketing modules in our online photography courses. These modules help to teach you the essential skills to reaching and connecting with the audiences looking for someone just like you. You’ll learn how to get that incredible portfolio out into the world for all to see. 

From here – the sky’s the limit!

Step 4 – Keep Learning

Timeframe – endless enjoyment!

Professional photography isn’t really a destination, it’s a constant journey of passion. Taking good photographs is a meeting of your artistic intuition & technical knowledge. Which means you must always nourish your creativity and brush up your technical skills to stay on top form.  

This could mean delving into a new area, taking a new online course to boost your knowledge, or getting out of your comfort zone with some wildlife photography!

Make your journey as efficient and awe-inspiring as possible with our online photography courses in New Zealand. Specifically designed to fit around your lifestyle, they are led by industry experts to give you the perfect foundation for your passionate business plan. Affordable payment plans and full tutor support mean you can be sure of a strong start into this incredible industry. 

Online study is the best way to achieve your goals sooner, and we can’t wait to help you do just that!


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