How To Become A Photographer In Australia: A Complete Guide

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Students want to know how to become photographers in Australia.


Are you creative and imaginative with a good eye for composition and lighting? Then, a photography career might be for you!


Photographers are artists who work with various tools and techniques to create superior-quality commercial or artistic photos of sceneries, flora, fauna, people, products and more.


You don't need a formal education to become a Photographer. However, photography training in the form of a bachelor's degree or VET certification will help you learn and master the technical skills to produce quality pictures.


The article explains the job profile and the steps to pursue a photography career. You will learn everything about becoming a photographer, from qualifications, courses, salary, and skills to career opportunities and job outlook.



1. What Is Photography?


Photography is the art of capturing natural or artificial light with a camera using lighting equipment to produce an image. Besides the right photography equipment, a successful photograph depends on other critical elements such as light, emotion, composition, and the subject.


Photography comprises different genres such as landscape, wildlife, editorial, commercial, sports, architecture, food, street, news and documentary, fashion, cultural event, travel, macro, portrait, wedding, medical, and more.



2. Who Is A Photographer?


Photographers are experts at producing and modifying images that express emotion, tell a story, record an event, or paint a portrait.


They combine their artistic skills and technical knowledge to capture moments in time and transform them into representations for enjoyment.


Photographers are technical artists who are well-versed in using a film or digital camera to produce high-quality images for many purposes.


Where a landscape photographer works with different lenses, filters, and a tripod, a portrait photographer needs good lighting equipment and a lens to generate exceptional images.


Based on the niche, a Photographer can specialise in various fields such as weddings, cultural/ scientific/sports events, fashion, aerial, underwater, journalism, medical, wildlife, art, and architecture, and product shoots for promotion on websites and other advertising media.



3. Why Choose A Photography Career In Australia?


Photography is an industry that demands a desire and a love of creation. It may not be a career that can get you a lot of money, but it will give you inner satisfaction and recognition.


With the advent of digital cameras and the easy accessibility of innovative photo-finishing software, almost anyone can pursue a career in photography with considerable training, creativity, and patience.


Below is a compilation of the top reasons to become a photographer:


  • You work with various electronic equipment. These include advanced computers, complex photo-editing software, and high-end digital cameras to create an outstanding piece to woo the audience. Suppose you are tech-savvy and fond of sophisticated and high-end technology. In that case, photography makes an ideal career choice for you.


  • Photography is a vast field that comprises numerous branches to specialise in. With so many options, it becomes easy to pick the niche that interests you. This exciting profession gives you infinite scope to express your creativity and discover your potential.


  • If you are looking for a flexible job that allows you to decide your work hours, becoming a photographer could be the right choice for you. While working in this field, you can define your schedule, rules, methodology, and dress code.


  • Photography lets you express yourself creatively and share a new perspective. With a myriad of high-end photography tools and brilliant photographic skills, you get the power to turn anything beautiful into artwork. 


  • Photographers live in the present moment and admire the beauty in the tiniest thing surrounding them to capture incredible moments to relish forever.


  • Photography is a means to destress yourself. Photographers immerse in shootings and feel absolute relaxation within themselves. It is a therapy that helps you get in touch with your inner core and attain a state of peace and tranquillity.


  • Photography is a great way to document big moments of your family, including birth, graduation, wedding, children, and grandchildren, and their moments to create memories to cherish in the future. Thus, photography can bring families together and spread love and happiness everywhere.


  • Photography is more than pointing the camera at an object and pressing the image capture button. The field gives you a profound learning experience.


  • Photography gives you excellent opportunities to share your perspective, beliefs, and opinions with everyone across the globe. You can use it as a tool to bring about different types of emotion, from happiness to sorrow, fear, and enthusiasm.


  • There are no language or culture blocks for a photographer. You will be surprised to see how your perfectly captured image helps you connect and communicate with people worldwide.


  • As a photographer, you can become an instrument to serve people. The profession lets you engage in volunteering work too. By capturing noble results and spreading awareness, you can help obtain resources and funds to encourage such works in society. This way, photography can help make the world a better place.



4. What Does A Photographer Do In Australia?


Looking at travel and landscape photography, a career as a photographer may seem to be a glamorous business. Still, its daily activities involve much more than just capturing photographs in exotic destinations.


Photographers work with cutting-edge technology-based electronic equipment and employ suitable techniques to produce the desired effect in the image. 


They skillfully capture composed professional-level photographs for various events, including landscape, editorial, wedding, or portrait photography.


A photographer in Australia performs the following duties to create a perfect image:


  • Communicate with clients to define a photographic assignment's objective and understand the photoshoot's vision.

  • Determine each subject's appropriate setting and photography gear (lens, camera, etc.).

  • Set up a studio by assembling equipment and creating an artistic backdrop per materials, locations, job conditions, and subjects.

  • Operate photography equipment such as conventional or digital cameras, filters, flash attachments, light-measuring devices, and tripods to capture images in a studio setting.

  • Manipulate lighting system using online photo-editing tool to accentuate colours of a subject.

  • Adjust contrast and brightness in an image.

  • Clean and change lenses.

  • Crop and join images.

  • Adjust shutter speeds, camera angle, exposure, composition, apertures, focus-based lighting, subject motion, film type, field depth, light positions, and film speed.

  • Critically evaluate and enhance photographs using digital photo-editing software and online imaging techniques to produce high resolutions and best-quality images per client specifications.

  • Provide creative ideas, photographic approaches, technical solutions and advice on the selection of props, locations, colour coordination, and models 

  • Process film and develop prints in a dark room

  • Use computers to produce images in digital or print form, manipulate images, and perform post-production work. 

  • Travel to distant places to capture photographs

  • Work from a local studio or transport and set up equipment at different locations.



5. What Skills Are Needed To Become A Photographer In Australia?


Photographers who want to make a full-time career in photography must have in-depth knowledge beyond the lens.


They should also be good at editing, networking, and communicating with designers, clients, and advertising professionals.


Here are a few inherent traits and skills that allow a photographer to see beauty in the world around them and produce flawless creations:


  • Passion for photography

  • Good vision

  • Artistic ability

  • Hand-eye coordination

  • An eye for detail

  • Accuracy

  • Patience

  • Persistence

  • Ability to handle work pressure

  • An artistic eye for composition, colour, and lighting

  • Great people skills

  • Self-motivated

  • Good at problem-solving

  • Great spatial awareness

  • Creative thinking

  • Able to work both in a team and independently

  • Able to take Initiative

  • Ability to stand for extended periods

  • Technical proficiency in operating computer software



6. Qualification To Become A Photographer In Australia


You don't need formal qualifications to work as a photographer in Australia. However, training in photography, digital imaging, or photo media makes it easier to enter this occupation.


  • Gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education in English.

  • Get a Vocational Education and Training and a university-level degree while looking for internships or on-the-job training in your field. Applicants may need to present their work portfolio and attend a job interview.

  • Basic knowledge of web design, product design, and marketing is desirable.



7. Steps To Become A Photographer In Australia


Anyone can pursue this profession regardless of age, language, or culture. To start this career, you need a suitable camera and begin shooting.


Photography courses are the best ways to get fundamental knowledge and learn the technicalities involved in photography.


Keeping your talents with you won't earn you anything. You need to reach as many people as possible and get them to know about your work. Learning business and technical skills will help aspiring photographers with promotion and sales.



Here Are The Steps To Give You a Head Start In The Photography Occupation:



Step 1: Understand Your Career Goals


The first step to becoming a photographer is to learn your career aspirations. Asking the following questions would help you get clarity on your career.


  • Do you want to work in a company or run your own photography business

  • Do you want to work part-time or full-time? 

  • Do you have adequate resources to be a solo entrepreneur

  • What photography niche interests you most?



Step 2: Focus on Your Niche


Photography is a vast and highly competitive field that provides ample opportunities for skilled professionals. 


The correct course of action would be to focus on the niche you are passionate about and specialise in.



Step 3: Start From High School


To pursue this career, you must start from the high school level. Study a degree focusing on photography, technology and design, art, and visual arts.



Step 4: Get Qualified


The next step is to learn the ins-outs of the niche and develop aesthetic, technical art, and photography skills via education.


degree, certification, or diploma in photography and related fields will educate you on the history and principles of photography, technical aspects like design and composition, photography methods, and time-tested marketing practices.


The artistic photography courses give you hands-on training in various photo editing to prepare you to start taking commercial-quality pictures that stand out in the crowd.


Study the following degree courses at a national-accredited university to establish a successful photography career.


  • Bachelor of Visual Arts

  • Bachelor of Arts (Photography)

  • Bachelor of Design in Photography

  • Bachelor of Design Arts (Filmmaking & Photography)

  • Master of Fine Arts, 

  • Master of Creative Arts

  • Master of Visual Arts


Alternatively, consider taking a Certificate III in Visual Arts and Certificate IV in Photography and Photo Imaging at any TAFE institution or a Diploma of Photography and Photo Imaging.


If none of the above options is possible, then consider attending an online training photography course or a private photography workshop under the instructions of a qualified photography professional.



Step 5: Start Volunteering


Volunteer in local schools and community and work on private projects for free to gain work experience in photography. 


It will help you build a collection of your work and an impressive resume.



Step 6: Get A Suitable Photography Equipment


Research for an appropriate camera to help you capture your chosen photography style. 


You can also invest in a few other niche-specific photography tools, such as portable lighting, backdrops, a tripod, and specialty lenses. 


Darkroom is another good option for those who are interested in film photography.



Step 7: Refine Your Camera Operation and Editing Skills


To become a professional photographer, you need to gain expertise in operating a camera, its settings, and its functions. 


Become proficient in photo editing software and other photography-related courses to capture the best shots in various settings.



Step 8: Practise, Practice, and Practice


Capturing photos in various settings can be enjoyable, but it takes extensive practice to reach a professional standard.


Keep taking photos with your camera and refine your skills till you become confident and achieve excellence in capturing professional-level photographs.


Use different types of filters and lenses to perfect your art of photography. Read relevant magazines and books to gain insights into the popular trends in the photography industry and work on developing those skills.



Step 9: Build a Collection of Your Best Works


The first thing an employer considers before hiring an employee is his skills and relevant experience. 


A strong portfolio that lists your best works is the right way to showcase your creativity and abilities in the most impressionable way. 


Not only will it give you a competitive edge over other job applications, but it will also enhance your employability.



Step 10: Create an Online Version of Your Portfolio


Along with a hard-copy portfolio, you can even create a digital version by making a website using a content management system and uploading your project works on it. 


Share your online portfolio link on job portals, social media job sites, and other places for promotion to connect with your potential clients easily.



Step 11: Get Social and Do Networking


If you are pursuing a photography career to make a living, you should also consider its business aspects. You should learn what techniques successful photographers employ to get clients and business.


Social media is a fantastic platform for aspiring photographers who have yet to establish their presence in the industry. 


Use this tool to share your photography content (images and videos), attract clients, and build a following from all parts of the world.


To make the most of the platform, ensure that the images you promote are original and reflect your niche and authenticity.



Step 12: Start Your Photography Business


With the intense competition, it may be challenging for a budding photographer to earn a place and professional standard in the industry. 


It is a good idea to start as a freelance photographer and equip yourself with the necessary skills and experience.


Once you develop professional photography skills, it becomes easier to locate your ideal clients and begin to earn as a freelance photographer.



Step 13: Apply For Photographer Jobs



Step 14: Register on Popular Job Sites in Your Area


Post your resume with an impressive cover letter. Subscribing to online photography blogs and forums can help you build connections. 


It will improve your chances of getting into photo studios, camera stores, newspaper agencies, and more.



Step 15: Stay Patient and Perseverant


Never get disheartened if you can't succeed. Keep learning from every interview and refining your skills. Your initial failures will bring you closer to your dream job.



8. Photography Relevant Diploma and Certifications In Australia


Certifications and diploma courses teach you creative techniques and tricks of the trade in a flexible learning environment to get you a professional start in your career. 


Photography TAFE courses cover every aspect of photography right, from technique to composition, lighting, and photo development.


You get comprehensive coverage of videography content, online photography skills, and practical elements that help you establish yourself in the photography industry.


You can find plenty of courses to specialise in your niche, such as innovative digital SLR photography, black and white wedding photography, etc.



  • Certificate III in Visual Arts

  • Certificate III in Visual Arts (Photography)

  • Certificate IV in Photography and Photo Imaging

  • Diploma of Photography and Photo Imaging



9. Work Conditions For A Photographer In Australia


The working conditions of a photographer significantly vary based on their niche and employer.





You are mistaken if you think photographers spend maximum time capturing photos throughout their workday. They pay only a fraction of their time working with the camera.


Most of the time, they sit in front of computers executing business-related work such as planning, accounting, administration, and marketing. 


They either develop photographs independently in a darkroom or get the films processed via specialised photographic processors.


A photographer may need to work odd hours to accommodate clients' requirements. Those on an overseas shoot must carry heavy equipment from one location to another.


Many modern photographers work with advanced technology-based electronic digital cameras and high-end gears and accessories for photo development.





A photographer works in the following settings:


  • In photography studios/ photography vendors/ photographic services providers

  • Outside at events

  • At home (for the publishing of magazines, books, and newspapers)

  • In news and media agencies for television broadcasting

  • Overseas travel assignments

  • In front of a computer for a prolonged period carrying out administration, advertising, and post-production work.



Nature of Employment



A career in photography offers alluring flexibility with several opportunities for both part-time and full-time work. 


Considering that only half of the nation's population is engaged in full-time work, the career is well-suited for professionals looking for flexible work conditions in a creative industry.



10. Employment Opportunities For A Photographer In Australia


From weddings to battles, photographers document significant events in our lives. This is a fabulous career that presents umpteen opportunities to work and grow.


Familiar places to find photography jobs in Australia are:


  • Marketing firms

  • Newspapers and magazine agencies as photojournalists

  • Graphic design studios

  • Photo studios

  • Retail, manufacturing, and service companies

  • Advertising companies


Freelance/ self-employed photographers are in high demand for cultural events, weddings, real estate/property shooting, or travel publications.



Areas of Specialisation


The industry offers ample scope of specialisation for photographers to grow and expand their skill set continuously. 


They can choose from any of the following fields of specialisation:


  • Sports Photographer

  • Still Photographer / On-Set Photographer

  • Fashion Photographer

  • Commercial Photographer

  • Real Estate Photographer

  • Landscape Photographer

  • Photojournalist

  • Portrait Photographer

  • Sports Photographer

  • Technical Photographer



11. How Much Can You Earn As A Photographer In Australia?


The earnings of a photographer depending on their qualification, abilities, and experience.


In Australia, the average hourly earnings for a Photographer are AU$29 or an equivalent of 50,800 AUD per year.


Their salaries range between 23,900 AUD (minimum) and 80,200 AUD (maximum).



Approx. Annual Earnings Based on Experience


  • Less than two years - 27,500 AUD 

  • 2 to 5 years - 38,000 AUD 

  • 5 to 10 years - 54,000 AUD 

  • 10 – 15 years - 65,900 AUD 

  • 15 to 20 years - 69,500 AUD 

  • More than 20 years - 75,700 AUD per year



Approx. Annual Earnings Based on Education


Like in any industry, higher education equates to a bigger salary in the photography industry.


  • A high school qualification holder - 34,000 AUD

  • A relevant Diploma or Certificate holder - 39,600 AUD (17% more than a high school degree) 

  • A bachelor's degree holder - 57,700 AUD (45% more than a Certificate or Diploma holder)

  • A master's degree holder - (31% more than a bachelor's degree holder)



Approx. Earnings in Australia Based on Role


  • Freelance Photographer Salary - $57.80 per hour

  • Photographers Assistant Salary - $24.17 per hour

  • Wedding Photographer Salary: AU$50.00 per hour

  • Full-time Portrait Photographer Salary - $60,000 per year

  • Fashion Photographer Salary: $44,099 per year



Approx. Hourly Earnings in Australia Based on City


Below is the list of the top-paying Australian cities (in ascending order) for photography occupations:


  • Brisbane, Queensland - $38.47

  • Perth, Western Australia - $38.13

  • Sydney, New South Wales - $38.04

  • Photographer salary Melbourne, Victoria - $36.87

  • Gold Coast, Queensland - $32.80

  • Alexandria, New South Wales - $26.48



12. FAQs On Becoming A Photographer In Australia



What Are The Places To Find National Resources on Photography?


  • Australian Institute of Professional Photography

  • Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance

  • Creative Industry Skills Council

  • Australian Photographic Society



How To Become A Photographer At Home?


Digital photography resources and online help articles make it easy to gain photography knowledge. 


You can find numerous YouTube tutorials, photography forums, websites, and e-books to learn the basics of photography and bring the knowledge into practice.


Also, many nationally accredited training institutes conduct online photography learning courses that can help you become a professional photographer from home.


Here are the steps to get started in photography:


  • Find your niche and what type of photographer you want to become

  • Start by playing around with a camera and familiarise yourself with it. 

  • Explore the different functions and settings of a camera 

  • Try capturing photos under varying lighting systems and conditions.

  • Practice different photography techniques such as High-Speed Photography, Motion Blur, Night Photography, Monochromatic Colour Photography, Black and White Photography, and more

  • Learn to use online photo editing software to edit your photos. 

  • Take several photos using different settings/functions/ lighting systems/settings to get good hands-on practice. Practice will help you develop new skills, achieve perfection, and build confidence.

  • Create an impressive online portfolio demonstrating your photography skills and upload it on your website and online job portals. 

  • Build your network and contact studios or businesses to get entry-level work in the industry. 

  • Keep applying for jobs and stay persistent!



What Basic Gears Must Have You To Become A Photographer?


  • A dedicated camera with interchangeable lenses 

  • Lens: They are essential as they determine the type of images you can capture

  • For everyday shooting, pick a standard zoom lens like an 18-55mm or 24-70mm. A prime lens (without zoom feature) for portrait photography at 85mm, 50mm, or 35mm. 

  • For sports, choose a telephoto lens.

  • For macro photography, buy a dedicated macro lens.

  • Post-processing software such as Adobe Lightroom, Adobe and Photoshop.

  • Tripod

  • Durable bag


The shoulder bag is appropriate for street photography, while a rolling suitcase is perfect for studio photography. A technical hiking backpack will be the right choice if you want to capture landscape photographs.


  • Memory cards

  • Large-sized Polarising filter for landscape photography

  • Computer monitor and a colour calibration device to edit your photos

  • Microfiber cloth to clean the lens and camera sensor.


Other photography accessories include flashes, remote shutter releases, GPS attachments, spare batteries, and printers.



How To Become A Photographer With No Experience?


Here is how you can become and work as a photographer in Australia without experience:



Step 1: Acquire Photography Skills


In this technological era, you can find loads of reading material online to develop new skills. Alternatively, you can attend workshops or take face-to-face guidance from a qualified photographer. 


This way, you won't just learn but also build connections.



Step 2: Find A Guide


It may be tough to venture into a competitive industry without any experience. In such a case, the assistance of a mentor with a good amount of industrial experience in photography can prove beneficial. 


A mentor would help you with networking opportunities and teach you how to apply photography in real life.



Step 3: Determine Your Niche


Finding your niche will ensure you maintain the general concept of photography. Compare your interests with different types of photography and choose the one you like the most.



Step 4: Invest In A Suitable Photography Equipment


You must research and understand the equipment to capture photos within your niche. 


Start with mediocre-type equipment that is within your buying capacity, like a smartphone camera. Once you become skilled, you can invest in advanced equipment and accessories.



Step 5: Build an Online Work Portfolio


Associate with business brands or local models and work for them for free. You can use those works to create an impressive portfolio to show your talent to prospective employers. 


Be open to unbiased feedback on the areas of improvement.



Step 6: Apply For Jobs


Join seminars, training workshops, and events to stay updated on vacancies. Keep applying on job portals, photo studios, media agencies, and other places to find your first job opportunity.



How To Become A Photographer Without A Degree?


You need not have an educational background to begin your photography career.


More than education, you need to have an enthusiasm for photography, commitment, and a hardworking attitude to succeed in the photography industry. 


Many companies look for these attributes as they offer informal training to their employees.



Here Is a 5-Step Guide To Become A Photographer Without Attending A Photography School:


  • Step 1: Familiarise yourself with your camera


  • Step 2: Learn from e-books, blogs, websites, and photography-dedicated YouTube channels.


  • Step 3: There is no alternative to practice when it comes to learning an art. Take your camera to different places and shoot anything that you find interesting. While you capture photos, practice the concepts of photography, such as lighting, exposure, composition, etc. Work with different types of cameras and lens settings. Get hands-on exposure to photo-editing tools.


  • Step 4: Photography is a business where networking can significantly help build contacts and bring your talent in front of a global audience. It is a relatively cheaper marketing strategy that can help you earn contacts and referrals to get potential employers to know you.


  • Other ways to build connections and skills are mentoring apprenticeships, internship workshops, joining photography forums, participating in photography competitions, and following photographers on social media.


  • Step 5: Build a strong photography portfolio online and share it across your friend community, social media, job portals, and local agencies to maximise your chances of getting your first break. 



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