I am Not a Photographer

Being a photographer is not the only way to stay connected to photography.Since photography is a vast field, there are many different branches in which you can make a career while still following your passion for photography. Image: Uttam Kumar

Being a photographer is not the only way to stay connected to photography.Since photography is a vast field, there are many different branches in which you can make a career while still following your passion for photography. Image: Uttam Kumar

Not keen on practising photography on a full-time level? Chandni Gajria opens a new window for alternate careers within the field.

Being passionate about making pictures does not necessarily mean you have to be a commercial photographer in order to turn your passion into a profession. Keep in mind that academic knowledge and an understanding towards the subject can help you form a successful alternate career in photography.

Represent a Photographer
The best way to keep yourself in close proximity of photography is to represent a photographer. The job of a photo agent is to garner clients and assignments for the photographer. They connecta photographer to various galleries, companies, curators and others who wish to approach him.
Thus, a good agent needs to have good communication and promotional skills, and a great network of contacts in the industry. An agent can work as an independent freelancer or as a part of a gallery.

Be a Retouching Expert
Not all photographers are comfortable using digital software. Some have a concept in mind and are able to express only a portion of it, but it is these artists who finally do the job for them. Apart from knowing how to use various photo-retouching software, an expert must also have an astute sense of realism and know how to modify elements in an image.

Turn into a Writer
If you are good with language and have decent writing skills, why not write about photography? Many blogs, websites and magazines cater to photography.
Not only will you constantly meet different photographers, see new work, and understand the industry better, but you will also be surrounded with distinctive views about the field. And since writing involves a lot of study, the learning process in this career is neverending.

Train to be a Photo Editor
A photo editor’s job is the toughest, especially in publications which are heavily dependent on its visuals. He needs to know the history and the art of photography, audience profiles, and needs to be able to gauge the significance and specific relevance of images for use in a publication. A photo editor also needs to know about archiving and photo management processes.
Communication and coordination skills are important for this job. It usually takes years of experience to become a photo editor.

Curate Exhibitions for Artists
Curators plan, manage and handle entire exhibitions—from the selection of images to be displayed, the design of the exhibit, and the invitations to the final handling and shipping of the photographs. A successful curator needs to spend a lot of time studying, visiting other exhibitions, coordinating with galleries and photographers, and acquiring new work from them.

Deal with Stock Pictures
It is usually a lot less expensive to license images from stock agencies than to hire the services of a photographer. Stock photo agencies represent a large number of images from many photographers, for sale or for reproduction in many forms.
These agencies are also responsible for preserving these images, managing copyrights, marketing and promoting the works of the photographers they represent.

Build an Archive
If restoring photos, managing them and building a collection for posterity sounds appealing to you, then you can look at becoming an archivist. The job of an archivist is not easy.
A lot of research is required in terms of finding the pictures and materials that need to be archived, preserved and digitised. Its history needs to be carefully documented. India has a rich historical heritage in the form of photographs and needs good archivists to preserve it.

Become A Photo Historian
While the lines between a photo historian and an archivist blur, archivists usually concentrate on bodies of work while photo historians deal with the large academic perspective.
Archivists and historians often work together. Photo historians are usually affiliated to an organisation and at times, they can be hired by educational institutes, museums and even galleries.

Educate Upcoming Talent
Many believe that photography cannot be taught through textbooks. However, you could enlighten the younger generation through the experiences you have had. While you could become a teacher after gaining enough experience in any of the fields mentioned earlier, teaching itself is an art and it takes a lot of effort. So, the next time someone questions “why are you not a photographer?”, simply tell them —“Because there are many other ways to keep photography alive.”

Knowing how to take good pictures will help you understand photography.

Other Careers to Stay Connected to Photography

  • Lighting Specialists: If you understand the concept of light and the way it works you can opt to becoming a lighting specialist. In most ad campaigns and shoots, these specialists are hired to help the photographer in terms of providing the right kind of lighting.
  • Photo Coordinators: If an agency requires a specific picture for an advertisement, it is the photo coordinator who provides them with the photographer or the pictures.
  • Studio Managers : Open a studio or help in-house production departments of agencies manage one. Your job will include running the studio on a day to day basis, giving out services to photographers and maintaining the equipment at the studio. This is a great way to be your own boss!
  • Printing Lab Specialists : A wrong printing job can destroy the picture for a photographer and earn you a bad name. Since most of the printing today is digital, acquring an additional knowledge about darkroom processes would be beneficial. In printing, whether digital or a darkroom process, your technique (colour calibration or use of chemicals) has to be really good. A few internships at an actual printing studio, can take you in the right direction. 

Sharing Their Experiences

  • Aditya Arya, India Photo Archive Foundation: “A picture is connected to many events in the history which is fascinating to study. As a historian, you cannot decide what is worth preserving. Everything is important and must be saved.” 
  •  Jagdish Agarwal, Dinodia: “ While everyone with a cell phone today thinks that they are a photographer, a stock agent needs to identify which pictures are actually worth paying money for.” 

 This article originally appeared in the June 2012 issue of Better Photography.

Tags: Chandni Gajria, Commercial Photography, stock photography, archival prints, Aditya Arya, Jagdish Agarwal, Dinodia, Stock Photo Agency, market sense, Newspaper, India Photo Archive Foundation, Aditya Arya Archive, june 2012, Anniversary Issue, I am not a Photographer, Photo Editor, Photography Careers, Retouching Expert, Production Manager, Writer, Photography teacher, Archivist, Curator, Curation, Exhibiting, Gallery, Publication, Magazine, Art Gallery, Photo Historian, Lighting Specialists, Printing Lab specialists, Studio Owners, Photo Coordinators, Ad campaign shots, Agent, Museum