Clare Burgess talks to Andi Sapey of Andi Sapey Photography about what it is like to be a photographer.

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Factfile: photographer

Training

Most professionals take a degree level course although experience and contacts are important to building a successful career. Finding work as an assistant is a good way of getting experience, building your portfolio and learning on the job.

Timescale

A BA (Hons) degree programme will take three years to complete

Local training

• City College Norwich 01603 773773/ www.ccn.ac.uk

Level 3 extended diploma in photography and as an A-level as part of their full-time Sixth Form Centre offer.

• College of West Anglia 01553 761144/ www.cwa.ac.uk

Offer short courses in Photoshop and digital photography. Full time courses include level 2 extended diplomas in commercial or practical photography.

• Great Yarmouth College 01493 655261/ www.gyc.ac.uk

Level 3 extended diploma in art, design and photography and a part-time A-level offered on an evening basis

• Norwich University College of the Arts (NUCA) http://www.nuca.ac.uk/

A three-year BA (Hons) in photography and a two-year foundation degree

• Norwich Arts Centre 01603 660352/ norwichartscentre.co.uk/education

A range of digital photography and SLR short courses

• Norfolk Adult Education 0344 800 8002

A range of short digital photography courses

For further information check:

• Association of Photographers (AOP) http://home.the-aop.org/

• British Institute of Professional Photogrpahy (BIPP) www.bipp.com

• Nextstep Job Profiles https://nextstep.direct.gov.uk

Salary range

Most photographers work on a freelance basis and are paid a fee for each job or an hourly/ daily rate.

Belle Jones

Why is it a good profession to get into?

Being a photographer is an exciting and varied profession. It gives you the opportunity to visit interesting places, meet lots of people from all different walks of life and communicate with so many different people on so many different levels. My own photographic work has been a passport to some incredible, rich experiences and I have had the opportunity to explore my fascination with different cultures.

What does the work involve?

Photography is all about being able to communicate and reinterpret what you are actually seeing, through a camera and then through an image so people can understand it. But it is not all about having the best and most expensive equipment, it is actually knowing how to use your camera. My work doesn’t just involve taking pictures but among other things editing, problem solving and having a good rapport with my clients. You need to be very professional about all aspects of your work so that can include working with people and understanding their needs, being creative and being able to follow briefs set by an art director or designer. Good timekeeping is essential, as is keeping to tight deadlines. Social media is a really big thing at the moment and my clients need their images almost instantly. Recently I was working at an event and my client wanted their images within 15 minutes of me taking them, so I had my laptop beside me, downloaded the images from my camera, edited them, cropped them and sent them out all in 15 minutes! Every day is different and there are so many different types of photography including events, editorial, web, advertising, and landscape. As with many photographers I am self-employed, so sometimes I am pulled away from the creative side and have to manage my accounts, promote myself and keep up to date with phone calls and e-mails.

What are the positives/negatives of this profession?

Being a photographer can be misunderstood. People see it as a glamorous profession, almost like a rock star lifestyle and sometimes it is as you do get to see some amazing things and meet incredible people that you wouldn’t normally come across. But you also have to work really long and unsociable hours and occasionally do things that you really don’t want to be doing. I am always busy so I don’t really have as much time for my social life as I would like and very rarely get time to myself.

Is there much local demand for people trained in this area?

I think there is a demand for photographers but you have to be pro-active and go out and look for it as it is not always in the obvious places.

What would employers look for in someone applying for a vacancy?

The best way to start is to become a photographer’s assistant as you will gain so much experience and learn so much about the industry. You need to be reliable, trustworthy, respectful, have good people skills and be prepared to start from the bottom. You need to be able to communicate through your images to your audience - that is what separates a good photographer from a bad photographer.

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