An Ultimate Guide to Photography: The Visual Language


Photography becomes meaningful when one expresses oneself. Each photography journey must be like just like a flowing river. As it flows in thirst for the fresh-water, so is to be photography, eager for new things. Hence, the answer to “what is photography?” would be for sure different for different individuals. This article “An Introduction to Photography: The Visual language” is all about getting a brief idea of what is photography? How to become a photographer? How much does a Photographer earn? and many more.

what is photography

Photographs of one’s unforgettable experiences, the sights, the sorrowful moments, and the happy memories of one’s life, would discover the greatness of the photography art as one sees it all at the end of one’s journey.

Introduction to Photography

Photography is like a painting where the image is first created in the mind of an artist and then portrayed onto the frame. Amazingly, Photography is enjoyed by both the artist called photographer as well as the viewer.

For a photographer, his photography is successful when his image communicates to his viewers without losing the meaning and passion in it. Hence in such a situation, it makes sense of making money out of it.

Photography is a visual language understood by one and all. It is beyond any literal language, region, gender etc… Indeed, it is a tool that preserves present and creates history. There is hardly any other medium that can be understood by everyone without using any worldly language. Photography is considered as the language with visual treat and pleasure.

What is Photography?

Photography is the art, activity, and practice of creating permanent images by photographing the subject with light or other electromagnetic radiation on a light-sensitive surface, called a sensor or photographic film. It is the process of science with the art of capturing light into a camera’s sensor.

Photographs can tell the story of a particular person, place, or thing. But if you don’t specify what the pictures are, the viewer may create their own stories.

With so many pictures to describe what photography is, it is very difficult to state the definition of photography.

Define Photography

Photography is the art, activity, and practice of creating and processing static images by recording light or other electromagnetic radiation on a light-sensitive surface, called an image sensor or the photography film.

drawing with light

The word Photography is derived from two Greek words. Namely, φῶς (phos), meaning “light,” and γραφή (graphê), meaning “drawing, writing”. Thus, Photography literally means, “drawing with the light“. In 1839 by Sir John Herschel, coined the term ‘Photography’.

Unlike any other profession, photography is known in different names and genres. Depending upon the choice of subject and purpose of photography, we obtain different types of Photography. For instance, Wildlife Photography, Travel Photography, Fashion Photography, etc… Let’s find more types of photography as below.

Types of Photography

product photography guide

Chapter 5

An Ultimate Guide to Product Photography

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Chapter 7

An Ultimate Guide to Architecture Photography

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Chapter 8

An Ultimate Guide to
Food Photography

Chapter 9

An Ultimate Guide to Commercial Photography

Who is a Photographer?

A photographer is a person who captures photographs. Especially, with a camera as a job. Nowadays, anyone with a camera is called a photographer. But when it becomes so common, it rather becomes confusing to find the correct definition for a photographer.


As per the dictionary meaning, “a person who takes photographs, especially as a job”, is called a photographer.

photographer with camera

While as per Wikipedia Photographer means  “a person who makes photographs”.

Hence, a Photographer is a person who captures or records images or photographs using a camera. 

The photographer who produces still images is called “Still Photographer”. Other than still images, a person who captures moving images are called “cinematographers, videographers or camera operators” depending on the commercial context.

Who is a Successful Photographer?

For a successful Photographer, there are many reasons for it. In fact, we tend to define success in terms of money and fame. Firstly, a person who earns more money. And secondly, a person who gets self-satisfaction from his work.

As per the survey, a different part of the society considers success in a different manner. Let’s see how a photographer is judged and considered as successful or not.

  • When a photographer has more followers on Instagram and Facebook.
  • When a photographer’s images have a tone that is unique and different from others.
  • If the Photographer got good frames that are rarely achieved.
  • Photographers who earn more from photography.
  • Photographers who spend a luxurious life.
  • A photographer who is self-satisfied with his work is successful.
  • One who is able to convey his point of view through his images and the viewers understand the same.

Types of Photographer

You would have heard, some people introducing themself saying ” I am a professional photographer”. ”He is an Amateur Photographer”, by few others.

Photographers cannot be defined based on the number of cameras, lenses, and awards one has acquired, the number of books one has written and the number of likes one gets on social media. Based on how the photographer executed their work and find personal satisfaction in it, we can divide photographers into two.

  • Amateur Photographer
  • Semi-Professional Photographer
  • Professional Photographer

An Amateur Photographer

An amateur photographer is an artist with a passion for art who takes pictures of people, places, objects, or subjects for their entertainment, knowledge, or for memories with no intention of selling it. A Photographer who engages in photography for pleasure rather than for financial benefit.

An amateur photographer takes images for pleasure to remember or share events, places, or friends with no intention of selling the images to others. In other words, he or she takes pictures for their own use.

Semiprofessional Photographer

Semiprofessional Photographer are those photographers who earn income through photography but if their main earnings are not from photography alone. Usually, they are referred to as a part-time photographer. In actual practice, we don’t call a photographer as semi-professional photographers but some times we do refer to differentiate them from the Professional Photographers.

A Professional Photographer

A person who captures the images of people, places, things, subjects, or events as working on a full-time, part-time or on a contract basis and makes his or her livelihood by selling or reselling those images is known as a Professional Photographer. They spend time and time again in enhancing their craft, and indeed a way to make money.

On the other hand, camera companies have divided the camera in three ways like amateurs camera, semi-professional camera, and Professional Camera. For professional work too, semi-professional cameras are good enough. We will discuss the camera in another article.

What makes someone a Professional Photographer?

A professional photographer would definitely charge to take the photographs. It can be a project or a number of images. A professional photographer captures images most of the time as part of their job.

professional photography

As per the dictionary professional means “engaged in a specified activity as one’s main paid occupation rather than as an amateur”. As per our concern, a photographer who earns more money is not a professional photographer. In fact, he is the one who masters his camera and control the light as per the situation. Not only that, he or she creates images that are meaningful, expressive, and shot with a purpose.

On the contrary, if a person with nearly 20 to 25 years of experience in photography fails to know and let others explain why he is making certain settings in a camera; but he is capable of getting good photographs from his every 100 images. Then can we call him a Professional Photographer? Similarly, if a photographer does not know why his images are good or what has gone wrong in his images, then can we call him a professional Photographer?

There are many actors of yesteryears who would not have learned acting from any acting school or college. Yet they are successful, famous, and legends in the industry. While now many of their children and grandchildren are into the industry after learning acting from national or international acting colleges. And they too have made a remarkable position in the industry. Hence, in the case of an actor with years of experience and a learned actor from an acting college, what matters most is the dedication and application of the skills. Either one has acquired these skills as born talent or has to acquire by proper training.

Nowadays everyone with a DSLR or mirrorless camera is a photographer. One who makes a difference in their field can survive in the world of photography. Technology doesn’t change photography, it makes available for more people. You need to be a unique or innovative photographer.

While discussing the question “What makes someone a photographer? people have various views. Maybe, its one’s knowledge, skills, patience, flexibility, one’s passion, ability to make the right decisions from time to time.

What equipment does professional photographers use?

The Photography field is challenging, interesting and a money-making profession. But on the other hand, it is expensive too. The camera alone will not work out. Hence, a photographer needs to invest in lenses and accessories as the needs from time to time. Let’s see below, what are the equipment we need to have as a professional photographer.

Do’s and Don’ts while having the equipment

  • A comfortable, professional DSLR camera, or a mirrorless camera. But, don’t go behind all that high-end cameras that are newly launched. Instead, before you buy one, analyze which is worth it for you as per your purpose and budget. Once you have the camera, use it comfortably at least for 3 years.
  • Lens as per the specialization or the field of work. Don’t buy all lenses or whatever new comes on the market.
  • A tripod and lens filters are necessary. Don’t go for cheap accessories, like cheap tripods, filters, etc… It may damage soon.
  • A Camera Bag
  • Lights – Flash, Strobe, etc…
  • Backdrops and props
  • Laptop and or a PC

How Photographers Actually Spend Their Time?

Most of the people, including photographer’s parents, family, friends, and anyone else usually have at least once thought that, “What is he doing with this camera all the time?”. “Don’t he have any other work?” ” How does he manages all things?” and so many such 1000 of question arises. But how a photographer actually spends time? See the below infographics.

As per the reference, let us take an example. If a photographer works for 8 hours a day for 25 days in a month. In total, 200 hours per month. Let us consider approximately 192 hours for a month. But actually photographers work more than 8 hours per day.

Let us see in a % wise, how a photographer actually spends time.

A Successful Professional Photographer

Photography is a responsible profession like any other profession. Hence, to become a professional Photographer there is no short cuts.

Merely buying a full-frame camera and high-end gears will not make one a professional photographer. Indeed, it makes you the owner of that equipment. Having taken lots of pictures, also will not make you a professional photographer. To put it in another way, your first 10,000 images are your worst. The Best is yet to come.

What Skills are Required for a Photographer?

Photography is a responsible field. And hence, need to be carried out in a very serious way. A photographer requires to have special TACT to be successful. Let’s see what are those.

The skills required for being a successful photographer

skills required to be a photographer

Technical Skills with Technology

Artistic Skills with Creativity

Communication Skills with Editing

Tolerance for good Composition

The 10 basic requirements that one needs to analyze and build up to become a professional photographer.

  1. Know about yourself, your caliber, your interest in photography, and the special category of photography that you want to take forward as your career.
  2. Know your Tool, camera, lens, equipment, and do invest according to the needs and purpose.
  3. Learn to control the light, in your camera in any location and scenario.
  4. Learn to control the color, during composition, as well as editing.
  5. Always have deep observation and cultivate visual composition.
  6. Enhance your retouching or editing skills.
  7. Prepare your portfolio and or online website.
  8. Develop good communication skills.
  9. Maintain good marketing skills.
  10. Practice regularly with new things.

How much they earn in a Year?

Photographer gets good enough money if they work well and are well known. Most of the projects start from Rs. 50000/- to 5 lacs for a project of one to three days.

Earnings of the photographer would be different from person to person. As per the location, and clients, to earn better, one needs to know how to market yourself. Career options for photography and earnings are explained in our previous article.

5 Major Factors to make a Better Income

  • Punctuality – Deliver the work faster
  • Good Communication – maintain good contacts with all
  • Know your Audience – understand the interests, needs, and requirements of the clients
  • Provide the best – Never compromise with your work, instead aim for best results
  • Marketing – Market your work and reach out to a wider audience

How a Photographer Spends Money?

The main issue in the photography field is that most of the photographer’s projects are occasional or season based. The earnings thus may not be on a daily basis or even a monthly basis for all. But an average of Rs.3 lacs a year a photographer may earn. Hence, you would have noticed that photographers spend their money maximum on new gears and equipment.

Every year a new camera or lens is launched. Camera companies come up with branding their new product as the best so far. And it will give the best results than before. Without much evaluation on it, some professional photographers invest in the new camera. Below is the graphical representation of how much a photographer spends his money.

How to Become a Professional Photographer

To become a professional photographer, one needs to fulfill both technical skills and artistic skills. Here, we have the step-by-step process to make the task easier.

Step #1. Acquire the Formal Education and Photography Education

To acquire knowledge is the most important thing one can have before they plan out for a professional life. Acquire the formal education that is basic schooling or 12th standard. Thereafter, its always good to have a course in Photography like 1 year Diploma in Photography, 3 years Degree in Photography or 2 Years PG Course.

Step #2. Get your own Camera and Master it

The next very important factor that a person needs to have is a camera. Own any professional camera like a DSLR or Mirrorless camera. And then, it’s time to master the camera, by understanding the technical aspect of Photography. While step #1., will help one to acquire the same with a course in Photography.

To gain overall confidence, one can start with stationary or still objects kept at various distances to focus. Then gradually move onto with moving objects.
Learn about the usage, effects, and suitable settings for Exposure, aperture, ISO, and other various other terms related to photography. Likewise, learn about focusing, 3-D tracking, metering etc…

Step #3. Get your Camera lens and accessories

Not all lenses and equipment are needed to work as a professional photographer. Make a wise decision while investing in lenses and accessories. Firstly, analyze what are your purposes and accordingly understand your needs. Consult a senior photographer, a photography mentor to understand the same, and make the right decision.

Step #4. Work on your Artistic skills and Composition

Photography is a balance of art and technology. One can learn Technology. While art is something that cannot be taught. On the other hand, this art in photography can be applied by proper guidance and practice. As a result, it makes one understand the techniques of proper composition.

Technologies get developed and improved every time. It is the skills that are required to use the tools and technology.

Step #5. Acquire Editing skills

The use of editing software is a must factor, required for being a professional photographer. For instance, knowledge in Lightroom, Photoshop etc… And its application in one’s photographs must be made by the photographer himself or herself. Editing skills can be trained. Indeed, one must find time to enhance this skill and work on ones captured images.

Step #6. Practice for better experience

Practice and Patience are the key factors in the making of any successful career. Indeed, stick to the career for continuous 1000 days. Ups and downs, mistakes, and failures are all part of one’s career. Let, it happen, for each such circumstances will teach us something new.

Theory suggests that hard work, practice and patience, can build up the talent to be a successful photographer.

Step #7. Prepare your Portfolio

Every photographer needs to maintain his or her collection of photographic work. And portfolio is a step ahead of that. It’s not merely the collection and storage of work. Instead, one must have his or her portfolio with the most impressive, and excellent photographs that one has captured so far.

Step #8. Make your own Online Website

In competing with today’s world, a professional photographer must surely have his or her own website. Although, it’s not a way to gain profit or earn more money. But, having an online platform would definitely help the photographer to reach out to more clients.

Step #9. Market your Work

A photographer needs to use the latest technology and find ways to market his or her work. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc… are some of the social media where one can have the free accounts and yet reach the people worldwide. One can also market one’s photographs through other online websites and even earn money through their sales from it.

Step #10. Work Regularly

Spend time focusing on subjects with the camera where ever you go. And whatever subjects you find. With regular working practice, you will get familiar with certain camera angles, shots, and even start visualizing pretty before the image is captured.

Finally, work regularly either for photography projects, as a freelancer, intern, assistance, a professional photographer in a company, etc… In short, keep on working and practicing.

Photography: Art or Science?

The debate and talk on ‘Is Photography an art or science?’ has always been there from the beginning of photography. Instead of getting to the debate here, let us visualize a small example.

Imagine, your mother cooking food for you. Nothing would in fact stop you to taste it. Especially, When the food is presented in front of you in the form of a perfectly garnished dish. But, will the taste of the food would be the same if it’s cooked and prepared by someone else? The answer would be certainly no. The taste would be different, even though the process is the same. Just imagine, whether Cooking is an art or science?

The process of cooking is a Science, While the prepared food is an Art

Obviously, the cooking process is a science, and food is an art. The technical parts of cooking involve chemistry, mathematics, and physics. As a result, the art of cooking results in pleasing the eye, flavor to the food, and taste to the tongue.

Is photography skill or a talent?

Photography is both art and science. Processes of capturing photographs is science and the image which we are seeing is an art.

Skill is something doing with expertise and knowledge. To learn photography skills, one has to train oneself in many ways. Furthermore, learning the basics of photography like Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO, composition, lighting, etc. will definitely help. Talent and skill work together for creativity.

Let us conclude,

is photography art or science

“The Invention and Process of Camera is Science, Whereas the Captured Photographs are an Art”

The Photography Education

In order, to be a professional photographer as of now, no particular education is required. But on the other hand, to communicate with others, excel in the work, and stand out in the crowd, a person needs to acquire a basic qualification.

The person must have completed his or her formal education, i.e. 12th class. Apart from this, to control the camera and light, a photographer needs to be educated enough. Therefore, he who can do this is a qualified or educated photographer. Indeed, most of the companies and organizations put forth the vacancies of photographers with a minimum eligibility criteria of formal education 12th and photography education. To acquire education in photography, pursue a photography course after 12th. Like degree course, diploma course in photography, etc…

  • BFA, the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Photography – teaches the art and practical part of photography in 3 years
  • B.Sc, the Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Photography – gives more weightage to the processing part of Camera and Photography in 3 years.
  • BA, Bachelor of Arts in Photography – gives the theoretical part of photography in 3 years.
  • Professional Diploma in Photography – gives an in-depth understanding of Photography and various photography categories in 1 year
  • PG Diploma in Photography – gives an understanding of Photography with some of the selected categories of photography in 1 year
  • Certificate course in Photography – gives an understanding of basic photography in a few months.
photography college admission

An Ultimate Guide to Photography: Conclusion

Is photography a career option? is a very common question. This is where everyone takes a step back. Since the answer to that depends entirely upon the photographer’s knowledge in his field of expertise.

A career-oriented photographer apart from just taking still photographs would be very keen on photo editing, videography, video editing, etc… In short, a photographer has the freedom to work in many areas or can even specialize in a particular category.

Photography as a medium of communication has changed drastically over the past years. Moreover, the opportunities have gone wider and candidates towards photography have equally increased. We have discussed on – The job opportunities in our last article How do I get Photography Jobs. For instance, in the public sector, private sector, and as a freelancer.

Hope this article had helped you to understand the importance of the photography field. The visual language and the art in photography that has gained the presence almost everywhere around us.

Remember, that a photograph is the vision and view of a photographer. Furthermore, have the ability to speak louder than words. Let, we all learn to bring that strength in our photography.

As the legendary photographer Ansel Adams quotes remind us,

“A good photograph is knowing where to stand.”

Photography FAQ

What do you call a female photographer?

A Female photographer is usually known as a ‘Lady Photographer’ or a ‘Woman Photographer’, as per the context. The words used in Spanish,
fotógrafo = male photographer
fotógrafa = female photographerfemale photographer

What education do you need to be a professional photographer?

It is observed that no specific educational qualification is required to be a professional photographer. But to acquire technical skills, artistic skills, communication skills, and editing skills, one has to undergo specific education. The education thus needed is formal education, i.e. 12th class, photography education, editing knowledge, etc… A course in photography after 12th class can help one in getting the above knowledge. As per once choice, willingness to invest his or her time and money, one can pursue a 1 year, 2 years, or 3 years course.