Professional photography traces its roots to the very early period of photography itself. Back in those days, newspapers were the primary employers of photographers looking to establish a career by selling their photographs. However, these photographers were often brought in by the upper class, elite families to take their family photos. But ultimately the lion’s share of their income came from the news media.
Needless to say, the scenario today has changed drastically. While once upon a time photographers had to rely on only a few sources of income and prestige, today’s commercial men-behind-the-lenses have a lot of career pathways to choose from.
Photographers can basically be divided into two groups- amateurs and professionals. The amateurs pursue the art of photography as a hobby rather than any definitive long-term career. Professionals on the other hand look into this area with more than just passion. They want to dedicate their entire lifetime to this art and build a fulfilling career in something they believe in very strongly.
“If we think commercially, I am more interested in a few specific fields- wedding, fashion, advertisements and agencies,” says Redoy Mahmud Boishakh, an aspiring professional photographer enrolled at the Institute of Business Administration, University of Dhaka. “Also, digital agencies now often buy photographs from freelancers and use them as part of their campaigns. Same goes for international agencies too who appoint photographers to capture images of events or situations.”
But most of today’s young and the more famous photographers are primarily interested in nature and the complex relationships of people. They capture and portray the diaspora of natural phenomena, while also focusing their lenses on people’s lives and livelihoods. Most of these artists start their photography as amateurs, but due to their intrinsic abilities to see through and connect with people, they reach the apex of recognition and fame more quickly. Popular Bangladeshi photographers specialising in this arena are GMB Akash and Andrew Biraj.
Globally, wedding photography is a colossal business opportunity for photographers looking to work independently. Similarly here in Bangladesh, wedding photography companies hire the best talent and look for ambitious photographers who want to advance themselves in their career. In fact, yearly fairs solely on wedding photography are also held in Dhaka, implying how important this sector has become in this country.
Photographers are also driven by campaigns and their passion to tell a story. In photo exhibitions, they work with particular themes and help tell a story through images. They concentrate on visual media and fuel the need to talk about the real world and real people, and how their subjects are affected by particular situations. One such currently trending example is the “Marlboro Boys”, a photography initiative by the Canadian photographer Michelle Siu, where the photographer examines the loss of innocence that smokers as young as three years of age exhibit.
Regardless of whatever options today’s aspiring professional photographers consider, there is a multitude of different careers they can choose from and succeed. In fact, most of these artists should consider specializing in a particular areas. That way, they will not only be able to focus their energy and talent, but also create a personal brand through which everyone will remember them.
Nakibul Hoq is the lead manager, Content and Analytics at GradInsights, the research service of GradConnect.