Understanding German photographer Andreas Gursky’s photographs is like understanding the intricacies of a prism – its countenance sharp and pristine, sleek and triangular, an objets d’art on any anonymous coffee table. But in the hand of one who is curious of its hidden ability, the layers expose themselves as seven quiet colors playing about a wall.

Jenifer Greer Beggren is successful wedding photographer in Los Angeles, California who runs her own photography company. She describes her unique job, her experience in photography school, and offers advice to future photographers.

Nicole Sweet is a San Francisco based up and coming sports photographer. She shares her passion for photography, her experiences in photography school, and she fills us in on the wonder of capturing athletes on film.

What sparked your interest in photography?

Photographers held about 131,000 jobs in 2000. More than half were self-employed, a much higher proportion than the average for all occupations. Some self-employed photographers contracted with advertising agencies, magazines, or others to do individual projects at a predetermined fee, while others operated portrait studios or provided photographs to stock photo agencies.

Salaried photographers had median annual earnings of $26,080 in 2004, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $15,000, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $54,180. The middle 50 percent earned between $18,380 and $37,370. Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of salaried photographers were as follows:

Professional, Scientific, Technical Services: $23,100
Newspapers and Periodicals: $32,800

Photographers produce and preserve images that paint a picture, tell a story, or record an event. To create commercial quality photographs, photographers need both technical expertise and creativity. Producing a successful picture requires choosing and presenting a subject to achieve a particular effect and selecting the appropriate equipment. For example, photographers may enhance the subject’s appearance with lighting or draw attention to a particular aspect of the subject by blurring the background.

Employers usually seek applicants with a “good eye,” imagination, and creativity, as well as a good technical understanding of photography. Entry-level positions in photojournalism, industrial, or scientific photography generally require a college degree in journalism or photography. Freelance and portrait photographers need technical proficiency, whether gained through a degree program, vocational training, or extensive work experience.

Working conditions for photographers vary considerably. Photographers employed in government and advertising agencies usually work a 5-day, 40-hour week. On the other hand, news photographers often work long, irregular hours and must be available to work on short notice. Many photographers work part time or variable schedules.

The photograph has affected the way many cultures throughout the world understand and learn about their world. One of the main fields responsible for this paradigm is photojournalism. Photojournalism is the use of photographs in conjunction with the reporting of news in media such as print newspapers, magazines, television news and internet reporting. The incorporation of photographs into news reports is so ubiquitous that a story without photographs to a contemporary audience feels incomplete, as though they were only getting half the story.