Creativity is a key component in the entertainment industry today and it is a skill that can help your chances of success. With creative jobs becoming increasingly in demand, there are a string of options available to explore your creative side and make it a profession.

Photography and graphic design are two fields that work on similar principles – composition, layout and colour. Hence, you could argue that the two careers go hand in hand. If you want to step into the creative sector and are deliberating over which course to choose, here’s a helping hand to simplify the choices for you.

What is photography?

The first known photograph was taken by a French inventor, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, in the early 19th century. In fact, he is considered the pioneer of photography as he also invented the first camera in 1816.

Photography has been around for about two centuries now which may explain why the photography career is considered “old school”. Photography can be defined as “producing images that relay a message or feeling”. However, due to the fast-growing technology and modernised art form that we see today, photography is not as straightforward any more.

Despite being around for centuries, the photography career has not lost its appeal due to the wide range of subject matter it offers. With the advancement of camera capabilities, photography skills have become widespread. In fact, it has sub-categories now such as; creative photography, wildlife photography, portrait photography, documentary photography, editorial photography and food photography.

What is graphic design?

Graphic design is a major part of the advertising industry today. Brochures, banners, billboards, logos and even resumes are prepared using graphic design. It is a combination of text and graphics presented on a canvas to communicate a visual message.

Just as photographers have cameras as equipment, graphic designers use software such as Adobe, InDesign and Corelto to bring out the perfect mixture of composition, layout and colour. In the last decade, the graphic design career has become increasingly popular as more people with a creative side are leaning towards graphic design courses.

Photography vs graphic design

If you look up photography courses on the internet, more often than not, you will also see graphic design courses pop up in your search. The reason for this is because the two courses follow similar principles. However, they are differ in execution methods which is why a graphic design career is considered “new age” compared to photography.

The skill set required for a graphic design career and a photography career is also different. We will explain the skills required for both degrees later in this article.

What could you do with a photography degree?

Since photography skills have come to be widespread and have a vast range of subject matter to offer, there are a variety of photography career options available in the industry for you. A photography certification will help you enhance your cultural, social and creative understanding and also benefit you in terms of sound technical knowledge.

With a photography degree, here are some potential jobs available to you based on your educational qualifications:

  • Magazine Features Editor
  • Commercial Photographer
  • Photojournalist
  • Scientific Photographer
  • Television Camera Operator
  • Freelance Photographer
  • Wedding Photographer
  • Fashion Photographers

What could you do with a graphic design degree?

Owing to increasing popularity of graphic design careers, many industries are looking to avail the services of graphic designers. Graphic designers are mainly responsible for creating visual content as a medium of communication. They need to implement their creative skills using software to create an impactful visual on a canvas.

Here are some jobs that you could take up after completing a graphic design degree:

  • Art Director
  • Creative Director
  • Drafter
  • Graphic Designer
  • Multimedia Artist
  • Animator
  • Film and Video Editor
  • Product Designer

Graphic designing and photography are extremely interrelated so if you have knowledge of the other, this will be of benefit to you.

Skills required to become a photographer

Any profession you pursue will require you to have a particular skill set that will help you ace the industry. Before embark on your journey towards world-class photography, here are the skills you should have:

  • Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder: A perfect scenario will not just present itself to you. You need to have a good eye for recognising an event or scene that will become a photographic phenomenon. Hence, it is important to be observant. Take, for instance, a bird flying – it might look mundane to the normal eye, however, you should be able to frame it in your lens like art. You should have the ability to define a picture as beautiful with the work of your lens.
  • Don’t wait for inspiration: If you have decided to take up photography as a profession, you cannot wait for creativity to strike. As a photographer, you should always take inspiration from the ordinary as it doesn’t have to come from a big turn of events. When you start drawing inspiration from the ordinary, your photographs will be nothing short of extraordinary.
  • Dive deep into technical knowledge: Technical know-how is imperative when you pursue a profession. You need to be aware of what role each component of your camera plays in bringing out a picture. This will make way for improvisations and perfect pictures.
  • But, I am not a lawyer! You do not need to have a law degree to become a successful photographer, however, law plays a major role in this career. Photography is an exciting but controversial profession as there are privacy concerns that may arise upon taking pictures without permission. It is therefore vital that you consider all legal nuances your photograph may present.

Skills required to become a graphic designer

Though the graphic design career may seem easy, it is not a walk in the park. The graphic design career demands a very concise skillset which is imperative in the profession. To help you understand this better, we have drawn out a detailed list below of these necessary skills:

  • Art is a necessary evil: Creativity is common to both photography and graphic designing. The only difference is that in photography you need to take real-life events and show your creativity, whereas, in graphic designing, creativity does not have to be about a real-life It is important that you have the ability to tap into your creative side when required. Innovative ideas and new designs are essential in a graphic design career.
  • Cursive or not? Fonts are an important part of a design. The text on your design should appeal to the eye and at the same time, go with the concept of your visual. You need to experiment with your font styles to find the right one, but also you may be required to create your own.
  • Communication is the key: The routine of a graphic designer involves dealing with clients. One of the vital skills for becoming a graphic designer is to be able to communicate. You need to understand the vision of the client and present it visually.
  • Technology, yes! :While you need technical graphic design training, there are also some other technical skills that make your work easier. For example, if you have a hang of CSS and HTML, there’s an added advantage.

Salaries in photography and graphic designing

As advertised on payscale.com, the average salary of a photographer is about £20,721 per year and that of a graphic designer is about £21,949. This may vary depending on the skillset of a photography or graphic design professional. Another factor that influences the salary is the area of work and expertise.

Educational requirements to become:

  • A photographer: To become a photographer, you need at least an undergraduate professional photography degree. You can also pursue graduate and post-graduate photography courses to hone your photography skills further.
  • A graphic designer: Educational requirements for becoming a graphic designer are similar to that of a photographer. While undergraduate graphic design courses will help you kick-start your career, a graduate or post-graduate degree will take you to the top of the game.

A variety of courses are offered by reputed institutes that will construct your future in the photography or graphic design industry. In fact, you can also pursue courses online that can help you begin your career.

For photography, the London College of Contemporary Arts (LCCA) offers an HNC/D Photography course. LCCA also offers graphic design courses such as HNC/D Graphic Design, BA (Hons) Graphic Design and CPD Graphic Design. You have a wide range of options and an opportunity to study at one of the best colleges. Why wait, then? Grab a laptop, develop your creative side and let your ideas become reality!

This text was written by Meghdeep Patnaik and edited by Amelia Hayward-Cole.