If you want to do something interesting, go on a sponsored photowalk sometime or take a photography class and notice how many of the people there are already professional photographers.

While it may be a little depressing if you’re just starting out, it points up several important aspects about photography.

We All Stand On The Shoulders of Giants

Just like in the field of magic, where there are few modern tricks that are not variations on an older illusion, there are very few photographic styles that are actually unique. Everyone in photography, just like everyone in magic, is standing on the shoulders of giants. Nowhere does that become more apparent than in continuing education, which is one of the foundations of professional photographers.

It’s An Investment

Photography is a huge field with a depth of knowledge rivaled in few professions. With modern digital cameras set on auto, anyone can take decent pictures. But the creativity, the depth of knowledge that separates amateur from professional is no accident; it is born from a lifetime of continuing education and study.

Professional photographers don’t consider continuing eduction a necessary evil, it’s a lifestyle. And the photographer that attends a class this month may be teaching a similar class the next. In the field of photography we all feed off one another and all take our turn giving back.

It’s Fashion

In the field of fashion it’s not unusual for most of the attendees at fashion shows to be other designers. Scoping out the competition, getting inspiration, and drawing on the energy of other people in their field for motivation. Photography is very similar in that photographers are constantly looking to raise their game, looking for new techniques, new ways of seeing a scene. Frequently that inspiration comes from looking to the work of others and taking classes where they get to practice new lighting techniques and work with equipment they may not own.

Photography, like hem lines, also has trends that come and go with time. If you want to stay in business as a photographer, you’ll stay in touch with your competitors and learn to offer the same services as the leaders in the field.

Take a Class

If you’re new to photography, absolutely take an introductory class in basic photography. Unfortunately, community colleges and universities have priced many people out of taking night classes.

Fortunately, you can find quality introductory material in courses offered online that are both inexpensive and provide one-on-one feedback and support from professional photographers. Many online classes are less than USD $200 and provide a wealth of knowledge and resources. And the bonus is you can work through the material at your own pace in your free time.