Photographs are unique in the world of visual media in their verisimilitude – their illusion of representing the truth. Those who are familiar with the artifice of photography understand how a photograph accomplishes this representation, but for most folks this artifice is hidden and invisible. And so are the careers in photography.
Every time you see a photograph in the public arena – magazines, TV, books, newspapers, etc., there are at least four people, and often more, involved in creating that image as part of their career and livelihood. In a fashion shoot for example, there is the photographer, at least one assistant or more, a stylist, a make up person and the art director. In a food shoot there is a “food stylist,” and in a product shot there is typically a photographer, an assistant and at least the art director. But when we look at the finished, beautifully illuminated product or wonderful dish, all the multiple skills of the photographer and the staff behind the scenes are intentionally invisible.
In short, though not obvious to the unskilled observer, many potential careers are available to the photography graduate, from fine art photography (a career built on exhibiting and distributing work through galleries, books, and other possible venues), to teaching at the high school or college level, to commercial pursuits such as digital production, portraiture, fashion, or food photography as described above. Indeed, many photographers function within both the commercial and fine art realms with each part of their career informing the other. Your individual interests will determine the direction of your work and future career in the field.