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What is Macro Photography?

Close-up photographs of some very small images can be very revealing. With these images, we can often see the tiny details of an object that were completely invisible before.

Macro photography is a type of photography that allows us to get an extreme close-up view of certain things. Usually, the subjects in macro photography are very small. Some objects that can be shot may include…

Insects, Flowers, Leaves, Snowflakes, Electrical Components, Food Particles, Hair Shafts, Products

…and many more. Basically, if it is a small or even tiny object, its image can be captured through macro photography.

These unusual photographs may be shot for a few different reasons. Some of them, for instance, are simply interesting, and are often displayed as art. Macro photographs, however, can also be used for scientific research and documentation. Pictures of insects in an entomology textbook, for instance, are often shot using macro photography techniques.

Due to the size of the subjects in this type of photography, specialized equipment is usually necessary. Lenses with extreme magnification and zoom powers must usually be used, for instance. These are typically referred to as macro lenses. The cameras used to shoot these types of photographs should be able to shoot very high quality pictures. After all, what's the point of macro photography if the images will just turn out blurry?


Work Environment

A macro photographer may devote the majority of his career to this special form of photography, or he may combine these skills with other types of photography careers. Some nature photographers and wildlife photographers, for instance, may use macro photography techniques and equipment to capture some images.

As with other types of photography, a macro photography career typically involves finding and photographing subjects. Macro photography subjects can often be found all around us – on our bodies, outside in the grass, or even floating down from the heavens. A macro photographer will often quickly learn to look a little more closely at the world around him, sometimes squinting if necessary.

Despite the abundance of macro photography subjects, this is still a difficult career to learn. For instance, the sizes of the subjects alone present their own special set of challenges and obstacles that need to be overcome.

In order to get great photographs, a macro photographer will typically need to use special photography equipment. This equipment must also be properly maintained and carried for long periods of time.


Education Requirements

Because of the specialized knowledge needed to be a great macro photographer, formal training is almost always a requirement for anyone seeking a macro photography career. Many macro photographers will begin their education with a 2 or four year degree program in photography. Besides learning the fundamentals of photography during this type of degree program, students will also usually be able to choose to take several elective photography courses.

Photographers interested in macro photography careers should check into different schools that offer photography degrees, and choose a photography school that offers courses in macro photography. These courses will often enable students to learn about the special challenges of macro photography, and the different techniques and equipment that can be used to overcome these challenges.

Macro lenses and macro filters are two very important pieces of equipment in any macro photographer's bag, for instance. Macro filters magnify and zoom in on subjects, so that they appear much larger than in real life. Macro filters, or close-up filters, are also often used in macro photography careers. These special filters are attached to a camera lens, enabling it to focus better.


Salary and Job Outlook


Unfortunately, the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not collect salary data on this particular group of highly specialized photographers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, traditional photographers made an average annual salary of $35,980 in 2010. In comparison, those that worked for periodicals made $40,580 in that same year, and those that worked in scientific research and development made an average salary of $52,980.


In general, the majority of professionals who pursue macro photography careers work as freelancers. They will often shoot interesting macro photographs, in hopes that certain magazines might buy their work. In today's increasingly digital age, the Internet explosion allows macro photographers to sell their work as stock images. Some businesses might also hire particularly talented macro photographers as staff members as well. Scientific journals and magazines or advertising agencies, for instance, might hire macro photographers as staff photographers, either full or part-time.

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