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Biological photography, also known as medical photography, scientific photography, nature photography, or biophotography, is the use of photography – both still and motion – for educational, medical, research, or illustrative purposes. The photographs or videos often help doctors and researchers explain complex problems with visual aid. For those that choose to focus on nature and horticultural photos – also a form of biological photography – the sources of images are endless. Whether capturing an unexplainable medical anomaly, photographing an ordinary medical condition, snapping a unique natural phenomenon, or simply a manipulating an image to give doctors and researchers a new way of looking at things, those who want to become a biological photographer will find their careers rewarding.
Someone who is trying to decide whether she should become a biological photographer must consider the educational requirements for the job. In most cases, two to four years of education – beyond high school – should be anticipated. Since biological photography has become an important part of the health care industry, simply receiving on-site training is no longer sufficient. Recently, employers have begun to prefer biophotographers who have completed coursework geared towards letting them become a biological photographer.
Many colleges and universities offer associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in biological photography – and there are even universities that offer Masters programs – both in the United States and in Europe. Students can complete either a full degree program or a partial degree program – for those who want to expand their horizons beyond biophotography. Courses in biology, art, chemistry, computers, mathematics, journalism, and, photography are suggested. If completing a Masters program, a final dissertation will be required; however, the photographic images can often be used in a portfolio to land a job. In addition, seminars, workshops, training programs, and educational classes are offered through an international professional organization, the BioCommunications Association.
Although, at one time, the BioCommunications Association managed a certification process for those who wanted to become a biological photographer, the practice was abolished in 2004. It was decided that there are a variety of ways that people can work as a biophotographers. In addition, the organization concluded that there was not one way to approach any given task – therefore a certification exam was deemed unnecessary. Also, interpersonal skills, excellent communication skills, and the ability to have an eye for detail will work wonders to finding the perfect job as a biological photographer – more so than a certificate.