Where do you want to work?
Photographers use their technical expertise, creativity, and composition skills to produce and preserve images that tell a story or record an event.Duties
Photographers typically do the following:
Today, most photographers use digital cameras instead of the traditional film cameras. Digital cameras capture images electronically, so the photographer can edit the image on a computer. Images can be stored on portable memory devices, such as compact disks, memory cards, and flash drives. Once the raw image has been transferred to a computer, photographers can use processing software to crop or modify the image and enhance it through color correction and other specialized effects. Photographers who edit their own pictures use computers, high-quality printers, and editing software. For information on workers who specialize in developing and processing photographic images from film or digital media, see photographic process workers and processing machine operators included in occupations not covered in detail.
Photographers who work for commercial clients often will present finalized photographs in a digital format to the client. Wedding and portrait photographers, who serve primarily noncommercial clients, frequently also provide framing services and present the photographs they capture in albums.
Many wedding and portrait photographers are self-employed. Photographers who own and operate their own business have additional responsibilities. They must advertise, schedule appointments, set and adjust equipment, purchase supplies, keep records, bill customers, pay bills, and—if they have employees—hire, train, and direct their workers.
In addition, some photographers teach photography classes or conduct workshops in schools or in their own studios.
The following are examples of types of photographers:
Portrait photographers take pictures of individuals or groups of people and usually work in their own studios. Photographers who specialize in weddings, religious ceremonies, or school photographs may work on location.
Commercial and industrial photographers take pictures of various subjects, such as buildings, models, merchandise, artifacts, and landscapes. These photographs, which frequently are taken on location, are used for a variety of purposes, including magazine covers and images to supplement analyses of engineering projects.
Aerial photographers travel in planes or helicopters to capture photographs of buildings and landscapes. They often use cameras with gyrostabilizers to counteract the movement of the aircraft and ensure high-quality images.
Scientific photographers focus on the accurate visual representation of subjects and therefore limit the use of image manipulation software to clarify an image. Scientific photographs record scientific or medical data or phenomena. Scientific photographers typically use microscopes to photograph subjects.
News photographers, also called photojournalists, photograph people, places, and events for newspapers, journals, magazines, or television. In addition to taking still photos, photojournalists often work with digital video.
Fine arts photographers sell their photographs as artwork. In addition to having technical knowledge of subjects such as lighting and the use of lenses, fine arts photographers need artistic talent and creativity. Most use traditional film instead of digital cameras.
University photographers serve as general photographers for academic institutions. They may be required to take portraits, document events, or take photographs for press releases. University photographers are found primarily in larger academic institutions, because smaller institutions often contract with freelancers to do their photography work.
Although postsecondary education is not required for portrait photographers, many take classes because employers usually seek applicants with a “good eye” and creativity, as well as a good technical understanding of photography. Photojournalists and industrial and scientific photographers often need a bachelor’s degree.Education
Although postsecondary education is not required for most photographers, many take classes or earn a bachelor’s degree in a related field because such an education can improve their skills and employment prospects.
Many universities, community and junior colleges, vocational–technical institutes, and private trade and technical schools offer classes in photography. Basic courses in photography cover equipment, processes, and techniques. Art schools may offer useful training in photographic design and composition.
Entry-level positions in photojournalism or in industrial or scientific photography generally require a college degree in photography or in a field related to the industry in which the photographer seeks employment. For example, classes in biology, medicine, or chemistry may be useful for scientific photographers.
Business, marketing, and accounting classes can be helpful for self-employed photographers.Training
Photographers have a talent or natural ability for taking good photos, and this talent is typically cultivated over years of practice. For many artists, including photographers, developing a portfolio—a collection of an artist’s work that demonstrates his or her styles and abilities—is essential. A portfolio is necessary because art directors, clients, and others often want to look at one when deciding whether to hire or contract with the photographer.
Photographers often start working as an assistant to a professional photographer. This work provides an opportunity to gain experience, build the photographers’ portfolios, and gain exposure to prospective clients.Important Qualities
Artistic ability. Photographers capture their subjects in images, and they must be able to evaluate the artistic quality of a photograph. Photographers need a “good eye”—the ability to use colors, shadows, shades, light, and distance to compose good photographs.
Business skills. Photographers must be able to plan marketing strategies, reach out to prospective clients, and anticipate seasonal employment.
Computer skills. Most photographers do their own postproduction work and must be familiar with photo-editing software. They also use computers to maintain a digital portfolio.
Customer-service skills. Photographers must be able to understand the needs of their clients and propose solutions to any problems that arise.
Detail oriented. Photographers who do their own postproduction work must be careful not to overlook details and must be thorough when editing photographs. In addition, photographers accumulate many photographs and must maintain them in an orderly fashion.
Interpersonal skills. Photographers often photograph people. They must communicate effectively to achieve a certain composition in a photograph.
Hispanic or Latino12.1%
Black or African American0.6%
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Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Photographer
Top Careers After Photographer
Savannah College of Art and Design10.5%
University of Phoenix8.9%
Columbia College Chicago8.1%
Art Institute of Pittsburgh7.2%
Full Sail University6.5%
Rochester Institute of Technology5.1%
Academy of Art University4.9%
Ball State University4.4%
University of Central Florida3.9%
Southern Illinois University Carbondale3.9%
New York Institute of Photography3.9%
University of North Texas3.8%
School of Visual Arts3.5%
Virginia Commonwealth University3.4%
Northern Virginia Community College3.4%
Unfortunately we don’t have enough data for this section.
|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Photographer||SK Visual||New York, NY||Jul 01, 2014||$198,265|
|Photographer||Christian OTH Inc.||New York, NY||Sep 01, 2012||$198,265|
|Photographer||Christian OTH Inc.||New York, NY||Jan 15, 2013||$198,265|
|Photographer||SK Visual||New York, NY||Apr 01, 2014||$198,265|
|Photographer||Christian OTH Inc.||New York, NY||May 01, 2013||$156,525|
|Photographer||Mannkul, Inc.||Corona, CA||Dec 09, 2011||$98,114|
|Photographer||Special Projects Studio LLC||New York, NY||Mar 15, 2016||$76,000 -
|Photographers||Studio Berry, Inc.||Fort Lee, NJ||Apr 10, 2013||$75,379|
|Photographer||Special Projects Studio LLC||New York, NY||Mar 15, 2016||$72,000 -
|Photographer||Forever & Ever Inc.||New York, NY||Apr 13, 2015||$60,523|
|Photographer||Studio, Kanji Ishii Inc.||New York, NY||Feb 09, 2016||$59,197|
|Photographer||Picturegroup LLC||Calabasas, CA||Jan 18, 2010||$58,302 -
|Corporate Photographer||Window Fashions of Northern California, Inc.||Fairfield, CA||Apr 16, 2015||$56,846|
|Photographer||Ben Baker Photo Inc.||New York, NY||Apr 01, 2010||$46,000 -
|Photographer||Image Atlas LLC||New York, NY||Jan 09, 2016||$45,914 -
|Photographer||Gen X Clothing, Inc.||Vernon, CA||Jan 28, 2016||$45,698|
|Photographer||Oz Sports Photography||New Haven, CT||Apr 11, 2011||$45,000|
|Photographer||Oz Sports Photography||New Haven, CT||Apr 14, 2011||$45,000|
|Photographer||William Wegman||New York, NY||Apr 22, 2015||$43,827|
|Photographer||Kutlu Inc.||New York, NY||Jun 01, 2015||$39,000|
|Photographer||Clear Moon Inc.||New York, NY||Oct 01, 2010||$38,526|
|Photographers||Publication Group, Inc. DBA Shalom L.A.||CA||Nov 15, 2007||$37,858|
|Lifestyle & Interior Photographer||Hattop Media||Raleigh, NC||Oct 01, 2011||$37,566|
|Lifestyle & Interior Photographer||Hattop Media||Raleigh, NC||Jun 01, 2011||$37,566|
|Photographer||Paul Barnett Inc.||San Diego, CA||Nov 22, 2016||$37,315|
|Photographers||American FOTO Features, Inc.||CA||Mar 15, 2010||$37,200|
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Career Advice on becoming a Photographer by Naroop J (Full Version)
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