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Become A Photographer

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Working As A Photographer

  • Thinking Creatively
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Selling or Influencing Others
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Getting Information
  • Stressful

  • $31,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Photographer Do

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:

  • Market and advertise services to attract clients
  • Analyze and plan the composition of photographs
  • Use various photographic techniques and lighting equipment
  • Capture subjects in commercial-quality photographs
  • Enhance the subject’s appearance with natural or artificial light
  • Use photo-enhancing software
  • Maintain a digital portfolio to demonstrate their work

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.

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How To Become A Photographer

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.

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Photographer Jobs

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Photographer Career Paths

Photographer
Graphic Designer Marketing Coordinator Marketing Specialist
Marketing Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Graphic Designer Marketing Coordinator Account Executive
District Sales Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Graphic Designer Designer Owner
Co-Owner
6 Yearsyrs
Nanny Lead Teacher Manager
Marketing Director
7 Yearsyrs
Nanny Lead Teacher Assistant Manager
Business Owner
6 Yearsyrs
Nanny Lead Teacher Office Manager
Administrative Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Certified Nursing Assistant Team Leader Account Manager
Sales Account Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Certified Nursing Assistant Team Leader Sales Manager
Sales And Marketing Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Certified Nursing Assistant Team Leader President
Board Of Directors Member
8 Yearsyrs
Substitute Teacher Consultant Marketing Manager
Marketing Communications Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Substitute Teacher Executive Assistant Property Manager
Communications Director
6 Yearsyrs
Substitute Teacher Account Executive Marketing Manager
Digital Marketing Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Driver Consultant Co-Founder
Founder And Chief Executive Officer
7 Yearsyrs
Security Officer Officer Owner
Owner And Chief Executive Officer
7 Yearsyrs
Driver Foreman Owner
Owner And Founder
6 Yearsyrs
Technician Engineering Technician Designer
Design Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Security Officer Technical Support Specialist Web Developer
Web Content Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Designer Senior Graphic Designer
Creative Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Editor Manager Business Owner
Entrepreneur
5 Yearsyrs
Home Health Aid Resident General Dentist
Lead Generator
5 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Photographer?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Owner/Photographer 6.3 years
Staff Photographer 3.7 years
Lead Photographer 2.9 years
Photographer 2.0 years
Top Careers Before Photographer
Cashier 15.2%
Internship 9.3%
Server 5.6%
Volunteer 4.5%
Assistant 3.9%
Manager 3.1%
Waitress 2.9%
Hostess 2.7%
Top Careers After Photographer
Cashier 12.2%
Internship 6.4%
Server 6.1%
Manager 3.7%
Volunteer 3.2%
Owner 3.0%
Assistant 3.0%
Barista 2.1%
Teacher 2.0%

Do you work as a Photographer?

Average Yearly Salary
$31,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$17,000
Min 10%
$31,000
Median 50%
$31,000
Median 50%
$31,000
Median 50%
$31,000
Median 50%
$31,000
Median 50%
$31,000
Median 50%
$31,000
Median 50%
$57,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
The Dallas Morning News
Highest Paying City
Bismarck, ND
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
2.0 years
How much does a Photographer make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Photographer in the United States is $31,413 per year or $15 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $17,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $57,000.

Real Photographer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
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 -
$79,000
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 -
$78,000
Preproduction & Location Scouting Photographer Point Lake Pictures LLC Minneapolis, MN Jun 28, 2016 $62,401
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 -
$76,502
Corporate Photographer Window Fashions of Northern California, Inc. Fairfield, CA Apr 16, 2015 $56,846
Photographer Special Projects Studio LLC New York, NY Apr 20, 2014 $56,000 -
$63,000
Photographers Industrial Color, Inc. Culver City, CA Jan 06, 2011 $55,869
Photographer Image Atlas LLC New York, NY Jan 09, 2016 $45,914 -
$52,175
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 Vanilla Monkey Ltd. Los Angeles, CA Nov 25, 2015 $43,222
Photographer Tom C. Robison & Assoc, Inc. Fort Lauderdale, FL Nov 01, 2016 $43,160
Photographers Image Atlas LLC New York, NY Jan 09, 2016 $43,034 -
$52,175
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
Photographer Jin Kim Studio LLC Dallas, TX Jun 24, 2016 $36,000
Photographer Blink Incorporated Corte Madera, CA Jan 10, 2016 $35,479

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Top Skills for A Photographer

  1. Adobe Photoshop
  2. Photographic Equipment
  3. Family Portraits
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Trained in the application of Adobe Photoshop to edit, correct and format pictures for the yearbook and various school publications.
  • Maintained and perform basic repairs on photographic equipment, maintained darkroom chemistry, supplies and photographic materials
  • Assisted customers in capturing and selecting family portraits.
  • Provide professional customer service while photographing and selling packages to customers.
  • Photograph vehicles in inventory, upload to company website and post vehicles on various third party websites for sale.

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Average Salary:

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Top 10 Best States for Photographers

  1. District of Columbia
  2. Rhode Island
  3. Minnesota
  4. Massachusetts
  5. Michigan
  6. New York
  7. California
  8. Utah
  9. Connecticut
  10. North Dakota
  • (7 jobs)
  • (4 jobs)
  • (19 jobs)
  • (23 jobs)
  • (12 jobs)
  • (43 jobs)
  • (65 jobs)
  • (6 jobs)
  • (11 jobs)
  • (4 jobs)

Photographer Resume Examples And Tips

The average resume reviewer spends between 5 to 7 seconds looking at a single resume, which leaves the average job applier with roughly six seconds to make a killer first impression. Thanks to this, a single typo or error on your resume can disqualify you right out of the gate. At Zippia, we went through over 60,908 Photographer resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

Learn How To Create A Top Notch Photographer Resume

View Resume Examples

Photographer Demographics

Gender

Female

55.8%

Male

34.3%

Unknown

10.0%
Ethnicity

White

62.1%

Hispanic or Latino

16.7%

Black or African American

11.0%

Asian

6.5%

Unknown

3.6%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

59.7%

French

9.2%

Chinese

4.0%

German

3.9%

Mandarin

3.1%

Italian

2.8%

Japanese

2.7%

Russian

2.6%

Arabic

2.4%

Portuguese

2.3%

Korean

1.4%

Cantonese

1.3%

Polish

1.0%

Vietnamese

0.8%

Tagalog

0.8%

Thai

0.4%

Greek

0.4%

Hebrew

0.4%

Swedish

0.3%

Hmong

0.3%
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Photographer Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

10.4%

Full Sail University

8.2%

Art Institute of Pittsburgh

7.8%

Savannah College of Art and Design

7.1%

Columbia College Chicago

7.0%

Academy of Art University

6.1%

School of Visual Arts

4.8%

University of Central Florida

4.6%

Rochester Institute of Technology

4.4%

Arizona State University

4.0%

The Academy

3.9%

Brooks Institute

3.8%

Kaplan University

3.8%

New York University

3.8%

University of North Texas

3.7%

Valencia College

3.5%

Miami Dade College

3.5%

New York Institute of Photography

3.4%

Temple University

3.2%

Liberty University

3.1%
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Majors

Photography

27.1%

Graphic Design

11.0%

Business

9.9%

Communication

8.3%

Fine Arts

7.4%

Journalism

4.6%

Psychology

4.4%

Criminal Justice

3.1%

General Studies

2.6%

Nursing

2.5%

Liberal Arts

2.3%

Medical Assisting Services

2.3%

Marketing

2.3%

English

2.1%

Health Care Administration

2.0%

Design And Visual Communication

1.8%

Computer Science

1.8%

Education

1.7%

Accounting

1.4%

Biology

1.4%
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Degrees

Bachelors

43.9%

Other

28.6%

Associate

15.2%

Masters

5.4%

Certificate

4.5%

Diploma

1.6%

License

0.4%

Doctorate

0.3%
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What is it like to work as a Photographer

4.0

It's great!

April 17, 2019 on Zippia

What was your job title?

Photographer.. Show More

What do you like the most about working as Photographer?

I love capturing memories that will last for lifetimes... Show More

What do you NOT like?

I do not like when my customer is not happy... Show More

5.0

I Love Photography

March 22, 2019 on Zippia

What was your job title?

Photographer.. Show More

What do you like the most about working as Photographer?

Meeting new people and the way excellent photography makes the clients feels good.. Show More

What do you NOT like?

I don't like club party with smoking.. Show More

How Would You Rate Working As a Photographer?

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Top Photographer Employers

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Jobs From Top Photographer Employers

Photographer Videos

Career Advice on becoming a Photographer by Naroop J (Full Version)

Career Advice on becoming a Photographer by Amit A (Full Version)

Career Advice on becoming a Photographer by Naroop J (Highlights)

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