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Working As A Staff Photographer

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

  • $33,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Staff 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 Staff 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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Staff Photographer Career Paths

Staff Photographer
Photo Editor Editor Consultant
Marketing Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Photo Editor Editor Owner
Marketing Director
7 Yearsyrs
Photo Editor Editor Manager
Business Owner
6 Yearsyrs
Graphic Designer Marketing Coordinator Account Executive
Sales And Marketing Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Graphic Designer Designer
Design Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Graphic Designer Marketing Specialist Marketing Manager
Marketing Communications Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Lead Photographer Manager Property Manager
Communications Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Lead Photographer Manager President
Board Of Directors Member
8 Yearsyrs
Lead Photographer Owner Vice President
Founder And Chief Executive Officer
7 Yearsyrs
Photography Instructor Freelance Photographer Artist
Senior Graphic Designer
5 Yearsyrs
Photography Instructor Freelance Photographer Shift Supervisor
Assistant General Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Photography Instructor Instructor Adjunct Professor
President And Founder
5 Yearsyrs
Instructor Consultant Marketing Manager
Digital Marketing Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Instructor Team Leader Property Manager
Communications Director
6 Yearsyrs
Photography Editor Freelance Photographer Video Producer
Senior Producer
7 Yearsyrs
Staff Writer Social Media Manager Owner
Owner And Founder
6 Yearsyrs
Staff Writer Account Executive Owner/Operator
Owner And Chief Executive Officer
7 Yearsyrs
Staff Writer Producer Web Developer
Web Content Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Reporter Author Business Owner
Entrepreneur
5 Yearsyrs
Reporter Writer And Editor Senior Copywriter
Creative Manager
6 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Owner/Photographer 6.3 years
Chief Photographer 4.7 years
Staff Photographer 4.0 years
Lead Photographer 2.9 years
Photographer 2.0 years
Top Careers Before Staff Photographer
Photographer 21.2%
Internship 18.0%
Assistant 3.0%
Volunteer 3.0%
Cashier 2.4%
Manager 2.1%
Owner 1.7%
Top Careers After Staff Photographer
Photographer 20.9%
Internship 8.1%
Owner 6.3%
Editor 3.0%
Manager 1.9%
Volunteer 1.9%

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Highest Staff Photographer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Staff Photographer Impossible America Corp Mar 24, 2011 $50,088
Staff Photographer/Journalist Transworld Media Dec 28, 2011 $48,000
Staff Photographer/Journalist Transworld Magazine Corporation Dec 28, 2011 $48,000
Staff Photographer/Journalist Transworld Media Feb 04, 2010 $48,000

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Top Skills for A Staff Photographer

  1. Adobe Photoshop
  2. Product Photography
  3. Daily Newspaper
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Edited images for publication using Adobe Photoshop
  • Shoot architectural/editorial, and product photography to be used as advertising and marketing material.
  • Covered a variety of assignments in black and white and color slide film for the 45,000 circulation twice- daily newspaper.
  • Traveled nationally to cover major breaking news stories as required, with digital delivery of photos.
  • Scheduled and coordinated photo shoots and news coverage of DC council man Jack Evans and other local novelties and celebrities.

Staff 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 2,635 Staff 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 Staff Photographer Resume

View Resume Examples

Staff Photographer Demographics

Gender

Male

58.0%

Female

37.0%

Unknown

4.9%
Ethnicity

White

63.3%

Hispanic or Latino

14.2%

Black or African American

11.3%

Asian

7.6%

Unknown

3.6%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

51.5%

French

13.8%

Chinese

6.2%

German

4.6%

Italian

3.1%

Japanese

3.1%

Korean

2.3%

Hebrew

2.3%

Mandarin

1.5%

Bosnian

1.5%

Tagalog

1.5%

Portuguese

1.5%

Arabic

1.5%

Swahili

0.8%

Turkish

0.8%

Welsh

0.8%

Lithuanian

0.8%

Russian

0.8%

Cantonese

0.8%

Greek

0.8%
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Staff Photographer Education

Schools

University of Missouri - Columbia

12.0%

Ohio University -

8.3%

Rochester Institute of Technology

7.1%

School of Visual Arts

6.6%

Columbia College Chicago

6.6%

Syracuse University

5.0%

New York University

4.6%

Brooks Institute

4.6%

San Francisco State University

4.1%

Savannah College of Art and Design

4.1%

Temple University

4.1%

Michigan State University

3.7%

Virginia Commonwealth University

3.7%

Pennsylvania State University

3.7%

San Jose State University

3.7%

University of Texas at Austin

3.7%

Central Michigan University

3.7%

Art Institute of Pittsburgh

3.7%

University of Alabama

3.3%

University of Arizona

3.3%
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Majors

Photography

33.9%

Journalism

18.2%

Communication

8.9%

Fine Arts

8.1%

Graphic Design

7.3%

English

3.1%

Business

2.3%

Psychology

2.2%

Agricultural Public Services

1.8%

Political Science

1.8%

History

1.8%

Liberal Arts

1.5%

Design And Visual Communication

1.4%

Marketing

1.4%

Visual And Performing Arts

1.3%

General Studies

1.2%

Economics

1.1%

Writing

1.0%

Computer Science

0.9%

Management

0.9%
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Degrees

Bachelors

73.1%

Associate

11.7%

Masters

6.8%

High School Diploma

3.7%

Certificate

3.4%

Diploma

0.8%

License

0.3%

Doctorate

0.3%
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Updated May 18, 2020