Photographer Job Description | Salary, Qualifications, How to Become One

Photographers capture moments in time and use photographs to communicate tales. They photograph people, places, events, and things. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 17 percent increase in photography employment by 2030.

Because photography is a technically challenging job, anyone interested in pursuing a career as a photographer should think about the training they’ll need before committing.

This in-depth guide on how to become a photographer will help you determine if you want to be a photographer, as well as your pay, work prerequisites, and how to get started.

Who Is A Photographer

A photographer is a person who works closely with clients to capture images of people, places, and things through the application of creativity and technical talents in photographic equipment and photo processing software.

To guarantee that desired results are achieved, photographers must effectively communicate with customers about expectations in order to satisfy project standards and timeframes.

Other roles include recommending unique ideas and solutions to accomplish desired goals and maintaining a professional image.

What Does A Photographer Do?

Photographers typically focus on one type of photography, such as press and photojournalism, fashion, or scientific and medical photography. Most of their job entails:

  • Putting together photographic gear
  • Taking photographs
  • Image retouching and editing
  • Selecting and establishing sites
  • Photograph reproduction and framing
  • promoting their company (especially if self-employed)
  • Making contacts and conducting research
  • Administration in general

Because most of their labor is done ‘on location,’ they must travel frequently and work unpredictable hours.

Typical Employers Of Photographers

  • Agencies
  • Picture libraries
  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Catalogues
  • Advertising agencies
  • Hospitals
  • Medical publishers
  • Museums
  • Art galleries
  • Auctioneers

What Skills Are Needed For Being A Photographer

  • Creativity
  • Technical photography skills
  • Patience and concentration
  • Attention to detail
  • Strong networking skills
  • Team working skills

How Much Does A Photographer Earn?

A Photographer makes an average of $14.41 per hour. This exact salary may vary depending on the applicant’s education, experience level, geographical location, and the nature of the position. Typically, a photographer will stay in their position for less than one year.

Components of a Successful Photography Career


Photographers require artistic talent, as well as a “good eye” for determining what makes an excellent shot. Because most photographers use digital cameras, computer skills are required. The photographs are saved on computers and changed with a variety of software tools.


Those aspiring to be photographers must be meticulous in their job. For taking and editing images, the capacity to be meticulous is crucial.

Finally, even if they work alone, most photographers must engage with clients. It is critical to develop positive client interactions and to comprehend their demands and desires.

Talent to create art

Photographers are artists who must use their imagination to come up with new ways to express tales through photos. They must have a keen sense of color, light, and composition.

Interpersonal skills

You must be able to understand the demands of the people you’re photographing, read their body language, and coordinate your activities with theirs, whether it’s the individuals you’re photographing, your clients, or your coworkers.

Ability to communicate

Excellent listening and speaking abilities will enable you to comprehend what others say and assist you in explaining things to them.

Customer service is important

Because repeat business and great word-of-mouth are critical to success, freelance photographers, in particular, must deliver excellent service to their clientele.

Business ability

Self-employed people must know how to sell themselves. They need to take care of bookkeeping and maintain track of their spending and profits. They must also know legal considerations, such as ensuring that a model release form is signed if they are to use it.

An eye for detail

You can’t let any details slip if you’re going to consistently produce only the highest quality photos.

Job Outlook for a Photographer

Photographers who work for themselves have a bright future. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment will rise at a rate of around 12% faster than the average for all occupations between 2016 and 2026.

Others in the field will not fare nearly as well. Because of the affordable stock photography available online, employment in the photography sector is predicted to fall by around 6% during the same period.

Work Environment of a Photographer?

If you prefer to stay close to home or work from the same area every day, this job may not be for you. Photographers frequently travel to far-flung locales and spend time on the road.

Photographers who work in portrait and commercial photography spend a lot of time in studios, but they also have to shoot on location.

Both domestically and internationally, photojournalists travel. They are occasionally forced to enter perilous situations in order to capture newsworthy events.

Work Schedule of a Photographer

Employment in this field is often inconsistent. Approximately 30% of photographers worked just part-time in 2016.

The hours are flexible, however, and some jobs are seasonal, as is the case with those who specialize in photographing weddings or graduations. Expect to work evenings, weekends, and holidays. 

Qualifications for Photographer

Both university graduates and school dropouts can pursue a career in photography.

Degrees in photography, cinema, art, design, or media studies might be beneficial, especially for technical skills.

Alternatively, numerous part-time photography courses, such as those offered by City & Guilds and Creative Skillset, might serve as a good starting point.

However, if you want to be a successful photographer, you’ll need an-

  • Associate’s or bachelor’s degree in photography art preferred
  • Proven experience as a photographer in a competitive industry
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Detailed knowledge of photography art and lighting
  • Strong creative presence and artistic flair
  • Customer focus with a desire to over-deliver on quality
  • Able to follow instructions clearly to achieve desired results
  • Able to stand and move around for long periods at a time
  • Flexible to travel to locations as required of the job

How To Become A Photographer | Step By Step Guide

Step 1 – Choose the Right Education

Finding an education program that meets your ambitions is the first step in becoming a professional photographer. Photography programs are tailored to each student’s career goals and level of commitment to education.

From a certificate to a master’s degree, photography programs are available. The cost of certification can range from roughly $200 to tens of thousands of dollars for college programs.

Bachelor’s degrees take four years to complete, but they provide more in-depth information and can help job seekers stand out in the industry.

A master’s degree program usually lasts two years and comprises 36 credit hours. It’s a high-level program that can lead to roles in management, such as art director or senior photographer.

Step 2 – Choose a Focus

There are several photography specialties to choose from as you figure out how to be a photographer. Students usually choose to focus on one area, such as

  • Portrait photography
  • Commercial photography
  • Scientific and industrial photography
  • Aerial photography
  • Fine art photography

Step 3 – Internships

Internships allow students to take part in photographic workshops and fieldwork in order to learn about the technical, creative, and logistical aspects of photography in a studio setting and on location. They might be paid or unpaid, and they usually last a couple of months.

Step 4 – Take Exams for Certificates

Photographers can get a variety of qualifications, including ones from the Professional Photographers Association.

Typically, application fees are in the hundreds of dollars. The following are some examples of certifications:

  • Certified Professional Photographer
  • Certified Forensic Photographer
  • Registered Biological Photographer

Step 5 – Land an Entry-Level Job

Most schools have a career center that can assist with job interview tips and help students write effective resumes and cover letters. Students should leverage this resource to find a job.

Step 6 – Return to School for Continuing Education or an Advanced Degree

Each level of education gives additional academic training and teaching, making you more appealing to potential employers or clients. Non-degree options for continuing education might also be beneficial.

Types of Photographers

Portrait Photography

Portrait photography, often known as portraiture, is a type of photography that tries to convey an individual’s or group’s personality and attitude. Photographs might be casual or posed, full-body or close-up.

The subject’s face and eyes are usually in focus in either case. Tone and emotion can be conveyed through lighting and backdrop.

Senior portraits, family portraits, engagement images, and professional headshots are all popular forms of photographic portraits.

The best portrait photographers make their clients feel entirely at ease, allowing for natural and relaxed expressions.


Photojournalism is a method of using images to tell the tale of a significant (or even historic) event or location.

Also, Photojournalism should be objective and truthful, with candid moments captured as they happen taking precedence over beautiful images.

Photojournalists typically attend planned events hoping to capture unscripted, unplanned moments. Their work appears frequently in publications and newspapers.

Fashion Photography

Fashion photography enhances the appeal of fashion clothing, shoes, and accessories by highlighting and glamorizing them. It is often found in periodicals and on the internet.

People may prefer this specialization to other sorts of photography since it allows them to be more creative in creating eye-catching and appealing photos.

Runway photographers operate in a variety of settings, from fashion shows to studios with full lighting sets to city streets and open fields, and shoot a lot of full body photos.

When working with shoot stylists, creative directors, and models, they must use many of the same abilities as portrait photographers and must practice effective collaboration and communication.

Sports Photography

Sports photography can capture the passion, drama, and emotion that powers sporting events by capturing athletes, coaches, and even supporters at the ideal moment.

To keep up with the surrounding action, sports photographers must aim and shoot rapidly, and it’s better to use a higher ISO to shoot at a faster shutter speed.

For zooming in on the action, sports photographers typically use long, heavy lenses. In this competitive genre, unique views might help your work stand out.

Still Life Photography

Still-life photography, as the name implies, focuses on inanimate items, whether natural or man-made.

Artistic and commercial still-life photography are both possible. It’s frequently seen in stock photos and product marketing. (Think of catalogs, publications, and billboards that include product graphics.)

Getting a superb shot in a still life requires careful object selection, placement, and lighting.

Editorial Photography

Editorial photography is used to accompany a narrative or article in a magazine or newspaper. Editorial photography can cover a wide range of topics and is entirely reliant on the text it is accompanying.

In general, you’ll want to gain photos that work in a range of layouts, including horizontal and vertical compositions, for editorial photography.

Working directly with writers and creative directors is likely when working in editorial photography, therefore exhibiting good communication skills and professionalism can help you succeed.

Architectural Photography

Architectural photography covers both the interior and external design of buildings and structures.

This genre includes a wide range of structures, from warehouses to city bridges to old country barns. Designers, architects, leasing businesses, and building investors can all benefit from architectural photography.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to become a photographer?

Photography certificate programs differ per school; they can be entry-level programs requiring six to ten classes, or they can be four-year programs.

What experience with photography is required?

Employers, on the whole, prefer photographers who have worked behind the camera. This can include work that is freelance, professional, or personal. The amount of experience needed is mostly determined on the level of difficulty.

What is the difference between a cameraman and a photographer?

Photographers primarily record still photographs, whereas Cameramen or Camera Operators primarily capture video footage, though some Photographers will also take videos if their client or business requests it.

Photographers are expected to have an artistic vision that they use to complete projects, whereas Cameramen are usually under the direct supervision of a Director or Videographer who gives them instructions on where to position their camera, what shots to capture, and what camera techniques to implement.

What are the daily duties of a Photographer?

Photographers may work on a variety of assignments throughout the day or concentrate on a single, larger session.

They talk to clients about what kind of images they need and show them examples of their portfolio so they can be sure they’ll get the style of photography they want.

What are the characteristics of a good Photographer?

Photographers who are talented and understand the fundamentals of visual design are able to create photographs that are both attractive and intriguing. They can also take direction well and use a variety of ways to impress their customers.

What are the different types of Photographers?

Professional photographers can work in a variety of businesses, depending on their preferred style of photography and how their clients intend to use their images.

Fashion photographers, photojournalists, and portrait photographers are all options for more artistic photographers.

Wedding and sports photographers are two options for those who enjoy attending events.

Wildlife photographers, forensic evidence photographers, and medical photographers are all options for photographers with a technical eye.


While most photographers concentrate on one or two genres of photography, dabbling with several styles of photography can help you broaden your skill set.

Many of the technical and artistic skills necessary apply to a variety of photography disciplines. This implies that when you gain experience in one area, you can pick up vital tips and techniques that can help you become a better photographer in other areas.



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