Photographers capture and edit images to tell a story, share information, advertise or create awareness for a product, and more. They are experts at framing their subjects to convey a specific point or message to the viewer.
Photographers are not only masters of their craft; they are masters of their chosen tools, with in-depth knowledge of the proper lenses and shutter speeds to capture their subject precisely as they envisioned it. Different types of image capture include lifestyle, portraits, landscape, fashion, product, macro, wildlife, and sports photography, as well as photojournalism. Learning to master these forms of image capture is crucial to a Photographer’s ability to land consistent work.
A Photographer’s expertise goes beyond operating their camera. Photographers must also rely on specialized equipment to best capture their subjects. This might include lighting rigs for indoor shoots, balancing and reflector cards for outdoor shoots, and various tripods and other stabilizing equipment. Photographers must also be proficient in using photo-editing software to produce the most captivating images possible.
Typical Duties and Responsibilities
- Work with the Art Director to determine the necessary images
- Scout locations and contact subjects or clients before shooting
- Set up the proper photographic equipment
- Compose and frame the subject
- Adjust apertures, shutter speed, and camera focus
- Retouch and edit image files
- Conduct reshoots, if necessary
Education and Background
This position requires a high school diploma or a GED; preferable is an associate or bachelor’s degree from a college or university.
Skills and Competencies
- Strong knowledge of visual design principles
- A keen eye for detail
- Expertise in camera operation
- Critical-thinking and problem-solving skills
- Exceptional creative-thinking skills
- Proficiency in photo-editing and retouching software
- Patience and flexibility
- Excellent communication and research skills
According to Payscale the median annual salary of a Photographer with
1 Year of Experience:
- Orlando, Florida: $28,000
- Tampa, Florida: $30,000
- Jacksonville, Florida: $28,000
- Miami, Florida: $32,000
- Atlanta, Georgia: $40,000
- Chicago, Illinois: $40,000
- Houston, Texas: $40,000
- Los Angeles, California: $50,000
- New York City, New York: $40,000
- Seattle, Washington: $40,000
- Overall: $39,000
5 Years of Experience:
- Orlando, Florida: $30,000
- Tampa, Florida: $32,000
- Jacksonville, Florida: $30,000
- Miami, Florida: $34,000
- Atlanta, Georgia: $45,000
- Chicago, Illinois: $50,000
- Houston, Texas: $50,000
- Los Angeles, California: $53,000
- New York City, New York: $50,000
- Seattle, Washington: $60,000
- Overall: $50,000
- Product Photographer
- Sales Photographer
- Lifestyle Photographer
- Brand Photographer
- Image Capture Specialist
The path to becoming a professional Photographer can take many different directions.
A Photographer’s creative portfolio is the most important criteria for getting hired. An exceptional body of work will more than compensate for lack of formal education. To build their portfolios and on-the-job experience, Photographers will often market their services as freelancers. That being said, many professional Photographers do earn a bachelor’s degree in fine art or visual media to shore up their knowledge and expand their skill sets. Many also have earned the Certified Professional Photographer designation from the Professional Photographers of America (PPA).
The rise of smartphones and social media — placing a powerful camera and internet connection in millions of people’s hands — was supposed to end the modern Photographer’s career. All it did was further specialize Photographers’ skill set.
Learning how to best use social media platforms, such as learning to write micro-copy and network online, will continue to add value to Photographers’ services. Mastering new photo-editing software will also be crucial to staying relevant in our ever-changing, technology-driven world.
The competition to land professional, full-time photography jobs will continue to intensify over the next eight years. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities for Photographers will decline six percent through 2028.
Where You Can Find Jobs
- 4 Corner Resources
- Career Builder
Are You Interested in Becoming a Photographer?
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