Photographer Career Facts - Becoming a Photographer

Becoming a Photographer

Although anyone who picks up a camera can consider themselves a photographer to some extent, it takes a lot of practice, creativity, and knowledge about cameras, lighting, scenery, and much more to actually become what most would call a true photographer. Photography offers a variety of experiences and challenges because the world, which is a photographer's only subject, is constantly changing. You will learn the skills necessary to become a successful photographer from any of the accredited schools listed below. Simply click on the links to the schools of your choice to receive complimentary information about becoming a photographer.

Photographer Career Facts

More than half of all photographers are self-employed, which is a much higher proportion than the average. Technical expertise, imagination and creativity are essential. Only the most skilled and talented - who have good business sense - maintain long-term careers.

Photographer Career Description

Photographers produce and preserve images that paint a picture, tell a story or record an event. To create commercial quality photographs, photographers need both technical expertise and creativity.

Photographer Career Details

Photographers use either a traditional camera or a newer digital camera that electronically records images. Some photographers send their film to laboratories for processing, as color film requires expensive equipment and exacting conditions for correct processing and printing. Using computers and specialized software, photographers can manipulate and enhance scanned or digital images to create a desired effect. Because much photography now involves the use of computer technology, photographers must have hands-on knowledge of computer editing software.

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Quick Fact
In 2017, workers with a bachelor's degree or higher had almost twice as much
median earnings per week than workers with only a high school diploma*.
*Bureau of Labor Statistics

Photographer Career Specializations

Some photographers specialize. Portrait photographers take photos of individuals or groups of people and often work in their own studios. Some specialize in weddings or school photographs and may work on location. Commercial and industrial photographers take photos of various subjects such as buildings, merchandise, models, artifacts and landscapes, for use in a variety of media including reports, books, advertisements and catalogs. Industrial photographers take pictures of machinery, equipment, products, company officials and workers. Scientific photographers take pictures of various subjects to record or illustrate medical or scientific data using knowledge of scientific procedures. They typically have additional knowledge in areas such as medicine, biology, engineering or chemistry. News photographers - also known as photojournalists - take photos of noteworthy people and places as well as sporting, political and community events for journals, magazines, newspapers or television. Some are salaried staff while others are self-employed freelancers. Fine arts photographers sell their photos as fine artwork. Freelance photographers may license their photos through stock photo agencies or contract with clients or agencies to provide photos as necessary.

Photographer Career Working Environment

Places of employment and working conditions vary considerably for photographers. Those employed by advertising agencies and the government usually work a 40-hour week. However, news photographers are likely to work long irregular hours and must be available to work on short notice. Many photographers work part time or variable schedules. Portrait photographers usually work in their own studios, but they may also travel to take photos at the client's location. News and commercial photographers frequently travel locally, stay overnight on assignments or travel to distant places. Some photographers work in uncomfortable and even dangerous surroundings, especially news photographers covering natural disasters, accidents, civil unrest or military conflicts. Some must wait long hours in all kinds of weather for an event to take place and walk or stand for long periods while carrying heavy equipment. News photographers usually work under strict deadlines.

Photographer Career Required Training

Employers seek applicants with a "good eye" as well as imagination, creativity and a good technical understanding of photography. Entry-level positions in photojournalism, industrial or scientific photography generally require a college degree in journalism or photography. Freelance and portrait photographers need technical proficiency, whether gained through a degree program, vocational training or extensive work experience.

Photographer Career Coursework

Many universities, community and junior colleges, vocational-technical institutes and other schools offer photography courses. Basic courses cover equipment, processes and techniques. Bachelor's degree programs - especially those including business courses-provide a well-rounded education. Art schools can offer useful training in composition and design.

Photographer Career Future Job Outlook

In spite of average employment growth projections, photographers are expected to face keen competition for available positions, since many talented people are attracted to the field. The number of individuals interested in positions as commercial and news photographers is usually much greater than the number of openings. Demand for portrait photographers should increase as the population grows. As the number of electronic versions of journals, magazines and newspapers grows on the Internet, photographers will be needed to provide digital images.

Photographer Salary

Median Salary--$36,580 in 2010

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