Photographer Job Description, Education, Training Requirements, Career, Salary, Employment

Job 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. Producing a successful picture requires choosing and presenting a subject to achieve a particular effect and selecting the appropriate equipment.

Training and Educational Qualifications: Employers usually seek applicants with a “good eye,” imagination, and creativity, as well as a good technical understanding of photography. 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. Freelance and portrait photographers need technical proficiency gained through a degree program, vocational training, or extensive photography experience.

Job Outlook: Employment of photographers is expected to increase about as fast as the average for all occupations through 2016. The number of individuals interested in positions as commercial and news photographers usually is much greater than the number of openings. Growth of Internet versions of magazines, journals, and newspapers will require increasing numbers of commercial photographers to provide digital images.

Salary: The median annual earnings of salaried photographers are $26,170. The middle 50 percent earn between $18,680 and $38,730. The lowest 10 percent earn less than $15,540, and the highest 10 percent earn more than $56,640.

Significant Facts:

•    Related work experience, job related training, or some unique skill or talent such as a background in computers or electronics are beneficial to prospective photographers.

•    More than half of all photographers are self employed; the most successful are adept at operating a business and able to take advantage of opportunities provided by rapidly changing technologies.

•    Because most freelance photographers purchase their own equipment, they incur considerable expense acquiring and maintaining cameras and accessories. Unlike news and commercial photographers, a few fine arts photographers are successful enough to support themselves solely through their art.

Where are the best cities to live to find jobs like yours?

New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago.

What is your typical day like?

Assistant photographer on all aspects of digital capture of on figure fashion merchandise for adverts in/on billboards, newspapers, direct mailers, broadsheets, etc.

What are your job responsibilities?

Pre and post productions of photo sets, lighting, set up, digital capture procedures and file management, among other things that good assistants should do.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Getting paid to travel on location: Puerto Rico, New York City, Miami, Chicago.

What do you dislike about your job?

The chain of command (e.g., working in a corporate environment).

Have you had any turning point or “light bulb” moments in your career that have helped you get to where you are today?

I’ve learned to be persistent and confident of my abilities and then prove it to potential employers. I dream big! Anything is possible.

Describe how you got into this industry and how you got your most recent job.

I freelanced after graduation. Getting gigs was slow at first, but I never gave up. I sent out numerous resumes, cover letters, and promos to potential clients, internships, employers, agencies, studios and production companies. About one out of every 15 would materialize. I played those odds and ended up with a job in my field.

To what professional associations do you belong and what professional publications do you read?

I belong to Advertising Photographers of America (APA) and the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP). I read Communication Arts, Picture, Blackbook, and Workbook.

What advice do you have for others who would like to pursue this career?

Traditional photography is not “now.” Concentrate on becoming digitally savvy. Know a lot of software and digital capture systems. Get familiar with both PC and MAC. Film is for the fine artist it’s great to know but it’s not used in the field. You have to be a digital tech to be a good assistant anymore unless you get with a photographer that still shoots film, but that’s rare.

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