Career Detail

Take portraits for individuals, groups, and families or for images to be included in news reports, books, advertisements, and catalogs.
The Job
Photographers specialize in areas such as portrait, commercial and industrial, scientific, news, or fine arts photography. Portrait photographers take pictures of individuals or groups of people and often work in their own studios. Some specialize in weddings, religious ceremonies, or school photographs and may work on location. Portrait photographers who own and operate their own business have many responsibilities in addition to taking pictures. They must arrange for advertising, schedule appointments, set and adjust equipment, purchase supplies, keep records, and bill customers. Many also process their own images, design albums, and mount and frame the finished photographs. Commercial and industrial photographers take pictures of various subjects, such as buildings, models, merchandise, artifacts, and landscapes. News photographers, also called photojournalists, photograph newsworthy people, places, and sporting, political, and community events for newspapers, journals, magazines, or television. Most photographers spend only a small portion of their work schedule actually taking photographs. Their most common activities are editing images on a computer.
Work Environment
Portrait photographers usually work in their own studios but also may travel to take photographs at the client's location, such as a school, a company office, or a private home.
College Majors
Minimum Qualifications
Entry-level positions generally require a college degree in photography or in an industry specific field. Freelance or portrait photographers need technical proficiency usually gained through a degree or vocational programs.
Personality traits helpful for this career
Have a "good eye," imagination, creativity, and good hand-eye coordination.
Quick Facts
  • More than half of all photographers are self-employed. For freelance photographers, a good portfolio is essential.
  • Joining camera clubs, and seeking summer or part-time employment in camera stores, newspapers, or photo studios are good strategies.
  • More Info: Professional Photographers of America, Inc., Internet:
Compensation and Outlook
Median annual wages of salaried photographers were $29,440 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $20,620 and $43,530. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $16,920, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $62,430. Median annual wages in the photographic services industry, which employed the largest numbers of salaried photographers, were $26,160.
Comments and Updates
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Job Growth Outlook
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No growth No growth
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H.S. diploma H.S. diploma
BA Degree BA Degree
Masters Degree Masters Degree
Doctorate,MD,PHD,JD Doctorate,MD,PHD,JD

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