Photographers produce as well as preserve images. They need creativity as well as technical expertise in order to do their job successfully. Photographers may also enhance the appearance of a subject using artificial or natural light and shooting from an interesting angle. A variety of lenses may also be used in order to produce the desired effects.
Most photographers today use digital cameras rather than traditional cameras. Some photographers choose to use both types of cameras based on their own preference as well as the nature of a particular assignment. A wide array of other types of equipment may also be used including filters, lenses and tripods as well as flash attachments.
Photographer Job Responsibilities
Images captured on a digital camera can be edited on a computer as well as stored on portable memory devises. After the image has been transferred to the computer, a photographer can then use special software to modify or crop that image and then enhance it.
Electronic portfolios can be created from a photographer’s work and used for display on their webpage, making it easier for them to reach prospective clients. Photographers must be skilled in using computers as well as printers and editing software. Photographers who choose to use traditional types of cameras need to send their film to special laboratories for the images to be processed. Some photographers choose to develop and print their photographs through the use of a darkroom. This is quite common if they utilize black and white film or want to obtain special effects.
Photographers may specialize in such areas as commercial, portrait, news, scientific, industrial or fine arts photography. Portrait photographers typically take pictures of groups of people or individuals. They commonly work in their own studios. Some photographers also specialize in religious ceremonies, school photographs or weddings. In that case, they will most often work on location. Portrait photographers also have additional job responsibilities, especially if they operate their own business, such as scheduling appointments, advertising, setting up and adjusting equipment, keeping records, purchasing supplies, paying bills, billing customers and possibly hiring, training and directing employees. Some photographers may also design photo albums and mount and frame photographs.
Industrial and commercial photographers take pictures of different types of subjects, including landscapes, artifacts, merchandise, models and buildings. Such photos may be used in different forms of media including reports, books, catalogs and advertisements. This type of work is usually performed on location.
News photographers, also known as photojournalists, photograph places, people and events that are newsworthy for journals, magazines, newspapers and television.
Fine arts photographers sell their photos as fine artwork. Along with technical proficiency, they must also have creativity and artistic talent.
Freelance or self-employed photographers often specialize in one of the above mentioned fields. Along with regular assignments they may also license the use of their photos through stock photo agencies. These agencies sell the right to use photographs to customers and the photographer is paid a commission.
Working conditions for photographers usually vary. Those employed in advertising studios usually work a typical 40 hour work week. News photographers may work long hours that are often irregular. They must also be available for work on short notice. Some photographers work only part-time. Portrait photographers usually work inside their own studios but they may also be required to travel and work on location. In some cases photographers must work in surroundings that are uncomfortable or dangerous, particularly news photographers who cover natural disasters, accidents, civil unrest or military conflicts. Inclimate weather can make the work even more difficult. Strict deadlines often apply.
Salaried photographers usually work in commercial or portrait studios while most other photographers work for advertising agencies, magazines or newspapers. Competition for job openings in the field of photography is usually keen. Employment in photography is expected to grow about as fast as average as other occupations through the year 2014. The Internet may make it easier for freelance photographers to market their work directly to customers. Improvements in digital camera technology may also reduce barriers to employment in this profession. As more companies contract with freelance photographers salaried photography jobs may be harder to locate.
After gaining experience, news and magazine photographers may advance to picture editor or photography editor positions.
Photographer Training and Education Requirements
Employers hiring photographers often look for individuals who are creative and have imagination and a good idea along with a thorough technical knowledge of photography. Most entry-level photographers in photojournalism, scientific or industrial photography have a degree in either photography or a related field. Portrait and freelance photographers may gain training and experience through vocational training or a degree program.
Photographer Salary and Wages
In 2004 the median annual earnings of photographers were $26,080. Salaried photographers usually earn more than photographers who freelance or who are self-employed.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Certification is usually not required for photographers to gain employment; however, a degree in photography or a closely related field can help to improve chances of employment.
Photographer Professional Associations
Professional associations for photographers include:
- Professional Photographers of America, Inc.
- National Press Photographers Association, Inc.
- American Society of Media Photographers, Inc.