Photographers create memories and make special moments unforgettable. They are hired to capture the highlights of public and private events, such as press conferences or weddings, or may also work in a studio, where people make appointments to get their picture taken. Most Photographers choose to work on a freelance basis, although some of them may be employed by marketing departments or media outlets, in which case, they’ll shoot models or items for advertising or editorial purposes.
Other industries may also require the help of specialized Photographers to capture pictures that will later serve as proof (e.g. the scientific community), or evidence (e.g. Legal or Law Enforcement specialists).
The equipment of Photographers will vary from one field to another and may also depend on the subject they’re photographing. Specialized lenses and lighting systems may also be required depending on the environment where the pictures are being taken. They must also decide if they’ll be using an analog or digital camera.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Photographers are required to complete.
- Being able to use a good quality digital and/or analog camera, as well as owning one along with the necessary equipment:
- Knowing how to use filters and camera lenses to achieve the desired effect(s);
- knowing how to use a tripod and lighting equipment; and
- being careful when handling delicate tools.
- Getting information on the subject to be photographed as well as on the setting in which the photoshoot will take place:
- Deciding on picture composition in advance, sometimes making sketches or putting together a mood board; and
- determining what type of equipment (e.g. lenses, lightning systems, or tripods) will be necessary for the photo-shoot.
- Taking into account all parameters that could affect the photography process, such as lighting and weather conditions:
- Conducting tests and observations to determine which equipment and camera settings should be used;
- identifying which locations are most likely to generate the best pictures; and
- making technical adjustments as required.
- Preparing budgets and invoices, taking into account the client’s specifications.
- Bringing and installing the necessary equipment on set.
- Photographing any type of subject, such as landscapes, products, and models, as well as sports, fashion, political, or social events.
- Giving clear instructions to the subject and ensuring the shoot runs smoothly:
- Directing the subject in order to get various shots, so as to present a broad selection of samples;
- being willing and able to explain the photographic processes to clients;
- identifying the client’s best profile; and
- arranging for the client to be comfortable in front of the camera.
- Digitizing and editing pictures, using specialized equipment and photo editing software applications, such as Photoshop.
- Sending proofs to clients, seeking feedback, and modifying their order accordingly.
- Staying updated on the latest photography technology and techniques, as well as the newest state-of-the-art equipment.
- Promoting their services and presenting their portfolio through different channels (e.g. social media) to let people know about their work.
- Using a high-quality digital or analog camera.
- Setting up the necessary lighting in the studio/location.
- Photographing subjects (e.g. models, products, landscapes, events).
- Operating different technological equipment and programs (e.g. scanners, computers, Photoshop).
- Editing pictures, as required.
The average Photographer salary in USA is $58,586 per year or $30 per hour. This is around 2 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $41,000 while most experienced workers make up to $82,000. These results are based on 853 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Strong artistic sense and great creativity:
- Paying attention to every detail that may affect visual composition, such as colors, shadows, positions, postures, and general location.
- Interpersonal and communication skills:
- Communicating clearly, especially verbally, in order to convey clear instructions, as well as having effective listening skills as to understand the client’s requests;
- displaying strong customer service skills, as well as leadership;
- being customer-oriented;
- being able to work cohesively with an assistant; and
- being open to new ideas.
- Organizational and time management skills:
- Having strong multitasking skills; being able to work under pressure in a dynamic, fast-paced environment;
- having time management and prioritization skills in order to satisfy client’s needs and bring in as much revenue as possible;
- being highly responsible, reliable, and organized; and
- being detail oriented and structured.
- Self-motivated and willing to work independently.
- Motor coordination and physical strength:
- Being able to sit, stand, walk, bend, crouch, and kneel for long periods of time; and
- having the body strength to carry heavy equipment.
Aside from the skills listed above, in order to become a successful Photographer, a person needs to have a good balance between technical expertise and creativity. Photographers are required to have a minimum of 2 years of experience in the area. Although no formal education is required to enter this profession, a degree in Photography, Visual Arts, or Graphic Design is usually preferred, especially for high-profile photoshoots.
An aspiring Photographer may also develop all the basic photography techniques through training courses available at art schools, colleges, and specialized institutions. Some more advanced skills and expertise might be required for more specialized positions, such as Medical Photographers, in which case candidates will have to pursue additional degrees.
Photographers also rely greatly on their portfolio and network of contacts. The first one allows them to showcase their artistic skills and approach, while the latter helps them increase their reputation and credibility. Both will likely improve their chances of getting hired, especially when they’re working as freelance Photographers. A great way for them to build a convincing portfolio and expand their network is to take on internships or work on a volunteer basis.
Finally, a Photographer’s work environment and schedule will be directly connected to their area of specialization. For example, most Portrait Photographers work in an office, usually in a studio, whereas Landscape or Event Photographers tend to work at various locations. News Photographers may even travel around the world to perform their job.
In general, all Photographers must deal with flexible schedules and deadlines. Moreover, being a Photographer is a very physical job, as these professionals are typically required to stand for long periods of time. Photographers also need a valid driver’s license, as well as a reliable mean of transportation, in order to get themselves and their equipment to designated events and locations.