Careers in Photography

Sports photographers are often freelance photojournalists.

People who want to find careers in photography will need to learn not only how to take a good picture, but also about camera equipment, photo editing and photo processing. Careers are behind the camera and within other aspects of the field, too.

Photography Education and Experience

To build the foundation of a photography career, both education and experience are vital. Cameras are more technologically advanced than ever, as are printing and editing techniques. Yet the experience that comes from taking photos is something that cannot be taught in the classroom. Hands-on learning is crucial for any photographer who is just starting out.

Students of photography often take on summer internships in order to supplement their education. During these internships, students get the chance to find out what happens on a fashion shoot, how to digitally enhance photographs and how to run a photography studio. Upon graduation, the schooling plus the experience will jumpstart a career in photography.

Careers in Photography: Portraits and More

Although it may seem as though photographers are all portrait photographers, posing schoolchildren and wedding parties, there are a number of other types of photography employment positions available for people who are interested in pursuing the jobs. Jobs in photography may be behind the camera itself or even beyond the camera, but still in the industry.

Behind the Camera

A professional photographer is the person who takes the actual photographs. However, a professional photographer can specialize in more than just portrait photography.

  • Portraits: Portrait photography, as mentioned above, includes photographing children, bridal parties, families, events and more. These photographers are skilled at bringing out a person's individuality and need to have plenty of photography posing ideas ready to go. Weekends and evenings are often part of the job, as events typically take place during these times.
  • Commercial: Commercial photographers are people who take photographs of objects, companies, fashion models and landscapes. These photos are usually included in advertising, websites or promotional products.
  • Technical: Technical photographers often document information for people. They may work in a scientific field, such as medicine, taking pictures of experiments. Alternatively, they may be documenting architectural damage to a building after a tornado or other natural disaster.
  • Fine Art: Fine art photographers take photos that have an artistic flair. Experimental photography techniques are often used to create a new work of art. The resulting prints end up sold for personal and commercial decorating or displayed as part of a collection at a museum or gallery. Creative artistic talent is a requirement for success in this area of photography.
  • Journalism: Photojournalists travel around the world, documenting history as it happens. The famous flag raising at Iwo Jima was photographed by a journalist. Long hours and potentially dangerous conditions are often part of a photojournalist's job.

Almost any of these positions can be done as part of a larger corporation or as a freelance position. Freelance photographers must be highly motivated in order to find new clients and have strong bookkeeping skills.

Beyond the Camera

A number of careers in photography extend beyond just taking the pictures. While any career related to photography depends heavily on the photographers themselves, it is possible to work in the field without actually taking a photo. Here are some common careers in photography that do not require taking pictures:

  • Photography studio management
  • Digital editing and retouching
  • Owning a vintage camera store
  • Equipment maintenance
  • Production assistant
  • Photo editor

In order to be successful in any of these positions, it does help to understand basic photography and have a little experience behind the camera. Former professional photographers may also end up teaching classes to beginner's photography students.

Job Prospects

The field of photography is highly competitive, as it appeals to a wide variety of people. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects the field to grow about 10 percent by 2016, employing approximately 135,000 people across the U.S. in photography-related positions.

The BLS reports that income ranged from under $15,000 to over $56,000 in 2006. Income for photographers ranges depending on geographic location, specialization and experience.

More information on job prospects in photography can be found at these resources:

Careers in Photography