Photographer Job Description, Skills, and Salary
Get to know about the duties, responsibilities, qualifications, and skills requirements of a photographer. Feel free to use our job description template to produce your own. We also provide you with information about the salary you can earn as a photographer.
Who is a Photographer?
Simply, a photographer is a person, individual, or group of people that make and take photographs. They are responsible for taking dynamic, clear, and attractive photos based on the client’s demands or specifications. They set backdrops, lighting, and equipment to direct models, prepare for a photo shoot session, and direct subjects to capture the perfect image. Photographers edit photos as well to remove blemishes and correct lighting issues. The photographs taken by photographers can be used for technical, personal, educational, and commercial purposes respectively. Some photographers work and partner with multimedia professionals to produce a combination of sounds, photos, and videos for their employers; these can be used in the advertising and creative process by the firm.
Communication is essential in photography; the photographer communicates and discusses with customers and clients their preferences and expectations. This helps the photographer to determine the type of film to use and when the photos will be ready for use. In the course of a photo shoot, a photographer decides on the best vantage point to get the shots they desire, as well as selects or chooses the props to stage the scene. Photographers take and produce a range of high-quality photographers and images to offer and propose to the clients. They may choose to specialize and focus on unique subjects of photography including aviation photography, sports photography, documentary photography, photo-journalism, street photography, wedding and events photography, war photography, and fashion photography.
Several categories of photographers exist; these include amateur and professional photographers amongst others. An amateur photographer takes snapshots and pictures for pleasure, to remember events, friends, or places. Amateur photographers rarely or have zero intention of selling or commercializing their photos. Their images and snapshots are strictly for personal consumption. In contrast, a professional photographer is involved in commercial photography. They are either employed by an organization, are being hired to take photographs in events and occasions, or take and create images to sell to museums or clients. Normally, professional photographers hold photo sessions and take pictures for a purchase fee and earn money through the display or resale of images. A hallmark or element of professional photographers is that they often invest in continuing and pursuing education to improve their skills through associations, training, and mentorship.
Some photographers work as freelancers; a good example is a fine art photographer. Firstly, they make an image and then license or make printed copies of it for display or sale. Relatively, some workers such as photographers working in crime scenes, estate agents, scientists, or journalists make and take photographs as part of other work. Also, there is a unique group of photographers that take and produce moving photographs rather than still ones for commercial purposes. Depending on the commercial context, such photographers are called videographers, camera operators, or cinematographers. Furthermore, some photographers explore subjects related to paintings like still life, landscape, or portraiture; the type of work commissioned and produced will have a price tag associated with the image.
Whilst working closely with the client, a photographer uses creativity and technical ability in photo manipulation software and photographic equipment to capture images of edifices, people, and animals. Most photographers make creative inputs to the client to ensure that the desired results are obtained and deadlines are met. They also recommend and proffer solutions when needed to meet standards and maintain a professional image. A photographer must have natural artistic flair backed by a detailed understanding and knowledge of photography art and lighting science. Several photographers are naturally flexible; since the job might require them to travel to different locations for a shoot. Irregular working hours are a common feature of the job.
The advent of digital photography has led to an explosion in photography both as a career choice and as a creative art. Though you can earn much more in photography based on your skills, business acumen, talent, and portfolio, it is advisable to ensure that you are passionate about creating images before starting a career in photography. Photography is an extremely competitive field that requires passion and discipline; to become successful as a photographer, you need to be tenacious, put in long hours of work, strike a balance between demand and supply, and possess excellent marketing acumen.
The images that are taken by a photographer while working on an assignment often belong to the publication or firm unless stipulated otherwise in the terms and conditions of the contract. Most professional photographers especially those that take photographs in weddings and fashion shows often stipulate and insist on retaining exclusive copyright of their photos; this is to guarantee that only they can reproduce and sell further prints of the images or photos to the customer. However, the client can negotiate and discuss alternatives and reach an agreement with the photographer if they wish to reproduce the photos themselves.
Photographer Job Description
Below are the photographer job description examples you can use to develop your resume or write a job description for your employee. Employers can also use it to sieve out job seekers when choosing candidates for interviews.
Different photographers have different normal days; this is because of the differences in the type of photography. Also, the medium in which a photographer works determines the responsibilities or duties. While some photographers spend time on the road traveling to far-flung locations, others spend a lot of time in the studio creating and making photos and images. Sometimes, a photographer might be asked to take photos in dangerous and unsafe locales to record newsworthy and interesting events. However, there are common and general responsibilities associated with the position of a photographer. These functions are enumerated below;
- Communicate and exchange information with clients to set up a time and venue for photoshoots.
- Manage and coordinate photoshoot sessions.
- Edit and retouch photos and submit them to the right client or customer.
- Manage and maintain photography equipment carefully.
- Take photographs in a studio or other location for personal and professional use.
- Manoeuvre different photographic equipment such as digital camera and lighting, film, or single-lens reflex cameras to produce excellent images.
- Assess a set of photos and choose the best ones for sale or use.
- Enhance the photographs and pictures by using different techniques and approaches.
- Work closely with colleagues and clients to produce high-quality images and photographs.
- Suggest creative ideas to clients to exceed expectations of objectives or goals.
- Improve the quality and outlook of photography by using artistic knowledge.
- Employ photoshop, adobe suite, and other photo manipulation software to get the desired results.
- Set up photographic equipment and prep the client or location.
- Reproduce, reprint, or frame photographs as requested by the client.
- Research and stay updated on current trends in photography.
- Perform administrative duties by recording and storing customers’ details.
- When needed, travel or work extra hours to meet the client’s demands.
- Capture visual content for multiple platforms.
- Produce images and photos in printed or digital media.
- Deliver the final image, product, or photographs to various sources like internal and external customers, graphic designers, corporate communications, and the media.
- Requisition or purchase needed supplies.
- Advertise the business to customers and the general public.
- Ensure that the studio is clean, set up the necessary lights before a photo session.
- Remain updated on the latest photograph editing software.
- Shoot poses that don’t look posed.
- Maintain the database and archive photographs and images.
- Maintain an in-depth understanding of photographic best procedures and practices.
- Ensure that the background meets specifications by arranging scenes and objects.
Depending on the type of photographer job, an individual may need to have an education, skills, license, training, and a portfolio of their work. The common qualifications for a photographer are given below;
- Training: While not mandatory and required in most photography institutes or settings, getting a job and related training as an assistant can go a long way towards learning the business. It will also enable you to horn new techniques and develop your skills.
- Proficiency in Adobe Suite and a portfolio of the photographer’s work are desirable.
- Education:A bachelor’s or associate degree in photography, advertising, or art is required for some type of photographers’ position. The degree makes a job candidate more competitive and qualified. However, you only need a high school diploma or equivalent for other roles in photography. Portrait photographers on the other hand need only technical proficiency and artistic abilities. Also, classes in business, marketing, and accounting are beneficial to photographers who plan to become self-employed or freelancers.
- Experience: Employers generally want a photographer to have relative experience behind a camera. This may include experience gained through freelancing, personal, or professional work. If the employer is a sport firm, for example, the photographer may need proven experience covering and taking photos in sporting events. The experience requirements largely depend on the level of difficulty and expertise the photographer will need for their work.
- License and insurance: Though there are no compulsory or mandatory registration obligation to become a professional photographer, most countries and cities requires a photographer to obtain a license to start a business. This is important for photographers who wish to be self-employed. In relation, a photographer must have commercial insurance to work in most venues for weddings, fashion shows, and other public events. Therefore, photographers who operate a legitimate business must provide these items.
A photographer needs some specific personal qualities and skills to succeed in addition to technical proficiency. These can be a combination of hard and soft skills which can enable them to impress the customers and excel in their endeavors. Also, excellent photography skills are essential for photographers that want to be self-employed, freelancers, or those that want to pursue employment with media firms, advertising agencies, and publishers. Whichever part you choose, you need formidable skills to stand out among your competitors. Thus, a photographer needs the following skills;
Understanding of intellectual property: Some pictures, images, or photographs may be bonded by copyright laws which restrict them from being reproduced or reprinted without prior permission from the owners. Copyright issues come into play during the drafting and signing of contracts. Therefore, a photographer must understand the intellectual laws and regulations that bind and governs the use of photographs and images. This helps them to protect their products and photos from unauthorized use. Financially, a photographer earns more income whenever a client uses their photographs in films, web pages, and publications when they know how to protect their images.
Artistic ability: A photographer is an artist who must have the creativity needed to make outstanding images. Having a well-polished artistic ability enables the photographer to come up with ways to tell stories using photographs. Possessing artistic ability also entails having a good and sharp eye for composition, color, and light.
Physical stamina: The job of a photographer involves standing for long hours; hence the need for physical stamina. For instance, a nature photographer might need to walk for long distances and in harsh conditions to capture landscapes and other natural phenomena. Having a high degree and level of physical fitness can help in this regard.
Interpersonal skills and customer service: A photographer must have the competency to understand the needs of the client, coworker, or employer. Also, having strong interpersonal skills enable the photographer to decode body language and reconcile the clients’ actions with theirs. Specifically, freelance photographers should be able to provide worthwhile services to their customers. They should offer positive words, encouragement, and repeat business which is important for success in photography.
Attention to detail: A photographer must pay attention to details to capture excellent, striking, memorable, and unforgettable images. They need to time their shots and balance the light to avoid producing a distorted or blurred image. They must pay attention during the post-production stage of retouching and editing of photos.
Business skills: A self-employed photographer must know how to market and sell themselves and their photographs. They must tend to book-keeping tasks and document their expenses and profits. Also, a photographer should have the capability to understand the technicalities and legality involved in the field. For example, a photographer must make sure that a model release form is signed before any photograph or image is taken out and used for a commercial.
How to Become a Photographer
Although it is easier said than done, the steps involved in becoming a photographer are interesting and worthwhile. These steps are enumerated thus;
- Choose the right education.
- Choose a specific form of photography and focus on it.
- Get the right set of lenses, cameras, and other equipment.
- Apply and enroll for an internship with a professional photographer or firm to get experience and enhance your skills.
- Create an online portfolio or website.
- Take an examination for certification and to improve your knowledge of the field.
- Get an entry-level job to enhance your photography portfolio.
- Return to school for an advanced degree if possible.
Where to work
Typical employers of photographers include;
- Photography agencies and auctioneers
- Newspapers, magazines, and catalogs
- Fashion enterprises and advertising agencies
- Hospitals and medical publishers
- Museums and art galleries.
- Government parastatal, self-employment, and freelancing.
- Scientific institutes, forensic, and aviation companies.
Photographer Salary Scale
The national average salary for photographers in the United States of America is 46,922USD per year. On an hourly basis, a photographer in the US makes 14.41USD. There are variations in the salary structure based on the photographer’s education, experience, nature of the position, and geographical location.
An individual working in photography in Nigeria earns between 121,000NGN to 365,000NGN per month. Annually, the average salary is estimated to be 3,180,000NGN. Remember, salaries cover accommodation, hazard, health, and other allowances.
The average salary for a photographer is 24,563GBP per year in the United Kingdom. An entry-level photographer in the UK with less than one year of experience earns an average salary of 19,501GBP. In comparison, an early career photographer with 1-4 years of experience earns an average salary of 20,720GBP annually.