Career and Job Search Guide


Photographers take pictures to record an event or capture a particular moment. To create photographs that can be sold, photographers need to be creative and understand technology to improve photo quality. To take a good picture, a photographer needs to select the right camera and photographic enhancing equipment. For example, photographers can enhance a person's appearance with natural or artificial light or use various lenses to enhance details.

Most photographers today use digital cameras instead of traditional film cameras, but some photographers use both types of cameras. Photographers also use lenses, filters, and tripods to improve their pictures.

Digital cameras take pictures electronically which allows photographers to edit pictures on a computer. Images can be stored on compact disks, flash drives, or memory cards. Using a computer, photographers can crop or modify pictures. After the picture has been modified, it can be sent anywhere around the globe via the internet.

Photographers can create portfolios of their work and post them on their website. Digital technology creates larger, more colorful, and better quality pictures to use in marketing, photographic art, and scientific research. Photographers who produce their own digital pictures must understand computers, high-quality printers, and editing software.

Photographers using silver-halide film camera usually send their film to laboratories for processing since processing color film requires expensive equipment. Some photographers developing black and white film use their own fully equipped darkrooms to develop their pictures. Photographers developing their own film must purchase expensive equipment and understand how to operate it.

Some photographers specialize in portrait, commercial, news, or fine arts photography. Portrait photographers take pictures of people, individually or in groups. Some specialize in taking picture at weddings, religious celebrations, or school photographs. Portrait photographers who run their own business must market their services, schedule appointments, process pictures, tweak equipment, purchase supplies, and perform other managerial duties.

Commercial and industrial photographers take pictures of buildings, merchandise, models, artifacts, and landscapes. These images can be used in books, reports, ads, and magazines. Industrial photographers often take pictures for publicity and marketing purposes.

Scientific photographers take pictures to record data and the results of scientific research. They typically have specialized scientific knowledge. News photographers, also known as photojournalists, take pictures to be used in newspaper, magazine, and television news reports.

Fine arts photographers take pictures to create artwork. Fine arts photographers need creative, artistic talents.

Freelance photographers usually specialize in a photographic field. Freelance photographers take pictures, as well license their photographs through stock-photo agencies, and conduct direct marketing. Stock-photo agencies sell photographer's pictures. These agencies require photographers to present them with portfolios, and if accepted into an agency, photographers must submit pictures throughout the year. Freelance photographers must understand copyright laws.

Most photographers spend little time taking photographs. They spend most of their time editing pictures and looking for new clients.

Work environment. Photographers working for government or advertising agencies usually work 40 hour weeks. News photographers usually work long, irregular hours and must be able to work on short notice. Many photographers work part time.

Portrait photographers usually work in their own studios but often travel to take photos on location. News and commercial photographers frequently travel. News photographers usually work in dangerous areas such as war zones. Many photographers take pictures in inclement weather and carry heavy equipment. Freelance photographers enjoy greater autonomy and a flexible schedule, but income can be uncertain and looking for new clients can be stressful. Some freelance photographers hire assistants to help them find new clients.