Education 105
Career Report #1

Career Report:


Photographers use cameras, film, computers, and many other instruments to show people, places, and events. They compose the photograph when they can and shoot the picture in the attempt to create a certain feeling or mood. The photos tell news stories, sell products, and capture memories. Photographers choose their subject, set the picture up technically in areas such as light and filters, and hope that the resulting photograph will be effective. There are photojournalists, commercial photography, portrait photography, and additionally, specialized photographic careers like wedding photographers. The commercial, editorial, and industrial photographers take pictures of the subjects for reports, catalogs, and advertisements. Portrait photographers take photographs of people as individuals or in small groups. Photojournalists seek out newsworthy events, places, and people to publish in newspapers, magazines, and journals.

Education / Training Required

The amount of education required for photographers greatly depends on the type of photographic career the person has chosen, but employers look for photographers who have a technical understanding of photography and who are also imaginative. Entry-level positions in photojournalism, industrial, scientific, and technical photography are all likely to require a college degree in photography. It is very helpful to have taken classes which involve the specific field of photography chosen, such as criminal justice or industrial products. There is no special licensing or certification needed for photographers. Good photographers have taken courses in the visual and performing arts, and communications, amongst many other classes relevant to the career.

Individual Qualities Needed

Photographers are generally allowed a large degree of originality and creativity. They of course need artistic ability, including the ability to be able to envision what the photograph should look like, and this ability has to be coupled with the technical knowledge to carry out the vision. Photographers need patience and accuracy, and generally should have good interpersonal skills to help people in front of the camera feel natural and relaxed. Photographers have to be quick on their feet and act quickly to catch a fleeting photographic moment, as most last but seconds. Photographers have to work both alone and with others. They also have to enjoy what they do, and enjoy doing detailed work.

Salary / Employment Outlook

The Economic Research Institute states that, according to their 2001 figures, the average starting salary was $30,000, or $14.50 per hour. The average starting salary of all workers in the field came to $38,500 ($18.50 per hour), and for those with experience, an average of $45,000 annually ($21.75 per hour).

The U.S. Department of Labor reports than, in 2000-01, the average salary for a photographer was $36,500 yearly. A few photographers have reportedly earned upwards of $100,000 each year.

As far as employment outlook is concerned, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in the entirety of the field of photographers, there are approximately 149,400 workers. The figure is expected to grow, slowly, by 8% through the year 2008 due to the growing importance of visual images in many aspects of American life. Competition for available jobs will continue as it has being doing.

Still Interested?

Yes, but perhaps not in the way I sometimes envisioned it. At times I wanted to drop everything else around me and become a veritable “photography purist,” but over time I’ve thought this over and begun to see that as a career, photography may be a tough field to handle. The positions are there, certainly, as well as freelance photography, but all told I’m not a fan of the technical aspect nor is it a strong point of mine. I’ll undoubtedly major in another area, but I could always come back and have a minor in this field.