Photographers use a variety of photographic equipment to capture moments of events, people, objects or scenes for records, art or commercial use.
A professional photographer usually works to a brief set by the client or employer.
Examples of image content include wedding, family and baby photographs, fashion, food, architecture and landscapes.
A large proportion of professional photographers are self-employed.
Types of photographer
Most professional photographers specialise in one area, such as:
- fine art
- social photography – also known as general practice, which includes weddings, commercial and portraiture photography.
Employers of photographers
- Picture libraries
- Advertising agencies
- Medical publishers
- Art galleries
- working with clients to discuss the images they require and how they want to use them
- seeking out appropriate photographic subjects and opportunities
- carrying out research and preparation for a shoot
- working in different locations and circumstances to get the right image
- using an extensive range of technical equipment, including cameras, lenses, lighting and specialist software
- communicating with photographic subjects, putting them at ease, encouraging them and directing them
- arranging still life objects, products, scenes, props and backgrounds
- liaising with other professionals, including graphic designers, writers, gallery managers, picture researchers, commissioning editors and art directors
- managing the processing and use of images, discussing technical problems, checking for quality and dealing with clients’ concerns
- preparing proofs for approval
- compiling finished products for sale, such as albums and framed prints
- understanding traditional film and digital photography and keeping up to date with industry trends, developments and new techniques
- developing expertise with software to digitally enhance images by, for example, changing emphasis, cropping pictures, correcting minor faults or moving objects around
- managing the business aspects of the work, including administration, scheduling work, invoicing and basic accounting
- developing a good portfolio, building a network of contacts and achieving a reputation for quality and reliability in order to secure future assignments
- self-marketing by, for example, producing business cards, postcards and promotional materials and creating and maintaining a website.
It is possible to get into this profession without a degree, but in many instances having a degree or equivalent professional qualification is an advantage.
You could study for a degree in the following relevant subjects:
- art and design
- digital imaging
- fine art
- media studies
- excellent technical skills, using digital and non-digital cameras and industry-standard software such as Photoshop
- creativity and an eye for a picture
- personality, perseverance, patience and dedication
- the ability to work under pressure, juggle workload and meet deadlines
- the ability to work both independently and in teams, building rapport with clients, colleagues and other businesses.