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:

    • advertising
    • corporate
    • editorial
    • fashion
    • fine art
    • social photography – also known as general practice, which includes weddings, commercial and portraiture photography.


    Employers of photographers

    • Agencies
    • Picture libraries
    • Newspapers
    • Magazines
    • Catalogues
    • Advertising agencies
    • Hospitals
    • Medical publishers
    • Museums
    • Art galleries
    • Auctioneers



    • 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
    • graphics
    • media studies
    • photography.



    • 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.