A photographer is a trained professional who is hired to take photographs of a subject, landscape or scene. They use either film or digital cameras along with specialist lighting and usually enhance photos digitally after the shoot. Photographers naturally have a ‘good eye’, but these skills can also be taught. Take a look at the types of careers on offer to people interested in photography, as well as the skills and qualifications needed for a job related to photography.
- Why work as a photographer?
- What careers are available in photography?
- What skills are needed to work in photography?
- What degrees help with a career in photography?
Why work as a photographer?
A strong job outlook
The job outlook for skilled photographers is strong, as the employment of professional photographers is expected to grow 9% between 2021-2031, faster than many other professions. Photographers can either work ‘in-house’ for a large corporation, offering a good level of job security, or work on a freelance basis hired by clients. This offers a greater amount of flexibility and gives you a chance to work for yourself.
Use creativity at work
Photography is an incredibly creative career path, as photographers are able to tell a story through images. Photographers use their photographic and creativity skills to capture emotion and express themselves and their subjects.
A career that will keep you learning new things
Whether that’s learning about the latest editing software update, or new cameras, lights and hardware in this fast moving industry, there will always be new things to learn and trends to keep on top of.
What careers are available in photography?
Photographers usually specialise in one area of photography and get a job in that area. Some of the most popular careers in photography are:
Advertising photographers use their skill to take pictures used for advertisements. They tell a story through their photography designed to give a product or service greater appeal and make people want to buy into it.
Fashion or editorial photographer
Fashion photographers work with brands to capture images of their latest collections. Editorials are collections of images based on a particular theme and published in fashion magazines like Vogue, Elle, Vanity Fair and more. This type of work is extremely competitive but talented photographers can travel across the globe with their work.
Wedding photographers work with couples getting married and capture images of their wedding day. Most wedding photographers work with engaged couples for a few months before the wedding to discuss ideas, timings and the types of images they want. After the wedding, they edit the images and return them to the couple.
Portrait photographers take pictures of individuals or groups of people. They are hired for various occasions which can vary depending on the client but they usually work in their own studios. Portrait photographers occasionally specialise in other things too, such as weddings, ceremonies, or school photographs, which means they sometimes work on location.
Photojournalist and news photography
Photojournalism is an increasingly popular career, typically there are three options for employment: Newspaper, broadcast, or freelance. Newspaper photojournalists work for newspaper publication companies and their websites. Broadcast photojournalists work for radio and television broadcasting businesses. Freelance photojournalists are not committed to any particular company and instead sell their images to newspapers, TV and radio broadcasting businesses. Photojournalists tend to specialise in a particular field.
- Feature photojournalism – which involves human interest activities like exhibitions, business news, government news, science and technology etc.
- Sports photojournalism – sports photographers cover important events occurring in the world of sports like football games, tennis championships, motorsport, and cover international sporting events like the Olympics etc.
- Environmental photojournalism – environmental photographers capture the essence of a scene in their photographs. They cover a range of topics from scenery to natural disasters or climate change.
Clinical photographers are usually hospital based. They are an important part of the healthcare team, providing different types of images to assist with diagnosing and treating patients. In this specialised job, you would be taking alternative imagery such as thermography, 3D and ultra violet, as well as standard digital photography. Some clinical photographers also undertake videography.
Scientific photographers record scientific or medical data or phenomena. This could be through a DSLR camera, microscope or telescope depending on the subject. Scientific photographers focus on the precise visual depiction of a subject, and as scientific images are usually examined by a team of scientists, the use of image manipulation software is minimal.
Property photographers usually work for an estate agent and are responsible for photographing the interior and exterior of a property. More recently property photographers also specialise in drone photography to capture land and aerial shots of the property.
Jobs where a photography qualification would be beneficial:
- Community arts worker
- Digital marketer
- Visual merchandiser
- Web content or social media manager
- Web designer
Most of these jobs rely greatly on visuals, so having a knowledge of things like colour and design theory, as well as a keen eye for detail and creativity would help.
What skills are needed to work in photography?
For a successful career in photography, there are several skills that you need to master. Some are natural talents, and some can be taught and built on with experience.
- A creative mind
- A knowledge of photography techniques
- The ability to use a wide range of cameras and lenses, and an understanding of which lens would be best in each particular situation
- Time management and the ability to work to deadlines
- A good eye for detail, shape, colour and form
- Good communication skills
- A knowledge of editing software and general computer skills
- Organisational skills
- In most photography jobs a driving license is useful
Different areas of photography will require unique skills and capabilities. For example, clinical photographers need knowledge in thermography, 3D and ultraviolet photography. Photojournalists and press photographers need to understand what makes a newsworthy picture. Wedding photographers need industry experience to know which moments to capture and how to pose people.
If you are looking for a specific photography job, we recommend reviewing the job description and the person specification. From here you can see which skills you already have, and what you need to work on. Take a look at the graduate skills that employers are looking for.
What degrees help with a career in photography?
To have the best chance at securing a photography job you will need a strong portfolio and lots of experience. A degree in photography or a related subject can help boost your CV amongst competitive talent. These include bachelor of arts, bachelor of fine arts, and bachelor of science photography. For a career in clinical photography, you would need a postgraduate degree in clinical photography. Similarly for a career in scientific photography, a postgraduate degree in biological photography and imaging is advantageous.
For entry level roles, a strong portfolio and industry experience would be enough to secure you an interview. If you’re unsure of which qualifications you need, check the job descriptions of the kind of job you are hoping to do. Here you can see what level of education recruiters are looking for and make a decision about whether to go on to further study.
Last updated on 28 February 2023Share this article