Photographer Career Path

Are you thinking of becoming a Photographer or already started your career and planning the next step? Learn how to become a Photographer, what skills you need to succeed, how to advance your career and get promoted, and what levels of pay to expect at each step on your career path. Explore new Photographer job openings and options for career transitions into related roles.

How To Become a Photographer

If you're creative and familiar with computers and cameras, consider a career as a photographer. To become a professional photographer, follow these steps:
Contents

1

Decide on a niche.

Most photographers specialize in taking one type of photo. They can specialize in capturing images of wildlife, pets, kids, weddings or other special events, sports, news, or the newest fashions or products. Real estate photographers take pictures of homes for sale, and food photographers help showcase the menu options at many restaurants. Aerial photographers take photos of landscapes from a small plane. Think about whether you want to spend time indoors in a studio or outside covering live events. You may prefer taking pictures of people, or you might want to arrange shots of inanimate objects or landscapes.

2

Buy photography equipment.

Most photography jobs will require you to bring your own equipment. You'll need a quality camera, portable lighting, backdrops, and specialty lenses. If you want to develop the film yourself, you'll need a place where you can set up a darkroom and store chemicals and developing trays. Before you decide what camera you want to use, do some thorough research to find out which one is the most versatile and reliable. After your purchase, save the receipt so that you can deduct this business expense when you file your taxes.

3

Improve your skills.

Photographers don't need a degree or any specific courses to start working, but they should know how to take attractive photos. Learn how to use each setting on your camera and what the symbols on the display mean. Learn to use editing software to make good pictures look even better. Read books and magazines about photography, take photography classes, and check out instructional videos on social media to find out more. You can also take a class at your local university or community college.

What type of degree should you pursue to become a Photographer?

100% of people working as a Photographer earned a Bachelor's Degree

What skills do you need to be a Photographer?

  • Excellent Customer Service
  • DSLR
  • Editing
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Exceptional Communication
  • Adobe Premiere Pro
  • ReACT
  • Urgency
Based on resume data from Glassdoor users who reported working as a Photographer in the United States.

4

Build your portfolio and advertise.

Taking classes and reading books can improve your skills, but practice is even more essential. Take lots of photos, and experiment with different types of equipment and techniques. Then, place your best work in your online portfolio. You can use a portfolio website to post your images, or you can build your own site. It's also a good idea to keep a physical portfolio with prints of your best work.

Use social media and blog posts to encourage individuals and photography studios to take a look at your portfolio and hire you. You can also use more conventional advertising like billboards, ask people to recommend you to friends, or offer your services on freelancing websites. However, be aware that some of these sites will charge a fee for connecting you with potential clients.

Seniority Levels

L2

Photographer

2 - 4Years of Experience
$65,715 /yrTotal Pay
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L3

Senior Photographer

2 - 4Years of Experience
$79,133 /yrTotal Pay
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L4

Lead Photographer

5 - 7Years of Experience
$68,012 /yrTotal Pay
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Total Pay Trajectory

Photographer Career Path

$90K
$80K
$70K
$60K
$50K
L2
L4
Seniority Levels

Related Careers in the Arts & Design Industry

Interested in other Arts & Design careers? Below are occupations that have high affinity with Photographer skills. Discover some of the most common Photographer career transitions, along with skills overlap.