What Does A Photographer Do (including Their Typical Day at Work)

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Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz

Photographers

Photographers photograph people, landscapes, merchandise, or other subjects. May use lighting equipment to enhance a subject's appearance. May use editing software to produce finished images and prints. Includes commercial and industrial photographers, scientific photographers, and photojournalists.

Salary
$50290
Becoming One
Medium
Education
No degree required
Job Satisfaction
Job Growth

Personality
Interest Match





Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.Confucius

What they do

Photographers photograph people, landscapes, merchandise, or other subjects. May use lighting equipment to enhance a subject's appearance. May use editing software to produce finished images and prints. Includes commercial and industrial photographers, scientific photographers, and photojournalists.

  • Use traditional or digital cameras, along with a variety of equipment, such as tripods, filters, and flash attachments.
  • Determine desired images and picture composition, selecting and adjusting subjects, equipment, and lighting to achieve desired effects.
  • Adjust apertures, shutter speeds, and camera focus according to a combination of factors, such as lighting, field depth, subject motion, film type, and film speed.
  • Develop and print exposed film, using chemicals, touch-up tools, and developing and printing equipment.

Typical day

On a daily basis, Photographers use traditional or digital cameras, along with a variety of equipment, such as tripods, filters, and flash attachments. They determine desired images and picture composition, selecting and adjusting subjects, equipment, and lighting to achieve desired effects.

A typical day for a Photographer will also include:

  • Determine project goals, locations, and equipment needs by studying assignments and consulting with clients or advertising staff.
  • Review sets of photographs to select the best work.
  • Create artificial light, using flashes and reflectors.
  • Manipulate and enhance scanned or digital images to create desired effects, using computers and specialized software.
  • Transfer photographs to computers for editing, archiving, and electronic transmission.

Other responsibilities

Besides their typical day, Photographers also engage in research to develop new photographic procedures and materials. They may also set up, mount, or install photographic equipment and cameras.

On a weekly to monthly basis, Photographers test equipment prior to use to ensure that it is in good working order. They might also select and assemble equipment and required background properties, according to subjects, materials, and conditions.

In addition, they direct activities of workers setting up photographic equipment.

Although specific duties may vary, many of them employ a variety of specialized photographic materials and techniques, including infrared and ultraviolet films, macro photography, photogrammetry, and sensitometry.

To some Photographers, it is also their responsibility to write photo captions.

Freedom to make decisions

How much decision making freedom does this job offer?

No freedom
0%

Very little freedom
8%

Limited freedom
8%

Some freedom
40%

A lot of freedom
44%

Structured vs unstructured work

To what extent is this job structured for you versus allowing you to determine your own tasks, priorities, and goals?

No freedom
0%

Very little freedom
4%

Limited freedom
20%

Some freedom
52%

A lot of freedom
24%


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What is the job like

Job satisfaction

High

Is this job meaningful

Low

71% said they were satisfied with their job and 40% said they found their job meaningful.


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Pros

Suitable for people who like to work with designs.

Suitable for people who want independence and like to work on their own and make decisions.

It is not too difficult to get into this career. Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required to get started.

Demand for this career is growing.

Cons

Not suitable for people who like to follow routines.

Salary is below average.

Long working hours (More than 40 hours per week).

How much do they make

Average salary

$50290 per year

Average hourly wage

$24 per hour

Entry-level Photographers with little to no experience can expect to make anywhere between $22,410 to $28,530 per year or $11 to $14 per hour.

Salary by experience Annual Hourly
Highest (Top 10%) $86,850 $42
Senior (Top 25%) $62,440 $30
Median $41,280 $20
Junior (Bottom 25%) $28,530 $14
No experience (Bottom 10%) $22,410 $11

This table shows the top 10 highest paying industries for Photographers based on their average annual salary.

Salary by industry Annual Hourly
Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing $91830 $44.15
Advertising, Public Relations, and Related Services $79060 $38.01
Motion Picture and Video Industries $78470 $37.73
Other Information Services $77610 $37.31
Employment Services $70710 $33.99
Local Government $67680 $32.54
Nonscheduled Air Transportation $66320 $31.88
Management of Companies and Enterprises $64000 $30.77
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals $63680 $30.62
Merchant Wholesalers, Nondurable Goods $61400 $29.52

View more salary by industries here.

Where can they work

Where can Photographers work? Here is a table showing the top 10 largest employers of Photographers including the average salary in that industry.

Employers Total Employed Annual Salary Hourly Wages
Other Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services 21690 $46050 $22.14
Radio and Television Broadcasting 3740 $54910 $26.40
Newspaper, Periodical, Book, and Directory Publishers 1710 $56080 $26.96
Motion Picture and Video Industries 1570 $78470 $37.73
Electronic Shopping and Mail-Order Houses 1120 $49640 $23.87
Automobile Dealers 900 $39310 $18.90
Management of Companies and Enterprises 810 $64000 $30.77
Independent Artists, Writers, and Performers 790 $49030 $23.57
Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools 680 $52490 $25.24
Amusement Parks and Arcades 540 $26610 $12.79

What is the work day like

Working hours

Less than 40 hours
8%

40 hours
28%

More than 40 hours
64%

Working schedule

8%

80%

12%

Work with group or team

How important is it to work with others in a group or team in this job?

Not important at all
8%

Fairly important
12%

Important
44%

Very important
28%

Extremely important
8%

Deal with external customers

How important is it to work with customers in this job?

Not important at all
4%

Fairly important
16%

Important
8%

Very important
32%

Extremely important
40%

Manage or lead others

How important is it to coordinate or lead others in completing work activities in this job?

Not important at all
16%

Fairly important
24%

Important
28%

Very important
28%

Extremely important
4%

Email

How often do you use email in this job?

Once a week
8%

Every day
88%

Telephone

How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?

Once a week
28%

Every day
72%

Group discussions

How often do you have group discussions in this job?

Once a week
42%

Every day
38%

Public speaking

How often does this job require you to do public speaking?

Never
12%

Once a year
72%

Once a month
16%

Once a week
0%

Every day
0%

Frequency of conflict situations

How often are there conflict situations in this job?

Never
4%

Once a year
60%

Once a month
32%

Once a week
4%

Every day
0%

Dealing with angry people

How often do you have to deal with angry, unpleasant, or discourteous individuals in this job?

Never
4%

Once a year
88%

Once a month
8%

Once a week
0%

Every day
0%

Dealing with physically aggressive people

How often do you have to deal with physically aggressive people in this job?

Never
80%

Once a year
16%

Once a month
4%

Once a week
0%

Every day
0%

Level of competition

How much competitive pressure is in this job?

Not competitive at all
0%

Slightly competitive
0%

Moderately competitive
0%

Highly competitive
36%

Extremely competitive
64%

Repetition in this job

How important is repeating the same type of task over and over in this job?

Not important at all
32%

Fairly important
36%

Important
28%

Very Important
4%

Extremely Important
0%

Impact of decisions on co-workers or company results

What results do your decisions usually have on other people or the reputation or financial resources of your employer?

No impact
4%

Minor impact
16%

Moderate impact
24%

Important impact
40%

Very important impact
16%

Frequency of decision making

How frequently do you have to make decisions that affect other people, the financial resources, and/or the reputation of the company?

Never
8%

Once a year
36%

Once a month
12%

Once a week
24%

Every day
20%

Responsibility for others’ health and safety

How much responsibility is there for the health and safety of others in this job?

No responsibility
16%

Limited responsibility
36%

Moderate responsibility
32%

High responsibility
12%

Very high responsibility
4%

Responsibility for outcomes and results

How much responsibility is there for the work outcomes and results of other workers?

No responsibility
12%

Limited responsibility
20%

Moderate responsibility
24%

High responsibility
36%

Very high responsibility
8%

What is the work environment like

Office-style environment

Indoors in an environmentally controlled condition

Never
0%

Once a year or more
15%

Once a month or more
12%

Once a week or more
38%

Every day
35%

Warehouse-style environment

Indoors in a non-controlled environmental condition such as a warehouse

Never
23%

Once a year or more
15%

Once a month or more
31%

Once a week or more
19%

Every day
12%

Outdoors

Outdoors exposed to all weather conditions

Never
0%

Once a year or more
12%

Once a month or more
56%

Once a week or more
28%

Every day
4%

Outdoors – Under Cover

Outdoors but under cover (e.g. structure with roof but no walls)

Never
16%

Once a year or more
24%

Once a month or more
32%

Once a week or more
28%

Every day
0%

How to become one

Difficulty to become one

Medium
You will need previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience. Most careers in this difficulty category require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an Associate’s degree, and one or two years of on-the-job training. Similar careers include Travel Agents, Agricultural Technicians, Court Reports, and Medical Assistants.

Required level of education

What level of education do you need to perform the job?

Less than a High School Diploma
16%

High School Diploma or equivalent
28%

Post-Secondary Certificate
4%

Some College Courses
16%

Associate’s Degree or similar
20%

Bachelor’s Degree
16%

Post-Baccalaureate Certificate
0%

Master’s Degree
0%

Post-Master’s Certificate
0%

First Professional Degree
0%

Doctoral Degree
0%

Post-Doctoral Training
0%

Relevant work experience

How much related work experience do you need to get hired for the job?

None
4%

1 month
0%

1 to 3 months
0%

3 to 6 months
8%

6 months to 1 year
16%

1 to 2 years
36%

2 to 4 years
28%

4 to 6 years
8%

6 to 8 years
0%

8 to 10 years
0%

Over 10 years
0%

On The Job Training

How much on the job training do you need to perform the job?

None or short demonstration
0%

1 month
4%

1 to 3 months
8%

3 to 6 months
23%

6 months to 1 year
27%

1 to 2 years
19%

2 to 4 years
15%

4 to 10 years
4%

Over 10 years
0%

Should you become one

Best personality type for this career

The Artist

People with this personality likes to work with designs and patterns. They prefer activities that require self-expression and prefer work that can be done without following a clear set of rules.

The Builder
67%

People with The Builder personality type likes practical and hands-on work. They prefer working with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery.


The Thinker
29%

People with The Thinker personality likes to work with ideas that require an extensive amount of thinking. They prefer work that requires them to solve problems mentally.


The Artist
86%

People with The Artist personality likes to work with designs and patterns. They prefer activities that require self-expression and prefer work that can be done without following a clear set of rules.


The Helper
33%

People with The Helper personality type likes to work with people and in teams. They prefer work that allows them to build relationships with others.


The Leader
48%

People with The Leader personality likes to start and work on projects. They also like leading people and making many decisions.


The Organizer
19%

People with The Organizer personality type likes to follow set procedures and routines. They prefer working with data and details more than with ideas.


You can read more about these career personality types here.

People who are suitable for this job tend to like working with forms, designs, and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.

They also like work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They like working with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery.

Take this quiz to see if this is the right career for you.

Work Values

Which values are the most important to a person’s satisfaction for this job?

Achievement
62%

You are someone who is results oriented. You prefer work that allows you to utilize your skills and abilities while at the same time giving you a sense of accomplishment.

Working Conditions
50%

You are someone who values job security, steady employment, and good working conditions. You also prefer work that keeps you busy all the time with something different to do every day.

Recognition
52%

You are someone who values job advancement and leadership roles. You prefer work that receives recognition for the work you do and jobs that are looked up to by others in the company and your community.

Relationships
67%

You are someone who likes to provide a service to others. You prefer a work environment where you can work with your co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Support
38%

You are someone who values a company that stands behind their employees. You prefer a work environment where everyone is treated fairly and is being supported by the company.

Independence
71%

You are someone who likes to work on your own and make your own decisions. You prefer work that requires little supervision and are allowed to try out your own ideas.

FAQ


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