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What does a photographer do?

Photographers take pictures of people, places, or things. They want us to get a special feeling when we see their pictures. They take pictures to sell products, entertain people, report the news, or bring back memories.

Photographers know how to choose the right tools to give them the best picture. They use different things such as lights, lenses, and film to create a picture. New digital technology is being used more and more by photographers. A lot of them use computers to finish their work.

Have you ever had a photographer at your school? Most photographers take pictures of certain things. Some photographers take pictures only at schools or weddings. Others take pictures of only cars, clothes, buildings, or animals. Other photographers take pictures for your textbooks.

Some photographers work 40 hours a week. Others work longer hours and at different times during the day or night. News photographers must be ready to work when they get a call from their offices.

Photographers who work for themselves have a lot of freedom. They can choose the type of pictures that they want to take. They can make their own schedules. However, they may not always have a job to do. They must find people who want pictures. This can be stressful.

Some photographers work in their own studios and sometimes they travel. Others travel near and some travel far away and stay for a long time. They might work in harsh or dangerous areas. Sometimes, photographers and camera operators wait a long time to take a picture. They wait in all kinds of weather for an event to take place. They have to stand or walk for a long time. They also have to carry heavy equipment.

Photographers often have to get their work done quickly. They have to meet deadlines and please their clients.

How do you get ready to be a photographer?

Most employers seek persons who really understand photography. They need workers who can dream up new ideas. They look for workers who are creative. Some employers need persons who have a college degree in photography. Other courses such as those relating to science are helpful.

Persons interested in photography should read newsletters and magazines that have information about photography. They should join camera clubs. They should try to work in camera stores or photo studios. Also, they should decide what they like to photograph. Do they like to take pictures of people or events? Do they like to take pictures or videos? Summer or part-time work with a photographer is a good way to learn about this field.

How much does a photographer make?

The middle half of all photographers made between $17,740 and $34,910 in 2002. The lowest-paid 10 percent made less than $14,640. The highest-paid 10 percent earned more than $49,920.

How many jobs are there?

Photographers held about 130,000 jobs in 2002. Most of them worked in and around large cities. More than 1 out of 2 were self-employed, a much higher proportion than the average for all occupations.

Most photographers who work for someone else worked in a photography studio. Others worked for newspapers and magazines. Some worked for government, advertising agencies, or television broadcasters.

What about the future?

Photography is a highly competitive field. This is because there are more people who want to be photographers than there is employment to support them. Only the most skilled, those with the best business ability, and those who have the best reputations are able to find jobs or attract enough work to support themselves.

Employment of photographers is expected to increase about as fast as the average for all occupations through 2012. More portrait photographers will be needed as the population grows. And, as the number of electronic versions of magazines, journals, and newspapers grows on the Internet, photographers will be needed to provide digital images.

Are there other jobs like this?

  • Artists
  • Designers
  • Illustrators
  • Painters
  • Photo editors
  • Sculptors
  • Television, video, and motion picture camera operators and editors
Where can you find more information?

More information about photographers can be found in the Careers Database.


Source: Occupational Outlook Handbook -- U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics

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