Inside Photographer Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Biggest Surprises

"With Cheap Cameras, Many Amateurs Attempt A Career In Photography...
Surprised by the level of competition. With the introduction of DSLR cameras, almost every one tries to be a photographer." (Photographer; 2013)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in California, male
School: Studied Design at UC DAVIS in California; completed Bachelor degree in 2008

"As A Photographer We Must Adapt To Technological Advances...
What had surprised me was that I didn't know too much about the business aspect of my form of art and I had to gather information on how to budget myself and learn how to do my own taxes. Also I had to get insured to make sure that if something happened to one of my pieces or my equipment that I am fully covered" (Photographer; 2013)

Career: 4 years of experience, currently based in New York, female
School: Studied Photography at University At Buffalo in New York; completed Bachelor degree in 2010

"It Takes More Than Instagram To Make A Photographer...
People don't seem to understand how much work and creativity is involved in *good* photography. With the over saturation of cheap, digital cameras and crappy programs like Instagram, everyone thinks he/she is a photographer." (Photojournalist/Fine Art Photographer; 2013)

Career: 26 years of experience, female
School: Studied Photography at Florida Tech in Florida; completed Associate degree in 1987

"Photography Non Health Risk...
The change from prints done on film to digital files has been the biggest game changer in my career. It is a much cleaner, healthier profession without the use of chemicals in the dark room." (Photographer; 2013)

Career: , currently based in California, female
School: Studied Photography at Pepperdine University in California; completed Certificate degree in 1974

"Not All It's Cracked Up To Be...
This career does not really pay the best, but the amount of joy you get out of it if you really like doing this kind of thing makes up for the lack of money. You can charge as much as you want if you are freelance, but that doesn't mean you'll get a lot of work." (Photographer; 2013)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Colorado, female
School: Studied Photography at Brigham Young University Idaho in Idaho; completed Bachelor degree in 2012

"Hobbyists Vs. Professionals...
It seems like anyone with a digital SLR is considered to be a photographer. It's quite frustrating when trained photographers are passed over in favor of hobbyists because they do not command higher prices." (Photographer; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Tennessee, female
School: Studied Photography/Printmaking at University Of Tennessee in Tennessee; completed Bachelor degree in 2012

"I Had To Continuously Update Equipment To Stay Up With Trends...
I was surprised of how hard it is to work with a company. I ended up doing mostly freelance work and then started my own studio only 5 years ago." (Photographer; 2013)

Career: 20 years of experience, female
School: Studied Business at University Of Georgia in Georgia; completed Bachelor degree in 1989

"I Didn't Realize How Many Weddings I Would Be Shooting...
I enjoy my job more than I thought I would. Work feels fun to me, even more fun than school." (Photographer; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in District of Columbia, male
School: Studied Film & Media Arts at American University in District of Columbia; completed Bachelor degree in 2012

"Business Skills As Important If Not More Than Photographic Skills...
Most people are surprised at how much time is spent doing other things than taking photos as a photographer. Most of your time is spent doing the business aspects of the job rather than actually taking photographs." (Photographer; 2013)

Career: 5 years of experience, currently based in Ohio, female
School: Studied Photography at Rocky Mountain School Of Photography in Montana; completed Certificate degree in 2007

"Learn How To Challenge Yourself...
I think I was most surprised by how fulfilling I found persuading my media of choice further. I didn't think too much of what I did with it prior to college and I can sincerely say that I've emerged having learned how to further improve on my work in many ways that I didn't see possible a few years ago. As a result I see my work as much more valuable but still see where there's room to grow." (Fine Art Photographer; 2013)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in New York, female
School: Studied Fine Art, Photography at School Of Visual Arts in New York; completed Bachelor degree in 2012

"Be Prepared To Sell...
Most would be surprised at how much face-to-face selling is actually involved and the amount of time it takes for post processing." (Photographer; 2013)

Career: 5 years of experience, currently based in Tennessee, female
School: Studied Photography at Art Institute Of Tennessee in Tennessee; completed Associate degree in 2010

"The lack of work I am finding slightly dissapointing. The lack of clients has made development of my company slow, but worthwhile none the less." (Photographer; 2012)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in California, male
School: Studied Photography at Willow International in California; completed Associate degree in 2011

Best & Worst Things About This Career

Infant Photographer: "Working with the babies can be great and it also can be exhausting. Babies don't listen so you must be patient. Every baby is different and some have medical conditions. It changes from day to day and from room to room. I also can meet and work with parents that make my job pleasurable. Sometimes you can connect on level that leaves you feeling absolutely great. One of the downfalls is the language barrier. You will encounter some patients that do not speak English and it is very difficult to communicate with them." (2011)

Photographer: "The best part of this job is when I take some photos that are beautiful. I get a high from looking at beautiful photos, especially when I'm the one who produced them. When I can stare at a photo and not get tired of it, I feel satisfied. I also enjoy working with people. I get to meet a lot of people at events. I love to make people look good. When I pull that off, and people are surprised that they look so good, I feel good. I get to see a lot of events (like lectures or plays) that I might not otherwise get myself out of the house to see. On the down side, there is a lot of pressure in this job. You have to get a good photo no matter what. Even if the light in a room is bad, and the people are moving fast, and the speaker doesn't look up, and people in the group aren't happy, I have to figure out how to get what I'm supposed to get, and make it good enough for what is needed. Things happen so fast in weddings, and people have very high expectations for their photos, sometimes the pressure and the fear of failure makes me want to do something else that is safer, like be an accountant. At least in that field, you have a definite right and wrong and your success isn't so subjective. Also, the hours can be bad. I used to think my job had a lot of flexibility, and I still think it sort of does. I can do my computer work at any hour of the day or night. But events happen at specific times, often on week-ends and evenings. If I've got a bad cold, or it's snowing out, or my kids are feeling really needy, I still need to go out and shoot the event. If I don't, I'll lose the client and damage my reputation, as well as disappoint whoever was counting on me. I now have several photographer friends as back-up, but during our busy seasons, it is scary to think of what would happen if I broke a leg." (2010)

Career Background


  Job Tasks
  Work Environment
  How to Prepare for the Job
  Job Outlook

Career Tips

"Follow Art To A Love Of Self...
As careers in most art forms are relatively scoffed on and forgone, I would strongly suggest anyone considering honing their skills in a new media to do so. You would be surprised how much careers in the art can teach you about yourself as well as how fulfilling they are." (Fine Art Photographer; 2013)

"Photojournalism Is A Dying Art...
If you want to be successful as a photographer, don't go into journalism. It is a dying industry. You'll work your tail off for little money and even less appreciation." (Photojournalist/Fine Art Photographer; 2013)

"Get Ready For Weddings...
Ask for critiques, it's always helpful to get another perspective. Make sure to network with other photographers and collaborate and critique each other." (Photographer; 2013)

"It's All About Who You Know...
Work on networking and interning before you finish school. Making connections before you go out into the "real world" can be really helpful." (Photographer; 2013)

"Get Business Skills...
If you want to be a successful photographer, in addition to building your photography skills you need to learn how to run and manage your business. You should take every opportunity to attend classes and workshops to improve your business and your work." (Photographer; 2013)

"Business Skills And Some Directing Go A Long Way...
If you want to be a successful photographer, definitely take the time to learn some business and selling skills. Also, be prepared to be a people person. Most people aren't comfortable in front of a camera and you have to be able to direct them." (Photographer; 2013)

"Photoshop And Video...
Make sure that you have the updated versions of Photoshop and that you know how to operate Photoshop. Not only that but every photographer should know how to shoot video, no company wants to pay one person to do video and another to photograph. It's in your best interest in to knowing how to shoot video as well." (Photographer; 2013)

"Shoot As Many Pictures As You Can. You Will Get Better Over Time...
Shoot as many pictures as you can. You will get better over time." (Photographer; 2013)

Make sure you let everyone see your best work on line." (Photographer; 2013)

"Keep Doing It...
If you want to be a successful photographer keep taking pictures, and get all the experience you can. The more you know and the more experience you have the more people will trust you and want to hire you." (Photographer; 2013)

"Have A Portfolio With Variety Of You Work And Stay Up-To-Date...
I would suggest to make a good portfolio with a variety of different work that you can do. And always stay in-tune with up and coming technology to help you get a possible head start on the pack." (Photographer; 2013)

"Creativity More Important Than Photo Skills...
I honestly must say that you don't need a photographer background. You must be creative in a lot of ways. The company has a set of rules and positions that you must follow so it can take the guess work out of a lot of things. The camera is a very sophisticated device but lucky the company has certain settings that we must follow so you never need to change anything. In the end, you should be up beat creative and love to work with babies." (Infant Photographer; 2011)

"Work On Proper Lighting...
Most people that who photography start out doing mostly nature or close-ups. Even people who have taken a lot of photography classes are usually not ready for the demands of a real photography job. If you want to get paid to do this, you need to work on lighting. Take courses on flash photography and lighting. Learn how to be able to deal with any situation you are given, not just take pretty photos when the mood or scene hits you. Also, assist for someone. Get practical experience. And if this is what you really want to do and your parents and friends think it isn't practical, don't give up. If you become good enough, and are willing to do what it takes to succeed, there is work out there." (Photographer; 2010)