Job description: What does a photographer do?
Depending on how seriously a photographer takes his job, there is always a little artist slumbering in him. After all, with skillful settings he can put the respective motif, he is photographing in the best light and show it from its “good side”.
This applies, for example, to the arrangement of wedding photos, employee photos for the career website of a company, or razor-sharp detail shots from nature – for example for a science magazine.
Depending on the job, photographers snap their shots in the photo studio, at the customer’s site, or in nature. A sure instinct is required here. In a consultation, photographers first clarify what the customer expects from the finished motif and what he wants to use it for. The choice of camera and the type of lighting during the photo session depend on this. The type of post-processing also determines whether the customer is satisfied.
For tools of a photographer include not only digital SLR cameras, different lenses, which comprises one or different effects also achieve the right lighting and the laptop on which the artwork is reworked.
Once the pictures have been taken, the work begins: set the contrast, create sharpness, special effects, and special colors. In one case the recording should remain as close as possible to reality, in another case, it should be artistically alienated. The range of possibilities for post-processing is almost inexhaustible thanks to the most modern image processing programs and requires a considerable amount of creativity.
The work of photographers has changed a lot recently. A few years ago you still had to go to the darkroom to develop your photos and put them on paper or canvas, but in the age of digital photography, you can now safely skip this step. Today the PC and laptop replace the photo laboratory.
Photographers usually specialize in one of the following areas:
- Portraits of people
- Product photography
- Industrial and architectural photography
- Science photography
- Nature photography
- Event photography
- Journalistic recordings
Since photographers can gain a foothold in a wide variety of industries, their prospects on the job market are very good. The work-life balance, however, depends on the specialization and the actual job a photographer has. But it is usually balanced.
Education: How do you become a photographer?
The photographer training takes three years and is organized in two ways. This means that it takes place in parallel in the vocational school and the training company. There are no specific requirements for completing the training. However, employers tend to increasingly employ prospective professionals who have at least a secondary school diploma.
The training content includes the following focal points:
- Customer advisory
- Handling of photographic recording devices
- Correct use of lighting
- Image editing
- Archiving of image files
- Develop and implement image ideas
- Selection and use of camera systems
- Development of a personal visual language
- Image rights
The trainees take an intermediate exam after the first 18 months of their training. The final exam takes place after the third year of training.
Employer: Who is looking for a photographer
Photographers find employment in many areas of the private sector. For example here:
- Photo studios
- Press services
- Press agencies
- Image archives
- Advertising and media agencies
Salary: How much does a photographer make?
Depending on the industry, place of work, and professional experience, trained photographers initially receive an initial income of $16.35/hour or more after their training.
Map of photographer salaries
The darker areas on the map show where photographers earn the highest salaries across all 50 states.
- Median Annual Salary: $34,008 ($16.35/hour)
- Top 10% Annual Salary: More than $76,357 ($36.71/hour)
- Bottom 10% Annual Salary: Less than $19,843 ($9.54/hour)
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Further salary jumps develop with increasing professional experience.
Entry opportunities: The prospects for photographers
The photographer’s profession is very popular: a vacancy as a trainee often receives dozens, sometimes hundreds, of applications. It is therefore advisable to complete an internship in the company of your choice before applying for the training. This significantly increases the chances of getting a job because you already know each other and, in the best case, know what you have in each other.
Application: How do photographers score
How can prospective photographers score points with their potential employers in their application documents? What should be in the cover letter and resume?
Those who want to become a photographer choose a profession that combines craft, art, and technology. Good school grades in physics, art, and math are important. The following hard and soft skills are also beneficial:
- Completed education
- Technical understanding
- Willingness to learn
- Advisory skills
- High motivation
Career: Development opportunities as a photographer
After completing your training as a photographer, there are many opportunities for further training. You can train apprentices and set up your photo studio. Alternatively, you can pursue a leadership career in the private sector.
With the degree in their pockets, photographers can also walk on scientific paths. Here, for example, a specialist degree in design is an option, in which photographers can expand their knowledge of many creative ways of working. Alternatively, there is further training to become a technician. After two years of advanced training, graduates can work in production and take part in the repair or development of new camera models.