- Best Fitting Careers
- Work Personality Strengths
- Work Style Preferences
- and more
What they do:
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.
On the job, you would:
- 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.
- Create artificial light, using flashes and reflectors.
- Determine desired images and picture composition, selecting and adjusting subjects, equipment, and lighting to achieve desired effects.
Artistic ability. Photographers capture their subjects in images, and they must evaluate the artistic quality of a photograph. Photographers need a "good eye": the ability to use colors, shadows, shades, light, and distance to compose aesthetically pleasing photographs.
Business skills. Photographers must plan marketing or advertising strategies, reach out to prospective clients, and anticipate seasonal employment.
Computer skills. Most photographers do their own postproduction work and must be adept at using photo-editing software. They also use computers to maintain a digital portfolio.
Customer-service skills. Photographers must understand the types of shots their clients want and agree on suitable alternatives for ideas that may be unworkable.
Detail oriented. Photographers must focus on details, especially in postproduction. In addition, photographers accumulate many photographs and must maintain them in an orderly fashion.
Interpersonal skills. Photographers often take pictures of people. They must communicate and be flexible when working with clients in order to achieve the desired composition in a photograph.
Characteristics of this Career
||96%||Dependability  -  Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.|
||94%||Integrity  -  Job requires being honest and ethical.|
||91%||Attention to Detail  -  Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.|
||84%||Concern for Others  -  Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.|
||83%||Self-Control  -  Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.|
||81%||Cooperation  -  Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.|
||81%||Initiative  -  Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.|
||81%||Adaptability/Flexibility  -  Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.|
||74%||Stress Tolerance  -  Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.|
||73%||Achievement/Effort  -  Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.|
||73%||Social Orientation  -  Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.|
||71%||Persistence  -  Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.|
||69%||Independence  -  Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.|
||68%||Innovation  -  Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.|
||83%||Artistic  -  Work involves creating original visual artwork, performances, written works, food, or music for a variety of media, or applying artistic principles to the design of various objects and materials. Artistic occupations are often associated with visual arts, applied arts and design, performing arts, music, creative writing, media, or culinary art.|
||61%||Realistic  -  Work involves designing, building, or repairing of equipment, materials, or structures, engaging in physical activity, or working outdoors. Realistic occupations are often associated with engineering, mechanics and electronics, construction, woodworking, transportation, machine operation, agriculture, animal services, physical or manual labor, athletics, or protective services.|
Values of the Work Environment
||67%||Independence  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.|
||61%||Relationships  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.|
Abilities | Cognitive, Physical, Personality
||75%||Near Vision  -  The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).|
||72%||Oral Expression  -  The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.|
||72%||Originality  -  The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.|
||72%||Visualization  -  The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.|
||72%||Far Vision  -  The ability to see details at a distance.|
||66%||Visual Color Discrimination  -  The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.|
||66%||Oral Comprehension  -  The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.|
Attributes & Percentage of Time Spent
||99%||Electronic Mail  -  How often do you use electronic mail in this job?|
||97%||Telephone  -  How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?|
||86%||Contact With Others  -  How much does this job require the worker to be in contact with others (face-to-face, by telephone, or otherwise) in order to perform it?|
||86%||Face-to-Face Discussions  -  How often do you have to have face-to-face discussions with individuals or teams in this job?|
||83%||Deal With External Customers  -  How important is it to work with external customers or the public in this job?|
||81%||Level of Competition  -  To what extent does this job require the worker to compete or to be aware of competitive pressures?|
||78%||Freedom to Make Decisions  -  How much decision making freedom, without supervision, does the job offer?|
||77%||Structured versus Unstructured Work  -  To what extent is this job structured for the worker, rather than allowing the worker to determine tasks, priorities, and goals?|
||73%||Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls  -  How much does this job require using your hands to handle, control, or feel objects, tools or controls?|
||73%||Time Pressure  -  How often does this job require the worker to meet strict deadlines?|
||73%||Physical Proximity  -  To what extent does this job require the worker to perform job tasks in close physical proximity to other people?|
||71%||Indoors, Environmentally Controlled  -  How often does this job require working indoors in environmentally controlled conditions?|
||71%||Importance of Being Exact or Accurate  -  How important is being very exact or highly accurate in performing this job?|
Tasks & Values
||92%||Working with Computers  -  Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.|
||90%||Thinking Creatively  -  Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.|
||86%||Performing for or Working Directly with the Public  -  Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.|
||83%||Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships  -  Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.|
||82%||Selling or Influencing Others  -  Convincing others to buy merchandise/goods or to otherwise change their minds or actions.|
||80%||Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge  -  Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.|
||77%||Making Decisions and Solving Problems  -  Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.|
||77%||Scheduling Work and Activities  -  Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.|
||77%||Communicating with People Outside the Organization  -  Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.|
||76%||Performing Administrative Activities  -  Performing day-to-day administrative tasks such as maintaining information files and processing paperwork.|
||76%||Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work  -  Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.|
||74%||Getting Information  -  Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.|
||69%||Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others  -  Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.|
What Photographers Do
Photographers use their technical expertise, creativity, and composition skills to produce and preserve images that tell a story or record an event.
Photographers typically do the following:
- Market or advertise services to attract clients
- Analyze and plan the composition of photographs
- Use various photographic techniques and lighting equipment
- Capture subjects in professional-quality photographs
- Enhance the subject’s appearance with natural or artificial light
- Use photo-enhancing software
- Maintain a digital portfolio to demonstrate their work
- Archive and manage imagery
Nowadays, most photographers use digital cameras instead of traditional film cameras, although some photographers use both. Digital cameras capture images electronically, so the photographer can edit the image on a computer. Images can be stored on portable memory devices, such as flash drives. Once the raw image has been transferred to a computer, photographers can use image processing software to crop or modify the image and enhance it through color correction and other specialized effects. Photographers who edit their own pictures use computers, editing software, and high-quality printers.
Some photographers use unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones, to capture shots. The drones are equipped with an integrated camera to capture 360-degree imagery of buildings, landscapes, scenery, or events.
Photographers who work for commercial clients often present photographs in a digital format to the client. Wedding and portrait photographers, who serve primarily noncommercial clients, also may provide framing services and present the photographs they capture in albums.
Many photographers are self-employed. Photographers who own and operate their own business have additional responsibilities. They must advertise, schedule appointments, set up and adjust equipment, buy supplies, keep records, charge customers, pay bills, and—if they have employees—hire, train, and direct their workers.
In addition, some photographers teach photography classes or conduct workshops in schools or in their own studios.
The following are examples of types of photographers:
Aerial photographers travel in planes or helicopters to capture overhead photographs of buildings and landscapes. They often use cameras with gyrostabilizers to counteract the movement of the aircraft and ensure high-quality images.
Commercial and industrial photographers take pictures of subjects such as buildings, models, merchandise, artifacts, and landscapes. They usually go on location to take pictures for magazine covers, engineering projects, or other purposes.
Drone photographers operate unmanned aerial vehicles with an integrated camera to capture 360-degree imagery of buildings, landscapes, scenery, or events.
Fine arts photographers sell their photographs as artwork. In addition to their knowledge of techniques such as lighting and the use of lenses, fine arts photographers need to have creativity and artistic talent.
News photographers, also called photojournalists, photograph people, places, and events for newspapers, journals, magazines, or television. In addition to taking still photos, photojournalists often work with digital video.
Portrait photographers take pictures of individuals or groups of people and may work in studios. Photographers who specialize in weddings, religious ceremonies, or school photographs usually work on location.
Scientific photographers capture scientific or medical data or phenomena. Because they focus on accurately representing subjects visually, these photographers limit the use of software to clarify an image. Scientific photographers who take pictures of objects too small to be seen with the naked eye use microscopes to photograph their subjects.
Photographers held about 148,900 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of photographers were as follows:
Working conditions for photographers vary by specialty. Photographers may work indoors or outdoors.
Portrait photographers may work in studios, but they also travel to take photographs at a client’s location, such as a school or a home.
News photographers may travel locally or internationally and must be prepared to work in uncomfortable or even dangerous surroundings. For example, a news photographer may be sent to a war zone to capture images. News photographers often work irregular schedules and must be available on short notice.
Aerial photographers work in planes or helicopters to capture a scene, event, or location from an overhead perspective.
Most photographers stand or walk for long periods. They may need to carry heavy equipment.
Some photographers work part time. Hours often are flexible so that photographers can meet with current and potential clients or visit the sites where they will work. For certain types of photographers, workloads may fluctuate with the season. For example, wedding photographers are typically busiest in the summer and fall.
How to Become a Photographer
Although portrait photographers are not required to have postsecondary education, many take classes because employers usually seek applicants with creativity and a "good eye," as well as a good technical understanding of photography. Photojournalists and industrial and scientific photographers often need a bachelor’s degree.
Postsecondary education is not required for most photographers. However, many photographers take classes or earn a bachelor’s degree to improve their skills and employment prospects.
Many universities, community colleges, vocational–technical institutes, and private trade and technical schools offer classes in photography. Basic photography courses cover equipment, processes, and techniques. Art school training in photographic design and composition also may be useful.
Entry-level positions in photojournalism or in industrial or scientific photography generally require a college degree in photography or in a field related to the industry in which the photographer seeks employment. For example, classes in biology, medicine, or chemistry may be important for scientific photographers.
Business, marketing, and accounting classes may be helpful for self-employed photographers.
Photographers’ skill or ability for taking good photos is typically cultivated over years of practice. Photographers often start working as an assistant to a professional photographer, learning on the job. This work provides an opportunity to gain experience, build the photographers’ portfolios, and gain exposure to prospective clients. In addition, photographers must learn to use photo-editing software.
For many artists, including photographers, developing a portfolio—a collection of their work that demonstrates their styles and abilities—is essential. Art directors, clients, and others often review portfolios when deciding whether to hire a particular photographer.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Photographers who commercially operate drones, commonly known as unmanned aerial vehicles, must obtain certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). They must fulfill the following criteria:
- Be at least 16 years old
- Be able to read, speak, write, and understand English (exceptions may be made if the person is unable to meet one of these requirements for a medical reason, such as a hearing impairment)
- Be in good physical and mental condition to operate a small drone safely
- Pass the initial aeronautical knowledge exam at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center
For specific guidelines and information, visit the FAA website’s section on unmanned aircraft systems.
Employment of photographers is projected to grow 4 percent from 2022 to 2032, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
About 13,900 openings for photographers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.
Employment of self-employed photographers is projected to grow over the projections decade as the number of amateur photographers and hobbyists entering the occupation increases. Demand for portrait photographers will remain as people continue to want new portraits. Corporations also will continue to require commercial photographers’ services to develop compelling advertisements to sell products.
However, the ease and quality of photos taken by smartphones may reduce the need for professional photographers. In addition, stock photographic services available online give individuals and businesses access to photographs for a fee or subscription, possibly dampening demand for these workers.
Contacts for More Information
For more information about careers in photography, visit
For more information about testing and obtaining certification to operate commercial drones or unmanned aerial systems (UASs), visit
For more information about university photographers, visit
This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of photographers.
|Occupation||Job Duties||Entry-Level Education||Median Annual Pay, May 2022|
Architects plan and design houses, factories, office buildings, and other structures.
Art directors are responsible for the visual style and images in magazines, newspapers, product packaging, and movie and television productions.
|Craft and Fine Artists||
Craft and fine artists use a variety of materials and techniques to create art for sale and exhibition.
|See How to Become One||$53,140|
Desktop publishers use computer software to design page layouts for items that are printed or published online.
Fashion designers create clothing, accessories, and footwear.
|Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators||
Film and video editors and camera operators manipulate moving images that entertain or inform an audience.
Graphic designers create visual concepts, using computer software or by hand, to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, and captivate consumers.
Industrial designers combine art, business, and engineering to develop the concepts for manufactured products.
Models pose for artists, photographers, and other clients to help advertise products.
|No formal educational credential||$43,130|
|News Analysts, Reporters, and Journalists||
News analysts, reporters, and journalists keep the public updated about current events and noteworthy information.