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Photographer

Photographers take and process pictures of people, places, products and events.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £14,000 to £50,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set entry requirements.

You'll usually need experience and a portfolio of work. A qualification in photography can help you learn technical and creative skills, although many photographers are self-taught.

You could start as a photographer's assistant and work your way up.

You may be able to get into this job through an apprenticeship.

Creative Skillset has more information on industries that use photographers.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • composition, design and technical ability
  • organisational and time-management skills
  • excellent communication, IT and marketing skills
  • attention to detail

3. What you'll do

You'll usually specialise in one area like fashion, portrait, wedding or e-commerce photography. You could take still or moving images. You may work for companies or individual clients, on a freelance or employed basis. You may also create and sell your own images.

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • discussing the project with the client and agreeing the ‘brief’
  • finding and preparing the location for the photo session
  • choosing the right equipment and setting up lighting
  • composing and taking photos
  • using industry software to edit and process images
  • checking accurate colour match and image quality
  • choosing the best images for the client to use online or in print
  • marketing and running your business

4. Salary

Starter: £14,000 to £18,000 (assistant)

Experienced: £19,000 to £30,000

Highly Experienced: £50,000 (senior creative manager)

Freelance photographers are paid per job. Rates can vary depending on experience, reputation and the type of assignment.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

Your hours and place of work will vary. You may need to work evenings and weekends in a studio or on location.

The job can be physically demanding and you may have to carry heavy equipment.

You may need a full driving licence and use of a vehicle.

6. Career path and progression

Many photographers are freelance and you could do a mixture of contract work and following your own interests. You could extend your range into other areas of photography like product, property or corporate work.

With training, you could also work as a press or police photographer.

With specialist qualifications, you could find employment in medical photography or illustration.

To improve your job prospects, you could join a professional body like the British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP) or the Association of Photographers (AOP).

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Last updated: 05 May 2017