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Job Outlook for:
Photographers

SOC: 27-4021        OOH: U167

Photographers
Quick Stats
Total Jobs in 2016 147,300
Expected Growth -8%    (Decline)
New Jobs To Be Added
from 2016 to 2026
-12,400
Median Pay $25,000 to $34,999

 

 


Short video describing: Photographers

 

 

Employment Outlook for Photographers

Employment of photographers is projected to decline 8 percent from 2016 to 2026. The decreasing cost of digital cameras and the increasing number of amateur photographers and hobbyists will reduce the need for professional photographers. In addition, stock photographic services available online give individuals and businesses access to stock photographs for a fee or subscription, possibly dampening demand for photographers.

However, the application of newer technologies, such as drone photography, may contribute to increased demand for these workers in a variety of ways. For example, drone photography in the commercial sector enables the capturing of images and information for agricultural land, real estate, and new construction projects. In addition, drone photography enables the photographer to create visuals of tall structures, such as cell towers and bridges that are in need of repair. Drone photography at weddings or special events can also capture scenic aerial portraits.

Employment of self-employed photographers is projected to grow 7 percent from 2016 to 2026. Demand for portrait photographers will remain as people continue to want new portraits. In addition, corporations will continue to require the services of commercial photographers to develop compelling advertisements to sell products.

Declines in the newspaper industry will reduce demand for news photographers to provide still images for print. Employment of photographers in newspaper publishing is projected to decline 34 percent from 2016 to 2026.

Job Prospects

Photographers will face strong competition for most jobs. Because of reduced barriers to entry, there will be many qualified candidates for relatively few positions.

In addition, salaried jobs may be more difficult to obtain as companies increasingly contract with freelancers rather than hire their own photographers. Job prospects will be best for candidates who are multitalented and possess related skills, such as editing pictures and capturing digital video.

 

 


 

Typical Pay for Photographers

The median hourly wage for photographers was $16.38 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $9.19, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $36.65.

In May 2016, the median hourly wages for photographers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Broadcasting (except Internet) $21.55
Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers 19.72
Photographic services 14.43

About 3 in 10 photographers worked part time in 2016. Hours often are flexible so that photographers can meet with current and potential clients or visit the sites where they will work. Demand for certain types of photographers may fluctuate with the season. For example, the demand for wedding photographers typically increases in the spring and summer.



 

What Photographers Do All Day

Photographers use their technical expertise, creativity, and composition skills to produce and preserve images that tell a story or record an event.

Duties

Photographers typically do the following:

  • Market and advertise services to attract clients
  • Analyze and plan the composition of photographs
  • Use various photographic techniques and lighting equipment
  • Capture subjects in commercial-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

Today, most photographers use digital cameras instead of the traditional film cameras. 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 compact disks, memory cards, and flash drives. Once the raw image has been transferred to a computer, photographers can use 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, high-quality printers, and editing software.

Some photographers use drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, to capture shots. The drones are equipped with an integrated camera to capture 360° imagery of buildings, landscapes, scenery, or events.

Photographers who work for commercial clients often will present finalized photographs in a digital format to the client. Wedding and portrait photographers, who serve primarily noncommercial clients, frequently also 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, purchase supplies, keep records, bill 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:

Portrait photographers take pictures of individuals or groups of people and usually work in their own studios. Photographers who specialize in weddings, religious ceremonies, or school photographs may work on location.

Commercial and industrial photographers take pictures of various subjects, such as buildings, models, merchandise, artifacts, and landscapes. These photographs, which frequently are taken on location, are used for a variety of purposes, including magazine covers and images to supplement analyses of engineering projects.

Aerial photographers travel in planes or helicopters to capture photographs of buildings and landscapes. They often use cameras with gyrostabilizers to counteract the movement of the aircraft and ensure high-quality images.

Scientific photographers focus on the accurate visual representation of subjects and therefore limit the use of image manipulation software to clarify an image. Scientific photographs record scientific or medical data or phenomena. Scientific photographers who take pictures of objects too small to be seen with the naked eye use microscopes to photograph their subjects.

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.

Fine-arts photographers sell their photographs as artwork. In addition to having technical knowledge of subjects such as lighting and the use of lenses, fine arts photographers need artistic talent and creativity. Most use traditional film instead of digital cameras.

 



 

Work Environment for Photographers

Photographers held about 147,300 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of photographers were as follows:

Self-employed workers 68%
Photographic services 18
Broadcasting (except Internet) 2
Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers 2

The work environment for photographers varies considerably with their specialty.

Portrait photographers may work in studios, but they also often travel to take photographs at a client’s location, such as a school, a company office, or a private home.

News photographers and commercial photographers may travel locally or internationally. News photographers often work long, irregular hours in uncomfortable or even dangerous surroundings and must be available to work on short notice. For example, a news photographer may be sent to a war zone to capture images.

Aerial photographers often work in planes or helicopters.

Most photographers stand or walk for long periods while carrying heavy equipment.

Work Schedules

About 3 in 10 photographers worked part time in 2016. Hours often are flexible so that photographers can meet with current and potential clients or visit the sites where they will work. Demand for certain types of photographers may fluctuate with the season. For example, the demand for wedding photographers typically increases in the spring and summer.

 


 

How To Become a Photographer

Although postsecondary education is not required for portrait photographers, many take classes because employers usually seek applicants with a “good eye” and creativity, as well as a good technical understanding of photography. Photojournalists and industrial and scientific photographers often need a bachelor’s degree.

Education

Although postsecondary education is not required for most photographers, many take classes or earn a bachelor’s degree in a related field because such an education can improve their skills and employment prospects.

Many universities, community and junior colleges, vocational–technical institutes, and private trade and technical schools offer classes in photography. Basic courses in photography cover equipment, processes, and techniques. Art schools may offer useful training in photographic design and composition.

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 useful for scientific photographers.

Business, marketing, and accounting classes can be helpful for self-employed photographers.

Training

Photographers have a talent or natural ability for taking good photos, and this talent 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 be trained on how to use picture-editing software.

For many artists, including photographers, developing a portfolio—a collection or archive of a photographer’s or artist’s work that demonstrates his or her styles and abilities—is essential. A portfolio is necessary because art directors, clients, and others often want to look at one when deciding whether to hire or contract with a particular photographer.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Photographers who commercially operate drones, or unmanned aerial systems (UASs), 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 a physical and mental condition to operate a small UAS safely
  • Pass the initial aeronautical knowledge exam at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center

For specific guidelines and information, visit the FAA website on unmanned aircraft systems.

Important Qualities

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 good photographs.

Business skills. Photographers must plan marketing strategies, reach out to prospective clients, and anticipate seasonal employment.

Computer skills. Most photographers do their own postproduction work and must be familiar with photo-editing software. They also use computers to maintain a digital portfolio.

Customer-service skills. Photographers must understand the needs of their clients and propose solutions to any problems that arise.

Detail oriented. Photographers who do their own postproduction work must be careful not to overlook details and must be thorough when editing photographs. In addition, photographers accumulate many photographs and must maintain them in an orderly fashion.

Interpersonal skills. Photographers often photograph people. They must communicate and be flexible when working with clients in order to achieve the desired composition in a photograph.

 

 

 

 

 

"Photographers"   SOC:  27-4021     OOH Code: U167

Thank you BLS.gov.