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Career Facts

What They Do:

Photographers produce and preserve images that tell a story, record an event, or paint a picture.  In order to do this successfully, photographers need both technical expertise and creativity.  Most photographers today use digital cameras, as well as a variety of other equipment such as lenses, filters, tripods, flash attachments, and lighting equipment.  hen the image has been transferred to a computer, the photographer can use processing software to crop, modify, or enhance the image.  Some photographers specialize in areas such as portrait, commercial, and industrial, scientific, news, or fine arts photography.

What Types of Skills Are Required:

Photographers need to have a "good eye", imagination, and creativity as well as a good technical understanding of photography.  They need good eyesight, artistic ability, and good eye-hand coordination.  They should be patient, accurate, and detail-orientated.  They should be able to work well with others as they frequently deal with clients, designers, and advertising and publishing specialists.  Increasingly, photographers need to be able to use computer software programs and applications that allow them to prepare and edit images.

What They Earn:

In 2004, the most recent date for which figures are available, the median annual earnings of salaried photographers were $26,080.  The middle 50 percent earned between $18,380 and $37,370.  Salaried photographers tend to earn more than those who are self-employed.

Where Employed:

More than half of all photographers employed in 2004 were self-employed.  Most salaried photographers work in portrait or commercial photography studios.  They also work for newspapers and applications that allow them to prepare and edit images.

How Many Jobs Available:

Employment of photographers is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2005. However, the field has become increasingly competitive due to the overwhelming interest in the past years. Additional openings are expected to develop as photographers retire or transfer to other occupations. About 45% of all photographers are self-employed

How Much Schooling, Training, or Skill Development:

Formal education requirements depend upon the nature of the photographer's specialty. An associate in applied science degree is available in photographic imaging.  For those interested in working as a photographic assistant or lab technician, a certificate of completion is available.   A Bachelor's degree will often be helpful when one would like to explore different areas of this field, especially if one would like to become self employed.

Employers often seek applicants with a good technical understanding of photography who are also imaginative and creative. Those in entry-level jobs learn to set up lights, cameras, and other equipment. They may receive routine assignments requiring camera adjustments or decisions on what subject matter to capture. With increased experience, they may advance to more demanding assignments. Photography assistants often mix chemicals, develop film, print photographs, and the various other skills necessary to run a photography business.

Business Department at Lansing Community College

Communication, Media and the Arts Department
Gannon Bldg, Room 1222
Phone: (517) 483-1546
Additional contact information »