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What Do Photographer Do?

Occupation Description Photograph people, landscapes, merchandise, or other subjects, using digital or film cameras and equipment. May develop negatives or use computer software to produce finished images and prints. Includes scientific photographers, aerial photographers, and photojournalists.

A Day in the Life of a Photographer

  • Perform maintenance tasks necessary to keep equipment working properly.
  • Set up photographic exhibitions for the purpose of displaying and selling work.
  • Direct activities of workers setting up photographic equipment.
  • Manipulate and enhance scanned or digital images to create desired effects, using computers and specialized software.
  • Engage in research to develop new photographic procedures and materials.
  • Determine desired images and picture composition, selecting and adjusting subjects, equipment, and lighting to achieve desired effects.

Things a Photographer Should Know How to Do

When polled, Photographers say the following skills are most frequently used in their jobs:

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Social Perceptiveness: Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

Service Orientation: Actively looking for ways to help people.

Instructing: Teaching others how to do something.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

  • Medical Photographer
  • Portrait Photographer
  • Finish Photographer
  • Owner/Photographer
  • Photo-Optics Technician

Job Outlook for Photographers

In 2016, there was an estimated number of 147,300 jobs in the United States for Photographer. There is little to no growth in job opportunities for Photographer. Due to new job openings and attrition, there will be an average of 10,300 job openings in this field each year.

Forecasted Number of Jobs for Photographers in U.S.

The states with the most job growth for Photographer are Maryland, Utah, and Colorado. Watch out if you plan on working in Indiana, New Jersey, or Kansas. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Salary for a Photographer

Photographers make between $19,850 and $76,360 a year.

Salary Ranges for Photographers

Photographers who work in District of Columbia, Rhode Island, or Minnesota, make the highest salaries.

Below is a list of the median annual salaries for Photographers in different U.S. states.

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $39,360
Alaska $42,820
Arizona $33,500
Arkansas $37,520
California $52,720
Colorado $38,600
Connecticut $44,140
Delaware $34,130
District of Columbia $82,840
Florida $39,990
Georgia $45,270
Hawaii $41,640
Idaho $33,240
Illinois $36,290
Indiana $35,460
Iowa $30,180
Kansas $35,540
Kentucky $36,390
Louisiana $32,710
Maine $38,360
Maryland $39,640
Massachusetts $65,090
Minnesota $54,150
Mississippi $44,770
Missouri $36,470
Montana $31,670
Nebraska $35,760
Nevada $35,010
New Hampshire $37,800
New Jersey $35,840
New Mexico $53,720
New York $53,150
North Carolina $33,630
North Dakota $35,530
Ohio $42,370
Oklahoma $31,940
Oregon $36,440
Pennsylvania $34,790
Rhode Island $54,800
South Carolina $42,090
South Dakota $30,380
Tennessee $33,170
Texas $34,160
Vermont $48,840
Virginia $37,420
Washington $48,020
West Virginia $32,270
Wisconsin $34,750
Wyoming $38,100

Tools & Technologies Used by Photographers

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Photographers:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Web browser software
  • Microsoft Access
  • Email software
  • Adobe Systems Adobe Acrobat
  • Adobe Systems Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Systems Adobe Photoshop Lightroom
  • Facebook
  • Adobe Systems Adobe Illustrator
  • Intuit QuickBooks
  • Adobe Systems Adobe InDesign
  • WordPress
  • Apple Final Cut Pro
  • Apple macOS
  • SmugMug Flickr
  • Adobe Systems Adobe Creative Cloud
  • Twitter
  • Adobe Systems Adobe Creative Suite
  • Adobe Systems Adobe After Effects

How do I Become a Photographer?

Education needed to be a Photographer:

Photographer Degree Level

How many years of work experience do I need?

Photographer Work Experience

Where do Photographers Work?

Photographer Sectors

Below are examples of industries where Photographers work:

Photographer Industries

Other Jobs You May be Interested In

Career changers with experience as a Photographer sometimes find work in one of the following fields:


Image Credit: Jorge Royan via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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