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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.

Life As a Photographer

  • Transfer photographs to computers for editing, archiving, and electronic transmission.
  • Select and assemble equipment and required background properties, according to subjects, materials, and conditions.
  • Enhance, retouch, and resize photographs and negatives, using airbrushing and other techniques.
  • Engage in research to develop new photographic procedures and materials.
  • Photograph legal evidence at crime scenes, in hospitals, or in forensic laboratories.
  • Send film to photofinishing laboratories for processing.

Photographer Required Skills

These are the skills Photographers say are the most useful in their careers:

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.

  • Wildlife Photographer
  • Digital Photographer
  • Photo Editor
  • Medical Photographer
  • Aerial Photographer

Are There Job Opportunities for Photographers?

There were about 147,300 jobs for Photographer in 2016 (in the United States). There is little to no growth in job opportunities for Photographer. The BLS estimates 10,300 yearly job openings in this field.

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.

Photographer Average Salary

The average yearly salary of a Photographer ranges between $19,850 and $76,360.

Salary Ranges for Photographers

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

How much do Photographers make in each U.S. state?

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?

Learn what Photographer education requirements there are.

Photographer Degree Level

What work experience do I need to become a Photographer?

Photographer Work Experience

Where Photographers Work

Photographer Sectors

The table below shows the approximate number of Photographers employed by various industries.

Photographer Industries

You May Also Be Interested In…

Those who work as a Photographer sometimes switch careers to one of these choices:


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

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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