Advertising Photographer: Career Profile and Suggested Education

Sep 13, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an advertising photographer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and recommended skills to find out if this is the career for you.

Advertising photographers focus their photography on items for business promotion. This can include locations, things, or buildings. Technical training is usually preferred, but this can be found through certificate and degree programs.

Essential Information

Advertising photographers use cameras to take promotional pictures for clients. Some photographers work directly for advertising and marketing agencies, whereas others work as freelance photographers. These professionals generally work on-site and must be comfortable traveling with their photography equipment. Educational requirements vary, although many employers prefer photographers with an undergraduate degree and technical training.

Required Education None typically required, although employers may prefer candidates with a post-secondary degree
Other Requirements Knowledge of photo editing software
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 6% decline for all photographers*
Median Salary (2019) $45,932 for commercial photographers**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **

Advertising Photographer Career Profile

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), advertising photographers, also known as commercial photographers, take pictures that are used for promoting items, businesses, individuals or services ( Advertising photographers take photos of people and goods, edit the photos, and send the final pictures to clients. Most advertising photographers specialize in photographing certain objects, such as equipment, products, structures or employees. Some photographers also specialize in taking pictures at certain locations, including travel destinations, interior settings and metropolitan areas.

Job Outlook

The BLS predicts that between 2018 and 2028, open positions in the photography industry will decrease by 6%. Corporations will require a constant stream of new images, which could benefit commercial photographers in particular.

Salary Information

Salary statistics from May 2018 BLS records show that the median salary for photographers in general was $34,000 per year. In comparison, during that same year, photographers in the top 90th percentile earned an annual salary of $76,360. noted that the median salary for commercial photographers, which includes advertising photographers, was $45,932 in August 2019. Accurate salary statistics are difficult to examine, since photographer rates are not universal, especially for freelance photographers.

Suggested Education for an Advertising Photographer

Degree Programs

Workers in the commercial and industrial photography fields, including advertising photographers, may require college degrees for employment, per the BLS. Associate degree programs at community colleges often provide sufficient training, but some individuals may choose to pursue a bachelor's degree in digital media or the fine arts. An associate degree in commercial photography includes courses that cover camera techniques, advertising production, studio lighting and visual communications.

Some photography degree programs provide business training, but not all programs cover advertising and marketing. Although not required, students may choose to take additional marketing coursework in order to better understand what future clients may need. Possible marketing coursework includes marketing communications, sales management, marketing research, advertising promotions and e-marketing.

Technical Training Coursework

Photographers today require more technical training due to technological advances in the industry and increasing use of digital photography. Not only do photographers need training with digital cameras and storing digital images, but they also require the skills necessary for digitally manipulating photos with computer programs. Some photography degree programs include technical skills training, including coursework such as Adobe Photoshop, digital retouching and photography website design.

Advertising photographers need to understand the art of photography as well as photography publishing software and technical job requirements. Advertising photographers can find work with advertising firms or can work freelance; freelance jobs are often more abundant than employment offers for advertising photographers.

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