Career Definition for a Commercial Photographer
A commercial photographer takes photos that effectively capture the needs and communicate the ideas of her clients. Commercial photographers often specialize in one field, such as portrait, fashion, wedding, wildlife or editorial photography. Commercial photographers may work in advertising or design firms; however, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than half of commercial photographers are freelance.
|Education||An associate's or bachelor's in photography may be helpful; students can also seek an apprenticeship with a professional photographer.|
|Job Skills||Creative ability, communication skills, business-savviness, ability to use photography equipment and various software|
|Median Salary (2017)*||$32,490 (all photographers)|
|Job Growth (2016-2026)*||-6% (all photographers)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
A bachelor's or associate's degree in photography may be helpful to start a career as a commercial photographer, but is not necessary in most fields. Degree programs teach students the technical elements of photography, such as sharpness, lighting and composition, but this knowledge also can be gained apprenticing with an established commercial photographer. Classes in photography degree programs include drawing, art history and intermediate and advanced photography.
Besides technical knowledge of photography, the most important skills for a commercial photographer are a creative eye and the ability to translate an artistic vision into a memorable image. Commercial photographers must have excellent communication skills and must be business-savvy if they freelance. Mastery of digital and analog photography equipment and photography-related computer programs, as well as the ability to develop a unique style, also are necessary.
Career and Economic Outlook
According to the BLS, the number of jobs for photographers is expected to decline 6% from 2016-2026. However, competition for photography jobs is expected to be high, since digital technology makes the tools used by photographers more widely available. Businesses will continue to advertise their products and services and therefore continue to hire commercial photographers. Median annual earnings for photographers were $32,490 in 2017.
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Alternate Career Options
Similar career options within this field include:
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