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Fashion Photographer: Job Description and Career Info

Learn about a career in fashion photography. Get the details about the training and education needed for a job as a fashion photographer. Read on for job prospects to see if this is the right career for you.

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Career Definition for a Fashion Photographer

Fashion photography highlights clothing and other fashion products in exciting and memorable ways. Fashion photographers work closely with models and fashion designers to conceptualize and shoot photos that showcase fashions as effectively as possible. Fashion photographers may be employed by fashion magazines, catalogs, advertising agencies or fashion houses. They may also be self-employed.

Education Formal education not commonly required
Job Skills Artistic ability, detail oriented, computer skills, interpersonal skills
Median Salary (2017) $32,490 (all photographers)
Job Growth (2016-2026) -6% (all photographers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Required

An undergraduate degree isn't required for a career as a fashion photographer because the necessary skills can be gained through an apprenticeship with an established photographer. The most important asset for a successful career in fashion photography is a portfolio of work that emphasizes both technical photographic skills and a unique, artistic perspective.

Skills Required

A career in fashion photography requires knowledge of technical elements of photography, including lighting, sharpness and composition, and an awareness of fashion and photographic trends. Fashion photographers must be able to translate their artistic visions into photographs. They also must have strong interpersonal skills because fashion photographers often lead teams of stylists, make-up artists and other fashion professionals.

Economic and Career Opportunities

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), photography jobs were expected to decline 6% from 2016-2026. The competition for careers in photography was expected to be keen because it is a highly desirable field with large numbers of job seekers and relatively few open positions. In 2017, the median yearly salary for photographers was $32,490.

Alternate Career Options

Those seeking to become fashion photographers may consider related occupations, including camera operation in broadcast or film, and news reporting.

Camera Operators

Camera operators use film and video cameras to record a variety of programming; they may specialize in recording television news and programs, motion pictures, or live, on-site work. Camera operators typically work with directors and film or video editors on camera angles, content, and related concepts. A camera operator usually has a bachelor's degree in broadcasting, film or a related field. New hires are generally trained on the job too, working as an assistant to a camera operator with more experience.

According to the BLS, camera operators in television, video, and motion picture industry can expect average job growth of 7% from 2016-2026. These workers earned median pay of $53,550 in 2017, per the BLS.

Reporter

A reporter gathers information about a news story and delivers that information to an audience, whether it's through a newspaper, television news program, radio program or other medium. Reporters work with their editor to pitch stories or get assignments. They conduct research and interviews and then write their stories (for newspapers or online reporting) or scripts (for filmed or recorded reporting). A reporter usually has a bachelor's degree in journalism or a related field and several years of college reporting experience. Reporters often begin their careers in small markets and as they gain experience, move into bigger markets.

The BLS notes that jobs for reporters and correspondents are expected to decline by 10% from 2016-2026, due in part to the consolidation of media companies and a decrease in the number of people getting their news from television or newspaper reporting. The BLS also reported that these occupations paid a median salary of $39,370 in 2017.

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