A baby photographer works in a number of environments, such as in a studio, a client's home, or at another on-site location. These professionals may be freelancers employed by multiple companies at once, or they can be self-employed. The salary for this profession varies greatly and is determined by many factors such as the type of employment or the employer(s); the median salary in May 2015 for photographers was $31,710 a year, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Baby photography, a popular form of portraiture photography, is an apt career choice for artistically inclined individuals. Baby photographers may work solely for a company, may freelance for one or more companies, or may be self-employed, often working in a studio. Formal post-secondary education is not necessary for becoming a baby photographer, but a bachelor's or two-year degree is often ideal.
|Required Education||Two-year or bachelor's degree ideal|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||3% for all photographers*|
|Median Salary (2015)||$31,710 annually*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The salary for any professional photographer tends to be lower than average, but varies considerably, depending on whether the professional is hired by a company or is self-employed. Although there is no specific salary information for those specializing in baby photography, the median salary of a photographer, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), was reported as $31,710 in May 2015; this figure reflects a range of approximately $18,850-$72,200 earned by those employed by others, rather than those working for themselves. While there is some commercial work available for those specializing in baby photography, most such photographers will be self-employed and therefore are represented by the figures at the lower end of the scale.
Projected Job Growth
The field of baby photography is highly competitive. The recent rise in user-friendly digital cameras decreased the demand for professional photographs. Because of this, a slower-than-average job growth of 3% was expected for photographers from 2014-2024, per the BLS.
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Daily job duties vary depending on whether the professional is a salaried company worker, a freelancer for one or more companies, or self-employed. Baby photographers, whether self-employed or company-employed, often work in a studio.
Prior to the scheduled appointment with the client, the studio photographer will first prepare the setting, including the lighting, backdrop, and props. Because of the short attention span of the infant, photographers should have a wide variety of toys and noisemakers on hand.
Once the client arrives with the child, the photographer will spend nearly an hour interacting with the baby while manipulating props to find the perfect pose and expression that highlights the child's personality. He/she must also pay attention to the background to create a visually stunning photograph. It may be necessary for the photographer to take scores of photographs in rapid succession to produce a few quality pictures.
The photographer will then develop or process the photographs, choosing only those of artistic merit and with high sales potential. He/she will then invite the client for a second appointment to view, select, and purchase the photographs.
On Location Assignments
Those who lack studio space will need to travel to various locations, often carrying heavy equipment. They must work closely with the client or company, often improvising to create the desired effects by finding creative uses for the available the props and setting. For example, if an advertising company wishes to show a baby grabbing the company's featured product, it is the photographer's responsibility to create an emotionally appealing photograph that showcases the product in the hands of an infant. This often entails extended interaction with the child. Additionally, the photographer will need to take initiative in terms of colored lenses, camera angles, the subject's poses, and product placement in order to best interpret the company's vision.
Additional Job Duties for the Self-Employed
Baby photographers who are self-employed must be adept at networking to gain assignments. They should be able to market themselves well. They will also need to perform secretarial duties, such as scheduling, bookkeeping, and billing.
The infant photographers should have a solid background in photographic equipment, including the use of lighting and filters to create the mood of the photograph. Since it is essential that they take photographs quickly, they must be adept in changing equipment in seconds. These photographers may also find it useful to have computer skills in order to use image manipulation software that may enhance the final product.
Baby photographers, like all professional photographers, must have a sense of the artistry involved in creating an heirloom quality photograph. They must pay attention to the composition of the piece to create an image that offers a unified effect with lighting, props, and the subject matter. As portraiture photographers, they need to recognize an emotionally powerful facial expression, especially one that captures the baby's sense of wonder and curiosity. The professionals should also know how to use various camera angles for interesting effects.
In order to capture the right expression, baby photographers should have some knowledge of child development. For example, an infant of up to three months of age is best captured asleep or in the hands of a parent or sibling, while a baby three to nine months old is best portrayed interacting with his own limbs or new toys. The photographer must be willing to engage the baby and demonstrate a high degree of patience to garner the subject's attention.
Training and Qualifications
A four-year program in photography from a university or an art school is ideal, but a two-year course of study may offer adequate training. It is possible to establish oneself in the field without a degree, given a combination of experience (especially as an apprentice), knowledge of operating quality camera equipment, and an impressive portfolio.
Although a formal education is not required for baby photographers, some form of postsecondary training in photography can be very useful, especially in this highly competitive field. These individuals should be creative, very competent with photography equipment, and possess the ability to manipulate images using design software. These photographers should also understand the various stages of development in babies and toddlers in order to best reflect the subject's age.