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Salary and Career Information for a Studio Photographer

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

Studio photographers take pictures of clients in a studio setting. They stage a scene with props and a background that fits the purpose of the portraits. They sell photo packages to their clients.

Essential Information

Whether the job entails shooting pictures of children, adults, or families, studio photographers are counted on to help preserve memories. Some of their responsibilities are similar to other types of photographers, but working in a studio presents different types of opportunities. Students wanting to become studio photographers generally choose from associate's or bachelor's degrees in photography. Some employers provide on-the-job training, and computer literacy is an important requirement.

Required Education Associate's or bachelor's degree
Other Requirements Computer skills
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 3% for all photographers
Median Salary (2015)* $31,710 annually for all photographers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Salary Information for Studio Photographers

Earnings for studio photographers can vary depending on whether or not they're self-employed. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that in 2014, about 60% of the photographers in the country were self-employed (www.bls.gov). Such photographers were inclined to earn less than salaried workers, according to the BLS. While specific numbers weren't available for studio photographers, general photographers earned a median annual salary of $31,710 in May 2015. This number is impacted among freelance and self-employed photographers, because they have expenses with equipment purchases and maintenance costs.

Studio Photographer Career Information

All types of photographers use light and surroundings to capture an image. However, studio photographers, unlike photojournalists or outdoor photographers, can more easily stage their presentations. By using artificial backdrops, studio lights, and costuming, a studio photographer can help portray a specific feeling or idea.

Studio photographers must also think like salesmen. While freelance photographers generally get paid per photograph used by a particular media outlet, studio photographers earn extra money by selling multiple prints to clients. A successful studio photographer can sell customers photo packages, with a variety of different sized prints.

Education Requirements

Photography studios generally require applicants to have formal education and experience in photography to qualify for positions, and self-employed studio photographers may want to demonstrate their expertise to potential clients by having such a background. Aspiring studio photographers can choose from a two-year associate's or four-year bachelor's degree in the subject. Curricula will cover numerous topics, such as digital photography, black and white photography, photojournalism, and lighting. Students also learn darkroom techniques with which to develop their work. Programs often require workshops or labs in photography studios so enrollees can gain hands-on experience.

Job Requirements

While studio photographers benefit from having previous experience upon hiring, some employers offer on-the-job training. Nonetheless, many require their employees to be computer literate. Studio photographers also need to be personable, since they'll deal directly with customers who can be particular about their photos. An important part of the job involves communicating with clients about their vision.

Career Outlook

The BLS predicted that between 2014 and 2024, job opportunities for photographers would increase by 3%, which is slower than average. Because more people can purchase digital photography equipment and take formal pictures themselves, job openings for studio photographers may become more competitive. However, population growth should lead to an increased demand.

Studio photographers need to be knowledgeable about photography equipment and lighting to create the right atmosphere and produce a good visual image in their photographs. They typically need an associate's or bachelor's degree in photography to be able to compete for jobs in this field. Jobs for professional photographers are expected to grow slowly over the next few years, with salaries in the low $30,000's in 2015.


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