Director of Photography: Description, Responsibilities & Salary

A career as a director of photography may appeal to individuals with a passion for photography. This article will detail the road map of how to become a director of photography and will also highlight the career's job duties and salary.

Career Definition of Director of Photography

Directors of photography specialize in developing unique still and live action photography shots for organizations. These directors are responsible for overseeing photography shoots, including selecting appropriate shots, camera angles, and lighting needs. Directors of photography can work for a variety of organizations, including educational services firms and government agencies. These directors can choose to specialize in one of the following types of photography: commercial or industrial, portrait, scientific, or news media. General job duties for directors of photography may include overseeing and maintaining photography studio equipment, sourcing ways to streamline video editing, and collaborating with colleagues to ensure photography shoots align with an organization's overall image and goals.

Directors of photography may conduct educational training for junior personnel on using a variety of photography equipment. These directors could be responsible for developing and submitting department budget requests to organizational management. Directors of photography could also be responsible for creating and maintaining a digital asset library. These directors could oversee the development and utilization of video editing tools for content production personnel. Directors of photography could also assist with marketing or advertising efforts, as well as developing and implementing the overall creative vision for an organization.

Educational Requirements Associate's degree
Job Skills Excellent artistic abilities, strong customer service skills, effective project management abilities, and strong attention to detail
Median Salary (2018)* $65,700 (Photography Director)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)** -8% (Photographers)

Sources: *PayScale, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

A career as a director of photography typically requires a bachelor's degree in photography or cinematography. Relevant coursework for candidates can include marketing, business, and photo editing techniques. Interested individuals can seek membership in an industry organization like the Professional Photographers of America (PPA). The organization offers networking opportunities and a certification for professional photographers.

Required Skills

Directors of photography will need excellent artistic abilities in order to effectively perform their job duties. These directors must be able to creatively photograph their subjects and utilize light, colors, and shadows to better complement their shots. They should have strong customer service skills in order to interact with clients and understand their needs. Directors of photography should also have effective project management skills in order to successfully manage simultaneous projects. These directors will need strong attention to detail to effectively edit photographs.

Career Outlook and Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not collect statistics on directors of photography; however, they estimated an 8% decline for photographers during 2016-2026. This decline is due to the rise of amateur photographers, as well as the decreased cost for digital cameras. In January 2018, PayScale reported a median annual salary of $65,700 for photography directors.

Related Careers

Individuals considering working as a director of photography may also be interested in one of the below careers. Positions range from art directors to film editors.

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