Photographer Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: August 22, 2022

A Photographer, or Professional Photographer, is responsible for taking clear, dynamic photos according to client specifications. Their duties include setting up backdrops, lighting and equipment to prepare for a photo shoot, directing models and subjects to capture the perfect image and editing the photos to remove blemishes and correct lighting issues.

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Photographer duties and responsibilities

A normal day for a Photographer can vary widely depending on the type of photography they do. However, most Photographers’ duties include:

  • Communicating with clients to set up a time and place for a photoshoot
  • Maintaining and managing photography equipment
  • Editing photos
  • Submitting photos to appropriate persons
  • Managing photography sessions
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What does a Photographer do?

Photographers take photographs for personal, commercial, technical and educational purposes. They may work with other multimedia professionals to produce a combination of photos, videos and sounds for their employer to use in their advertising or creative projects. Photographers communicate with clients about their expectations and determine the type of film to use and when the photos will be ready.

During a photo shoot, Photographers select props to stage the scene and decide on the best vantage point for getting the shots they want.  They take photographs and produce a range of high-quality images to offer their clients.

Photography skills and qualifications

Photographers need technical and soft skills in order to complete their jobs. Some skills for a Photographer include:

  • Ability to work flexible hours to accommodate client schedules
  • Knowledge of photography techniques
  • Ability to stand or crouch for hours during photoshoots
  • Proficiency with photo editing software and camera equipment
  • Communication skills

Photography salary expectations

A Photographer makes an average of $14.41 per hour. This exact salary may vary depending on the applicant’s education, experience level, geographical location and the nature of the position. Typically, a Photographer will stay in their position for less than one year.

Photographer education and training requirements

Depending on type of Photographer job, applicants may need to have an associate or bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as photography, art or advertising. Other positions may only require a high school diploma or an equivalent if the Photography position. Since Photographers gain much of their expertise through on-the-job experience, applicants may need to provide a portfolio of their work.

Photography experience requirements

Generally, employers want a Photographer to have experience behind the camera. This may include freelance, professional or personal work. If the Photographer will be taking photos of sports events, they may need experience in that setting. If the position will be in a studio, action or sports photography experience may not be relevant, and the applicant could need different experience. The experience requirements largely depend on the level of difficulty and expertise the Photographer will need for their work.

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Frequently asked questions about Photographers


What is the difference between a Photographer and a Cameraman?

Photographers mostly take still images while Cameramen or Camera Operators generally capture video footage, although some Photographers will also take videos at the request of their client or employer. Photographers are expected to have an artistic vision that they use to complete projects, while Cameramen are usually under the direct supervision of a Director or Videographer who gives them instructions on where to position their camera, what shots to capture and what camera techniques to implement. Photographers may work independently and take freelance clients, unlike a Cameraman who is usually part of a film team.


What are the daily duties of a Photographer?

Photographers may work on several different projects throughout the course of a day or focus on a single, more extensive shoot. They talk to clients about what kind of photos they need and provide them with examples of their photography portfolio so the client can confirm that they’ll get the style of photography they want. Depending on the project, Photographers can work in a studio environment, capture photos outside or take candid pictures at an event. Based on client specifications, the Photographer selects the right camera, lenses and lighting equipment for the project.

They schedule a block of time for the photo shoot and direct any Photography Assistants on how to properly stage the scene. After the shoot, Photographers can process digital images or use darkroom equipment to treat traditional film and make sure the image comes across clearly. They save original copies of the photo before making any edits, allowing them to revert to the original if the client wants a different visual effect.


What are the characteristics of a good Photographer?

Good Photographers are extremely artistic and understand the basic principles of visual design, allowing them to produce attractive and compelling photos. They also take direction well and are able to implement different techniques to please their clients. Successful Photographers are flexible people who can respond to changes in their environment or feedback from clients to get their desired result. Good Photographers love learning new skills, allowing them to implement new photo editing tools and use new kinds of software or processes in their photography.


What are the different types of Photographers?

Professional Photographers can work in many different industries depending on the type of photography they enjoy and how they want clients to use their photos. More artistic Photographers can work as Fashion Photographers, Photojournalists or Portrait Photographers. Those that enjoy attending events can become Wedding Photographers or Sports Photographers. Photographers with a technical eye can become Wildlife Photographers, Forensic Evidence Photographers or Medical Photographers.

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