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What is a Photographer?

Career Description Photograph people, landscapes, merchandise, or other subjects, using digital or film cameras and equipment. May develop negatives or use computer software to produce finished images and prints. Includes scientific photographers, aerial photographers, and photojournalists.

What Do Photographers Do On a Daily Basis?

  • Perform general office duties, such as scheduling appointments, keeping books, and ordering supplies.
  • Mount, frame, laminate, or lacquer finished photographs.
  • Transfer photographs to computers for editing, archiving, and electronic transmission.
  • Create artificial light, using flashes and reflectors.
  • License the use of photographs through stock photo agencies.
  • Perform maintenance tasks necessary to keep equipment working properly.

Skills Needed to be a Photographer

These are the skills Photographers say are the most useful in their careers:

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Social Perceptiveness: Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

Service Orientation: Actively looking for ways to help people.

Instructing: Teaching others how to do something.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Types of Photographer

  • Wedding Photographer
  • Owner/Photographer
  • Wild Life Photographer
  • Finish Photographer
  • Newspaper Photojournalist

Job Demand for Photographers

There were about 147,300 jobs for Photographer in 2016 (in the United States). There is little to no growth in job opportunities for Photographer. There will be an estimated 10,300 positions for Photographer per year.


The states with the most job growth for Photographer are Maryland, Utah, and Colorado. Watch out if you plan on working in Indiana, New Jersey, or Kansas. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Salary for a Photographer

The salary for Photographers ranges between about $19,850 and $76,360 a year.


Photographers who work in District of Columbia, Rhode Island, or Minnesota, make the highest salaries.

How much do Photographers make in each U.S. state?

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $39,360
Alaska $42,820
Arizona $33,500
Arkansas $37,520
California $52,720
Colorado $38,600
Connecticut $44,140
Delaware $34,130
District of Columbia $82,840
Florida $39,990
Georgia $45,270
Hawaii $41,640
Idaho $33,240
Illinois $36,290
Indiana $35,460
Iowa $30,180
Kansas $35,540
Kentucky $36,390
Louisiana $32,710
Maine $38,360
Maryland $39,640
Massachusetts $65,090
Minnesota $54,150
Mississippi $44,770
Missouri $36,470
Montana $31,670
Nebraska $35,760
Nevada $35,010
New Hampshire $37,800
New Jersey $35,840
New Mexico $53,720
New York $53,150
North Carolina $33,630
North Dakota $35,530
Ohio $42,370
Oklahoma $31,940
Oregon $36,440
Pennsylvania $34,790
Rhode Island $54,800
South Carolina $42,090
South Dakota $30,380
Tennessee $33,170
Texas $34,160
Vermont $48,840
Virginia $37,420
Washington $48,020
West Virginia $32,270
Wisconsin $34,750
Wyoming $38,100

What Tools do Photographers Use?

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Photographers:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Web browser software
  • Microsoft Access
  • Email software
  • Adobe Systems Adobe Acrobat
  • Adobe Systems Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Systems Adobe Photoshop Lightroom
  • Facebook
  • Adobe Systems Adobe Illustrator
  • Intuit QuickBooks
  • Adobe Systems Adobe InDesign
  • WordPress
  • Apple Final Cut Pro
  • Apple macOS
  • SmugMug Flickr
  • Adobe Systems Adobe Creative Cloud
  • Twitter
  • Adobe Systems Adobe Creative Suite
  • Adobe Systems Adobe After Effects

Becoming a Photographer

Education needed to be a Photographer:


How Long Does it Take to Become a Photographer?


Photographers Sector


Below are examples of industries where Photographers work:


Similar Careers

Are you already one of the many Photographer in the United States? If you’re thinking about changing careers, these fields are worth exploring:


Image Credit: Jorge Royan via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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