Arts & crafts

Photographer

Photographers take and process pictures of people, places, products and events.

Annual Salary

£14,000 to £50,000

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588 (source Office for Statistics)

Working hours

Variable

3%
Future employment

There will be 3% more Photographer jobs in 2024.
In your local area

What's it all about?

You'll usually specialise in one area like fashion, portrait, wedding or e-commerce photography. You could take still or moving images. You may work for companies or individual clients, on a freelance or employed basis. You may also create and sell your own images.

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • discussing the project with the client and agreeing the ‘brief’
  • finding and preparing the location for the photo session
  • choosing the right equipment and setting up lighting
  • composing and taking photos
  • using industry software to edit and process images
  • checking accurate colour match and image quality
  • choosing the best images for the client to use online or in print
  • marketing and running your business

University

You could do a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree in:

  • photography
  • visual arts
  • commercial photography
  • art and design

You'll usually need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels for a foundation degree or higher national diploma
  • 2 to 3 A levels for a degree

College

You could take a Level 3 Diploma in Photography, which may help you to find a job as a photographer's assistant in a studio.

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) for a level 3 course

Apprenticeship

You could complete an advanced apprenticeship in photo imaging or creative and digital media.

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), usually including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship

Other Routes

You could start as a photographer's assistant and work your way up. It's usual to specialise in one kind of photography, like fashion, advertising, wildlife or photojournalism.

£14,000 to £50,000

Starter salary: £14,000 to £18,000 (assistant)

Experienced salary: £19,000 to £30,000

Freelance photographers are paid per job. Rates can vary depending on experience, reputation and the type of assignment.

These figures are a guide.

Variable

Your hours and place of work will vary. You may need to work evenings and weekends in a studio or on location.

The job can be physically demanding and you may have to carry heavy equipment.

You may need a full driving licence and use of a vehicle.

You'll need a portfolio of your work to show your skills, interests and experience in photography. It'll also help you to get noticed if you post examples of your work online.

The Association of Photographers offers membership for anyone with an interest in professional photography.

You can also apply to join the British Institute of Professional Photography.

Many photographers are freelance and you could do a mixture of contract work and following your own interests. You could extend your range into other areas of photography like product, property or corporate work.

With training, you could also work as a press or police photographer.

With specialist qualifications, you could find employment in medical photography or illustration.

To improve your job prospects, you could join a professional body like the British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP) or the Association of Photographers (AOP).

You can find out more about becoming a photographer through Creative Choices and the British Institute of Professional Photography.


Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • customer service skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to sell products and services
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work well with others
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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