A Job in Photography?

Getting a job in photography may be a little trickier than it looks.

Not only is it dependent on your knowledge of technical photographic skills but, depending on the type of job, it may also be dependent on your creative abilities, your eye for art, and your ability to manage your time and other details of operating a photography-related business.

Why are the business details important?

Young Asian man has a studio job in photography.
Image © iStockPhoto/ronen
Getting a job in
photography or becoming
a freelancer?

It's because over half of the photography "jobs" in the US are occupied by self-employed individuals who run their own small businesses.

Running your own photography business or working as a freelancer is a valid way to have photography career, and many photography professionals have built up their businesses as  freelance photographers without ever becoming an employee of a company.

But let's talk for a minute about actually getting a job in photography by getting hired as an employee.

It's pretty clear that to get one of the few available photography jobs you're going to have to be able to prove your technical abilities and for some jobs your creative abilities. That's also true if you're trying to get hired on contract as a freelancer.

Portfolio of Proof

An impressive portfolio of your work, containing some of your best images, is an essential part of preparing for and building a photography career. Many of the careers in photography will require that you be able to show a portfolio of your work to prove that you can do what is expected of you.

You may also be asked to complete impromptu photographic assignments to test your skills and ability to follow directions as part of an employment interview process for a job in photography.

If you're preparing for certain type of job in photography, it would be wise to build your portfolio in such a way that you can highlight the type of photography that that job or career will require.

For example, some photography jobs may be more technical in nature like being a photographer in the medical field or being a crime scene photographer. Neither of these occupations would require as much artistic creativity, but would be more dependent on your technical photography skills, your ability to take clear photos in all types of lighting conditions, and your grasp of flash techniques.

Bottom Line: Be sure your portfolio reflects the type of photography required by the job you are applying for!

More Portfolio Building Ideas

Here's an excellent article at Digital Photography School that gives 5 good tips for building a portfolio that showcases your work properly. These ideas will give you a good start on how to put together a collection of your best work to impress a hiring manager.

A Foot in the Door

Here's another way to get a "foot in the door" for a job in photography even if you don't yet have a photography degree from college or any prior employment history in a photography job.

Check with your local newspaper and offer them some of your work. Local newspapers will sometimes be looking for freelance photographers who can help them document news stories and local community events.

They're probably not looking for a photographer to hire as an employee -- just someone to feed them great images on a regular and reliable basis. (They may not know yet that they're looking for you, but it's your job to convince them that they can't live without your fabulous photos!)

Here's how to get started with this approach.

Let's say if there's a big community festival going on. You could go shoot pictures using your most creative styles and then get those immediately to the local newspaper. If your images are sensational in quality and also timely, you may find that the newspaper editor will be willing to buy a few of those.

It's a great way to get your foot in the door. (You could even offer to let them run a few of them free the first time, but you don't want to set a precedent of always giving away your work.)

However, if your main goal is not just to get a job in photography but to build your portfolio to help you get a photography job, working with your local newspaper (even for free) is a great way to build your reputation and build an impressive portfolio of published work.

Where to get more info

More information to help you consider a job in photography can be found in the following articles:

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