Advertising Photographer: Career and Salary Facts

Explore the career requirements for advertising photographers. Get the facts about job duties, required skills, job growth and salary to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Photography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Advertising Photographer?

Advertising photographers use their artistic abilities and eye for detail to capture images that are used for commercial purposes. They may capture images of objects, models, animals and more. They must understand different photographic and lighting techniques to create the best image possible. They may enhance images through the use of natural or artificial light, as well as photo-enhancing software. Like other photographers, advertising photographers usually need to market themselves and their services. Therefore, it may be necessary to keep an ongoing portfolio of your work to show potential clients. To learn more about how to get started in this field, take a look at the table below:

Education Required No formal education is required, though photography classes or a formal training program could be beneficial
Key Skills Creativity, technical skills, business acumen, an attention to detail
Job Growth (2014-2024) 3% (for all photographers)*
Median Salary (2015) $31,710 (for all photographers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Do as an Advertising Photographer?

Advertising photographers shoot photographs that are used in advertising campaigns. The images you capture can appear in print ads, online advertisements or in other promotional campaigns. Merchandise, travel destinations, automobiles, food, fashions or people are just a few of the subjects you may capture on camera while working as an advertising photographer.

Advertising photography is part of the broader field of commercial photography. Creativity, technical knowledge and business acumen are some of the key traits you will need as an advertising photographer. Digital or film cameras and their accessories, computer equipment, printers and photo-editing software are some of the tools you may use.

Do I Need Any Education?

You may want to enroll in a degree program if you are looking to become an advertising photographer. Associate's and bachelor's degrees in photography are common options. Vocational training is another possibility. Photography courses are offered at universities, community colleges, vocational schools or art schools. You will learn technical skills plus creative techniques. Some photography programs also teach business skills and advertising concepts. As a novice photographer, you may also choose to work as an assistant to an established photographer to gain work experience and skills.

Should I Create a Portfolio?

As a photographer, you will assemble a portfolio of your best work and display those images on your website. The portfolio will prove your talent to potential employers if you are seeking a salaried job with an advertising agency or other business. And the portfolio can entice clients if you are hunting freelance work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), around 60% of photographers worked for themselves in 2015 (

What Could I Earn?

The BLS reported that the median salary for all photographers was $31,710 in May 2015. A 3% employment increase was projected by the BLS for these professionals during the 2014-2024 decade. This slower-than-average job growth was largely due to the prevalence of digital cameras, which make it easier for businesses to create their own images. However, photographers should still be needed in the advertising industry.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Craft and fine artists do not have to have formal education, but some may have a bachelor's degree. Those in this related career field create various kinds of art to sell or exhibit. Their work may include pottery, paintings, sculptures and more. Fashion designers are also similar, but they typically require a bachelor's degree. These professionals design clothes and accessories that can be sold to clothing stores or directly to consumers.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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  • The George Washington University

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  • The Art Institutes

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  • William T McFatter Technical Center

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    • Anywhere: Abbotsford, Anjou, Calgary, Edmonton, Laval, Longueuil, Mississauga, Montreal, North York, Point Claire, Quebec, Scarborough, Toronto, Winnipeg