Advertising Photographer: Job Duties, Occupational Outlook, and Education Requirements

Research what it takes to become an advertising photographer. Learn about career stats, required education and outlook for employment to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Photography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Advertising Photographer?

As an advertising photographer, you'll create images for use in marketing various products and services. In general, photographers are trained in how to plan a photograph, use lighting equipment and alter images with photo-enhancing software. Advertising photographers will provide their clients with commercial-quality pictures by using various photographic techniques. These professionals will likely need to market themselves and their services to clients and therefore should keep a professional portfolio to display their work. The chart below provides an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required None required for most photographers, but earning a bachelor's degree is common
Training Required Apprenticeship under seasoned photographer
Education Field of Study Photography or fine arts
Key Responsibilities Promotional photography; working with clients to capture their vision; digitally enhance images
Job Growth (2014-2024) 3%* for all photographers
Average Annual Salary (2015) $40,280* for all photographers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is an Advertising Photographer?

As an advertising photographer, you'll take pictures of various subjects for promotional materials. Your work may end up on billboards or product packaging or in television commercials or magazine ads. You'll work with film or digital media and must be skilled in processing both. You'll photograph objects to your employer's or client's specifications. By adjusting angles, shutter speeds, lens filters, light sources and equipment, you'll affect shading, shadows and colors to enhance an object's appearance.

With digital photography, you may further enhance an image or combine it with others by using computer software programs. With film, you'll work in dark rooms to develop film, scan images into a computer or store prints for later usage. Film may also be sent to a processing center for development.

What Can I Expect from this Career?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts that the number of jobs for photographers would rise by 3% between 2014 and 2024, which was slower than average for all occupations (www.bls.gov). Increased interest and use of digital cameras, accompanied by decreasing cost in the technology, was given as the reason for the slower growth. As a freelance photographer, you might have more opportunity to market directly to customers due to the Internet, but the falling price and relative ease of using digital equipment will allow businesses to create images of their own, according to the BLS.

You'll find that competition for photography jobs is high, with salaried jobs difficult to find. As of May 2015, the average annual wage for all photographers was $40,280, according to the BLS. Creative firms employ some advertising photographers full-time. Others work independently as freelance photographers.

What Education Should I Seek?

You'll need technical and conceptual skills to use photography equipment, as well as creative and marketing skills to understand the best ways to set up photographs for advertising. Many colleges, universities and technical schools offer bachelor's degree programs in photography or fine arts. These programs include instruction in equipment use, film and photography techniques, types of photography work, creativity and artistic expression. Because many advertising photographers work as freelancers, business knowledge is also beneficial.

Many advertising photographers learn basic technical skills as an apprentice under professional photographers, according to the BLS. You may use this time to network and build a portfolio of work, which is often essential to landing an advertising photographer position.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

One related career is graphic design, since graphic designers also creates visual concepts. These professionals need a bachelor's degree, and they develop images or layout designs for things like brochures, magazines or advertisements. Fashion designing is also an alternative that requires a bachelor's degree. Fashion designers design and create clothing and accessories. Film and video editors and camera operators are related jobs that control the images that audiences see in various forms of media. They also need a bachelor's degree.

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:

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