Studio Photographer: Salary and Career Facts

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

What Is a Studio Photographer?

A studio photographer is a professional photographer who works in a studio setting. They take pictures of individuals or groups of people. They may use set pieces, backdrops, lighting equipment and filters to create the appropriate effect for the photographs. Since they work in a studio, they do not need to transport their photographic equipment regularly the way that some photographers do. They may use computer software to edit the images they capture.

Degree Required None required, but bachelor's and master's degrees are common
Key Skills Patience, keen sense of light and shadow, creativity, passion for art
Key Responsibilities Taking, editing, and developing photographs, setting appointments, maintaining equipment, ordering supplies
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 3% (for all photographers)*
Median Salary (2015) $31,710 (for all photographers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Would I Do as a Studio Photographer?

As a studio photographer, you might use a digital camera to capture images and upload and edit your photographs using a computer, or a film camera, which would allow you to process the film yourself or send it to a photography lab. In addition to taking and developing photographs, you might set appointments and design photo packages for clients, as well as maintaining your photography equipment and ordering supplies.

You might own your own studio or be employed by a larger private studio. Additionally, you might specialize in an area like wedding, fine art, school or portrait photography. Your work schedule could vary based on this specialty; for example, if you were a wedding photographer, you'd likely work more in months that are popular for weddings.

What Skills Might I Need?

To work as a studio photographer, you would need to have a sense of light and shadow, as well as patience and a keen eye. Creativity and a passion for art also are beneficial traits for aspiring photographers.

How Much Could I Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), photographers earned a median annual income of $31,710 in May 2015 ( In general, salaried photographers earned more than those who were self-employed.

As an aspiring studio photographer, it's important to realize that a photography career often requires a significant financial investment. High-quality cameras can be expensive, and studio photographers usually need extensive lighting sets and multiple lenses. Additionally, your studio space might require rental fees.

What Education Would I Need?

You don't necessarily need a college education to become a studio photographer, but many aspiring photographers pursue a degree. Most major universities have undergraduate fine arts programs that offer specializations in photography; master's programs that will allow you to focus on photography are available as well.

A 4-year bachelor's program is likely to include core courses in topics like color and black-and-white photography, studio lighting and computer imaging, as well as art criticism and art history. Your studies also might emphasize studio experience and provide the opportunity to work alongside experienced photographers. Many programs will help you develop a portfolio of your work.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Fine artists and illustrators are artistic professionals that share some common traits with studio photographers. All of these professionals need a good artistic eye and postsecondary training isn't required for any of these careers, although it may be an asset. Fine artists include cartoonists, painters and printmakers. They may produce a likeness of a person, a place, a thing, or a visual representation of a concept. Illustrators produce visual representations. In this respect, the work that fine artists, illustrators and studio photographers do has the same focus, which is to produce a visual representation of the subject.

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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