Photographer

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

Salary range: £17,250 to £40,000

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How to become a photographer

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
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University

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

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

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

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

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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.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and a creative subject

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Apprenticeship

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

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

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

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Work

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.

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Career tips

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.

Professional and industry bodies

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.

Further information

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

You can get more details on working in creative careers from Discover Creative Careers.

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What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • customer service skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work well with others
  • knowledge of the fine arts
  • 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 confidently
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What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your daily tasks may include:

  • discussing a 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
  • promoting and running your business

Working environment

You could work in a creative studio.

Your working environment may be outdoors in all weathers and physically demanding.

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Career path and progression

Many photographers are freelance and you could do a mix of contract work and following your own interests. You could extend your range into other areas of photography like product, property, aerial or corporate work. With training, you could also work as a press or police photographer.

If you do specialist qualifications, you could find jobs in medical photography or illustration.

You may decide to become self-employed and set up your own business.

Photography is very competitive, so you’ll need creativity and technical skills to make money. You’ll also need finance for equipment, a space to work in, and some business and admin skills.

You could increase your income by selling your images independently.

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