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What does a Photographer do?

Dan Cavallari
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The most general description of a photographer's job is to take photos of people, places, and things, but photographers may hone their titles down to a specific kind of photographer: event photographer, wedding photographer, travel photographer, and so on. Photography within those divisions requires different skill sets, processes, and job details that make the job a versatile one with many opportunities for growth and creativity. No matter what the subject of the photo is, however, photographers must capture the image clearly, often in a fast-paced or high stress setting that can make obtaining the best image quite difficult.

Wedding photographers are hired to document not only the wedding ceremony and reception, but also the events leading up to the wedding. Most wedding photographers make it a point to follow the bride as closely as possible throughout the day, as she is typically the focal point of a wedding; he must also take pictures of guests, decorations, and other memorable aspects of the day. Wedding photography is a fast-paced and high stress form of photography that offers few second chances; if a photographer misses a shot, he does not get to rebuild the scene and try again.

Some photographers travel the world, taking location shots and landscapes. Such photographers often sell their work to magazines and websites, and a photojournalist may use the photos to accompany a story, editorial, or other type of article. Travel photography requires a significant amount of traveling, and work is difficult to obtain unless the photographer is very experienced and has a strong reputation in the industry. Such photography may require the individual to travel to hostile environments to chronicle wars, political strife, or social decay; it can also bring the individual to exotic places that are beautiful or remote.

Portrait photography is another popular job for photographers. Such shooting is usually done in a studio or in other carefully selected locations. It involves the use of a significant amount of expensive equipment, including backdrops, light stands, lights, and even make up artists or other assistants. Photographers in this business may concentrate on high school senior photos, family portraits, or baby photos. Glamour photography is a type of portrait photography that focuses on fashion and modeling; such photos are usually sold to magazines or to fashion companies building an ad campaign. Glamour photography is the most challenging type of portrait photography.

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Dan Cavallari
By Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari, a talented writer, editor, and project manager, crafts high-quality, engaging, and informative content for various outlets and brands. With a degree in English and certifications in project management, he brings his passion for storytelling and project management expertise to his work, launching and growing successful media projects. His ability to understand and communicate complex topics effectively makes him a valuable asset to any content creation team.
Discussion Comments
By redstaR — On May 26, 2011

@rjh - In regards to photojournalism, I think many people would agree that the glory days are over. I've heard that a lot of photographs you see in magazines and newspapers nowadays are actually from people filming with HD video cameras which then gives them the opportunity to pick the exact still they want for print from the video.

By Engelbert — On May 25, 2011

@rjh - The first thing you need to know (if you don’t already) is that since digital photography has become so widespread, now basically everyone can be a photographer, so your competition is going to be fierce. I’m friends with a designer who told me that one thing he’s noticed over the years is that companies that used to employ professional photographers to shoot their brochures, portraits of staff members for annual reports or photos for their website now rely more on one of their staff members who just happens to have a digital camera and roughly know his way around Photoshop. It’s simply a cost-cutting measure.

As a professional photographer I can tell you that it’s a vastly different experience to being an amateur. The hours are long and the pay isn’t great and chances are you won’t have the opportunity to express much artistic license. In fact you’ll probably spend more time in front of a screen than actually taking photographs.

I don’t want to deter you entirely, though. It’s still a viable career option, but only if you do it for the love of the work. It’s certainly possible it might turn photography into a chore for you which would be unfortunate, but if you’re talented and you love what you do you’ll find a way to make it happen. It’s all about finding out which niche is right for you. Good luck!

By rjh — On May 24, 2011

I’m interested in pursuing photography as a career but I’m not sure if it’s a good idea or not. I love photography and am passionate about it, but I just don’t know if I’ll be able to turn it into a viable career option because I’m not particularly interested in becoming a cheap wedding photographer or something like that. I’d rather continue to pursue it as a hobby then have to resort to something which might turn taking photographs a chore for me. I’m kind of interested in photojournalism but I hear now isn’t the best time to try to get work for a newspaper. Can anyone offer any advice?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari, a talented writer, editor, and project manager, crafts high-quality, engaging, and informative content for various outlets and brands. With a degree in English and certifications in project management, he brings his passion for storytelling and project management expertise to his work, launching and growing successful media projects. His ability to understand and communicate complex topics effectively makes him a valuable asset to any content creation team.
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