Career Paths

Careers in Photography

Photography is a field of visual storytelling, but it’s not just about snapping photos. From photojournalism to commercial photography, you can find a career in this field that suits your background and interests. 

Career Information

Learn everything you need to know about careers in photography with our in-depth career guides.

Degrees & Majors

Find photography degree programs to help you develop professional-level photography skills.

Salary & Job Outlook

How much do photographers get paid? Explore detailed salary and employment information by state.

Photographers are artists who capture images on film or digital media. They document the realities of life, collapse the boundaries between fiction and nonfiction, and produce striking visual images. A photographer’s tools of the trade include a camera, exposures, film, and lenses. A photographer can use these to produce three-dimensional images with depth, focus objects in the foreground and background with a blurry out-of-focus background effect, and capture low light images without flashlights or umbrellas. The heart and soul of photography is creative thinking. At the core of this creativity is the ability to compose pictures, select film, and focus, and arrange lighting that enhances the captured image.

Career Profiles

List of Careers in Photography

The field of photography is vast and diverse. Do you want to be a fashion photographer, nature photographer, or travel photographer? You can specialize in weddings, events, portraits, or even underwater photography! The beauty of a career in photography is that it’s all up to you. If you’re interested in animals then work on capturing wildlife shots. If you’re not the outdoorsy type try shooting some stills indoors with models and getting an eye for lighting and composition.

Aerial Photographer

Aerial photographers can capture photos of landscapes and other settings from perspectives that would be impossible to get by ground level. They can provide views of landscape and architecture from a unique perspective, or geographical regions that had not been seen before, such as remote natural habitats.

Commercial Photographer

A commercial photographer is someone who takes photographs of products or other objects for use in advertisements, catalogs, promotional materials or other print media. Commercial photographers typically work with clients (e.g., advertising agencies) and their staff to take professional head shots, product shots and lifestyle shots.

Food Photographer

Food photographers are skilled professionals who work to promote brands, organizations, or individuals through the use of gorgeous images. These photos are used for a variety of purposes, including advertisements, articles, cookbooks, magazines, and social media.

Nature Photographer

Nature photographers are artists who capture the beauty of animals, plants, and natural landscapes. They often work in remote locations, hiking and backpacking for miles, to find the perfect setting. Some nature photographers also specialize in wildlife or landscape photography.


A photographer captures and records images of a person, place, or event that are meaningful to groups or individuals. These exposures can be captured through film photography in the studio, a photograph on location, works of art in galleries, or documentation of objects in collections.

Portrait Photographer

A portrait photographer is someone who takes pictures of people that typically involve posed shots but can also include candid photos that capture the subject’s essence. Portrait photographers typically specialize in a particular type of photography, whether it’s studio work, outdoor photography, wedding portraits, or headshots.

Wedding Photographer

A wedding photographer is a type of photographer who photographs weddings. They may be involved in all aspects of the day, from taking photographs of the wedding day, during rehearsals and fittings for the wedding dress or tuxedo, and of the wedding ceremony itself.

Advertising Photography

Advertising photography is the art and profession of taking images that are used to sell products in both print and broadcast media. This includes ads you see on TV, billboards, magazines, flyers, posters that promote a movie orconcert, brochures for a car dealership or hotel... basically anything with promotional text!

Celebrity Photographer

A celebrity photographer is a type of photographer who takes photographs of high-profile people or celebrities. Celebrity photographers are often employed on a contract basis to take pictures for publishing purposes at the client's request. Celebrity photographer jobs usually involve taking both formal and informal, indoor and outdoor shots of celebrities for their promotional materials.

Fashion Photographer

A fashion photographer uses his or her visual and creative skills to capture images of models wearing the latest fashions. Fashion photographers use their specialized equipment to take photographs of clothing, accessories, and related products for print advertisements and runway shows.

Macro Photographer

Macro photographers are people who take pictures of small objects, typically insects and other small animals. Macro photography is widely recognized as a photographer's top choice when it comes to capturing extreme close-ups of nature and details more commonly missed by using a traditional camera lens.

Photo Retoucher

A photo retoucher edits photographs for customers by applying filters or adding effects. Photo retouchers may also be tasked with removing blemishes, wrinkles, bad skin, and other imperfections from the subject’s face. Photo retouching can be applied to stock photography or editorial photography as well as social media photos.


A photojournalist is someone who is an expert in taking photographs to document events or stories. They will use these images with the intention of presenting them to the public in order to tell a particular story. Photojournalists take photographs of people in the street, disasters, wars, turmoil, and many other events.

Underwater Photographer

An underwater photographer takes pictures of underwater life, specifically aquatic plants and animals, for the purposes of scientific research, commercial stock photography, public awareness campaigns such as conservation issues or tourism. They capture visually pleasing images that document the aquatic world.

Wildlife Photographer

A wildlife photographer is a professional who takes photographs of wild animals. The role of the wildlife photographer has been considered serious and important by those in the profession who manage protected areas from human-wildlife conflict or who keep watch over endangered species to keep them safe.

Degrees & Majors

Best Degrees for Photography Careers

A degree in photography can take the form of an undergraduate degree in photography or even a graduate degree with an emphasis on photography. The purpose of these programs is to provide students with the knowledge and skills they need, as well as guidance to develop their own creative ideas while learning how to utilize current methods of photography. Students will study various methods and techniques of photography, lighting, composition, digital media, visual design, business practices, the history of photography, and more.

Salary & Job Outlook

Photography Careers Salary

The average annual salary of a photographer varies greatly depending on several factors. Location, area of specialization, experience, and artistic skill level can all affect the earning potential of a professional photographer. Almost 65% of all photographers report being self-employed, or freelance artists, which means that their income and earning power may fluctuate. Fees and prices demanded by photographers can vary widely as well. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that professional photographers living in the states listed below have the greatest opportunities for higher wages.
United States41,600$24.18$50,290
District of Columbia430$44.10$91,720
New York3,710$35.15$73,110
*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, May 2020

Frequently Asked Questions

Photography Careers FAQ

In the beginning, the first steps can be as simple as getting your hands on a camera that fits your needs (there are different kinds of cameras for various purposes and budgets), taking lots of pictures, and practicing as much as you can. But, these easy steps will only take you so far. To make the jump from amateur to professional you’ll need to put a lot of time and energy into developing professional-level skills. You can start by scrolling through the work of photographers you appreciate, reading books about photography, or watching tutorials on YouTube to learn some basics. As your skills progress, you can always take classes at a local college or enroll in a university-level photography degree program.

Photography has become a major creative medium, advanced by digital technology. The art of photography is changing how we see ourselves and the world around us. It’s also a good career choice if you can land one! There are many different types of photography careers to choose from, and it’s not just about being in front of the camera anymore. From advertising agencies to freelance photojournalists, there are many opportunities and industries where creative talent can flourish. 

Have you ever loved a photo so much that just looking at it inspires some sort of great idea or makes you want to explore a certain type of photography? If so, there is almost definitely a niche for your passion in photography. Photographers work in a variety of genres, including some you may not have thought of before. Consider these 15 genres of photography as you begin your career as a professional photographer.

If you are passionate about photography and want to turn it into a full-time career, you need to find a specific field in which you can create a source of income. After all, you will need to make enough money to pay the bills while developing your photography skills. One of the top five best-paying careers in the field of photography is a wedding photographer. According to, the average annual salary for wedding photographers is $104,417, or $50.20 per hour. Other photography careers that make the best-paying list are commercial photographers, advertising photographers, portrait photographers, and travel photographers.