Job Description:

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

Job Category:
Art & Fashion

What you will do:

In your daily tasks you may:

  • discuss a project with the client and agree the ‘brief’
  • find and prepare the location for the photo session
  • choose the right equipment and set up lighting
  • compose and take photos
  • use industry software to edit and process images
  • check accurate colour match and image quality
  • choose the best images for the client to use online or in print
  • promote and run your business


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of the fine arts
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages confidently

As well as:

  • customer service skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail (organisational skills)
  • the ability to work well with others (teamwork skills)
  • to be flexible and open to change (adaptability skills)
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations (leadership skills)
  • the ability to work well with your hands
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a photographer, there are no specific subjects that are mandatory, as photography is a creative field that relies heavily on practical skills and personal portfolio development. However, certain subjects and skills can be advantageous for pursuing a career in photography:

  1. Art and Design: This subject can provide you with a strong foundation in the principles of design, composition, and visual aesthetics, which are essential for photography.
  2. Photography: Some schools offer  photography courses, which can introduce you to fundamental photography techniques, camera operation, and image editing.
  3. English: Good communication skills, both written and oral, can be valuable for writing captions, descriptions, and communicating with clients or employers.
  4. Mathematics: While not directly related to photography, basic math skills are helpful for managing finances, pricing your services, and understanding aspects of exposure and lighting.
  5. Computer Science: As photography increasingly involves digital editing and manipulation, proficiency in using image editing software and computer skills are beneficial.
  6. Media Studies: This subject can provide insights into visual storytelling, image analysis, and media production, which can be relevant to photography.
  7. Science: Understanding the basics of light and colour can be useful for understanding how cameras capture images and how to manipulate lighting in photography.
  8. Graphic Design: If your school offers related courses, they can be helpful for learning about image editing and design principles.

Post School

You can get into this job through:

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


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

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


You could take a college course. In the UK, for example, courses include:

  • Certificate in Photography
  • Level Photography
  • Diploma in Photography

These may help you to find a job as a photographer’s assistant in a studio.


You could gain some of the skills and knowledge for this role on a Photographic assistant advanced apprenticeship, following the assistant photographer pathway.

This apprenticeship typically takes 18 months to complete as a mix of learning in the workplace and off-the-job study.


You could start as a photographer’s assistant and work your way up. It’s normal to specialise in one kind of photography, like fashion, advertising, wildlife or photojournalism.

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.

Working Hours and Environment:

A typical week consists of 39-41 hours of work. You could be required to work evenings/weekends/bank holidays as customers demand.

You could work in a creative studio. Your working environment may be physically demanding and outdoors in all weathers.

Career Path & 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.

Specialist photographers

With training, you could work as a press or police photographer. There are opportunities for photographers in the armed forces. If you do specialist qualifications, you could find jobs in medical photography or illustration.

Starting your own business

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.