Growth Trends for Related Jobs

Commercial Photographer Job Description

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It's the job of the photographer to capture and preserve images of events, people, places or anything else. These workers can be found all over the world, with their photographs appearing in newspapers, magazines, advertisements and other outlets. While some photographers specialize in taking portraits or capturing images of wild animals, commercial photographers use their skills to photograph subjects for business use.


Commercial photographers specialize in taking photographs of buildings, products, materials, personnel and landscapes. Their work frequently appears in books, advertising, reports, industrial materials and other commercial media products. For example, they can take photographs for engineers to use in instructional manuals, for advertising firms to use in print or televisions ads, or publicity photos for companies and organizations. Much of this work is done on location in various environments, both indoor and outside.


Commercial photographers need excellent creative abilities, as well as good eyesight and the ability to translate the images they see with their eyes to one captured by the camera. These workers must not just be good with a camera, but also have in-depth knowledge about lighting conditions. Commercial photographers often work outdoors, and scheduling the right time to take a photo so it presents the subject in the best light is vital. These photographers sometimes work with assistants and models, and must be able to communicate effectively to capture the proper images.

Education and Training

There are no formal educational requirements for becoming a commercial photographer; however, many employers prefer those with a college degree. Entry-level jobs require proficiency with a camera and a working knowledge of photo editing software. Many photographers learn skills from a more experienced photographer, working as an assistant in the early stages of their careers.

Daily Life

Some commercial photographers can work a typical 40-hour week, while others may spend extended hours at work. They can be self-employed or work for employers like book publishers, photography studios or publications. Commercial photographers can spend a lot of time traveling to difference locations to capture images and can often work on assignment.

Jobs and Salary

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that jobs in this area will grow at an average rate between 2008 and 2018. Tough competition is expected for these positions, because the number of applicants usually outnumbers job openings. The median annual salary for photographers in 2008 was about $29,000, with the lowest 10 percent earning less than $17,000 and the top 10 percent making more than $62,000 per year.


Roger Thorne is an attorney who began freelance writing in 2003. He has written for publications ranging from "MotorHome" magazine to "Cruising World." Thorne specializes in writing for law firms, Web sites, and professionals. He has a Juris Doctor from the University of Kansas.

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