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The Pros and Cons of a Career in Photography

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Photographers are highly skilled professionals who can tell a story through scenes they capture through their cameras. Although photography is often viewed as a glamorous profession, it has both pros and cons. Many professional photographers receive their training in universities or in vocational programs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual income of salaried photographers as of May 2013 was $29,280.

Choice of Specialties

Photographers can choose from a wide variety of possible niches. Some photographers specialize in taking baby and wedding photos, while others work in fine arts or the world of fashion. Media and sports photographers cover news and sporting events, while others take photographs for businesses and institutions. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than one-quarter of photographers worked for photo services as of 2012.

Action and Adventure

Some photographers work in interesting and adventurous environments. A wildlife photographer may travel to remote areas of Africa or Australia to photograph wild or exotic animals in their native environment. Others may get a thrill from attending major news or sporting events or being able able to photograph famous people.

Autonomy and Independence

According to the statistics bureau, approximately 60 percent of professional photographers were freelancers as of 2012. This provides them with a great deal of autonomy and freedom when choosing assignments. Freelancing can also allow for greater creativity because the photographer may have more freedom over the choice of setting and the types of photos that she takes.

Unpredictable Hours and Conditions

As of 2012, approximately one-third of photographers worked part time, according to the BLS. However, some photographers work long, irregular hours and spend time away from family and friends. A photographer who works for a news organization may be on call and rush to accident scenes in the middle of the night. Outdoor photographers often have to face difficult weather conditions.

Uncertain Income

Freelance photographers are not guaranteed a salary or regular income. In addition to being skilled at their craft, they must also be good businesspeople and able to market their services. Some freelancers may be forced to accept assignments they don't want in order to earn a living.

Possible Danger

Photographers who work in certain settings may put themselves in harm's way. A wildlife photographer may run the risk of being attacked by a dangerous animal or slipping and falling in rugged terrain. A news photographer covering a live crime scene or war zone could become caught in the crossfire. Photographers who cover football games run the risk of being hit by a player on the sidelines.


Chris Joseph writes for websites and online publications, covering business and technology. He holds a Bachelor of Science in marketing from York College of Pennsylvania.

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