Duties and responsibilities
An advertising photographer creates promotional images for use in marketing campaigns. Their work may end up on billboards, on product packaging, in television commercials or in magazine advertisements. They can work with digital photography or with film photography yet despite the type of photography used, their typical duties and responsibilities include:
- Using photography techniques such as adjusting angles, changing shutter speeds, using lens filters, using light sources and equipment. These techniques are designed to affect the shading, shadows and colors, to enhance an object’s appearance and therefore produce compelling images
- Working with clients to plan, design and create the photos used in advertising campaigns
- Traveling between shooting locations
- Setting up shoots
- Discussing work with clients and planning subsequent photo shoots
- Transferring digital images to computers and editing these photos to improve the quality
- Maintaining a quality portfolio that demonstrates their work
A degree is not a necessity to becoming an advertising photographer. However, many advertising photographers do have bachelor’s degrees in photography or fine art as these programs show photographers how to use photography equipment, how to use film, different photography techniques and types of photography work. Degrees also promote creativity and artistic expression.
If a bachelor’s degree feels unattainable to you, you can learn the basic skills and techniques through photography courses. Some advertising photographers also start their career by being a photography assistant or an intern, as this allows them to gain experience in the industry, develop valuable skills and build a portfolio.
Finally, because many advertising photographers work as freelancers, business knowledge is also beneficial and this can be achieved through attending courses.
Skills and relevant work experience
Advertising photographers will need technical and conceptual skills to use the photography equipment. They will also need creative and marketing skills to understand the best ways to set up photographs for advertising. As well as these key qualities, advertising photographers should have the following:
- Business skills as advertising photographers are often self-employed and will therefore have to run and coordinate their own business
- Interpersonal skills are essential as advertising photographers will have to communicate with clients to ensure they closely follow marketing briefs and produce the desired result
- Attention to detail is key as advertising photographers must focus on every small detail, such as lighting or positioning, to create compelling images
- Computer skills are essential as advertising photographers are responsible for their own postproduction work and therefore must be able to use photo-editing software
As advertising photographers are often freelance, they are in control of their own hours and schedule. However, many advertising photographers work full time and may have to work longer hours in order to meet marketing deadlines.
According to salary.com the average annual salary for an advertising photographer in the United States is $51,681, with the top 10% earning more than $64,652 and the bottom 10% earning less than $31,500 per year.
Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a decline in the overall employment of photographers, it is also predicted that the employment of freelance photographers will grow 10% from 2018 to 2028. This means that for freelance advertising photographers, there are excellent career development opportunities.