Specialist Photographer • Job Description, Salary & Benefits

The job of a specialist photographer is to create visual images for a particular purpose, usually to a brief set by a client or manager.

They work across almost every field, but the pre-eminent fields of fashion, occasion and portrait photographs attract perhaps the most attention and money.

Many photographers specialise in one area, and are self-employed, whilst others work for employers in every field imaginable. Photographers have to work with their clients to determine exactly what they are looking for, before obtaining the images required through a medium of skill and technology.

They then must edit and perfect the images for the client, before they have fulfilled their task and can move on to the next brief, whether that be for the same client or a separate one.

Salary & benefits

In full time employment, an entry level salary for a photographer can be anywhere from £10,000 to £20,000, but as in any creative industry it can vary greatly dependent on how the photographer has performed and what their reputation is like.

However, top end photographers are highly sought after and have been known to earn yearly salaries of over £60,000. The resident photographers for magazines such as Vogue are amongst the top earners in the profession.

Working hours

Hours can be long and unsociable, due to the fact that many commissions can only be carried out during the time that everyone else is not at work.

Furthermore, seasonal changes can be a real problem – wedding photographers can be overwhelmed in Summer but have almost no business in the winter, for example.


More and more photographers these days come armed with a degree, especially in subjects such as graphic design or digital imaging, and photography courses themselves are becoming increasingly common.

However, it is still perseverance, determination and passion that are the key elements to any successful photographer making it within the industry. This, coupled with a strong portfolio, is the key to unlocking the profession.

Training & progression

Within a profession so self-reliant and self-focused, it is perhaps no surprise that much training is done through trial and error and self-produced. Although courses are common, they too tend to focus on students learning things through their own volition.

The British Institute of Professional Photography is a good starting point for any burgeoning young professional, and they are able to offer guidance and support within an industry where fellow professionals often seem distant.

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