Get a Job As a Photographer

Making a living as a photographer is as challenging as it is rewarding. It is said that over half of all photographers are freelance. Here are some tips on how to get hired as a staff photographer.


  1. Find out what they need. Companies that hire full-time photographers usually have a specific type of photographic need for their business. For example, an online auction business may need photographs of products to post on it's website. Other full-time photographer positions include school yearbook photography, photographic portrait studios in malls, and roving theme park photographers.
  2. First, decide what type of photography you are passionate about, and take as many shots as possible. Look at images in your target field and try to develop strengths that would make you an appealing candidate. Look at companies who may have photographer positions available and study the types of pictures they need taken.
  3. Assemble a portfolio based on the job you are trying to get. If you are applying to be a product photographer at an advertising firm, fill your portfolio with shots of inanimate objects.
    • Pick your best work and try to make the subjects look exciting. Include pictures of automobiles, cola cans, electronic devices, and put them in interesting and dramatic lighting. Set them in unusual places, such as a cell-phone in the grass on a riverbank. This will show that you are creative, and even though the subject and context may not make sense, it is the composition and quality that employers will be looking for.
    • Look at objects and think "If I wanted to advertise this, how would I get people to notice it with a single image?"
  4. For a portrait studio, fill your portfolio with pictures of faces, 3/4 busts, and full body shots of single individuals and groups. Make sure you have some color, some black and white, as well as some sepia tone and other popular portrait filters.
    • Take pictures of friends, family, whoever will pose for you. Try to pick the photos that really show the subject's personality. It is also a good idea to have pictures of many different ethnicities, as the lighting requirements and color adjustment vary with differing complexions.
    • The main theme an employer will be looking for in a portrait portfolio is; does the subject look good. A picture of a woman with a warm smile who's skin looks perfect and eyes are sparkling due to your perfect lighting will be a great choice, even if the bokeh effect you were going for didn't turn out quite perfect.
  5. Keep in mind what the employer is most probably looking for: outdoor shots? portraits? close-up or macro photography? product shots? - and try to create a portfolio based around that.
  6. Keep your portfolio flexible so you can change it to suit each interview. Remember to go to as many interviews as possible, there are tons of other photographers to compete with so don't expect to get a job right away. Be professional, act courteously and politely, show creativity, and be willing to hear criticism.
  7. Call people who have the job you are aspiring to get. Ask them how they became successful.
  8. Call people who employ photographers. Ask them what it is they look for. As long as you are upfront, earnest, and friendly, most people would be glad to take a few minutes and give you some pointers.
  9. Don't get discouraged if you get refused often. Just keep snapping photos, working freelance, and building that portfolio. Let your passion motivate you and persevere.


  • Getting into photography can be expensive- employers will expect you to have professional grade equipment, all required lenses, and in some cases lighting.
  • You may go on a hundred interviews before you get hired on as a staff photographer somewhere.

Things You'll Need

  • A prosumer/semi-professional quality DSLR camera (you can buy a fully professional camera after you get your first check).
  • Photo studio- this does not have to be anything fancy, but a good home studio should consist of 3 umbrella lights with several filter kits for each, a halo light to mount to your camera, several backdrops, a separate and private changing area for models, a rolling clothing rack, several random accessories such as pairs of glasses, a few boas, shawls, vests, gloves, etc. (This section will be replaced with a link once I am done writing "How to make a home photography studio")
  • Several well-fleshed-out portfolios
  • A positive attitude

Related Articles