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Studio photographers photograph people, places, and products, and arrange all lighting, backdrops, and equipment as necessary to capture specific images. Photography studios hire studio photographers part-time, full-time, and seasonally to work flexible shifts that include evenings, weekends, and on-call hours as well. Studio photographers typically work inside the studio, but may travel to capture specific photographic subjects, such as buildings or landscapes. Studio photographers work independently, but ultimately report to the studio manager or head photographer.

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Studio Photographer Duties and Responsibilities

Daily duties vary for studio photographers, depending on the subjects they’re photographing, the equipment they’re using, the size of the studio, and the various backdrops and props available to them. However, there are several core tasks associated with this job that are universally the same.

Manipulate Studio Lighting

Studio photographers move, adjust, and otherwise work with studio lighting in order to capture high-quality photographs of subjects.

Retouch Photographs

Studio photographers use digital software tools to retouch photographs and remove imperfections.

Style Shots

Studio photographers arrange props, products, and backdrops in order to capture visually-appealing photographs.

Maintain Equipment

Studio photographers maintain all photographic equipment and keep it in good working order.

Maintain Studio

Studio photographers keep the photography studio clean and well-organized.

Communicate with Subjects

Studio photographers communicate with human and animal subjects in order to get them to strike specific poses, look at the camera, or otherwise perform actions to capture needed images.

Studio Photographer Skills and Qualifications

Studio photographers use interpersonal and communication skills to work with multiple subjects, mechanical abilities to use various equipment, and computer skills to retouch photographs as needed. Employers look for studio photographers who have all the necessary skills to complete the various tasks associated with this job.

Interpersonal skills – studio photographers use interpersonal skills to make subjects feel relaxed and interact with people of all ages and walks of life, including young children

Communication skills – studio photographers use verbal communication skills to relay clear, easy-to-understand instructions to subjects being photographed

Physical ability – studio photographers lift and carry heavy equipment and stand, crouch, bend, and move into various positions in order to capture specific images, which requires physical stamina

Computer skills – studio photographers work with digital camera equipment and imaging software tools, which requires strong computer skills

Attention to detail – studio photographers use attention to detail to ensure that photographic compositions are well-lit and contain all elements needed to present an attractive, attention-getting image

Mechanical ability – studio photographers work with various pieces of equipment and use their hands, which requires mechanical ability

Tools of the Trade

Studio photographers work regularly with the following tools and equipment:

Lighting equipment (strobes, soft boxes, umbrellas, flash attachments)

Camera equipment (cameras, tripods, lenses)

Photography equipment (backdrops, props)

Studio Photographer Education and Training

Employers seek out studio photographers who have a high school diploma or equivalent. Past photography experience is preferred by many employers. Additional education is not necessary, but candidates who have a bachelor’s degree in photography are often preferred by employers. Many studio photographers maintain a portfolio of their past work, and this can show experience and ability that is even more desirable to employers than educational credentials. Because travel may be required, some employers additionally require candidates to have a valid driver’s license.

Some employers hire studio photographers on an entry-level basis and provide training to these workers. The training period varies by employer. During training, studio photographers work closely with a senior member of the photography staff and/or the head photographer.

Studio Photographer Salary Outlook

Photographers earned a median annual income of $32,490 in 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the equivalent of $15.62 median hourly salary. There were more than 100,000 jobs for photographers in 2016, a number expected to decline by six percent through 2026. Studio photographers are a specialized type of photographers and may sometimes be referred to as simply photographers. According to PayScale, studio photographers earn $40,963 median annual income.

Full-time studio photographers typically receive basic benefits packages from employers that include healthcare insurance. Sometimes dental and vision coverage are included in these packages as well. Paid vacation days, holidays, and sick days are also commonly offered by employers. Part-time and seasonal studio photographers do not typically receive benefits.

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Helpful Resources

These helpful resources provide in-depth information, techniques, strategies, and tips for studio photographers who want to excel at their chosen career path:

American Society of Media Photographers

- get industry news updates, find out about upcoming events, and view photographs at this website dedicated to media photographers of all kinds.

Studio Anywhere: A Photographer's Guide to Shooting in Unconventional Locations

- learn how to create a photo studio anywhere with the tips in this book, which provides techniques and tips for studio photographers even when they aren't working inside a studio environment.

American Photographic Artists

- find photographic awards, events, news updates, and information for professionals at this website for all photographers.

The Studio Photographer's Lighting Bible

- this book is an in-depth guide to studio lighting, something every studio photographer needs to use and understand.

Photographic Society of America

- this website provides educational information, conference and event dates, and extensive galleries of photographs for studio photographers and other types of professional photographers.

The Creative Photographer: A Complete Guide to Photography (Abrams Studio)

- learn how to look at photography as an artistic medium with this book that provides in-depth information about various techniques, tricks, and methods for professional photographers of all kinds.