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Career Options: Photo-Related Fields


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BY PhotoVideoEDU staff September 10, 2014 · Published by PhotoVideoEDU

Being a photographer isn't the only career path open to someone with a photography degree. Get an overview of other options related to image making, along with links to organizations that offer more information about the professional practices and requirements of each.

Since the invention of the photography, those working in the medium have made an impact on society, offering a way to document anything imaginable, from everyday life to moments in history to the marvels of science and medicine. But being a photographer isn't the only way to work with images. A wide variety of career paths are open to people with an educational background in photography.  

Below you'll find an overview of some of the alternatives to being a photographer. You may decide to specialize in one of these areas, or to spend some time working in one of them on your way to becoming a full-time photographer. This is by no means a comprehensive list; there are opportunities to support and collaborate with photographers in almost every segment of the imaging industry.

Educator Photographer's Assistant
Manufacturer Evangelist Photographer's Representative
Manufacturer Sales or Technical Representative Retail or Web Store Manager/Salesperson
Photo Historian and Archivist Studio Manager
Photo Restorer/Retoucher  


Photographer’s Assistant

The photographer’s assistant may have assignments that run from getting coffee to setting up lights to driving the photographer to an assignment. This not-so-glamorous job is usually a stepping-stone to working as a professional photographer, and it offers valuable insight into how to run a business, work with clients, and use cameras and other equipment. Being an assistant will give you real-world experience in the photo industry that most educational programs can't provide.

For further research, visit the American Society of Media Photographers website.

Studio Manager

The studio manager oversees the entire studio business for a photographer or studio owner. This may entail managing workflow, keeping inventory, maintaining equipment and computer systems, billing, problem solving, and conducting the day-to-day activities of a typical busy studio. To be a successful studio manager, you need both technical skills and the ability to multitask and work with vendors, clients, and employees.

For further research, visit the American Society of Media Photographers website.

Photographer’s Representative

Are you talented at marketing the work of other people? Are you an excellent communicator? Are you good at making a sale? Then working as a photographer’s representative might be a career for you. A background in photography, sales, and marketing is desired for this position.

For further research, visit the A Photo Editor blog.

Manufacturer’s Evangelist

Most manufacturers of equipment used by photographers hire "evangelists" to give lectures and demonstrate products at trade shows, train sales and technical staff about new products and applications, and otherwise serve as product experts. These positions generally require a four-year college degree. Related positions include workshop coordinator, grant program specialist, customer service representative, and help desk staff.  Working for a manufacturer requires both technical knowledge and a solid background in office skills, including word processing and database computer programs. The ability to work as a team member is also important.

For further research, visit the following websites:

National Association of Photoshop Professionals
PMA—The Worldwide Community of Imaging Associations

Manufacturer’s Sales or Technical Representative

Photographic and digital equipment manufacturers frequently hire people to sell their products and provide technical advice on them. Professional sales skills are needed for a sales position, while technical and interpersonal skills are required for both positions.

For further research, visit the PMA website.

Retail or Web Store Manager/Salesperson

Store managers generally have a solid background in both photography and sales, with several years' experience working in a retail environment. Excellent people skills are required, as well as management experience.

For further research, visit the following websites:

PMA—The Worldwide Community of Imaging Associations
PMA Certified Photographic Consultants


Teachers are needed in all levels and educational settings, including K-12, college and university, and workshops. Requirements for teaching vary by state and school, but, generally, K-12 teachers must have a four-year college degree, while college and university instructors must hold both undergraduate and graduate degrees in their field. Workshop teachers are also in demand, especially on a local level. Enjoy working with people? A career in teaching may be in your future.

For further research, visit the following websites:

Photo Imaging Education Association
Society for Photographic Education

Photo Restorer/Retoucher

Photo restorers and retouchers have artistic talent, and usually also have excellent eye-hand coordination, a background in photography, and knowledge of digital retouching and imaging programs. They work closely with consumers, libraries, and photo historians to restore photographs as closely as possible to their original appearance.

For further research, visit the Professional Photographers of America website.

Photo Historian and Archivist

Photo historians work for a wide variety of institutions: museums, galleries, colleges and universities, libraries, research archives, magazines, newspapers, publishing companies, public television stations, auction houses, and arts organizations, to name a few. They generally have undergraduate and graduate degrees in areas such as art conservation, as well as experience working in the field. Some schools specialize in art conservation.

For further research, visit the following websites:

George Eastman House
The Society of American Archivists


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