Photographer Skills: Definition and Examples

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 25 June 2021

Being a photographer can be an exciting and fulfilling career for individuals with a creative spirit, technical knowledge and an eye for detail. There are several skills and competencies that may contribute to your success in this field. Understanding the talents and traits that are helpful for aspiring photographers could help you determine if this career path is right for you. In this article, we define photographer skills, offer a list of photographer skill examples and provide steps to help you develop and highlight your skills in photography.

Related: 14 Self-Employed Jobs in The UK

What are photographer skills?

Photographer skills are competencies needed by individuals who create, capture and edit images. Being successful as a photographer often includes a combination of hard and soft skills, such as technical knowledge, an understanding of photography principles, communication and organisation.

The necessary skills to succeed as a photographer may depend on the area of expertise or specialisation of an individual. For example, a fashion photographer may benefit from different skills than a photojournalist.

Related: 11 Top Job Skills: Transferable Skills for Any Industry

Examples of photographer skills

Here are some examples of skills that may be useful for a successful photography career:

Creativity

Your daily tasks as a photographer often require artistic vision and creativity. It's important to develop a creative mind and sense of imagination to produce beautiful and meaningful photographs. One of the most commonly used creative theories in photography is the composition or the placements of items and subjects within a photograph. Understanding how to use composition to maximise the impact of your photographs may help you create high-quality images and could contribute to your success as a photographer. Other important creative elements to consider developing during your photography career include:

  • Lighting

  • Colour schemes

  • Visually appealing poses

  • Angles

  • Symbolism

Attention to detail

An excellent level of attention to detail is another important skill for successful photographers to possess. To ensure that each component of your image contributes to its effectiveness, it's important to understand all the visual details to be considered. Being meticulous when capturing and editing your photographs may help to ensure that even the smallest visual elements aid in the success of your work.

Flexibility

As a photographer, there may be elements of your photographs that are out of your control. The weather may not be ideal for lighting, your models may arrive late or your client may have challenging requirements to fulfil. To maintain the excellence of your photographs, it's important to develop your ability to be flexible when unexpected challenges arise. This skill is often one that comes with experience in the field, but preparing yourself to navigate changes before they happen may help you to more proactively respond and could contribute to your continued success as a photographer.

Communication

Being able to effectively communicate with a variety of people is an important skill for photographers to develop. During your career, you may need to communicate with groups and individuals to successfully complete your duties. Being able to give direction, take direction, collaborate with a team and communicate complex ideas into simpler phrasing are all competencies that may help you be more successful as a photographer. You may need to communicate with models, directors, journalists, clients and others to create the best possible images.

Hardware knowledge

An advanced understanding of cameras and related equipment is an essential skill to develop throughout your career as a photographer. Equipment you may need to understand to successfully complete your tasks may include:

  • Cameras

  • Lights

  • Lenses

  • Tripods

Some of this equipment may be complex and costly to replace, so understanding how to properly use and care for these items is an important step toward succeeding in this field. Understanding how to use these items individually and in combination with one another to achieve the best possible images may help you more successfully create an impressive portfolio of work.

Software knowledge

In today's digital world, you may complete much of the developing and editing process with the help of computers and technology. There are several types of software that assist in the editing of photographs and mastering these programs may help you achieve success as a photographer. Some of these programs and software include:

  • Digital imaging

  • Editing software

  • Electronic image handling

  • Film development

  • High-resolution imaging

  • Image manipulation

  • Resizing

  • Printing

Marketing

Having an advanced understanding of a variety of marketing techniques may help you connect with clients, advance your career and promote your work to a target audience. As a photographer, it's important that you understand a wide range of marketing methods to increase awareness of your work, target your work to specific groups of people, establish credibility in your field and build a network of industry professionals that may provide you with exciting opportunities.

Having an accessible online portfolio or website that shows your best work is a great step to take toward promoting yourself as a photographer and attracting the attention of potential clients.

Sales

An understanding of sales techniques and best practices may help you successfully work as an independent photographer. Using sales knowledge, you may be able to more accurately charge for your services, maintain your operating budget, negotiate deals and maintain long-term client relationships. Sales knowledge may be helpful to photographers who hope to open their own studio or work freelance.

Related: Business Development Skills: Definition and Examples

How to develop photographer skills

There are several ways you can develop your skills as a photographer. Consider using the following steps to advance your talents in photography:

1. Complete a formal photography education

To receive the necessary training and knowledge to succeed as a photographer, consider enrolling in a full-time program through a university or technical school. These programs often offer courses from photography basics to advanced artistic theory and will help you acquire important skills, gain working experience and begin building a portfolio of your best work.

2. Sign up for part-time training

There are several options available to aspiring and current photographers for part-time training. Enrol in continued education training and workshops to further advance your industry skills. You may want to take part in:

  • Online classes

  • Industry events

  • Seminars

  • Discussions

  • Certifications

3. Practice your photography skills

You should aim to be consistently improving your skills through independent practice. Consider practising daily by shooting friends, family or subjects in your community. You can also read books on the subject, access study materials online or learn from an experienced photographer through mentorship.

How to highlight photographer skills

When building your client base or seeking employment as a photographer, it can be helpful to understand how to highlight your skills during each phase of your job-seeking process. Consider the following steps to help you best highlight your photographer skills in each step of your job search:

1. List your photographer skills in your CV

List your photographer skills on your CV in a designated skills section so that recruiters and clients can quickly understand your industry talents. Try to list your skills in six to eight bullet points and keep each bullet point to one sentence. You may also begin your CV with a summary or highlights section that briefly describes your most notable accomplishments and impressive skills as a photographer.

It's also important to mention any areas of expertise or speciality subjects in your summary or skills section. This can help you connect with best-matched clients and employers based on your experience and talents.

Related: 10 Best Skill To Include on a CV

2. Mention your photographer skills in your application letter

When writing an application letter, feature one or two of the most impressive skills from your CV. In your application letter, you may provide further detail about these skills to emphasise your value and level of expertise as a photographer. You may also use the content of your application letter to discuss any classes, training or certifications you may have that contribute to your success as a photographer.

3. Highlight your photographer skills during interviews

When interviewing, highlight additional skills and competencies to impress interviewers. To do this, consider providing specific examples of skills that helped you succeed in work or school. Specific examples help recruiters more easily visualise your value in a position within their organisation and could improve your chances of receiving a job offer.

Interviews are also a great place to demonstrate your soft skills, such as communication and attention to detail. To do this, you may practise active listening, paraphrase and ask thoughtful questions about the position.