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Photographer

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Summary of occupation

Photographers take pictures of people, places, products and other subjects for a variety of reasons and uses. The subjects they photograph are as varied as the ways their work is used.

Some photographers take pictures of families, school groups or wedding parties for people that want a lasting reminder of a particularly significant time or event in their lives. They use all kinds of equipment and technology to create the right 'mood.' Other photographers take pictures to record particular scientific processes or to provide evidence in police enquiries. Here the ability to capture the 'reality' of the subject being photographed is more important than creating a certain mood.

ANZSCO description: Operates a still camera to take photographs.  This occupation requires high levels of creative talent or personal  commitment and interest as well as, or in place of, formal  qualifications or experience.
Alternative names:
Specialisations: Art Photographer, Fashion Photographer, Landscape Photographer, News Photographer, Photographic Artist, Portrait Photographer, Sports Photographer, Technical Photographer
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A photographer needs:

  • artistic and creative ability
  • technical ability with a wide range of photographic equipment and technology
  • a keen eye for detail
  • good communication and people skills
  • good time management skills with the ability to meet tight deadlines
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Working conditions

Photography is a competitive industry and many photographers work freelance. They tend to work in studios and darkrooms, but may also work outdoors in all kinds of weather conditions. Frequently clients dictate the work environment, especially for work involving weddings, birthdays or other large events. You will invariably find a wedding party in King's Park, for example, with a photographer hard at work!

Photographers may be required to travel and should be prepared to constantly be moving heavy equipment. Photographers that work in darkrooms handle chemicals during the developing process and must be aware of health and safety practices.

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Salary details

On average, photographers can expect to earn $1 335 per week ($69 430 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience.

Earnings for photographers can vary considerably depending on their level of experience, the quality and the commercial potential of their work, and the demand for their work. As a photographer develops their skills and reputation, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

Photographers use cameras, lenses, lighting equipment, tripods and stands to take pictures, and computers, scanners, photographic paper and darkroom chemicals for processing. They also use specialised photographic software to modify and enhance photographs and often transfer pictures onto CDs or USB drives as well as printing photos. It can be helpful for photographers to have easy access to a car for transporting heavy equipment, especially if they freelance or take pictures offsite.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

You can work as a photographer without any formal qualifications and get training on the job. However, entry into this occupation may be improved by obtaining a qualification in photography, photo imaging or photomedia.

The Diploma of Photo Imaging and the Advanced Diploma and Graduate Diploma of Photography can also studied as post-entry qualifications at TAFE.

You can also complete a degree in photography or photomedia.

Most universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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