Monday, April 16, 2007


Part 4: Areas of Work
Many photographers may work in several of these areas, and some only in a very specialised field within one of them.


General photographers are those based in a local community with a shop or 'studio' on the street or perhaps working from their home. They deal with the general public, getting custom mainly from personal recommendations, but also from their shop window (if they have one) and from advertisements in local newspapers and other media. Most of their work will be for members of the general public, photographing weddings, taking portraits. Some will also do a considerable amount of photography for companies in the local area, including PR photography, product and architectural photography.

General photographers have to get on with people well to put them at their ease, and to be reliable and well-organised. Most of their work will be in business hours and they will seldom need to travel far.


Commercial photographers supply photographic services to companies, including PR photography, product photography, architectural photography, Some specialise in one or more of these areas, for example photographing interiors of buildings. Other specialist commercial areas include Catalogue photography, where large numbers of product shots are produced in high quality at a rapid rate. generally using simple sets and formulaic lighting.

Although a relatively small section of the industry, this has an extremely high profile, partly because the results are clearly visible in magazines and on billboards, but also because of the large amounts of money involved. Some advertising photographers have become celebrities, but others remain unknown to the general public.

Advertising photographers generally have a considerable creative input into their work, interpreting the ideas and rough visuals along the Art Director of the advertising agency. However the main part of the job is a great deal of detailed planning and coordinating the team of people who may be needed for a successful shoot, including set makers and model makers, location scouts, stylists and models, Advertising photography can be a highly stressful occupation - even though most of the actual work is delegated to others - and is very competitive.

Photographers start as 'assistants', who do anything that needs doing, carrying gear, painting walls, sweeping floors, making tea, chasing up deliveries, fetching sandwiches - and they may occasionally touch a camera, if only to load or unload film. As they gain experience they can expect to do more of the actual lighting and photography.

As well as making everything run smoothly, assistants are also learning in a practical manner how the job is done. Permanent assistants are often allowed (if not expected) to make use of the facilities to develop their own skills and build their own portfolios when not working on a job, and eventually may be able to take on small jobs themselves using the studio facilities before they branch out as photographers in their own right.

Assistants are usually poorly paid, the hours are long and unpredictable, and work is generally hard to find. Most hirings are on a short term basis and if you don't fit in and pull your weight you will not get work again. Until you have experience it is hard to get work at all - you may have to start with unpaid 'work experience'. A good 'book' (portfolio of work), a good interview manner and tons of persistence are needed.

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