Recently, a friend’s mother told me that the ONLY way to make money as a photographer is to photograph weddings or babies. While I have heard some stupid takes on the photo industry, the matter-of-fact nature with which she delivered this sentiment made it quickly rise to the top of the bullshit list. However, this got me thinking of my own naivety when starting out about the various jobs available in the photo industry – I thought there was only photo journalism and fashion photography. Thus I think it might be useful to go over various fields in the photo industry with a brief description of each.
In no particular order:
Architecture – Photographing the interiors and exteriors of buildings, architects and interior designers are your main client.
Fashion – Photographing clothing and models, your clients include designers, clothing stores, and magazines.
Product – Every single product produced is photographed at some point for ads, catalogs, reference, packaging, etc.
Lifestyle – This type of photography is more defined by a “look” rather than it’s final use. Basically photographing staged versions of real-life. These often end up being used in advertising but can serve other functions as well.
Editorial – Photographing for magazines to illustrate a story.
Commercial (Advertising) – Creating images to sell something. Often a mix of various types of photography but typically with larger productions (and budgets).
Sports – Shooting sporting events, your clients are often newspapers and magazines.
Events – Covering events and photographing the guests, your clients are most often the hosts but can be publication as well.
Concert / Music – Covering concerts and photographing musicians.
Nature / Wild Life – This involves scenic landscapes and various wild life, often this is done for magazines or books.
Photojournalism – Covering daily news, your clients is usually a specific newspaper although you can also work freelance.
Documentary – Simlar to photojournalism but with emphasis on much longer and involved projects.
Conflict (War) – Covering conflicts around the world for news organizations.
Portraiture – Taking private portraits, your clients are usually the people you photograph.
Wedding – Photographing people’s weddings, think one part event photography and one part portraiture.
Food – Photographing food, mostly for advertising or editorial use.
Commercial Fine Art – Creating good looking photographs that are intended to sell and used as decoration, often sold online.
Remember, most photographers end up specializing in one or two different fields, for example, I shoot architectural and editorial. This also doesn’t include the wealth of jobs in the administrative sector of the industry, we’ll cover that in a later post.
If I’ve missed something obvious, please add in the comments!