How to Become a Still Photographer

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Becoming a still photographer takes a keen sense for the camera and a willingness to satisfy the client. Since still photographers work primarily in the movie industry, their job can be demanding, requiring long hours, extensive travel, and hours of editing. They may also have to reshoot pictures regularly and discard images that are unsatisfactory to their clients. Photography is a growing career field in the United States. By the year 2020, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimates that the number of open positions for photographers, including still photographers, will increase by 13 percent.[1]

Wikimedia Commons: Leon Brooks
Education High school diploma[1]
Starting pay $8.34 per hour[2]
Median pay $14 per hour[2]
10 yr growth Average: 13%[1]
Related professions Photographer
Author Selena Robinson

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Still Photographer Job Overview

The job of a still photographer is to take images for use in promoting movies or television programs. Still photographers are often required to work on the set of the production and take still images during shooting. As a result, they are often taking still images of the movie at the same time that the cinematographer is shooting the video footage.

Still Photographer Job Requirements

Working as a still photographer requires a thick skin, because movie and television actors may have the right to decline images that they feel are unflattering to them. This means that still photographers may have to discard shots that they personally like and be willing to have their ideas and suggestions rejected.[3]

Still Photographer Education

To become a still photographer, a person does not need to pursue a college degree. Rather, most new photographers can find work with a high school diploma and a good understanding of photography. Some of the important photography skills for still photographers include composition, perspective, and extreme attention to detail.[4] Students who are interested in becoming still photographers can gain education in these areas by taking a few photography courses in high school, as well as classes in math and computer science.[5]

Still Photographer Training

Most still photographers begin their careers as assistants or interns for other photographers. Working along with experienced professionals allows them to learn the basics of the job and to build a portfolio of their own work that they can use when applying for work.[6] Getting a job as a still photographer on a movie or television set requires membership in the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees union. To get into the IATSE union, photographers must pay a sizable membership fee and meet employment qualifications, including having worked a certain number of days on non-union jobs. Over time, skilled photographers can build a portfolio that will help them get accepted into the IATSE.[7]

Photography Tips

Tips and tricks for still photographers

Also See: How To Become a School Photographer, How to Become a Photographer, How to Become a Cinematographer


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