TARGETjobs black logo
Press photographers use a variety of photographic equipment to take photographs for use on television or within magazines, journals and other publications.

Most press photographers are self-employed or work on a freelance basis.

What does a press photographer do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Even more than journalists, press photographers have to have an ‘eye’ for a story. It's important for them to be in the right place at the right time.

The job typically entails:

  • setting up photographic equipment
  • taking photographs of people and events
  • processing and developing films
  • preparing proofs for publication
  • liaising with other staff such as artists and journalists
  • satisfying editorial briefs
  • researching and making contacts
  • promoting the business
  • negotiating prices and fees
  • undertaking relevant background research for features and articles
  • administration.

Typical employers of press photographers

  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Publishing houses
  • Television companies
  • Photo agencies

Most press photographers are self-employed or work on a freelance basis — selling photographs to agencies and picture libraries or directly to media organisations. A common route into recruitment is to work as an assistant photographer while building up a network of contacts and a bank of skills.

Vacancies appear online, in newspapers and in specialist publications such as the British Journal of Photography, the Press Gazette and their respective websites.

Many jobs receive little advertising and are often filled via personal contacts, so perseverance, networking, job shadowing and speculative applications are essential. Aptitude, relevant experience, technical abilities and training are often considered more important by employers than degree subject studied.

Qualifications and training required

There are routes into photography for both university graduates and school leavers.

Degrees in photography, art, design, film, television or media studies can be advantageous. Part-time photography courses (such as City & Guilds) can offer a useful starting point. The National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) also runs a press photography entry-level course. There are also courses that are accredited by the Association of Photographers (AoP) or the British Institute of Professional Photography.

To find out how to get into a career in this area via a school leaver route, visit the media section of TARGETcareers, our website aimed at school leavers.

Key skills for press photographers

  • An eye for good composition
  • A strong network of contacts
  • Strong IT skills, particularly familiarity with software such as Adobe Photoshop

Next: search internships and graduate jobs

Supported by

This describes editorially independent and objective content, written and edited by the GTI content team, with which the organisation would like to be associated and has provided some funding in order to be so. Any external contributors featuring in the article are independent from the supporter organisation and contributions are in line with our non-advertorial policy.

Advertising feature by

This describes content that has been written and edited in close collaboration with the organisation, who has funded the feature; it is advertising. We are committed to upholding our ethical values of transparency and honesty when dealing with students and feel that this is the best way not to deceive consumers of our content. The content will be written by GTI editors, but the organisation will have had input into the messaging, provided knowledge and contributors and approved the content.

In Partnership

This content has been written or sourced by AGCAS, the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services, and edited by TARGETjobs as part of a content partnership. AGCAS provides impartial information and guidance resources for higher education student career development and graduate employment professionals.

Did you know that members with full profiles are more likely to get direct messages from employers?

Don't miss this great opportunity. Register now
Top