Photography Major: Internships & Job Salary 10 Tips

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Photography Major: Internships & Job Salary 10 Tips

A career as a photographer can be an exciting avenue for creative expression since photographers have the opportunity to work in many settings and meet diverse people as covered over at and However, photography is still a technically demanding profession, something you already know by now as a photography major. If you are earning your degree in photography, the following tips will help you know important information on internships and career options.

Importance of internships for photography majors

As is explained over at, while your photography major will teach you about lighting, post-processing, and other technical considerations, working in the field will give you knowledge and skills that you can’t get in the classroom. A photography internship allows you to apply what you have learned in class to real-world situations. According to the gurus over at, photography programs usually don’t offer a significant business component in their curricula, which means students are usually in for a rude awakening when they graduate as they find that they lack a solid understanding of how to market their work or quote on jobs, or even what kind of gear they will need to be successful in their chosen niche. An internship will teach you about the business side of the industry solving these issues.

Considerations when choosing a photography internship

When choosing a photography internship, you must choose an employer who works in the industry you are interested in. This means that you should already know which niche or industry you would like to work in during your photography career before you start looking for an internship. As outlined over at, if you are into food photography, for example, you should try to find an internship in a cooking publication or a food photographer you can shadow as interning in a portrait studio will be less helpful to you.

Are photography internships paid?

Just as is the case for many other fields, photography internships can either be paid or unpaid. However, as the subject matter experts over at point out, while paid internships are ideal, you should note that they are a lot harder to come by and that most internships are unpaid. Therefore, if you are doing an internship as part of your credential to graduate with a photography degree, it will most likely be unpaid.

What to expect from your photography internship

As an intern, you will be low on the pecking order, and, therefore, you can expect to do some low-level work during your internship such as filing or making appointments depending on the nature of your internship. That being said, this doesn’t mean that you will spend your days running out to get coffees but can expect to participate in a wide variety of work from posting on social media to setting up lighting equipment or even helping any prop stylists or assistants on set. How many actual shots you will be a part of will vary from photographer to photographer as captured over at While portrait photographers tend to shoot every day, in other niches like food photography, there is a lot of preparation and post-production work required which is why they only shoot once a week.

Types of photography internships

According to, there are several types of photography internships to consider as a photography major, and they include:

Internships at photography studios

Internships at equipment rental houses

Internship at photography agencies

Internships at production houses

Magazine photo internships

Interning with photographers

Internships at media companies and brands

Art buying internships

The average annual salary for photography majors

As a photography major, you have probably found yourself wondering how much a photographer makes in the US. From discussions on the same over at, the average photographer salary in the US is $66,355 annually. However, exactly how much you will make will depend on important factors like education, certifications, additional skills, experience, and your niche.

Photography career-path options

As a photography major, you should know the areas that you can specialize in as far as your career is concerned. Some of the main ones include:

Fashion photographers – They are usually seen as the rock stars of the photography world given that they work with beautiful models and get lots of opportunities to travel. However, according to, it is one of the most cutthroat, high-pressured industries out there. They earn an average salary of about $59,000.

Stock photographer

Wildlife photographer – Average earnings are $28,000 annually

War photographer – Average earnings are between $17,000 and $63,000 depending on freelance or salary.

Wedding photographer – How much you will earn depends on too many factors and can be as little as $15,000 or over $100,000 in some cases.

Fine art photographer – Average earnings range from $46,000 to $69,000 annually.

School photographer – Average earnings are about $24,000.

Product photography – Average earnings are generally between $40,000 to $50,000.

Sports photography – Average earnings are generally pretty low; between $10,000 to $20,000.

Real estate photography – It’s difficult to compute average earnings but can be between $75-$150 per shoot.

Unique and high-paying photography careers to explore

Photography isn’t restricted to the above specialties as there are some unique careers you can explore too, which you should know about as a photography major according to They include:

Photomicrography – This is a specialty where you are required to capture incredibly tiny objects from small insects and drops of water to things on a cellular level.

Astrophotography – It is usually divided into 2 camps: photographs that cover a large portion of the night sky, and images of deep space objects taken through a telescope.

Medical photography – This career requires a high level of technical skill and even medical training, and it is exceptionally well-paid.

Film set photography

Insurance claims photography

Forensic photography

Military photography

White House photographer

Job outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for photographers isn’t great as employment in photography occupations is projected to decline by 4% from 2019 to 2029. This has been attributed to declining digital camera prices and a growing interest in photography by amateurs. According to, while photographers in traditional media will be hit hard because of decreased demand for news photographers, those wanting to specialize in portrait or commercial photography will continue to be in demand.

Salaried photography jobs vs self-employment

Finally, as a photography major, you will probably feel like you need to decide between seeking salaried photography jobs and self-employment after you graduate. While both have their benefits as explained over at, the following are the factors to consider when choosing which option is best for you:

Artistic control – As a self-employed photographer, you will have more artistic control which means you will be able to accept the photography jobs that interest you and turn down those that don’t.

Schedule – Self-employed photographers generally have more flexible hours than those in salaried photography jobs.

Overhead expenses – If you own your own photography business, you will have to provide and maintain your own equipment, rent studio and office space, and hire any necessary support staff; all of which can be major expenses. Salaried photographers on the other hand will have access to company equipment, studio and office space, and support staff.

Client base – Self-employed photographers will have to learn to market themselves and find their own clients, which is an issue that salaried photographers aren’t faced with.

These are some of the things that you should know all about as a photography major as far as internships and career options go, with more on this wide topic to be found over at the excellent and

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