What Are Photography Skills and How Can You Improve Them?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 27 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Photographers are professionals who use camera equipment and editing software to capture and edit photos. They use a variety of hard skills and soft skills to work with clients and deliver high-quality pictures. If you have an interest in pursuing a photography career, learning the skills that you might use can be beneficial for you. In this article, we discuss numerous photographer skills and provide a list of tips that you can use to develop them.

What are photographer skills?

Photographer skills are the different techniques and abilities that you can use to create high-quality pictures, including artistic vision and technical knowledge of camera equipment and the art of photography. You also need soft skills to communicate with clients, effectively network with other professionals and market and promote your talent or business. There is a lot of research, networking, preparation, set-up, break-down and post-production elements that make up the field of photography.

Also, skill sets can change depending on a photographer's area of specialisation. Working as a photographer in fashion will look different from working as a photographer for a corporation. Some photographer duties and skills are interchangeable. Using photographer skills can ensure that you use the four elements of photography properly, which include the following:

  • lighting

  • photo clarity

  • colour

  • photo staging

Examples of photographer skills

While some professionals may consider photography to be a talent, there are many skills that you can develop to further enhance your photography abilities. Having an eye for the most breathtaking images or an ability to create dynamic snapshots of beautiful moments is only a part of your needed skills as a photographer. A successful photographer typically possesses the following skills:

Artistic skills

To excel as a photographer, you need to be artsy or creative. You at least need to understand composition and exposure control, which means knowing how the placement or arrangement of visual elements and the lightness and darkness of an image will affect overall photographic quality.

Other things to consider when evaluating your artistic talent behind the lens are how well you can determine visually appealing poses, angles, colouring and still images. What you can capture on film should accurately depict the subjects' personalities, the landmarks' significance and nature's beauty and evoke any emotions a viewer can feel within the context of the photograph.

Related: Creating Thinking: Definition, Development and Advantages

Technical skills

Highly skilled photographers learn to maintain a solid balance between the artistic and technical sides of working behind the camera. You will need to apply both aspects simultaneously for a flawless photo and to distinguish yourself from your competition.

Technical photography skills include lighting ratios or apertures, maximum dynamic range and optimal shutter speeds. Post-production editing is also an important aspect of showcasing yourself as a skilled photographer. You may adjust colour balances, remove flaws and complete other tasks to get your photos to their highest quality. For these steps, you will typically need visual editing software and an understanding of how to use those programs.

Communication skills

Communication is important when creating and building relationships with potential clients. Beyond having the skills to start up a conversation, though, really listening to and empathising with others is what will set you apart in the photography industry.

Examples of effective communication and useful personality traits for skilled photographers might include:

  • asking the right questions

  • listening to and understanding your client's wants or needs

  • remaining positive about the vision and outcome

  • persevering through changes or setbacks

  • working well under pressure or meeting tight deadlines

  • showing patience in your work and with those you are working with

  • staying dedicated to the project, even when a project may require you to work longer hours

Related: How To Overcome Communication Barriers: Benefits and Tips

Close attention to detail

It is common for photographers to edit photos to help them maintain a high-quality and to remove any issues in a photo. For example, if a photo's colouring is off, a photographer may edit it to feature more vibrant and appealing colours. It is important to have a close attention to detail that allows you to recognise issues you can correct using editing software.

Related: Top In Demand Skills To Develop for Career Advancement

Organisation

Many photographers work on several projects at the same time, so having organisational skills may help you keep track of your projects throughout each stage. You may organise your projects to keep track of the photos that are in the editing and development phase and the photos that are ready for publishing. Organisational skills may also help you build a well-formatted portfolio that shows the various styles of pictures that you take. For example, you might organise your portfolio into one folder for portraits and another folder for pictures of landscapes.

Adaptability

Photographers sometimes work long hours during days, nights or weekends, in varying outdoor climates or weather conditions, under challenging situations or with strict deadlines. As a photographer, it may be useful to adapt to different work environments and deadlines. It is important that you remain calm under pressure and that your work product and quality stay relatively consistent. It may also be helpful to push through unexpected circumstances, like unforeseen weather conditions or unexpected client cancellations.

Related: Adaptability: An Essential Skill for Changing Workplaces

Tips for improving photographer skills

Here are some tips to help you improve your photography skills:

Take photography courses

Consider taking photography courses to build your resume and further develop your skills. While you may complete a degree in photography or photojournalism, you may also choose to take individual courses that can benefit your career. During these courses, you may learn photography techniques or editing practices that allow you to produce high-quality photos. By taking classes, you can develop a deeper understanding of the various elements of photography, and you may have the opportunity to gain experience in photographing a variety of objects or people.

You may also consider taking business courses to help you manage and organise your freelance photography. Typically, photographers perform freelance work for clients, and business courses may teach you how to freelance effectively.

Practice photography that you are less familiar with

Try practicing a photography specialty that you are less familiar with. For example, if you often take photos of people, consider taking photos of nature and landscapes instead. This can grow your familiarity with various types of photography, and allows you to further expand your skill set.

Continue your education

Upon completing a degree or gaining sufficient experience as a photographer, be sure to stay up-to-date on photography advancements by continuing your education. You can continue your education by attending photography seminars, participating in conferences, performing research or communicating with professionals in your field. By continuing your education, you can stay current on new photography trends that may help you get a client's attention and ensure that you developing your skills throughout your career.

How to highlight photography skills

When applying for positions or communicating with potential clients, it is important to emphasise your skills to show that you are a qualified photographer. Here are some ways that you can highlight your skills throughout the hiring process:

Resume

List your photography skills in a designated skills section so the employer can readily see them. Also, a summary highlighting your most important or prominent skills is an effective way to attract an employer's attention and let them know that you are a strong candidate for the job. Lastly, consider include a section that exhibits your experience with various camera equipment and photographic software.

Be sure to attach a portfolio to your resume that includes examples of your photography work. This can show clients and hiring managers your photography style, which may allow them to decide if you are a good match for a position. Try to include photos that you are most proud of, and be sure to match your portfolio to the job description. For example, if a client prefers a photographer who has extensive experience in portrait photography, include examples of portraits in your portfolio.

Related: 20 People Skills To Use in the Workplace and Include on a Resume

Interview

At the interview, focus on some of your key photographer skills. Provide examples of specific instances when you used each of these skills to succeed at work or school. For example, you may discuss a time when you added visual effects to a photo to enhance it is overall quality and make it more appealing. Be sure to bring a copy of your resume and portfolio to the interview to show that you are well-prepared.

Explore more articles