Approximately 132,100 photographers are employed in the United States; only a small percentage of these professionals specialize in fashion photography. About 63 percent of all professional photographers are self-employed. Others work for large retailers, magazines, newspapers, design or advertising firms, and fashion firms.
If you have received a postsecondary degree, one of the best ways to start out in this business is to find a job through your school’s career services office or by networking with alumni. Those who are interested in photography often gain entry by working as assistants or trainees to established photographers. You may be asked to do such things as help pack equipment and set up and break down shoots, move lights, hand the photographer cameras and lenses during the shoot, or even perform administrative tasks like schedule appointments, but you will also gain experience and make contacts in the field. Those who are financially able may go into business for themselves right away. However, it may take considerable time to establish yourself in the field and have a business that is profitable.
Advancement for fashion photographers generally comes as they gain professional recognition. Freelance photographers who become known for the creativity and high quality of their work will have a growing client base. More clients translate into more jobs; more jobs translate into higher earnings. In addition, as photographers become better known, they can charge more for their services and be more selective about what jobs they take. Salaried photographers may either move up within their organization, taking on supervisory roles or working with specific accounts for example, or they may choose to start their own photography business.
Tips for Entry
Start developing a portfolio of your work so that you are ready to begin looking for jobs once you graduate. Include only your best work.
Create your own Web site that showcases your fashion photography and advertises your services.
Read industry publications to learn more about trends in the field of fashion photography and potential employers. Keep abreast of new technology.
Join professional associations to access training and networking opportunities, industry publications, and employment opportunities.