Category:Arts, Culture, Recreation and Sport

About the job

Nature of work:

Photographers operate still cameras to photograph people, events, scenes, materials, products and other subjects. Photographers are employed by photographic studios, newspapers, magazines, museums and government, or they may be self-employed.

Job duties:
Photographers perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Study requirements of a particular assignment and decide on type of camera, film, lighting and background accessories to be used.
  • Determine picture composition, make technical adjustments to equipment and photograph subject.
  • May operate scanners to transfer photographic images to computers.
  • May operate computers to manipulate photographic images.
  • May adapt existing photographic images and create new digitized images to be included in multimedia/newmedia products.
  • May use delicate instruments, such as optical microscopes attached to cameras.
  • May process exposed film.
  • May use airbrush, computer or other techniques to retouch negatives.
  • Medical photographers may work closely with medical illustrators.

Photographers may specialize in areas such as portrait photography, commercial photography, scientific photography, forensic photography, medical photography, digitized photography, multimedia photography or photojournalism.

Sample job titles:
  • aerial photographer
  • commercial photographer
  • fashion photographer
  • forensic photographer
  • medical photographer
  • news photographer
  • photographer
  • photojournalist
  • portrait photographer
  • wildlife photographer

Photographers need creativity, imagination, and artistic talent. Attention to detail and the ability to improvise with equipment and techniques are also important. You must be able to react quickly in some circumstances and be very patient in others in order to get a good shot. Substantial business knowledge is required if you wish to be self-employed and work on a project-by-project basis.

Job requirements:
  • A bachelor's degree in visual arts with specialization in photography or completion of specialized training in photography in high school, college or specialized training schools or extensive on-the-job training under the supervision of a photographer is required.
Other considerations:

Self-employment is common for photographers. The services they offer may be provided in a studio or on location. Earnings will depend upon the type and quality of work and will generally improve over time as the photographer's work gains recognition. Working conditions vary considerably, from regular hours in comfortable offices to irregular hours doing fieldwork. It is also common for photography to be a secondary job or a hobby. Creative and technical ability, as demonstrated by a portfolio of work, are required. Experience in, or knowledge of computerized photography or digital imaging may be required.

Labour Market Information

Work Prospects:Limited

The employment outlook over the next few years for this occupational group is “limited”, which indicates the chances of a qualified individual finding work is below average when compared with other occupations in Nova Scotia. This is not a large occupation in Nova Scotia so job opportunities may not be that frequent and jobseekers may face competition. The number employed in this occupation is expected to decline slightly over the next few years, which may affect the number of new opportunities available. With a large percent of workers being 55 years of age and older, retirements are expected to be a key contributor to employment opportunities over the coming years. Photographers may either be working full-time or part-time hours. Furthermore, the jobs are typically temporary positions (such as a term, contract, or casual work). Also, a fair portion of the workforce is self-employed, so having the option to "work for yourself" may appeal to some individuals’ interests/motivations.

The median employment income for 35% of Photographers who worked full-time, year-round in 2015 was $26,947. Across all occupations in Nova Scotia, 59% of those who worked full-time year round had a median employment income of $43,600.
(Source: 2016 Census)

OccupationEstimated employment in 2018Estimated change in employment between 2017 and 2019Estimated openings due to growth and retirements, 2017-2019Estimated rate of unemployment in 2018 Estimated hourly earnings in 2015 (learn more)Estimated annual earnings in 2015
Photographers345decline slightly5Low
Minimum:  N/A
Median:  N/A
Maximum:  N/A
Minimum: $-42
Median: $8,453
Maximum: $45,980
Occupations in Arts, Culture, Recreation and Sport11,000Moderate growth735Moderate
Minimum: $10.81
Median: $16.00
Maximum: $31.00
Minimum: $945
Median: $11,712
Maximum: $60,447
PhotographersCompared to: Occupations in Arts, Culture, Recreation and Sport
Percent employed full-time55%59%
Percent self-employed24%33%
Where will I likely work?
Area of EmploymentPhotographersCompared to: All NS Occupations
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Cape Breton8%x13%$32,974
Annapolis Valley15%x13%$32,958
What are the workers like?
AgePhotographersCompared to: All Arts, Culture, Recreation and Sport
% Employed% Employed
Median Age4738
GenderPhotographersCompared to: Occupations in Arts, Culture, Recreation and Sport
% Employed% Employed
EducationPhotographersCompared to: All Arts, Culture, Recreation and Sport
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Less than high school5.3%$4,11610.2%$2,298
High school25.0%$26,92526.2%$7,127
Trades certificate3.9%$38,4793.6%$13,575
College certificate or diploma28.9%$24,45320.3%$20,158
University certificate or diploma6.6%x1.7%$20,801
Bachelor's degree23.7%$26,70427.5%$19,705
University advanced certificate or diplomaN/Ax1.5%$18,274
Master's degreeN/Ax8.0%x
Medicine, dentistry, veterinary, optometry2.6%x0.1%$11,741
Wage Disclaimer

Hourly earnings data are from the Labour Force Survey by Statistics Canada. Data are not available for all occupations. Hourly earnings are calculated based on usual hours worked per week. This is how an annual salary, for instance, gets converted to an hourly rate. The data include full and part-time workers along with new and experienced workers. Self-employed workers are excluded.

Annual employment income data reported in the Work Prospects section, are from the 2011 National Household Survey by Statistics Canada. Much of the data (around 70%) came directly from tax records. The data relates to the year 2010 and includes total wages and salaries and net income from self-employment.


Employment Requirements & Contacts

No regulating bodies were found under this occupation profile
Useful contacts:
Professional Photographers of Canada - Atlantic

Training Paths & Education

Program Name:Photography
Education Level:This program may be offered at the college, trades, or university level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any program that focuses on the principles and techniques of communicating information, ideas, moods, and feelings through the creation of images on photographic film, plates, digital images and that prepares individuals to be professional photographic artists. These programs include courses in camera and equipment operation and maintenance, film and plate developing, light and composition, films and printing media, colour and special effects, photographic art, photographic history, use of computer applications to record or enhance images and applications to the photography of various subjects.
See all institutions providing this program+
DaVinci College of Art and Design NS Ltd.
1577 Barrington Street
Halifax, NS B3J 1Z7
(902) 429-1847
NSCAD University
5163 Duke Street
Halifax, NS B3J 3J6
(902) 444-9600
Nova Scotia Community College - Waterfront Campus & Aviation Institute
80 Mawiomi Place
Dartmouth, NS B2Y 0A5
(902) 491-1100
Additional resources:

There are no additional resources for this occupation.