Improvements in digital technology have had a profound effect on salaried photographers. In recent years, many have received pink slips from news organizations. In January, Sports Illustrated, a magazine known for its award-worthy images, laid off its entire photo production staff. Because an increasing number of publishing companies are now accepting a barrage of compelling photos from such sources as Getty Images, the Associated Press and other dominant providers, job opportunities for staff photographers are projected to plummet by 36 percent in the coming years. Nonetheless, employment prospects for portrait and commercial photographers are expected to advance at an untroubled pace.
In Los Angeles, professional photographers earn an average annual salary of nearly $61,000, with top shutter bugs receiving yearly paychecks in excess of $81,000, according to current data. The field has certainly ripened for independent photographers.
“A lot of young actors that are working in or attempting to break into L.A.’s entertainment industry are always in need of fresh headshots,” said Saul D. Haase, owner of hollywoodphotojournalist.com, an L.A.-based company. “Furthermore, the metropolitan area consists of a very busy business community that’s always updating corporate websites.”
How has the need for portrait photographers progressed since 2012?
“Since the arrival of virtual communities and networks, more career-minded individuals are better understanding the benefits of proper photography in social media. A well-produced photographic image can build a reputation and bring in career and business opportunities.”
What is the best way to prepare for a sustainable career?
“I advise photographers to take as many photos as they can of people, places, things and situations. The more they shoot, the better they will get. They should also study other photographers’ work, and ask questions about what it took to capture that moment in time. Moreover, it’s important to showcase an eye-catching online portfolio, and send prospective clients to it.”
What is your message to aspiring photographers?
“Several of my second-string shooters have received a great deal of sound advice from the FroKnowsPhoto YouTube channel. I also recommend they take a photography course at such places as Samy’s Camera, UCLA Extension or a community college.”
Sharon Raiford Bush is an award-winning journalist who covers topics of social interest in greater Los Angeles. Some news articles she has authored have been archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Sharon also contributes to Examiner.com.