Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects
Openings 5 years to November 2019: 5,001 to 10,000
Median weekly earnings: Varies
Australian Government Department of Employment 2015
A world without photographs would be very dull indeed. Photographers turn clients ideas into highly crafted images that grab the viewers attention.
There are approximately 1100 people employed as photographers in South Australia. Photographers are mostly self-employed and receive work on commission via advertising agencies or design studios and also directly from retail manufacturing and service companies, however there are opportunities for employment in certain sectors including newspapers, wedding and portrait and commercial studios. There are even numbers of males and females in this occupation. Photographer work on average 37 hours per week but can be required to work many more hours than this if a deadline needs to be met. Also depending on the industry the hours of work can include evening and weekends.
  • Most Photographers use still cameras, artificial or natural lighting and light measuring instruments to capture images. They select the appropriate camera, the best lighting (eg flash or floodlight) and the appropriate lens, filter and film to best capture a moment. Photographers may also set up their own darkrooms in order to develop their films. For those who decide that photography is their angle, there are two main areas photographers work in. Commercial photographers shoot much of what we see in magazines, newspapers, catalogues, manuals, brochures, posters and billboards. They predominantly work for advertising and marketing agencies. Portrait photographers make sure that your shirt collar is straight, your hair is in place and your pose is spot on, before snapping away on occasions such as weddings, high school graduations or for family portrait sittings. Portrait photography is where most work is available.

  • Nationally 18% of photographers have a Bachelor Degree or higher qualification, 15% have either a Certificate III or IV and 18% have either an Advanced Diploma or a Diploma. 37% of photographers have no post school qualification.

    Although on-the-job training alone may provide the necessary skills to become a photographer, some people should have formal training to help avoid costly mistakes. As in any professional environment, there is a need for qualifications in order to differentiate eligibility for positions. Also, if a photographer is to be involved in a professional association such as the Australian Institute for Professional Photography, academic and professional qualifications may be required. These qualifications also help you to promote and market your services.

    TAFE SA offers courses relevant to this occupation including the Diploma of Photo Imaging, Pathway includes the Certificate IV in Photo Imaging.

    Still unsure? Then try a short course also offered through TAFE SA such as Using a DSLR Camera and Basic Photo Editing. Check the website for the full list of short courses.

  • A snapshot of the future these days, digital cameras can take pictures using a solid state image sensor instead of traditional film. The images are then stored in a digital format which can be both viewed on a computer and printed out. You can transmit them electronically. You can even manipulate them by changing the size, the colour and even the content. No more having to buy film or the toxic chemicals associated with developing. In fact, you don't even have to wait for them to be developed! This is the future of photography. As technology gets better, so too will the quality of digital imagery. It also means the cost of digital cameras will go down. But before you throw out your old camera, remember there will always be photographers who prefer to work with film and customers who prefer the old glossies.

  • Many photographers can (and often should, if they are to be successful) branch out into a number of areas. These include books, magazine or post-card and greeting-card publishing, web design which includes integrating images for websites and working on website illustrations, graphic design and so on. Photographers may also become writers and editors of magazines. Its important for anyone involved in contemporary photography, that they recognise the cross-links between multi media, graphics, visual arts and information technology. That means doing studio, location shoots and editorial work. It is common for photographers to work as 'freelancers' - that is, on contract work. Sharp business and people skills go hand-in-hand with photography. Those in the know caution that you can't have enough business knowledge.

  • Trying to get that perfect shot can take far more than one roll of film. Skilled photographers realise this and usually take dozens of pics of the same shot. If you prefer to hurry your work along, perhaps you should pass on this job - patience is non negotiable. Picture-Perfect conditions depending on the particular assignment, photographers can work in a wide variety of places, ranging from an indoor studio to a balmy beach for a location shoot. During a studio shoot, photographers are able to control factors such as lighting and temperature but there is no such luxury when out on location. They must be able to catch the right amount of light in time, so a good sense of timing is critical. Even if the water is freezing cold during a beach shoot, photographers have to create the impression that the models being photographed are having the best time in the world! And, having an eye for detail goes without saying in this occupation. These professionals work in close and personal situations with others, so good interpersonal skills are essential. Physical fitness should not be overlooked either as photographers may have to carry a fair amount of heavy equipment.

  • To be a professional photographer, you must be an individual who is self-motivated, who is willing to discover their niche within the industry, and then to tailor particular products to match that niche. It's also important for a professional photographer to recognise that they are required to present themselves as a service supplier and to work within contemporary business practices and social environments. Abandon the glamour although many people decide they want to enter a career in photography due to the 'glamour' status they associate with this occupation, cautions that in order to develop a successful career, you must be committed to the process of photography and accept the realities of what it takes to be a photographer. Photography is as much a lifestyle choice as it is a profession and be warned that the cost of essential professional equipment can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. Commercial and portrait photographers generally work a 46.5 hours per week including weekends and evenings to accommodate clients. Hours can get longer on special assignments.

    For further information, contact:

    Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (SA/NT)
    First Floor 241 Pirie St Adelaide SA 5000
    Ph: 8223 60 55 or 1300 656 512
    Internet Address: