Researched by Cassidy U.

Research Summary
A photographer is a person who takes pictures usually as a career.

Photographers in the U.S. held over 131,000 jobs in 2000. Over half are self-employed. Some kinds of photographers are: portrait, news, and commercial photographers. Portrait photographers take pictures of people.  Some specialize in weddings, others in baby photos, and still others in school photos. News photographers take pictures of current events especially things you see in the newspaper. Commercial photographers take pictures of products or businesses.

Photographers need a lot of tools such as cameras, film, lenses, and filters. They also need flash attachments, computers and tripods.

All cameras use the same basic principles. Light reflects from the scene being photographed and strikes the lens of the camera. The light passes through the lens and forms an upside down image on the film at the back of the camera. Adjusting the distance between the lens and the film can focus or sharpen the image. Many cameras have a focusing mechanism by which the photographer moves the lens a short distance to sharpen the image.

Some parts of a camera are the body, prism, film, mirror, shutter, and lens. A camera is basically a dark box that holds light-sensitive film at one end and has a small aperture at the other. You can see how this process works by shining a flashlight through a pinhole in the side of a box. Digital cameras are mostly the same, but instead of film they have a CCD to record the image electronically on a storage card.

People training to become photographers need to take photography courses from professional photographers or go to photo schools.

Most photographers earn between $17,000 and $33,000 per year. The average salary is $22,300. News photographers generally make more than portrait photographers.

A good thing about photography is that you can choose what kind of photographer you want to be and you can take pictures of what you want to. A bad thing about photography is making mistakes when you can’t go back and retake the photos (like in a wedding.) Chemicals used in developing film are often dangerous.

For the future of photography if people keep buying digital cameras then photographers will start to run out of things to do, so there might not be as many jobs for photographers.

Photographers need a “good eye”, creativity, and imagination.  According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, “Photographers can expect keen competition for job openings because the work is attractive to many people. The number of individuals interested in positions as commercial and news photographers usually is much greater than the number of openings. Those who succeed in landing a salaried job or attracting enough work to earn a living by freelancing are likely to be the most creative, able to adapt to rapidly changing technologies, and adept at operating a business.” Some photographers teach in high schools, technical schools, and universities.

Who I Interviewed And What I Learned

I interviewed Rick Baumgardner on January 22, 2004 at Baumgardner Studio, in Yakima.

Rick takes care of the promotions for the people in his studio.  He has been a photographer for 25 years. Rick shoots portraits in his studio.

The reason Rick became a photographer is because he liked to work with people. I think Rick was a good choice for me because he went to 2 years of college and went to technical schools for photography. “I enjoy seeing beauty in every individual,” said Rick. He said the people who were most important in the past were Ansel Adams and Papa Fosbender.

Rick said in the history of photography, first people made sensitized glass plates. Then people invented negatives. Now people are using digital cameras. George Eastman made the first camera over 100 years ago. 

Rick said the yearly salary for photographers in our area is anywhere between $20,000 to $100,000. He said that going from film to digital has changed the most for photography in recent years.

Some organizations for professional photographers are Professional Photographers of America and Independent Photo Images. Rick said a major advantage of being a photographer today is using digital cameras.

For the future Rick said,” Photography is changing so fast right now that you can never stop learning. You study your whole life and just get better and better.”   Rick said that a major advantage is you get to see and do everything in the world. He said in a digital camera, instead of film there’s a CCD receptor that gathers the light in pixel data. It transfers it to a RAM storage device, often a memory card.



Baumgardner, Rick, Personal Interview. January 22, 2004

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2002-03 Edition, Photographers, on the Internet at (visited November 25, 2003) 

Cosgrove, Holli R. “Photographers. “Encyclopedia of Careers and Vocational Guidance, 2000 p.3-6

Cosgrove, Holli R. “Photographers. “Career Discovery Encyclopedia, 2000 p.1-7

Grundberg, Andy. “Taking Better Photographs. ”The World Book Encyclopedia, 2002

Hedgecoe, Dr. John, “Photographers.” The World Book Encyclopedia, 2002

Jervis, Alastair. “Camera Technology”, Washington D.C, Infrared Solutions, Inc. 2003. 

Johnson, Neil. National Geographic Photography Guide for Kids.  Washington D.C., 1954.

“Photography.” Encarta Encyclopedia Deluxe, 2001 CD-ROM. Microsoft Cooperation


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