Photography Skills List and Examples

List of Photography Skills for Resumes, Cover Letters and Interviews

Photographer with camera uploading to laptop at table
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Photography can be an art, a hobby, or just a way of documenting your own life. For some, photography can also be a career. Professional photographers work in a variety of fields, from advertising to journalism. They can also work independently, doing portraiture or creating and selling prints for display.

You don’t need a special degree to become a professional photographer, though an art degree can certainly help you hone your skill.

The very fact that anyone with a camera can take pictures means you’ll have to be exceptional in some way or another to be noticed. One way to stand out when applying for jobs is to emphasize that you have skills that employers are looking for in a photographer.

How to Apply for Photography Jobs

When applying for jobs, most photographers develop a portfolio – a collection of your photographs – that you can share with potential employers and clients to demonstrate your style and range. After all, your value as a photographer ultimately depends not on your history or your equipment but on the type and quality of the images you can produce.

While skill words are not necessary for your portfolio, you can include skill words in your other job materials. For example, in your resume, include some of the most important photography skill words in your resume summary and your “Experience” section. You might also create a “Skills” section on your resume, and list some of your key photography skills there. You might also list the photographic equipment and software you are familiar with.

When submitting a cover letter, you can select one or two key skills and provide examples of how you have demonstrated those skills at work in the past. For example, you might talk about how you took a course on a particular photography software, and explain how you have mastered it and used it professionally.

In interviews, you can also mention some of the key photography skills you have, and provide anecdotes about times you used each of these skills at work.

Of course, keep in mind that every job requires unique skills. Therefore, review the job posting to see what the employer is seeking in applicants. Try to emphasize those skills in your job materials.

If you are working freelance and are looking for clients, much of your work may come through networking, and you might not submit formal application materials very often. If you are seeking a more traditional job, however, you will likely need to compile job materials and prepare for an interview. In this case, knowing the top photography skills will come in very handy.

Top 5 Photography Skills

Understanding Hardware and Software

To be a successful photographer these days, you need to know the latest technologies – this includes both hardware and software. Hardware, in this case, refers to cameras, lenses, tripods, lights, and all the other physical equipment a photographer might use. Some of that equipment is extremely complicated. Just as an aspiring poet must first be fluent in the language he or she uses for composition, so must you become fluent in the functioning of the tools you use, as well as in optics and the technical aspects of why different procedures create the types of images that they do.

It is possible to create great pictures by pointing and shooting, but you will have more control and more options the more you know.

In a similar way, you must be familiar with visual editing software. Now that digital photography has become standard, the work that used to be done in the darkroom is typically accomplished on the computer. There are many different software packages to choose from. Learn enough to pick your favorite, and then master its possibilities.

Related Keywords:

  • Digital imaging
  • Editing software
  • Electronic image handling
  • Film development
  • High-resolution imaging
  • Image manipulation
  • ISO speeds
  • Lenses
  • Printing
  • Resizing
  • Shooting film

Composition is the artistic dimension of photography, knowing how you want the image to look. Although one aspect of composition is simply the photographer’s taste and creativity as an artist, you do have to learn how to think deliberately and intelligently about what looks good in a frame and why. There are certain universal principles that you should learn, rather than having to reinvent them through trial and error.

Related Keywords:

  • Artistic ability
  • Balance
  • Color
  • Creativity
  • Design
  • Form
  • Formatting
  • Good eyesight
  • Lighting
  • Patterns
  • Shape

Business Skills

While not all photographers work independently, many do. Working as a freelancer or selling prints requires you to be your own business manager. You must handle everything from marketing to payroll, and you must know how to speak with potential clients or customers.

Related Keywords:

Legal Knowledge

You will also need a basic knowledge of legal issues surrounding photography. As a photographer, most of your work will involve subject matter that actually belongs to other people – their likenesses, or the likenesses of their property. You’ll also be creating intellectual property of your own. To avoid misusing others’ property or having your own images stolen, you’ll need a basic familiarity with relevant law.

Related Keywords:

  • Able to read and understand contracts
  • Basic understanding of copyright law
  • Close reading
  • Critical thinking
  • Understanding of intellectual property
  • Understand of rights and responsibilities as a freelancer

Attention to Detail

Photographers need to have a good attention to detail when taking photographs – they need to be able to capture light and color, and think carefully about all components of each image. However, they also need to be detailed in postproduction. They must identify and fix any small issues in each photograph.

Photographers must also be organized. They must be able to manage thousands of photographs digitally and/or in print, and maintain the specific images for each client.

Related Keywords:

  • Archiving
  • Cataloging
  • Detail-oriented
  • Organization
  • Patience
  • Preservation
  • Retouching