A photographer is a professional artist that focuses on the art of taking photographs in either a digital or physical medium. Photographers use artificial and/or natural lighting to snap pictures of various people, places and things in a variety of settings. Some photographers focus on studio work, which usually deals with models and modeling work, while other photographers explore the natural, outside world in order to show millions of other people what they have seen through their camera lenses.
Photographers generally work in a freelance capacity, and are hired for specific jobs by numerous clients. Some photographers work exclusively in certain segments of the industry, such as wedding, graduation and other event-type settings, while others do mainly corporate work, and spend most of their time taking photographs that will appear on business websites and other promotional material. Still others, however, focus more on the artistic side of photography, and choose their own subjects and material that they wish to shoot.
For the most part, photographers are part-time employees that work either on weekends for weddings and events, or whenever they can find clients willing to hire them for one-off shooting jobs. A part-time or freelance photographer who is hired by a client is responsible for following the client's wishes down to the finest details, as well as for setting up a business model that makes pricing and options clearly visible and accessible.
Professional photographers who work full time often do studio work that involves taking pictures in a controlled, usually interior setting, of professional or amateur models for beauty and style magazines. These photographers can be freelance, or can also be kept on retainer by certain magazines and fashion companies. Other forms of professional, full-time photography involve taking stills for motion pictures, taking pictures for crime scenes in cooperation with local and federal law enforcement agencies, and, finally, taking pictures for digital and print newspapers - though often newspapers will work with photographers on a freelance basis rather than hiring them full time.
Finally, photographers are responsible for the digital or physical development of their pictures, and may also be responsible for small or heavy editing of their pictures. For physical prints, photographers will be required to know how to best develop their film, or will be expected to hire other professionals to develop their film for them.
The editing process of photographs, on the other hand, may include simple cropping, or could include changing colour schemes, lighting, or adding and removing objects from pictures to 'clear them up.' Some clients will choose to edit the pictures themselves, while others will expect the photographers themselves to do the necessary photo editing.
As with most jobs in the artistic world, practice and patience are the best ways to get better, and to continually get hired as a professional photographer. Practicing your craft is essential to landing any job - whether it be for small weddings, or large professional sporting events.
Additionally, using what equipment you have available to you is the best way to get started, rather than spending thousands of dollars on cameras, software and equipment that you're unfamiliar with. Some of the best photographers have used the simplest of cameras and gear to discover their passion and talent before moving onto bigger and more expensive things.
Professional photographers will also need to have a keen eye for knowing when and where to set up and/or take the best pictures. Knowing where to set up lighting, or where to position yourself to take advantage of the surrounding natural light is one of the biggest differences between an amateur and a professional photographer, and could be the difference between getting hired occasionally or consistently. Photographers are responsible for capturing memories and moments in time, and there is little room for failure, so a strong focus and ability to handle working under pressure is also a must for any would-be photographer.
In the modern age it is increasingly crucial as well that photographers have at least a working knowledge of computers and computer software, and taking classes in photo-editing software is one of the best ways to make sure that you're on top of your game and able to meet the increasingly competitive industry standards.
Photographers are asked to work in any number of settings and environments. This can include working in comfortable studios in a big city, or working in the frozen forests of a remote country. Photographers are one of the few professionals that could be wearing shorts and a t-shirt one day, wearing a tuxedo the next, and a winter coat and boots the day after that. Most photographers that are serious about their craft will also have a home office or studio that will include a place to work on digital or physical photographs for the purpose of development and/or editing work.