While some photographers are overworked, for the most part, the field allows its artists to be artists and work at their own pace. This, of course, can be influenced by finances, because photographers need to work to make a living. That said, the average photographer has more freedom in his career choice than many.
Photographers' working conditions largely depend on whether they are independent or employed by a company. Working for a company means more structure and possibly more routine, but it also means a steady paycheck with benefits. Independent photographers need to be businesspeople, too. They need to be able to drum up their own business, make contacts and advertise.
For a newspaper photographer, for example, the day is relatively unstructured, although there are certain assignments that must be fulfilled. Editors generally do not tell photographers what they want for front page art or "enterprise" photos. Enterprise is a relatively new term in newspapers. It means that photographers are given the freedom to find their own interesting photos without specific orders from editors. Photographers are on their own to find and photograph these sections of the newspaper. For other sections, editors assign photos. They may send a photographer to a court hearing, town meeting, press conference or school event. Editors also will assign breaking news items, such as car accidents or fires, without much notice. Photographers also are required to seek these out, too.
In a newspaper, photographers generally are unsupervised for the majority of their days. They may be required to attend certain news and planning meetings, but otherwise they are out on the road looking for enterprise photos between assignments. Photographers may only be in the news room once or twice a day. They can upload their photos, format and color-correct them and size them either in the newsroom or from home or on the road, depending on their equipment and the editors' requirements. Most news photographers have just as good a setup at home or in the car as is available in the newsroom. They will have Apple computers, Adobe Photoshop software, memory card readers and Internet access from the desktop or a laptop. This gives them the ability to work to their own schedules to some extent, even while serving the fast-paced newsroom.
News photographers generally also are required to process and archive their photos. They must work with the editors and sometimes reporters to come up with ideas for photos and to decide which photos are best to illustrate stories. They need to be well-versed in Adobe Photoshop or whatever software package the newspaper uses, so they can meet the printing standards of the newspaper. They need both the artistic and journalistic "eye," as well as the technical knowledge and skills to produce photos that meet the requirements every time. For example, each newspaper or magazine has its own color calibration for its computers and its press. This calibration can be broken down into numbers, and these must be used on each photo to produce the same high quality for each issue.
For the independent photographer, the working conditions are personal choices. They can schedule as many or as few assignments a day as they wish, depending on how much they can handle and how much money they want to make. Wedding photographers generally will need to work the most on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, because this is when weddings generally take place. This might mean more time off in the weekdays. Most independent photographers choose assignments based on the challenge and the income. Many over schedule some days, because that's when the assignments exist, while leaving other days free of shooting. They also may balance days shooting with days formatting and correcting photos for output. Some photographers may shoot in the day and process photos that night. Others may shoot Mondays and Wednesdays, and process Tuesdays and Thursdays. It is an individual choice, but the work breaks down the same. Other photographers with bigger businesses may employ assistants or apprentices to help with shoot, processing or both.
For the most part, photographers are free to come and go as they please, depending on how their jobs are structured. Taking on a lot of assignments will cut down on leisure time, but will increase income. Still, some assignments simply take longer than others. It may be possible to shoot two weddings in one day if one is in the morning and the other at night, but this is rare. A wedding takes hours starting before the ceremony, going through the ceremony, group shots afterward and more shots during the reception. Assignments like shooting school portraits can take a day or two for a small school or many days for large schools. There is a wide variety of potential assignments for the independent photographer.
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