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Sports Photographer Job Description, Career as a Sports Photographer, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: No Set Requirement

Average Salary: $35,000 Annually

Job Outlook: Fair

Job Description

A sports photographer must be an expert of sorts in their field. They must marry all of the skills that are required in a photography role and be able to get the game winning or action shot. This requires a keen eye and a great attention to detail. It’s important that a sports photographer works to constantly improve upon their skills within photography directly, as this can be a rather major part of the job.
They may be involved in everything involved in capturing a good shot, and this can encompass many different factors. They are often responsible for the lighting, the set up, and the cleanup of the areas that they use to capture photos. They may handle all of this work within their own studio, but will often have to travel to games to capture the action shots as well.
It’s important that a sports photographer show an interest in the sports that they work to cover. They must keep themselves educated on current trends, players, and understand how the game works. Fine tuning this knowledge is a big part of the job as they must be ready for the action shots as they occur. Working on relationship building can be another important part of the job. Having the ability to get photos of the players and to get a good spot for the photos to be taken can come out of building relationships.
Sports photographers must often meet with their team members or organizations. They must ensure that they get their photos developed on their own and turned in by deadline. They often must work in conjunction with sports writers to ensure that their photos are used in the context that their written content warrants.

Education and Training Requirements

There is no one set educational requirement to become a sports photographer. It’s important that an individual in this role have a strong background and be able to demonstrate experience within photography directly. They must understand what it takes to get a good shot, particularly in an often chaotic environment. A sports photographer may receive training on the job in terms of how to get the best shots in specific environments, or on the sport itself. They may receive training on new tools or equipment, or they may attend conferences or seminars in their field. To get started, it may be helpful to have a degree within photography or at least some classes, but most organization or teams will want to see a portfolio of work more than anything else.

Getting the Job

This can be a rather competitive field as anybody interested in sports or in photography may have interest. Having a portfolio to demonstrate experience and good photography work can be an excellent way to get the job. Having a background or education within photography and understanding all of the elements involved in good photography can be an excellent way to get a foot in the door. Working on a contract or freelance basis, at least initially, may be another excellent way to prove yourself and get the ultimate job as a sports photographer.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook, and Career Development

As this is a very competitive field, there may not be as much demand as there are interested candidates. It’s also important to note that as the trend goes towards working with contract or freelance photographers, this may limit the number of full time sports photographer positions. Though there is always a need for good sports photographers, the trend towards freelance workers coupled with the competitive nature of the job may limit the number of opportunities there are available. Working as part of an organization in a different role may help to open the doors to this position when and if it becomes available.

Working Conditions and Environment

Though a sports photographer may have their own studio, they may spend much of their time on the road. They may capture photos of the players in their own studio, but may travel to the various games and events to capture action shots on the road. They may have an office where they handle all correspondences, or they may just handle them on the road as they travel. Sports photographers may be under a great deal of pressure depending on the nature of the events that they cover. They may be under stressful circumstances to get the game winning shot or the action shots that help to gain readership in their publication. They may be under a great deal of stress when they are working to develop their photos and turn them in by deadline.

Salary and Benefits

The average salary for a sports photographer is generally around $35,000. This may depend greatly on the sports team or organization that the individual works for. It may vary on the types of events that they cover, or the reputation that they bring. It may vary based on the experience that a sports photographer brings into the role, as that can create a rather wide gap in the salary earned. If a sports photographer works on a freelance or contract basis, they may have the ability to earn more in terms of actual compensation. They would however be responsible for their own benefits, as that is often their own responsibility. A sports photographer that works as a part of the team or in a role within a company directly may expect to receive rather generous benefits including paid time off, health insurance, a retirement account, and of course access to some rather exciting sporting events.

Where to Go for More Information

Society of Sport and Event Photographers
229 Peachtree St. NE, Suite 2200
Atlanta, GA 30303-1608
United States

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesCommunication and the Arts