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What Does a Photographer Trainee Do?

By K. Kinsella
Updated May 17, 2024
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A photographer trainee assists an experienced photographer during photo shoots. Trainees often perform administrative duties on behalf of a seasoned photographer but also receive on-the-job training during which they are taught how to use different kinds of cameras and computer software. Medical firms, media companies and small photography firms all employ trainees; depending upon the complexity of the work, the training process can last for weeks or months.

Many colleges offer undergraduate degree or associates degree programs in photography. During these classes, students are taught about lighting techniques, camera angles and the best way to photograph different kinds of subjects. Large companies normally require applicants for trainee positions to have completed one of these courses while some small firms employ entry-level workers and provide in-house training for these individuals. As with most types of trainees, these individuals normally earn comparatively little during the training phase but their wages typically increase when they are sufficiently experienced to work without being under the direct supervision of a more seasoned colleague.

Some firms specialize in taking portraits of individuals, families and other groups of people. A photographer trainee employed by such a firm may be responsible for setting appointments and accepting payments from clients. Prior to shoots, the trainee may prepare the studio by placing props and chairs as directed by the photographer. Once the subjects are in position, the trainee may be asked to direct the lights so that the photographer can capture a picture with the appropriate level of sharpness. An experienced photographer may allow the trainee to take a few pictures during the session although these pictures are normally retained by the firm rather than being sold to the clients.

Media firms employ trainee photographers and these individuals accompany experienced photographers and journalists to press conferences, crime scenes, sporting events and other types of occasions. The photographer trainee is shown how to quickly take pictures while contending with issues such as moving subjects, bad weather, poor angles or low light levels. Unlike studio photographers who often have the opportunity to carefully prepare for their shoots, media photographers often have very limited time to take pictures in which case the training is focused on teaching trainees how to use the equipment so that as many pictures can be taken as possible with the hope that a few turn out well.

A photographer trainee employed by a medical firm must take pictures during surgeries. These individuals normally need to have a broad knowledge of biology and medical procedures so that they can quickly identify body parts and take pictures as directed by the medical professional who are performing the procedures. The pictures are often used in training materials or during patient consulting sessions. Therefore, trainees normally shadow experienced medical photographers for an extended time before being able to work without being under supervision.

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