5 interesting careers in photography you’ve never heard of.

January 7th, 2022
Careers in Photography - Drone Photography

If an average person was asked to give the first three careers in photography that came to mind, there’s a strong chance one or more of these words would be heard: wedding, fashion, portrait, travel or sports. If you were in an educational setting, you might get something deeper – maybe, photojournalist, documentary photographer or artist.

Those photography careers are but a tiny sampling of what’s actually out there. Some of the most interesting careers in photography are likely jobs that few know exist. We decided to seek out some photography jobs that are out on the fringes. Here are some interesting ones we couldn’t resist sharing.

Our simple definition of a interesting photography career

We didn’t approach this too rigidly; we had two basic rules. First, it had to be an actual career as opposed to being a type of photography, meaning there had to be a dedicated job doing the work the career described. Second, we had to be able to find proof that the job existed, either that there was a job posting for it, or there was a photographer known to be currently doing the work.

Drone photographer/videographer

We’ve known drone photography has been in use in filmmaking and real estate for years. What surprised us was how many industries are using drone photography and videography today. After just a few minutes visiting career websites we found several drone photography job openings in industries that never crossed our mind before.

Beyond real estate and filmmaking we found jobs in the agriculture, construction, event, insurance and security fields that all had elements with photography or videography to them. Pay ranges vary as widely as the type of work, and all require a Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA.

If you have an interest in aviation and photography, becoming a drone pilot and photographer could be a career worth looking into. 

computer parts nanoscience photography

Nanoscience photographer

Photographers are often challenged by how they’ll fit something large into a frame in a way that represents the subject well. The nanoscience photographer has the opposite challenge: photographing the very, very small. 

How small? Nanoscience photographers take aim at what is far beyond the realm of the naked eye. Describing a subject by its measure in atoms isn’t abnormal.

The resulting images are almost exclusively to serve a record for scientific purposes. There’s many disciplines where this is necessary, mostly brimming with the smartest among us: scientists, biologists, physicists and engineers.

While it is absolutely a scientific endeavor, there are always edge cases. Take the nanoscience photography of Felice Frankel. A recent article described her work as “doing photography that’s not just beautiful but illustrates scientific concepts.” 

Extreme weather photographer

Yes. People get paid to photograph weather. Does that sound interesting? Undoubtedly it can be, to the climatically inclined. But, to those short a meteorology degree, it may sound mundane. We did some searching around with the word extreme combined with photography and were surprised to find that extreme weather photography is a thing.

Extreme weather photographers run towards the weather that others are told to evacuate from or hunker down and wait out as it moves in. Think tornadoes, hurricanes and floods. But, there’s more than just water-borne calamities to document.

Weather photographers with the edgy assignments face extreme heat, forest fires, and even volcano eruptions. If weather patterns go far beyond disturbing the norm, there’s a photographer from one organization or another tasked with photographing it.

tornado and lightning extreme weather photography

Automotive spy

Have you ever seen a photograph of a car that is camouflaged by dizzying patterns and what looks like taped-on body panels? It was likely a pre-production vehicle and it wasn’t supposed to be photographed. The job of an Automotive Spy is to do just that.

There are automotive spies for automotive manufacturers, magazines and even rival racing outfits. The job is about as close as you can get to international intrigue and there are plenty of stories of fast getaways. When big budgeted organizations don’t want their cars, trucks or racing prospects photographed, they often tuck them away in facilities where photographers are especially unwelcome.

The automotive spy is one of the most adrenaline-inducing careers in the automotive realm where helmets aren’t required.

Staff photographer (no, seriously)

Well, this one fits our basic rules but maybe isn’t quite fair. It isn’t one job that makes this unique, but the number of unique, interesting staff photography jobs that exist. They are few and far between, but it is worth noting that several companies have more than one staff photographer.

Consider these staff photography positions we’ve come across over the years:

  • National Geographic’s Director of Photography – Most photography jobs with National Geographic are freelance. The publication has featured innumerable photographers from locations all over the globe. But, there are in-house photography jobs there. We snuck this one in as it’s not necessarily a job where one is shooting, but knowledge of the craft is 100% required. Currently, National Geographic’s Director of Photography job is held by Sarah Leen. According to National Geographic’s website, “Sarah supervises all visual content and staff for National Geographic magazine, National Geographic Traveler magazine, the online News site, the Proof photography blog and the Your Shot photography community.”
  • Sports Team Photographer – Teams competing in the NFL, Formula One, Soccer and just about any other national and international sports have photographers on staff. Sure, going to the games and shooting will be great, but the time with individual athletes and behind the scenes sounds great, too.
  • Chief Official White House Photographer – The White House Staff Photographer’s boss is who many consider to be the most powerful man in the world: The President of the United States. Photographing some of the most important moments in U.S. and global history make this job about as exclusive and interesting as it gets. While there is only one, there’s also a photographer assigned to the Vice President as well as a few others on the payroll, too.

The need for photographers seems greater than ever. What’s exciting is that there are so many unique career opportunities just waiting to be filled. 

Along with being a Zenfolio customer success team member, Richard is a film portrait photographer. Richard’s experience includes wedding studios and portraiture studios. Richard owned and operated a community studio and darkroom in South Carolina. Richard says, “My passion is not only photography, but also helping others in being successful with their photographic endeavors.”

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