Considering a career in photography but not sure where to start?

Like many creative roles the majority of photographers are self-employed (work freelance). The remainder work for a variety of employers, including creative businesses, publishers and photographic agencies, or in the education or public sector.

There are many different areas of photography to specialise in and no singular route into the industry. Here are our top tips for finding work in the sector.

1. Find out what is involved and the areas you can specialise in:

There are a wide range of roles within the photo imaging industry, use the links below to explore these different career paths and what is involved to help inform your job search.

2. Build up your portfolio and network of contacts

This is arguably the most important aspect of developing your career in photography; one freelance commission can open the doors to more contacts who may want to hire you.

So where do you start?

Manchester is a growing hub for the creative industries; there are several routes to explore when searching for opportunities to work within the industry and get connected. Check out our tips below!

Fashion Photography – Manchester is the online fashion capital of the UK, home to big name brands like Missguided and, all of whom need photographers to capture their latest look and to promote their brand. Some of Manchester’s top online fashion retailers are:

Missguided LavishAlice Maniére De Voir

Music Journalism – Whether it is magazine features, online news sites, or dedicated music journalism outlets, photographers are in demand to bring the latest news alive. Editors will typically send a photographer and a journalist to a music event for the production of an article, if you can do both it is likely to be an advantage.

For experience in photography within music journalism in the North West why not try Northern Noise or The Skinny?

Film and TV – Film and TV sets have still-photographers for the promotion of the production and to evidence the work of the directors. Manchester is a booming hub of TV and film production companies with the likes of Media City providing a focal point for creatives in this industry.

Production companies sometimes advertise short contracts for stills photographers, which provide opportunities to enter the industry and to meet publicists and PR professionals who also work on feature films, and who may want to build up a list of good freelance photographer contacts.

Manchester based production companies can be found here.

Magazines – Photo editors are typically tasked with selecting, editing, positioning and publishing photos to accompany the text of a publication. Photo editors are often employed by newspapers, book publishers, magazines, or websites.

Contacting photo editors can be a great way to get work experience or job shadowing experience in this field. For experience in the North West Viva Manchester, which is an online lifestyle magazine, may be a good place to start as they often recruit photographers.

Festivals – PR teams for festivals will require photographers for their promotional materials, local festivals in Manchester include: Blue Dot, Parklife, Sounds From The Other City, Manchester Pride.

Enter Competitions- This is a great way to gain exposure for your work. Some organisations will advertise the work of entrants on their website, whilst you can add competition shortlisting to your CV, all of which can be a great way to advertise your work.

Lensculture has brought together talented photographers within the industry for over 10 years. For the last 5 years they have hosted their LensCulture International Exposure Awards, their aim, to promote the work of talented photographers from around the world.

Networking: This is a great way of building up your contacts within industry as well as promoting your own work.

Redeye is a photography network for budding photographers, based in Manchester, and aims to help those starting out on this career path to build networks.

Lensculture are launching an expanded network in autumn 2017 to actively connect photographers, artists, galleries, publishers, schools, agencies, media, festivals, critics, curators, collectors, editors, students — anyone and everyone involved in contemporary photography. brings together individuals with similar interests, meeting locally to network and enjoy activities relating to their interest.  For photography groups try: The Creative Industries Network Group and Northern Digitals

3. Make use of creative jobs boards when looking for roles:

Many roles within photography can be secured via industry contacts, work experience and networking, however this is not the only way to find a role. The below jobs boards provide a targeted place to search for roles within the creative industries.


Arts Council