5 Essential Skills for Entry-Level Photography Job
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 8 min read


  1. Technical Aptitude
  2. Creative Eye
  3. Detail Orientation
  4. Software Skills
  5. Communication and Networking Abilities

If you've ever wondered what skills are needed for an entry-level photography job, you've landed in the right place. In this blog, we're going to walk you through the five must-have skills that can give you an edge in this competitive field. Whether you're a newbie with a camera or someone looking to turn a hobby into a career, these skills can help you take your first step into the world of professional photography. Let's dive in!

Technical Aptitude

First up, we have Technical Aptitude. This skill is all about knowing your tools. You wouldn’t go into a kitchen without knowing how to use a knife, would you? The same principle applies here. Your camera is your tool, and it's important to know it inside out.

Understanding Your Camera

In the world of photography, there's a saying: "Know your camera like the back of your hand." You should be familiar with all its settings and features. Here's what you need to know:

  • Aperture: This controls how much light enters the camera. It also affects the depth of field, which determines how much of your photo is in sharp focus.
  • Shutter Speed: This decides how long your camera's sensor is exposed to light. It's essential for capturing motion. Fast shutter speed freezes action, while slow shutter speed can create a motion blur effect.
  • ISO: This adjusts your camera's sensitivity to light. Higher ISO settings can brighten your photos but may lead to more noise or grain.

Mastering the Exposure Triangle

The Exposure Triangle is a fundamental concept in photography that combines aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. Understanding it helps you take well-lit and sharp photos, even in challenging lighting conditions. Let's break it down:

  1. Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO are the three corners of the Exposure Triangle. They work together to control the amount of light that reaches your camera's sensor.
  2. Good exposure is a balance between these three settings. Change one, and you'll need to adjust the others to maintain the balance.
  3. It's a bit like a dance—you need to move in sync with your partner (in this case, your camera) to create a beautiful performance (your photo).

Working with Light

Light is the lifeblood of photography. It can transform an ordinary scene into something magical. But working with light can be tricky. Here are a few tips:

  • Natural Light: Dawn and dusk—often called the 'golden hours'—are the best times for outdoor photography. The light is soft, warm, and directional, creating long, interesting shadows.
  • Artificial Light: Indoor photography often involves artificial light. Learning to use it effectively can open up a whole new world of possibilities. For example, you can use a single light source for dramatic effect or multiple lights for a more evenly lit scene.
  • Mixed Light: This is when you have both natural and artificial light in a scene. It can be challenging to balance the two, but with practice, you can create some truly unique images.

So, there you have it. Technical aptitude is a vital skill for an entry-level photography job. It's not just about pressing a button—it's about understanding how your camera works and using that knowledge to create stunning images.

Creative Eye

Moving on, having a Creative Eye is another critical skill for an entry-level photography job. This isn't something you can learn from a manual. It's about seeing the world in a unique way and being able to translate that vision into a photograph. Let's take a closer look.

Developing your Vision

When it comes to photography, what you see is what you get. But it's not just about looking—it's about really seeing. Here's how you can develop your vision:

  • Observe: Start by simply observing the world around you. Look for interesting shapes, patterns, or colors. Even the most mundane objects can become fascinating subjects under the right light.
  • Experiment: Don't be afraid to try different angles or perspectives. Sometimes, the best shots come from the most unexpected places.
  • Reflect: Take the time to review your photos. What worked? What didn't? Use this feedback to improve your future shots.

Mastering Composition

Good composition can turn a good photo into a great one. It's about arranging the elements in your frame to tell a story. Here are a few rules to keep in mind:

  1. The Rule of Thirds: Imagine dividing your frame into a 3x3 grid. The idea is to place your subject along these lines or at their intersections. This creates a more balanced and engaging photo.
  2. Leading Lines: These are lines that lead the viewer's eye towards your subject. They can be anything from a winding road to a row of trees.
  3. Framing: This involves using elements in your scene to frame your subject. It helps draw attention to your subject and adds depth to your photo.

Understanding Color and Contrast

Color and contrast can make or break a photo. They add emotion and depth to your images. Here's how to use them effectively:

  • Color: Different colors can evoke different emotions. Warm colors like red and orange can create a sense of warmth and excitement. Cool colors like blue and green can create a sense of calm and peace.
  • Contrast: This refers to the difference between the light and dark areas in your photo. High contrast photos have a wide range of tones—from pure white to deep black—which can create a dramatic effect.

And that's a wrap on the Creative Eye. Remember, photography is an art. It's about expressing your unique perspective through your images. So, don't be afraid to think outside the box and let your creativity shine.

Detail Orientation

Next up, we're going to talk about Detail Orientation. Paying attention to the smallest details can make a world of difference in your photography. Let's break it down.

Paying Attention to the Background

Have you ever taken a photo, only to realize later that there was a distracting element in the background? It happens to the best of us. Here's how you can avoid it:

  • Scan the scene: Before you press the shutter button, take a moment to scan the entire frame—not just your subject. Look for any distracting elements in the background.
  • Adjust your position: If you notice something distracting, try to adjust your position or angle to hide it behind your subject.
  • Change your depth of field: Using a shallow depth of field can help blur out the background and make your subject stand out.

Checking Focus and Sharpness

Nothing ruins a good photo faster than a blurry subject. Here's how to ensure your photos are always sharp:

  1. Use autofocus: Most cameras have an autofocus feature. Make sure it's turned on and focused on your subject before you take the shot.
  2. Check your shutter speed: If your photos are coming out blurry, your shutter speed may be too slow. Try increasing it for sharper images.
  3. Use a tripod: If all else fails, a tripod can help stabilize your camera and reduce camera shake.

Spotting and Correcting Errors

Even after you've taken your photo, there's still work to be done. Spotting and correcting errors in post-processing is a key part of detail orientation. Here's what to look for:

  • Exposure: Is your photo too bright or too dark? Adjusting the exposure can help bring out the details in your photo.
  • White balance: Does your photo have an unnatural color cast? Adjusting the white balance can help correct this.
  • Cropping and straightening: Is your photo crooked or poorly framed? Cropping and straightening can help improve the composition of your photo.

And that's a wrap on Detail Orientation. Remember, the devil is in the details. By paying attention to these small but important aspects, you can take your photography to the next level.

Software Skills

Let's shift gears and talk about Software Skills. In the digital age of photography, being handy with a camera isn't enough. You also need to be competent with various software tools to tweak and perfect your shots. So, what software skills are needed for an entry-level photography job? Let's find out.

Photo Editing Software

Photo editing software is a must-have for any photographer. It's like the digital darkroom where you develop your photos:

  • Adobe Photoshop: Photoshop is the industry standard for photo editing. It's packed with features that let you adjust exposure, color balance, and much more.
  • Lightroom: Lightroom is another popular tool from Adobe. It's great for organizing your photos and making quick edits.
  • Alternative software: If Adobe's products aren't your cup of tea, there are plenty of alternatives. Capture One, for example, is a powerful photo editor that many professionals swear by.

RAW Processing

Shooting in RAW format gives you the most control over your photos. But to take full advantage of it, you need software that can process RAW files:

  1. Adobe Camera Raw: This is a plug-in for Photoshop that lets you edit RAW photos.
  2. Lightroom: Yes, Lightroom can handle RAW files too! It's a great tool for making global adjustments to your photos.
  3. DXO PhotoLab: This is another powerful RAW processor with advanced features like noise reduction and optical corrections.

Portfolio and Website Management

Finally, you'll need software to manage your portfolio and website. This is how you showcase your work to the world:

  • WordPress: WordPress is a popular platform for building websites. With its customizable themes and plug-ins, you can create a unique online portfolio.
  • Squarespace: Squarespace is another great option for creating professional-looking websites. It's very user-friendly and requires no coding knowledge.
  • Adobe Portfolio: Adobe Portfolio is a simple, easy-to-use platform for building online portfolios. And the best part? It's included with your Adobe Creative Cloud subscription.

By mastering these software skills, you'll be well-prepared for an entry-level photography job. And who knows? With enough practice, you might even become a Photoshop whiz or a Lightroom guru.

Communication and Networking Abilities

Without a doubt, communication and networking abilities are crucial in a photography career. But why? Well, let's dive right in and explore why these skills are needed for an entry-level photography job and how you can develop them.

Client Communication

First off, effective communication with clients is key. You need to understand their needs, deliver on their expectations, and handle any issues that arise. Here are a few tips:

  • Active Listening: This is about more than just hearing what your client says. It's about understanding their needs and making them feel valued.
  • Clear and Concise: When discussing project details or delivering feedback, make sure your message is clear and to the point.
  • Patience and Empathy: Not every client will be easy to work with. Patience and empathy can go a long way in building strong relationships.


Next up—networking. This is how you meet potential clients and other industry professionals. Remember, it's not just about who you know, but who knows you:

  1. Attend Industry Events: This is a great way to meet people in your field. Whether it's a gallery opening or a photography workshop, make sure you're there.
  2. Join Online Groups: There are plenty of online communities for photographers. These can be a valuable source of advice and job opportunities.
  3. Never Stop Learning: Attend workshops, take courses, read industry blogs. The more you know, the more value you can bring to your network.

Social Media

Last but not least, let's talk about social media. It's a powerful tool for showcasing your work and connecting with your audience:

  • Instagram: With its focus on visual content, Instagram is the perfect platform for photographers. You can use it to share your work and engage with your followers.
  • LinkedIn: LinkedIn is all about professional networking. You can use it to connect with industry professionals and potential clients.
  • Facebook: Facebook offers a range of tools for businesses, including the ability to create a dedicated page for your photography.

In the end, communication and networking abilities are about more than just talking and meeting people. They're about building relationships and creating opportunities. And with these skills in your toolkit, you'll be well on your way to landing that entry-level photography job.

If you're looking to develop essential skills for an entry-level photography job, especially in the fashion industry, we recommend checking out the workshop 'Starting Out In Fashion Photography' by Tiffany Mumford. This workshop will provide you with valuable insights, tips, and guidance on how to get started and succeed in the competitive world of fashion photography.