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Photography Question 
Laura Nelson

Professional Photographers - Men or Woman?

Ok, this is kind of off the wall but I need a question answered. I was in a class last night where a classmate stated that the majority of professional photographers are men. I disagreed but we agreed to find the supporting data either way. Do any of you know where this type of job statistical info is located. I just can't find!

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2/20/2003 5:00:33 AM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/27/2001

Hope you didn't place a bet on it.
It's not by much though. :-)

The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, shows the following "annual average" for "photographers" during calendar year 2001 in their "Employed persons by detailed occupation, sex, race, and Hispanic origin" statistics (which also shows percentage of women and blacks):
Total: 154,000
Women: 38.4%

The data is gathered a number of times throughout a year to capture seasonal information. The "annual average" is the mean of all the surveys conducted during calendar year 2001. I doubt you will see calendar year 2002 data until later this year.

Here's where I found and retrieved it on-line; took about 5 minutes, but I knew where to start looking:

Look under:
"Professional Specialty"
__"Writers, Artists, Entertainers, and Athletes"

I found the "text" version of this publication on this web page; "Characteristics of the Employed," item number 11:

Occupation code for photographers is: 27-4021

It is defined as including those that:
Photograph persons, subjects, merchandise, or other commercial products. May develop negatives and produce finished prints. Includes scientific photographers, aerial photographers, and photojournalists.

FWIW, the percentage of women in the profession within the U.S. fits into the ballpark of what I've observed: nearly balanced, but not quite as many women as men. Personally, I don't think gender matters. What is important?
(a) Having an excellent portfolio containing the type of photography you want to be hired for . . . to demonstrate you can deliver the type of work a potential cusomer wants.
(b) Being able to work with very diverse groups of people that you may have never met until you arrive to do the shoot. This includes some negotiating skills to find paths around "you can't do that."
(c) Having the necessary stamina if the desired work requires heavy physical activity. Don't know any pros that have the luxury of gaffers and grips, although I'm certain there are a few. "On location" and "field" work can sometimes require backpacking quite a bit of gear a long distance.
(d) Having the stomach for it if the desired work requires being in the middle of dangerous and unpleasant places and events (e.g., war photography).

-- John

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2/23/2003 7:50:15 PM

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