Gp-photographer-credit-katsu-nojiri_bannerGP Photographer © Katsu Nojiri

General Practice Photographer

Photo Imaging
Personality type:

The lowdown

  • Taking portraiture, wedding and commercial photography
  • Running a small business, including marketing

Is this role right for me?

To do this role, you will need to:

  • be well organised, practical and versatile
  • have good business and administrative skills
  • have strong motivation, and the self-confidence to promote yourself widely
  • master a wide range of areas and styles of photography
  • be punctual, discreet and well-mannered
  • have excellent communication and people skills
  • have good web content management skills
  • be skilled in image-manipulation and image-management software

What does a General Practice or Social Photographer (High Street Photographer) do?

General Practice (GP) Photographers are commissioned by private individuals, small businesses and local organisations to take on a wide variety of assignments, typically portraiture, wedding and commercial photography. Approximately half of all photographers work as GPs.

They often work from a studio located in a prominent town centre location or set up temporary studios in department stores or supermarkets. In addition to traditional studio portraiture, there is an increasing demand to shoot social portraits in the sitter's home or workplace.

Weekend working is unavoidable, particularly during the lucrative summer wedding season.

Many GPs work for local businesses and advertising agencies, producing images for use on promotional material. They may also do work for local newspapers and produce images for sale through picture libraries and websites.

The GP's biggest competitor is the serious amateur photographer. GPs must have a strong marketing strategy supporting a service that an amateur cannot match, such as: online ordering systems; professional image enhancing services; a faster turnaround; professional framing services. GPs need to spend a significant amount of time on marketing and running a small business, rather than taking photographs.

Will I need a qualification?

There isn’t a set qualification required to work as a General Practice Photographer.

If you are considering taking a photo imaging course in higher education, the following courses have been rigorously assessed by the photo imaging industry and awarded the Creative Skillset Tick for the high standard of education they provide and the extent to which they prepare you for a photo imaging career:

Photo imaging courses awarded the Creative Skillset Tick

The LBIPP offered by the BIPP (British Institute of Professional Photography) has a good reputation with employers.

Employers may support work-based qualifications, such as Apprenticeships and NVQ/SVQs.

Membership of the British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP), the Association of Photographers (AOP) and the Master Photographers Association (MPA) may also be beneficial to you. The BIPP and the MPA offer a range of qualifications that enable a candidate to benchmark their skills against other successful practitioners working in the industry.

What’s the best route in?

It isn’t essential for you to have academic training. Instead you could start out as an Assistant Photographer and support an established photographer, or group of photographers, and learn the creative, technical and business skills on the job.

You might also start out as a Press Photographer or Photojournalist before moving into this area of work.

It’s important for you to put together a portfolio of photographs to show potential clients and employers. This should be well presented and consist of 10 to 15 images, revealing a broad range of skills and abilities.


Sign up to our email newsletter for all the latest news and updates from across the screen-based creative industries to help your career, project or company.

Sign up