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Career as Scientific Photographer

Career as a Scientific Photographer

About Scientific Photographer

The field of science is vast and diverse, with numerous job profiles all contributing to the overall development of the field. An uncommon and rather rare area of expertise is the field of Scientific Photography. Pursuing a career as a Scientific Photographer can be exciting and challenging and requires aspirants to be experienced and trained photographers. The role of a Scientific Photographer in most scenarios would be capture and record medical or scientific data using different instruments and equipment, however, with minimal or no use of image manipulation software.

Skills needed to pursue a career as a Scientific Photographer:

  • A keen eye for capturing clear and correctly illuminated images, providing valid data to scientists and medical experts.

  • A clear and informed understanding of medicine, healthcare and different facets of science.

  • Extensive knowledge and understanding of the practice of photography with the ability to capture photographs with restricted or limited equipment and less than ideal conditions. 

Objectives of becoming a Scientific Photographer:

  • Analysing and devising the perfect composition of photographs

  • Using tools and equipment such as lighting and lenses to capture informative and clear images

  • Capture scientific and medical data in photographs that are of commercial grade.

Eligibility to become Scientific Photographer

Photography is a field that does not require academic qualifications to pursue a professional career in the field. However, pursuing higher education degrees relevant to the field can lead to a better understanding, skills and training in photography, which can help in improving the career opportunities available to an aspiring photographer. 

Check out the eligibility criteria for pursuing a career as a scientific photographer.

  • Candidates can either pursue a Bachelor in Journalism and Mass Communication, Bachelor of Mass Communication, BA in Photography or Diploma in Photography or equivalent courses offered in India.

Types of Job Roles Scientific Photographer

For those interested in pursuing a career in photography, the scientific photographer career path is a viable option that can be pursued by aspirants. However, photographers tend to offer their services in different areas of expertise. Moreover, most photographers choose to pursue photography on their own instead of joining a studio or a professional photography team.

Here are some viable options for aspiring photographers including Scientific Photography.

Scientific Photographer: A rather rare but a viable option is becoming a Scientific Photographer, where you will be asked to capture photographs and images of scientific and medical phenomena or data for further study and research.

Wedding Photographer: One of the more common areas of expertise chosen by aspiring photographers, wedding photography entails the skills and knowledge of capturing exquisite moments of a wedding ceremony, which is one of the more memorable moments in a human being’s lifetime.

Portrait Photographer: Another highly sought after area of expertise, portrait photographers are professionals who are highly skilled at capturing uniquely and creatively designed portraits of individuals. Services of Portrait Photograph are often sought after commonly across the globe due to its significance in promoting social media accounts and social medial influencers.

Wildlife Photographers: Wildlife photography is among the highest-paid areas of photography, where photographers spend months of their lives in wildlife settings waiting for the perfect moment to capture. Buyers of such photographs pay good money to wildlife photographers, however, such photography requires immense patience and attentive personality.

Photo Journalists: Photojournalists is a field of journalism which involves extensive photography as part of writing articles or news reports. With the help of Photographs, the information offered to viewers/readers across different platforms can be enhanced, allowing the readers/viewers to build their understanding of a subject based on the images and photographs on offer.

Employment Sector/Industry for Scientific Photographer

As mentioned above, aspiring photographers choose to pursue a career in the field with the aim of building their own business. Being a highly creative field, each photographer has a unique element to sell to prospective clients. However, there are plenty of employment opportunities for a Scientific Photographer. Since photographers work on contracts, most of the contracts that a scientific photographer would receive would be from among the following industries or sectors.

  • Research Institutions

  • Medical Institutions

  • Health Departments

  • Science and Technology Departments

  • Hospitals; etc.

Planning to choose Scientific Photographer as your career?

Pay Scale/Salary of Scientific Photographer

Since Scientific photographers work on the basis of contracts, they are able to charge for their services as per the requirements. While it may be easy to specify their own charges, due to high competition in the industry, photographers may be forced under-charge for their services.

Check out the salary detail of a Scientific Photographer and other fields as well here.

Job Profile

Initial Salary*

Mid-Level Salary*

Senior-Level Salary*

Scientific Photographer

₹10,000 - ₹50,000

₹1,00,000 - ₹4,00,000

₹5,00,000 - ₹6,00,000

Wedding Photographer

₹1,00,000 - ₹1,50,000

₹4,00,000 - ₹8,00,000

₹10,00,000 - ₹22,00,000

Portrait Photographer

₹20,000 - ₹70,000

₹2,60,000 - ₹5,00,000

₹7,00,000 - ₹10,00,000

Wildlife Photographer**

₹25,000 - ₹90,000

₹3,00,000 - ₹6,00,000

₹14,00,000 - ₹30,00,000

Photo Journalist***

₹1,50,000 - ₹2,50,000

₹3,65,000 - ₹5,00,000

₹6,00,000 - ₹7,65,000

Note: The salaries that have been mentioned above are just for reference purposes, as the actual salary of a scientific photographer may differ on different factors.

*Salaries that have been depicted in the table above are based on contractual payments that are received by photographers for each project that they are offered. This does not include Wildlife Photographers and Photo Journalists.

**Wildlife Photographers earn by selling their photographs to prospective clients. As the experience and the popularity of a photographer increases, so does their ability to charge high for their projects. Furthermore, unique photographs, especially of exquisite wildlife can fetch lakhs for just one to two photographs.

***Photo Journalists are usually hired by news agencies and media houses, which means that they earn a stable income throughout the year, unlike other profiles.

Books & Study Material to Become Scientific Photographer

In order to become a highly-skilled scientific photographer, practice and learning through the words of other experienced photographers is the way to go. Listed below are some of the books that may help you better understand the field and its requirement.

  • Laboratory Imaging and Photography: Best Practices for Photomicrography & More by Micheal R Peres

  • Digital Ultraviolet and Infrared Photography by Adrian Davies

  • Scientific Photography and Applied Imaging by Sidney F Ray

  • Images from Science 2: An Exhibition of Scientific Photography

  • Light, Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting

Pros of becoming a Scientific Photographer

  • Low competition for scientific photographers, thus better contracts.

  • Rewarding profiles in terms of earnings and popularity among prospective clients

  • Comparatively simple and easy projects

Cons of becoming a Scientific Photographer

  • The number of contracts is limited in the field of scientific photography, resulting in lack of proper earnings.

  • Unstable Income due to contractual employment, forcing aspirants to pursue other career paths and opportunities

  • The scope of creative inputs is less as photographs are required to be clear for the purpose of research and record-keeping.

Paths for Being Scientific Photographer

Confused on what to choose as your career?