A photographer is a person who takes photographs using a camera. A professional photographer uses photography to earn money whilst amateur photographers take photographs for pleasure and to record an event, emotion, place, or person.
A professional photographer may be an employee, for example of a newspaper, or may contract to cover a particular event such as a wedding or graduation, or to illustrate an advertisement. Others, including paparazzi and fine art photographers, are freelancers, first making a picture and then offering it for sale or display. Some workers, such as policemen, estate agents, journalists and scientists, make photographs as part of other work. Photographers who produce moving rather than still pictures are often called cinematographers, videographers or camera operators, depending on the commercial context.
Photographers are also categorized based on the subjects they photograph. Some photographers explore subjects typical of paintings such as landscape, still life, and portraiture. Other photographers specialize in subjects unique to photography, including street photography, documentary photography, fashion photography, wedding photography, war photography, photojournalism, and commercial photography.
 Selling photographs
The exclusive right of photographers to copy and use their products is protected by copyright. Countless industries purchase photographs for use in publications and on products. The photographs seen on magazine covers, in television advertising, on greeting cards or calendars, on websites, or on products and packages, have generally been purchased for this use, either directly from the photographer or through an agency that represents the photographer. A photographer uses a contract to sell the "license" or use of his or her photograph with exact controls regarding how often the photograph will be used, in what territory it will be used (for example U.S. or U.K. or other), and exactly for which products. This is usually referred to as usage fee and is used to distinguish from production fees (payment for the actual creation of a photograph or photographs). An additional contract and royalty would apply for each additional use of the photograph. For example, the photographer may sell the use of one photograph to different companies for use on calendars, cereal boxes, magazines, greeting cards, or many other products, in many countries.
The time duration of the contract may be for one year or other duration. The photographer usually charges a royalty as well as a one-time fee, which may or may not then be deducted from the royalties, depending on the terms of the contract. The contract may be for non-exclusive use of the photograph (meaning the photographer can sell the same photograph for more than one use during the same year) or for exclusive use of the photograph (i.e. only that company may use the photograph during the term). For example, a contract may stipulate non-exclusive use of the photograph on print greeting cards for one year within the United States with a certain up front fee and royalty per unit printed. The contract can also stipulate that the photographer is entitled to audit the company for determination of royalty payments. Royalties vary depending on the industry buying the photograph and the use, for example, royalties for a photograph used on a poster or in television advertising may be higher than the royalty for use on a limited run of brochures. A royalty is also often based on the size the photo will be used in a magazine or book, for example, if it is used as a quarter or half-page photo or full page. Cover photos usually command higher fees than photos used elsewhere in a book or magazine.
Photos taken by a photographer while working on assignment for a magazine or other publication or company often belong to the company or publication, rather than to the photographer, unless stipulated otherwise by contract. Professional portrait and wedding photographers often stipulate by contract that they retain the copyright on wedding photos or portrait photos, so that only they can sell further prints of the photographs to the consumer, rather than the customer reproducing the photos by other means. If the customer wishes to be able to reproduce the photos themselves, they may discuss an alternative contract with the photographer in advance before the pictures are taken, in which a larger up front fee may be paid in exchange for reprint rights passing to the customer.
Even amateur photographers need not give their photos away for free if they are of marketable value. Information about licensing and marketing your photographs, and photo licensing contracts, is available online and in libraries. One can gain an understanding of the business of licensing and protecting photographs by consulting a variety of books and online resources on photograph licensing, and/or by contacting a lawyer who specialises in licensing/royalties, particularly of artwork and photography.
There are major companies who have maintained catalogues of stock photography and images for decades, such as Getty Images and others. Since the turn of the 21st century many online stock photography catalogues have appeared which invite photographers to sell their photos online easily and quickly, but often for very little money, without a royalty, and without control over the use of the photo, the market it will be used in, the products it will be used on, time duration, etc. These online catalogues or the industries using the photograph may then profit from the photo with the photographer making little to no money for his photograph. Because of the difficulty in controlling the use of the photograph after it is passed on the internet, the photographer may never be able to license the photograph again for future use or regain ownership of his photograph.
 Photo sharing
Main article: Photo sharing
Many people upload their photographs to social networking websites and other websites, in order to share them with a particular group or with the general public. Those interested in legal precision may explicitly release them to the public domain or under a free content license. Some sites, including Wikimedia Commons, are punctilious about licenses and only accept pictures with clear information about permitted use.
Some photographers may be concerned that a website can share, distribute, or sell these photographs, and/or that other users may download them for further publication or use. Thus, personal photographs on a social website page may wind up in stockpiles or catalogues containing thousands of images where they are purchased and used without your knowledge. The profit from the photographs then goes to someone else, and no credit to the photographer. This may be especially disturbing in the case of photos that have family and sentimental value, or other photos which the photographer intended to share but not to give away or sell.
Likewise with photos sent in to contests in magazines or websites. Amateur photographers may submit them, giving their name and story about the pictures and be happy for the photo to be printed free of charge in a particular magazine. But the hundreds or thousands of photos that come into the company's ownership in this way will eventually usually be passed on for other uses either in print or on the internet, with the photographer receiving no payment, notice or credit. Only a contract can protect the photographer's rights.
Photographers with such concerns must also research individual companies and publishers before selling their photographs, even with a contract, to ensure that the company has a good record and is in good business standing.