How Much Can You Really Earn as a Photographer?

Photographers work in all kinds of sectors, such as fashion, portrait,  press photography, advertising, product marketing, and real estate. The majority run their own businesses and work freelance; roles in regular full-time positions are increasingly limited and very competitive. In other words, for many photographers, there’s no fixed career path and income structure. It’s up to you how much you make.

Job Description

Photographers use multiple technical and artistic techniques to create the perfect image for the occasion, whether that’s wedding photography, family portraits, advertising and fashion, interiors photography, journalistic shots for magazines, or crime scene photography. Typical tasks include calculating the best angles and exposure to achieve a high-quality photograph, operating a range of photographic equipment,  curating shots for publication, using digital enhancing software to manipulate images, and liaising with clients and publishers.

Education Requirements

In theory, you don’t require any special qualifications to set out your journey as a commercial photographer – it could all start with a rapid snap. In reality, you’ll likely need some experience, photography schooling, and an excellent portfolio to win assignments or freelance clients. High levels of creative talent are also necessary. Many photographers start by assisting a senior professional photographer in learning their craft before setting them out. For many photographers, building a reputation is a long-drawn-out process and requires constant effort over several years.

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How Much Do Photographers Make

Careers in the U. S:

When it comes to benefits and salaries, there’s no one-size-fits-all. A fashion photographer in a full-time position with a slick magazine is likely to earn a very different salary than a freelance wildlife photographer. In 2019, the median annual salary for all photographers was $36,280, equating to $17.44 per hour. When the income is a median, it means half of the photographers earned less than this amount and half earned more(1).


Before diving into the photography world, it’s vital to establish your calling. Photographers work in all sorts of industries, and each industry has its own conditions and working hours. Wedding photographers, for instance, might work flat out in the spring and summer but have very few assignments during the winter season. Some photographers travel extensively to record specific landscapes, lifestyles,  and events. If like sixty-eight percent of photographers, you’re self-employed, most of your time will find and organize clients, marketing duties, accounting, budgeting, networking, and other administrative tasks. Taking photographs is only a minor part of the occupation.

Years of Experience

Since many photographers are self-employed, the more work you can bag, the higher your income will be. To give this some context, the BLS reports that the median income for photographers is $36,280 per annum.

This figure covers those who run their own businesses and employed photographers. puts the number somewhat higher at $62,137 annually in a range that spans from $37,946 at the low end to $77,835 at the high end. Breaking it down, even more, The New York Times supposedly pays its photographers $460 per day; the average wedding photographer charges between $2,100 and $3,100 for a single-day wedding package. So, the range is extensive.

In terms of the perks for a photographer, anyone in regular employment can expect to receive the same benefits that other employees enjoy. This might include paid sick days, vacation days, maternity benefits, health insurance, and a retirement plan, although employers differ wildly in the perks they provide. When they work freelance, they have to cover all these perks themselves. On the brighter side, you get to choose your own time, fee rates, and assignments.

Careers in Europe: An early career Photographer with 1-5 years of experience earns an average total compensation (includes bonus, tips, and overtime pay) of €29,479. A mid-career Photographer with 5-10 years of experience makes an average total compensation of €30,000. An experienced Photographer with 10-20 years of experience earns a full average wage of €24,000.

Careers in Asia: An entry-level photographer (1-5 years of experience) makes an average salary of $44,109. On the other hand, a senior level photographer (9+ years of experience) earns an average salary of $73,905.

Job Growth Trend

The employment rate for photographers is presently falling and is expected to decline by a further six percent, or some 8,500 positions, through 2026. Technology is to blame here since digital photography innovations have made it much simpler for people in other job roles and amateur photographers to provide the required visuals. Demand for wedding and portrait photographers should remain strong, however, as people will always celebrate such milestones as weddings and births. In essence, the number of self-employed photographers is projected to grow by twelve percent through 2026.

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