How much do photographers really make? The answer can vary by skill level, portfolio, equipment and more, but we can all agree on something – they deserve to make money. It’s oftentimes easy to fall into the realm of “I’ll work for free to build up my portfolio”, which can be useful when you’re just starting out and need to build a body of work. But many skilled photographers also undercharge. Here’s a quick breakdown of how much today’s photographers are making:
Whether you’re shooting images for real estate, a fashion editorial or even just for your social media, there’s a niche for nearly every photographer. These industries can play a role in how much you make from a photography job, but how much money a photographer makes is largely build upon their experience. It’s not uncommon that your income changes throughout the years while you grow your skills set. We’ve included a summary of how much you can expect to make from your beginning years to a more professional level:
- Entry-level: $20,394 – $82,284
- Mid-career: $23,586 – $100,615
- Experienced: $27,727 – $120,042
- Late-career: $29,299 – $120,313
As you can see, there’s quite a large gap between salaries, even for a photographer in the late part of their career. Whether you’re earning $30,000 or more than $100,000 a year, a large part of that income depends on yourself. What do you value your skills at? How many jobs do you take each month? How much effort you put into it will determine how much business you get out of it.
Many photographers also charge by the hour for their shoots. If you’re just starting out, a good range to keep in mind is $25-$75 an hour according to the New York Institute of Photography. Feeling more comfortable with your photos and equipment? Make the jump to $50-$150 an hour or start charging by image for a similar rate. Many industry professionals with a large portfolio don’t set their rates below $100 an hour with some even reaching $300 and beyond per hour or per image.
Not only do salaries vary by skill, the industry a photographer works in can also affect their money earned. Wedding photography is a huge niche, with quite a few photos involved per event. Beginners may start their rates at $500+ for a wedding while professionals have rates in the range of $1,700 to $4,000 or more. Some photographers also bring an assistant which will be included in that cost as well.
Lifestyle photographers have also emerged as brands have the need for more content than ever. Whether it’s a one-time project for a brand or a longer-term partnership, photographers charge anywhere from $100 – $500 per shoot, or more if they have several years of experience and work. They can also include various packages with different pricing levels such as a set of 20 photos unedited, a set of 5 fully edited photos or outfit changes included.
If you’re not sure how to begin pricing your own photography, we recommend making a list of some of your favorite photographers. Check out their profiles, portfolios, and websites. Do they offer packages, do they price per hour or by image, who are some of their clients? This can help you create a baseline for what you should start your own services at as well.
Whether you’re just starting out in the photography field or already have years of work under your belt, photographers can earn a wide range of salaries through a variety of different jobs and industries. Are you ready to start putting your skills to work? Head over to The Hub to find a fellow creator and get to shooting some awesome content.