Professional Photographer: Average Annual Salary

If you are considering becoming a professional photographer, you should first get an idea about what type of money you can expect to make. The guide below will help you better understand how much a photographer makes on average over a period of a year. You will also learn some of the benefits and pitfalls of branching out and developing your own photography business.

Annual Salary for a Photographer

In the United States, on average, a photographer will make about $55,000 per year. This highlights an individual's gross salary. Typically, most photographers are incentivized to do a great job. The incentives come in the form of bonuses and tips. On average, you can expect to make anywhere between $1000 and $2000 per year on happy customers! If you work for a studio and you are not working for yourself, you likely will get additional benefits. These can range from 401K benefits, to health benefits, time off and pensions. These last components entirely depend on the firm or organization that employs you.

If you are in business for yourself, you may be allocating money to a 401K, a health plan or other benefits. Generally, we find that most photographers who are in business for themselves carry such plans as a means to insulate against their gross salary. Remember, being in business for yourself, you must be proactive in putting the money away for your taxes and paying quarterly payments. You must be very conscious of all your expenses and income!

Salary Trends

The average trend in salary shows that between the years 2000 and 2009, average salaries for a photographer have decreased by anywhere from 8 and 12 percent per year. This is attributed to economies of scale and scope, to improved digital technologies and to a wave of photographers entering into the field.

Which Type of Photographer Makes the Least

Based on averages, a photographer that spends time in the studio with no real specific genre will make on average $19,000 per year.

Which Type of Photographer Makes the Most

Generally a photographer that takes photos for high fashion jobs or for celebrity type subjects make the most money. These jobs are very hard to come by, you must demonstrate your abilities clearly and you usually have to know someone to get you in the door. This is a high demand, high pressure job that can take you all over the globe.

How You Improve Your Chances of Making More Money

Generally, this depends more on your skills as a business person and a sales person than it does as your photography skills. If you have a natural ability to go out and sell your services, you will probably do better than the average. If you are lacking in this type of skillset, we recommend that you hire someone and offer them a percentage of sales to get you time booked up as much as possible.

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