In the recent years, careers in the field of photography have evolved to be a popular choice for young aspirants. While traditional career choices, like law, medicine, and engineering have been very popular, there are many who are ready to choose off-beat career options, like photography, painting, and music.
Thanks to the growth in this creative field, dedication and hard work promise lucrative career opportunities for its aspirants. Photographer salaries vary significantly due to various factors. Read ahead to know more about various parameters that play a pivotal role in determining the salary of a photographer.
Job Description and Education
- Well, the job of a photographer is to photograph, in a nutshell. But, it definitely is not just to pick up the camera and start clicking.
- Professional photography demands extreme clarity, a clean-cut profile and a myriad of other technical details.
- A photographer needs to learn about the elements, like light, color, angles, etc., and click a perfect shot.
- There are many types of photography, and you can choose your specialization as per your interest.
- There are many schools that offer certificate and diploma programs in photography. However, more than a formal, theoretical education, this field demands practical experience.
- It would be beneficial to practice photographing small events and rallies in and around your community. You can volunteer to an assistant to click photographs for the local magazine or social clubs as well.
- File these photographs and record your work so that you can showcase it to experienced photographers.
Average Salary Range
Salary by State
- Normally, the salaries do not vary a great deal in terms of the location for a photographer.
- The reason is that some places are suitable for a certain kind of photography, while some are not.
- For instance, a place like Hawaii or Florida would be great locations for landscape or seascape photography. Similarly, New York is a highly commercial place and would be a wonderful location for architectural photography. The salary varies accordingly.
- As of 2018, photographers in states like Hawaii, Idaho, Alaska, etc. earn between USD 17,000 to USD 60,000.
- In New York, the salary range is between USD 21,000 to USD 1,00,000, while that in Connecticut ranges between USD 25,000 to USD 75,000 and in New Jersey between USD 18,000 to USD 62,000.
- Photographers with great experience in their chosen niche may earn more than USD 60,000, whichever the state.
Salary by Experience
- Ordinarily, at an entry-level, photographers may not earn much. Create a portfolio of your work to enter this field, which means that you need to have a summer work experience or high school internship as an amateur photographer.
- Depending on the project and your employer, you may be paid between USD 11 to USD 27 (on a hourly basis) in the beginning.
- With a bit of experience, you may be paid between USD 22 to USD 40 per hour.
- As you learn the tricks of the trade, you will be handed important, solo assignments, which may provide you with a remuneration of more than USD 30,000 per year.
- After you have gained sufficient experience, you can branch out on your own, start your own studio, or freelance. You might be paid on a contract basis. If your work is great and you have elite contacts, you may earn more than USD 100,000.
Salary by Niche
- Every photographer needs to have a niche to reach an established point in his career. You need something beyond clicking passport-size shots and being an all-in-one, random photographer.
- Bear in mind that your salary varies heavily with the field. As such, after spending a few years in the industry, most of the specialized fields pay an almost similar figure.
- However, your niche focuses on your interest, it is what defines you. So, analyze the options and make an informed choice.
- A good wedding photographer is paid between USD 40,000 to USD 100,000.
- Fashion photography has great potential. Professionals at elite ramp shows and those working for the high profile designers earn between USD 30,000 to USD 145,000.
- Landscape photography is very difficult, and is one of the upcoming fields of interest. An experienced professional may earn between USD 35,000 to USD 65,000.
- Wildlife photography is on the almost same level as the previous option. This involves taking photographs of wildlife - the forests, the mountains, animals, their habitat, etc.
- Experienced photographers find work with renowned wildlife magazines and channels. The pay is anywhere between USD 40,000 to USD 122,000.
- Aerial photography involves taking photographs from an aerial view, in different angles. It is one of the most difficult types of photography; professionals find work with the media and production houses.
- The remuneration for aerial photography largely depends on the employer; on an average, the range is between USD 50,000 to more than USD 199,000.
- Travel photographers earn good salaries which depends on the place visited and the employer.
- Domestic travel may not fetch in a lot of money, but photographs of international locales are likely to fetch a good sum.
- Consequently, international travel photographers are paid in the range of USD 35,000 to USD 95,000.
- There are many other specializations, and they are all well-paid, depending on the years of experience, your talent, and your employer.
For the young and inexperienced photographers, earning very decent salaries may seem frustrating in the recent years, because this field has become extremely competitive. Quality photographers are in high demand, therefore, before one starts to pursue this career, he/she has to be prepared to work very hard and display a sense of passion for this work.