How Much Salary Can Photographers Make?

by Kirstin Harrington
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photographer salary

Now more than ever people enjoy taking photos. You can log on to just about any social media platform and see photos ranging from someone’s lunch, a selfie, or a favorite moment of your friend’s most recent vacation. Some of these photos are clearly simply made to share or remember an experience, but sometimes you see a truly incredible shot, taken by a professional.

There is the long-heralded tale of the starving artist, is this true for photographers, too? How much money do professional photographers make? Today we’re going to talk about the salary of a photographer and what you can do to make more money as a photographer.

Let’s Talk Photographer Salary

There are a lot of factors that change a photographer’s salary. This can range from the amount of experience someone has, their online presence, and what type of photography-related services and packages they offer. If you only shoot senior photos, you’re likely to make a smaller salary than someone who offers wedding packages, senior photos, family portraits, and more.

The majority of photographers are freelance. This definitely has its pros and cons, but one of the biggest perks is that you can set your own prices. Photography is one of the few markets that doesn’t necessarily have an average salary due to the many factors that are involved. Depending on rates, experience, and other factors, some photographers tend to make between $21,000 – $80,000 yearly. With such a wide range, it’s important to understand what factors might impact a photographer’s salary.

Factors That Impact How Much You’re Making as a Photographer


Location plays a huge role in how much you can make as a photographer. It’s also a double-edged sword. For instance, if you live in a large city, you’ll have a much larger pool of people who can become customers.

On the other hand, you will likely have a lot of competition as well. If you find yourself in a smaller town, there will be less competition and you might even be the only photographer around. You may have fewer customers, but many photographers are willing to travel.

Online Presence

When you’re starting as a photographer, your online presence and marketing are what allow you to make new friends and clients, expanding the amount of work you are able to do. This makes a large difference in how much money a photographer can make. Social media platforms such as Instagram are a great place to showcase your portfolio, follow fellow photographers, and get inspired. Additionally, social media websites can increase the view of your work and lead to possible clients. It’s an easy way for potential customers to view your work and see what you have to offer.

Types of Photography

The types of photography you offer is a major factor in the salary you can make. This is a double-edged sword as well. On one hand, if you have several types of photography available such as weddings, maternity, family photos, senior shoots, and newborn photos, you are likely to make a lot of money than if you were to just shoot one of those categories.

You may hear more seasoned photographers say that finding a niche and sticking to it is how they make the most money. There are photographers out there who only shoot weddings and nothing else.

There are few categories or genres of photography in which this is true. Most professional photographers will be unable to work in a single niche, but some genres have a lot more money. Wedding photographers can make a lot of money from just weddings, as can other types of photographers, such as product or commercial photographers.


Just like any other job, most people prefer experience. If you are a beginner, consider offering shoots to your friends and family to get a bit more experience. This also allows you to build up your portfolio for potential customers to see if they enjoy your work. A photographer’s portfolio is, in a sense, a visual representation of their experience. A more experienced photographer will have a better and more honed portfolio than other photographers.

How to Make Additional Salary as a Photographer:

Have Options

Having options when it comes to the type of photoshoots you offer is a great way to make more money. You may also want to increase the options when it comes to what packages you have available. Consider running specials or having promotions to increase sales. Packages allow you to easily sell more than a client may have intended to purchase because no one really runs from a good deal.


Self-promotion can feel awkward and forced at first, especially if you’re just starting in the photography world. If you are a freelance photographer, self-promotion will be a key to your success. This can be something as simple as posting on social media about a sale you have on senior photo sessions, or posting to your Instagram story to let your followers know you have a new photo on your feed for them to check out. Never be afraid of self-promotion but also be cautious not to come off too sales pitchy and pushy.

Brand Yourself

Lastly, make sure you brand yourself. New photographers tend to miss the step. Branding yourself will help you stand out from other photographers and can even make it possible to recognize your work just by looking at it. Do some research and look at other photographers who inspire you to get an idea of how they have branded themselves, and how you can do the same.

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