Photographer Salary

Earnings for Photographers in the United States come in at around $15.05 per hour on average. In the world of Photographers, total cash compensation can vary between $20K and $89K. Each package generally includes bonuses and profit sharing proceeds, and in exceptional cases, those amounts can reach heights of $4K and $8K, respectively. The company is the main element affecting pay for this group — geography and years of experience are driving factors as well. Work is enjoyable for Photographers, who typically claim high levels of job satisfaction. Health benefits are not claimed by all — just under one-half lack any form of coverage — but just over a half have medical insurance, and over a third have dental, too. Women are just slightly outnumbered, with male Photographers making up 52 percent of survey respondents. Participants in PayScale's salary questionnaire provided the particulars of this report.
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$24,515 - $74,194

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$9.05 - $51.02

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National Salary Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Take the PayScale Survey to find out how location influences pay for this job.
)
$0$30K$60K$90K
Salary
$24,515 - $74,194  
   
Bonus
$0.00 - $3,584  
Profit Sharing
$15.46 - $8,027  
Commission
$0.21 - $18,596  
Total Pay (?
XTotal Pay combines base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, overtime pay and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable for this job. It does not include equity (stock) compensation, cash value of retirement benefits, or the value of other non-cash benefits (e.g. healthcare).
)
$20,367 - $89,160  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 18 Jul 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 758
National Hourly Rate Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Take the PayScale Survey to find out how location influences pay for this job.
)
$0$18$36$54
Hourly Rate
$9.05 - $51.02  
   
Hourly Tips
$0.00 - $12.33  
Overtime
$9.78 - $49.65  
National Annualized Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Take the PayScale Survey to find out how location influences pay for this job.
)
$0$50K$100K$150K
Bonus
$0.00 - $3,584  
   
Commission
$0.21 - $18,596  
Profit Sharing
$15.46 - $8,027  
Total Pay (?
XTotal Pay combines base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, overtime pay and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable for this job. It does not include equity (stock) compensation, cash value of retirement benefits, or the value of other non-cash benefits (e.g. healthcare).
)
$20,367 - $89,160  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 18 Jul 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 792
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Job Description for Photographer

Photographers capture moments in time with the use of a camera and are able to distinguish the various qualities of the photograph for the purpose of both conveying as much information as possible as well as being aesthetically pleasing to the viewer. Photographers are generally concerned with the aesthetic quality of still images. Photographers are called upon to work in myriad environments and are often compelled to work for hours or even days to capture enough sufficiently significant pictures before they return home. Depending on the job, photographers can have a great variation in the number of hours they are requested to work. A staff photographer is required to put in time every day at their place of employment whereas a freelance photographer can work virtually any time they wish. Regardless of the photographer's job description, they will almost invariably find it necessary to familiarize themselves with a great number of photography tools such as lenses, tripods, secondary flashes, portable light sources and of course, the camera itself. Photographers must commit themselves to carefully considering the minutia of their pictures, poring over things such as depth of field, banding, saturation, bokeh, light volume, conveyance of motion and even wind direction. To this end, it is helpful if a photographer has formally studied photography at a college or university, but it isn't always required. It is very good practice for photographers to maintain a close and communicative relationship with their clients, making every effort to ensure that the aesthetic vision of the photographer and the desire of the client line up to create an image that satisfies the needs of both.


Photographer Tasks

  • Review sets of photographs to select the best work.
  • Operate various types of photographic and computer equipment to create photographic images.
  • Use creative knowledge to compose photographs.
  • Take pictures either in studio or on location.
  • Work with clients or workplace teams to create photographic images.

Common Career Paths for Photographer


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It's not very common for Photographers to move on to become Senior Photographers. Average pay for a Senior Photographer is $59K annually. The most common promotion for Photographers is Commercial Photographer, a position that typically pays $41K annually. Another standard transition for Photographers seeking advancement is to assume a Graphic Artist & Designer role, where pay is often $36K.

Photographer Job Listings

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Popular Employer Salaries for Photographer


Although Self-Employed boasts the highest average salary in town at $66K, employee compensation still varies greatly — workers can make as little as $17K or as much as $362K.

Popular Skills for Photographer


Photographers report using a large range of skills on the job. Most notably, facility with Social Media Marketing, Apple Final Cut Pro, and Adobe Lightroom are correlated to pay that is significantly above average, leading to increases of 32 percent, 28 percent, and 9 percent, respectively. Those listing Customer Service as a skill should be prepared for drastically lower pay. Portrait Photography and Sales also typically command lower compensation. The majority of those who know Adobe Photoshop also know Graphic Design.

Pay by Experience Level for Photographer

Median of all compensation (including tips, bonus, and overtime) by years of experience.


Experience and income seem to be closely related; in general, the survey respondents who had worked for more years reported higher incomes. Survey participants with less than five years' experience pocket $32K on average, but those with five to 10 years of experience enjoy a much bigger median of $41K. Photographers with one to two decades of relevant experience report an average salary of approximately $47K. More than 20 years of experience mean a somewhat bigger median paycheck of $50K, but it's not much more than what less experienced people make.

Pay Difference by Location


For those looking to make money, Photographers in New York enjoy an exceptional pay rate, 45 percent above the national average. Photographers can also look forward to large paychecks in cities like San Diego (+32 percent), Dallas (+32 percent), Washington (+31 percent), and Denver (+28 percent). Photographers in Orlando take home the lowest salaries, earning a whopping 36 percent less than the national average. Not at the bottom but still paying below the median are employers in Philadelphia and Chicago (6 percent less).

Photographer Reviews

What is it like working as a Photographer?

Photographer in Seattle:
"Awesome Work."
Pros: I love the atmosphere, the people, the fashion.
Cons: Terrible management. Zero support, zero employee validation.

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Experience Affects Photographer Salaries




National Average
$39,000


Skills That Affect Photographer Salaries

Social Media Marketing
up arrow 32%

Apple Final Cut Pro
up arrow 28%

Adobe Lightroom
up arrow 9%


Product Photography
up arrow 4%

Adobe Photoshop
up arrow 2%

National Average
$39,000


up arrow 7%

Photography
up arrow 8%

lighting
up arrow 10%

up arrow 22%

Portrait Photography
up arrow 26%

Customer Service
up arrow 38%

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 248 votes.

Gender

Female
48 %
Male
52 %

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
4%
1-4 years
39%
5-9 years
26%
10-19 years
18%
20 years or more
13%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits Medical: 52% dental benefits Dental: 37%
vision benefits Vision: 29% employee benefits None: 47%
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