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Photographer Salary

Photographers in the United States can expect wages of $14.86 per hour on average. Overall incomes of Photographers — including $3K bonuses, $7K profit sharing proceeds, and $22K commissions on the more lucrative end — generally ranges between $20K and $90K. This group's pay is mainly influenced by the company, followed by geography and experience level. Unfortunately, some people in this line of work are without benefits — close to one-half lack coverage. On the flip side, around half have medical insurance and over a third receive dental plans. Men make up a slight majority of Photographers (52 percent) who responded to the survey. Job satisfaction is high and work is enjoyable for most Photographers. The numbers in this rundown were provided by PayScale's salary survey participants.
$24,205 - $74,783
(Median)
24K
32K
41K
54K
75K
MEDIAN: $41,286
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%

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$8.74 - $50.55
(Median)
8
15
25
51
MEDIAN: $14.00
10%
50%
75%
90%

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National Salary Data

 (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross, national 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Pay can vary greatly by location. To view local data, take the PayScale survey.
)
$0$31K$62K$93K
Salary
$24,205 - $74,783  
   
Bonus
$0.00 - $2,600  
Profit Sharing
$411.06 - $7,149  
Commission
$0.07 - $21,816  
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).
)
$19,872 - $90,034  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 11 Dec 2014 | Individuals Reporting: 571
National Hourly Rate Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross, national 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Pay can vary greatly by location. To view local data, take the PayScale survey.
)
$0$17$34$51
Hourly Rate
$8.74 - $50.55  
   
Hourly Tips
$0.00 - $24.83  
Overtime
$9.68 - $48.72  
National Annualized Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross, national 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Pay can vary greatly by location. To view local data, take the PayScale survey.
)
$0$50K$100K$150K
Bonus
$0.00 - $2,600  
   
Commission
$0.07 - $21,816  
Profit Sharing
$411.06 - $7,149  
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).
)
$19,872 - $90,034  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 11 Dec 2014 | Individuals Reporting: 665
United States (change)

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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Photographers who advance into the role of a Senior Photographer are fairly uncommon. Senior Photographers on average earn $57K per year. More often than not, Commercial Photographer role is the next step for Photographers moving up in the field. Commercial Photographers usually make $41K per year. Many other Photographers choose to take on a Graphic Artist & Designer role, where salaries are typically $35K.

Photographer Job Listings

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Popular Employer Salaries for Photographer


Self-Employed offers the highest compensation with a median salary of $60K.

Popular Skills for Photographer


Survey results imply that Photographers deploy a substantial tool kit of skills at work. Most notably, skills in Video Editing, Product Photography, Adobe Photoshop, and Graphic Design are correlated to pay that is above average, with boosts between 7 percent and 12 percent. Those listing Customer Service as a skill should be prepared for drastically lower pay. Portrait Photography and Sales also typically command lower compensation. Those familiar with Adobe Photoshop also tend to know Graphic Design.

Pay by Experience Level for Photographer

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


Photographers generally obtain higher compensation for more plentiful past experience. Relatively untried employees who have less than five years' experience make $32K, but folks with five to 10 years under their belts enjoy an appreciably larger median of $40K. The average pay reported by folks with 10 to 20 years of experience is around $47K. Photographers who have stuck around for more than two decades see earnings that are only slightly higher than those of folks who have worked for 10 to 20 years; the more senior group makes around $50K on average.

Pay Difference by Location


Home to some of the best pay for Photographers, New York offers exceptional salaries, 51 percent above the national average. Photographers can also look forward to large paychecks in cities like Washington (+42 percent), Seattle (+41 percent), San Diego (+40 percent), and Denver (+34 percent). Photographers in Orlando take home the lowest salaries, earning a whopping 32 percent less than the national average. Employers pay around 16 percent less in Baltimore and 5 percent less in Atlanta, below-median salaries for those in this field.

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.

Related Job Salaries

Experience Affects Photographer Salaries




National Average
$38,000


Skills That Affect Photographer Salaries




Graphic Design
up arrow 4%

National Average
$38,000

Adobe Lightroom
up arrow 4%

Photography
up arrow 6%

lighting
up arrow 6%

Editing
up arrow 17%

up arrow 21%

Portrait Photography
up arrow 24%

Customer Service
up arrow 38%

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 238 votes.

Gender

Female
48 %
Male
52 %

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
3%
1-4 years
41%
5-9 years
24%
10-19 years
19%
20 years or more
13%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits Medical: 50% dental benefits Dental: 36%
vision benefits Vision: 27% employee benefits None: 48%