Photographer Salary

Photographers in the United States take home approximately $15.06 per hour on average. Individual bonuses, profit sharing and commission for Photographers — as high as $4K, $8K and $18K, respectively — each contribute to the degree of variation within overall compensation, ranging from $20K to $89K. Compensation for this group is mainly affected by the particular firm, but geography and tenure are influential factors as well. Most Photographers report high levels of job satisfaction. Men working as Photographers who took the survey just slightly outnumber women at 52 percent. Not all workers are lucky enough to have benefits; in fact, slightly less than one-half are without coverage. Medical insurance is claimed by over one-half and dental insurance is reported by over a third. This report is based on answers to PayScale's salary questionnaire.
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$24,491 - $74,316
(Median)
$24K
$42K
$74K
MEDIAN: $41,720
10%
50%
90%

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$9.04 - $50.98
(Median)
$9
$15
$51
MEDIAN: $15.00
10%
50%
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$30K$60K$90K
Salary
$24,491 - $74,316  
   
Bonus
$0.00 - $3,550  
Profit Sharing
$15.46 - $8,027  
Commission
$-0.50 - $18,422  
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).
)
$20,378 - $88,820  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 2 Jul 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 754
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
$9.04 - $50.98  
   
Hourly Tips
$0.00 - $12.42  
Overtime
$9.80 - $49.59  
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 - $3,550  
   
Commission
$-0.50 - $18,422  
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).
)
$20,378 - $88,820  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 2 Jul 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 774
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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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While not commonly seen, Photographers who transition into a Senior Photographer position may see a rise in pay. The median salary for Senior Photographers is $59K per year. 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


Self-Employed offers the largest salaries in town ($66K on average), but the considerable range in workers' salaries creates a rather varied pay scale that stretches from $17K to $362K.

Popular Skills for Photographer


Survey respondents exploit a significant toolbox of skills in their work. Most notably, facility with Apple Final Cut Pro, Adobe Lightroom, and Video Editing are correlated to pay that is significantly above average, leading to increases of 28 percent, 9 percent, and 6 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. 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.


For many Photographers, more experience generally translates to higher pay. Salaries of relatively inexperienced workers fall in the neighborhood of $32K, but folks who have racked up five to 10 years see a notably higher median of $41K. Photographers with one to two decades of relevant experience report an average salary of approximately $47K. Photographers with more than 20 years of experience report incomes that are only modestly higher; the median for these old hands hovers around $50K.

Pay Difference by Location


For Photographers, working in the bustling city of New York has its advantages, including an above-average pay rate. Photographers can also look forward to large paychecks in cities like Dallas (+33 percent), San Diego (+31 percent), Washington (+29 percent), and Denver (+28 percent). Place of residence plays a huge part in a Photographer's salary, with Orlando Photographers earning salaries that are 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.

Related Job Salaries

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Experience Affects Photographer Salaries




National Average
$39,000


Skills That Affect Photographer Salaries

Apple Final Cut Pro
up arrow 28%

Adobe Lightroom
up arrow 9%


Product Photography
up arrow 3%

Adobe Photoshop
up arrow 2%

National Average
$39,000

Photography
up arrow 1%


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: 38%
vision benefits Vision: 29% employee benefits None: 46%
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