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Photographer Salary

For Photographers, hourly average wages total $14.88 per hour. With some bonuses approaching $3K and certain profit sharing proceeds approaching $7K, overall incomes of Photographers spread between $20K and $89K depending on individual performance. Compensation for this group is mainly affected by the specific employer, but geography and tenure are influential factors as well. Male Photographers are just a bit more common among those who completed the questionnaire than females ones, with male workers composing 52 percent of the field. Not all workers are lucky enough to have benefits; in fact, slightly less than half are without coverage. Medical insurance is claimed by roughly one-half and dental insurance is reported by over a third. The majority of Photographers claim high levels of job satisfaction. Participants in PayScale's salary questionnaire provided the particulars of this report.
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$24,437 - $74,744
(Median)
$24K
$41K
$75K
MEDIAN: $41,431
10%
50%
90%

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$8.90 - $50.45
(Median)
$8
$15
$50
MEDIAN: $14.00
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
$24,437 - $74,744  
   
Bonus
$0.00 - $2,628  
Profit Sharing
$372.83 - $7,096  
Commission
$15.00 - $20,750  
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).
)
$20,217 - $88,743  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 1 Apr 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 641
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
$8.90 - $50.45  
   
Hourly Tips
$0.00 - $12.67  
Overtime
$9.54 - $48.83  
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 - $2,628  
   
Commission
$15.00 - $20,750  
Profit Sharing
$372.83 - $7,096  
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).
)
$20,217 - $88,743  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 1 Apr 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 715

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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. A Commercial Photographer role is the most common promotion for Photographers moving up the ladder, and pay for the position tends to be around the $41K mark. Another typical, albeit less common, transition for Photographers is a Graphic Artist & Designer position, where earnings are usually $36K.

Photographer Job Listings

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Popular Employer Salaries for Photographer


Employees of Self-Employed can expect to make the most, with the company offering a median salary of $66K; however, pay is widely dispersed from bottom to top, ranging from $17K to $362K.

Popular Skills for Photographer


Survey participants wield an impressively varied skill set on the job. Most notably, skills in Video Editing, Adobe Lightroom, Product Photography, and Adobe Photoshop are correlated to pay that is above average, with boosts between 5 percent and 8 percent. Those listing Customer Service as a skill should be prepared for drastically lower pay. Portrait Photography and Sales also typically command lower compensation. It is often found that people who know Adobe Photoshop are also skilled in Graphic Design.

Pay by Experience Level for Photographer

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


Experience is an important factor influencing the compensation of Photographers. Although individuals who have less than five years' experience earn $32K on average, people with five to 10 years benefit from a notably larger average of $40K. Photographers claiming one to two decades of experience make an estimated median of $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


New York is home to an above-average pay rate for Photographers, 48 percent higher than the national average. Photographers can also look forward to large paychecks in cities like San Diego (+35 percent), Dallas (+34 percent), Washington (+31 percent), and Seattle (+30 percent). Photographers in Orlando make 36 percent less than the national average, proving that location is a major factor in pay. Employers in Baltimore and Chicago also lean toward paying below-median salaries (20 percent lower and 3 percent lower, respectively).

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

United States (change)

Experience Affects Photographer Salaries




National Average
$38,000


Skills That Affect Photographer Salaries


Adobe Lightroom
up arrow 7%


Adobe Photoshop
up arrow 4%

National Average
$38,000

Graphic Design
up arrow 1%

Photography
up arrow 7%

lighting
up arrow 8%

Editing
up arrow 20%

up arrow 21%

Portrait Photography
up arrow 25%

Customer Service
up arrow 35%

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 251 votes.

Gender

Female
48 %
Male
52 %

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
3%
1-4 years
40%
5-9 years
25%
10-19 years
18%
20 years or more
14%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits Medical: 51% dental benefits Dental: 37%
vision benefits Vision: 28% employee benefits None: 47%