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Photographer Salary

For Photographers, hourly average wages total $14.87 per hour. Overall cash earnings for Photographers stretch from $20K on the lower end to $88K near the top, and the heftiest packages can encompass around $3K from bonuses and $8K from profit sharing. The company is the biggest factor affecting pay for this group, followed by the particular city and years of experience. Just under one-half of professionals in this line of work do not receive benefits; however, about one-half report medical coverage and more than a third claim dental coverage as well. Job satisfaction is reported as high by the vast majority of workers. 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. Respondents to the PayScale salary survey provided the data for this report.
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$24,504 - $74,402
(Median)
$25K
$41K
$74K
MEDIAN: $41,387
10%
50%
90%

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$8.90 - $50.49
(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
$24,504 - $74,402  
   
Bonus
$0.00 - $2,966  
Profit Sharing
$15.00 - $8,000  
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).
)
$20,227 - $87,970  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 2 May 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 675
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 - $50.49  
   
Hourly Tips
$0.00 - $12.58  
Overtime
$9.70 - $49.58  
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 - $2,966  
   
Commission
$15.00 - $20,750  
Profit Sharing
$15.00 - $8,000  
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).
)
$20,227 - $87,970  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 2 May 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 741

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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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Photographers do not often transition into Senior Photographer roles. The role averages $59K per year. Becoming a Commercial Photographer is, more often than not, the most common role that Photographers move into when they're ready for the next step in their career. The average salary for the position is $41K. Another frequent advance is for Photographers to assume a Graphic Artist & Designer role; in this role, workers often earn $36K.

Photographer Job Listings

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Popular Employer Salaries for Photographer


For Photographers, comfortable salaries can be found at Self-Employed; in fact, average earnings are around $66K, the highest in the area, though the difference in the company's lowest and highest employee paychecks ($17K versus $362K) is great.

Popular Skills for Photographer


Survey respondents exploit a significant toolbox of skills in their work. Lucky workers who know Apple Final Cut Pro can expect a significant pay bump, scoring salaries 30 percent above average. Adobe Lightroom and Video Editing are also correlated to pay that is above average, with increases between 7 percent and 30 percent. Those listing Customer Service as a skill should be prepared for drastically lower pay. Portrait Photography and Sales also typically command lower compensation. For most people, competency in Adobe Photoshop indicates knowledge of Graphic Design.

Pay by Experience Level for Photographer

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


For many Photographers, experience and pay levels seem to be correlated; more years in the business generally lead to more money. The average beginner in this position makes around $32K, but folks who have been around for five to 10 years see a markedly higher median salary of $40K. The average pay reported by folks with 10 to 20 years of experience is around $47K. Photographers with more than 20 years of experience report incomes that are only modestly higher; the median for these old hands hovers around $49K.

Pay Difference by Location


Photographers will find that New York offers an impressive pay rate, one which exceeds the national average by 47 percent. Photographers will also find cushy salaries in San Diego (+33 percent), Dallas (+33 percent), Washington (+31 percent), and Denver (+30 percent). In Baltimore, salaries are 20 percent below the national average and represent the lowest-paying market. A couple other locations with smaller-than-average paychecks include Philadelphia (8 percent lower) and Chicago (4 percent lower).

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

Apple Final Cut Pro
up arrow 30%


Adobe Lightroom
up arrow 7%

Product Photography
up arrow 4%

Adobe Photoshop
up arrow 3%

National Average
$38,000

Graphic Design
up arrow 3%

Photography
up arrow 7%

lighting
up arrow 8%

up arrow 17%

up arrow 22%

Portrait Photography
up arrow 25%

Customer Service
up arrow 37%

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 250 votes.

Gender

Female
48 %
Male
52 %

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
4%
1-4 years
40%
5-9 years
25%
10-19 years
18%
20 years or more
13%

Common Health Benefits

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