Making money with your photography may sound appealing, but what’s the average photographer salary in 2023?
If you’re looking to become a professional photographer, it’s important to know how much you could earn shooting full time.
Whether you’re photographing weddings, sports or fashion, the salary can vary a lot.
A successful full-time photographer can make 6 figures a year, but the average base salary is usually much lower than this.
This guide breaks down the average photographer salary across various popular genres and answers some frequently asked questions about photography as a career.
So, if you want to see what other photographers earn around the world right now, keep on reading.
Table of Contents
How Much Does a Photographer Make in 2023?
Average Photographer Salaries in the United States
According to indeed.com, the average photographer salary is between US$15.22 and US$38.78 per hour. Photographers that are just starting in their career can charge an average of US$13.46 and slightly grow this over the first five years. After that, the average wage increases up to US$18.34 with 6-9 years of experience and reaches the highest point after ten years with US$20.84 per hour.
Carrying on with the numbers presented on indeed.com – while the national average is US$15.22 per hour – this has a considerable variation from one state to another and sometimes even between cities.
The highest salaries are in New Your (NY), Chicago (IL), and Los Angeles (CA) with US$22.98, US$22.33, and US$21,27, respectively. This dramatically changes if you see the salary estimates in cities like Las Vegas (NV) with US$13.73 per hour, Atlanta (GA) with US$12.47 per hour, or Orlando (FL) with US$11.24 per hour.
On further research, according to Forbes, the highest paying salaries for photographers are in the District of Columbia, reaching an average of US$82,840. The lowest income is registered in North Carolina with US$33,630.
Another factor that Forbes analysis puts into play is the increase or decrease over time. For example, the numbers are growing in Montana while reducing in Arizona. Please note that this trend references the salaries of 2019.
Type of photography
Another essential factor to consider is the type of photography. On glassdoor.com, both a newborn photographer and a product photographer make US$44,193 per year.
According to comparably.com, a wedding photographer salary ranges from US$10,163 to US$202,650, with an average of US$40.169. A fashion photographer on the other hand has an average of US$48,827 yearly.
Average Photographer Salaries in Canada
According to salaryexplorer.com, the average photographer in Canada earns CAD$89,100 per year. It also states that the main factor determining salary is their experience – while other factors are skills, location, and gender.
Carrying on with the number presented on salaryexplorer.com, during the first two years of their careers, photographers earn CAD$48,300. From 2 to 5 years of experience, the increase is 38% reaching CAD$66,600. Next, from 5 to 10 years, it increases 42% to reach CAD$$94,800.
From 10 to 15 years the salary is CAD$116,000 with an increment of 22%.
Later, from 15 to 20 years of experience, the jump diminishes, increasing 6% to reach a salary of CAD$122,000 and finally, with over 20 years of experience, the pay is CAD$133,000.
The median salary for photographers in Canada changes based on their location. Talent.com reports a national median wage of CAD$39,000 per year. For example, in Ontario, the yearly salary is CAD$42,675, while in Nova Scotia it is CAD$36,400.
Type of photography
A wildlife photographer earns CAD$36,375, according to salaryexpert.com.
A wedding photographer makes CAD$46,800, according to talent.com.
A product photographer makes CAD$42,298, according to glassdoor.com.
A scientific photographer earns CAD$56,846, according to erieri.com.
Average Photographer Salaries in Australia
Talent.com registers a median salary for photographers in AU$80.438 yearly or AU$41.25 per hour. However, payscale.com reports AU$55,239 yearly income or AU$29.68 per hour.
Keep in mind that these statistics are based on what people have commented publicly in the past. The reality is that many photographers may not be so open about their actual wages, so it’s common to find these discrepancies.
From the numbers at talent.com, we can see that an entry-level photographer earns AU$60.000 while the most experienced photographers reach AU$94.21 per hour.
You can find more detailed data on payscale.com – although, as mentioned earlier, it reports a much lower overall income. According to their research, in the first year of their career, photographers make AU$25.44.
Then, between 1 and 4 years experience, the hourly rate is AU$29.20, from 5 to 9 years, it reaches AU$30.67, and it reaches the maximum level after 20 years experience with AU$32.50.
As always, location plays a big part in the average salary of a photographer. For example, the hourly income in Brisbane QLD is AU$43.45 while Alexandria NSW is AU$26.48, according to indeed.com.
Other cities referenced in the analysis are Sydney NSW-AU$40.97, Melbourne VIC – AU$39.68, and Gold Coast QLD – AU$32.80.
Type of photography
According to the numbers reported by getcourse.com.au, a wedding photographer’s makes the highest salary at AU$62,500 per year – closely followed by a commercial photographer who earns AU$$58,000 respectively.
Far from those big numbers, you’ll find a fashion photographer earning AU$37,800 and an equine photographer with an AU$31,750 salary.
Average Photographer Salaries in the UK
An average photographer salary in the UK is £36,038 yearly or £17.33 per hour, according to salaryexpert.com. While indeed.com reports an average base salary of £24,909 yearly
Talent.com registers an entry-level salary of £20.000, a median salary of £24.684 and the highest salary of £35.000.
Some more detailed stats from salaryexplorer.com show that photographers just starting their career with less than two years of experience can earn £23,600.
Between 2 and 5 years experience means a median pay of £30,400. From 5 to 10 years they can charge £41,900 while after 10 years it goes up to £51,900 up until the highest compensation with more than 20 years of experience reaching £59,300.
Salaryexpert.com reports that a photographer salary in London is £46,553 yearly or £22.38 per hour, which is 29% higher than the national average.
Instead, on indeed.com, we find that the highest paying city for photographers in the UK is Peterborough, with a yearly salary of £28,064. On the other hand, for Nottingham photographers, the salary is £13,250.
Other cities at the top of the list are London with £25,498, Leicester £23,625, Glasgow £21,755, and Southampton £20,033.
Type of photography
Payscale.com reports a wedding photographer salary at £24.000 while checksalary.co.uk reports £29,750 for a fine art photographer.
A newborn photographer earns £44,193, according to glassdoor.com.
A wedding photographer salary is £24,000, according to payscale.com.
A commercial photographer makes £46,556, according to salaryexpert.com.
Photographer Earnings FAQs
Do photographers make good money?
A photographer with talent and dedication can make good money, yes. Of course, there are many factors at play beyond the usual location, experience, etc. Also, you need to consider how diversified is your income. Most photographers earn from photoshoots, print sales, workshops, and other passive income.
What is the highest salary for a photographer?
In photography, the sky is the limit. For example, Annie Leibowitz has reported a $3 million yearly salary just from her work at Vanity Fair – then she has other high paying clients. In fine art, the photographer Peter Lik sold one of his works for $6.5 million. Of course, these types of salaries don’t come around so often – the highest salary reported in the US by careerbliss.com is in DCK Images for $135,000 yearly.
Is photography a good career?
Yes, it’s a promising career that gives you a flexible schedule and the possibility to earn a good living. Although, it’s not as easy to get established. You need photographic skills, marketing skills, continuous updates of equipment and trends, amongst other things.
Do you need a degree to be a photographer?
In most countries (if not all), you don’t need a degree to work as a photographer. In the job market, you can have an edge depending on your education, but your portfolio is most likely to make the sales more than it is your degree.
How many years does it take to be a photographer?
Depending on the country, the school, and the degree level, the duration is very different. Most professional courses last two years, but it can be a master or post-bachelor degree of one year. Many photographers are self-taught, in which case the time is much more variable.
This article noted three of the most common variables that affect a photographer salary – experience, location, and speciality.
However, it also depends on whether you find a full-time position or work freelance as a photographer – if you diversify your income by offering workshops or selling images on stock photography websites, etc.
If you’re unsure whether photography is a good career path for you or want to know how much you can expect to get paid, do some market research in your area.
You can ask in dedicated Facebook groups, search for potential clients to get some information on their budget, and so on.
Beyond the expected income as a photographer, you must consider your expenses to understand how much you’ll actually earn.
This includes investing in equipment, renting a studio (if you need one), marketing, accountant, taxes, continuous education to update your skills, building a website, printing a portfolio, and any other thing you might need.
I hope this information was helpful. If you have any questions or want to share some insights about photography as a profession – please do so in the comments.