How Much Do Photographers Make? (With Salaries by State)
Updated April 14, 2023
Professional photographers create high-quality visual images for either commercial or artistic purposes. Their earning potential can vary based on several factors, including their area of specialty and their level of experience. Understanding how much they typically earn and the credentials required for this role can help you determine if it's the right career path for you.
In this article, we explain how much photographers make nationally and by state and describe ways to increase your earnings in this field.
How much do photographers make?
The national average salary for photographers is $42,494 per year. A photographer's salary can depend on several factors, such as their employer, area of specialty and work experience. Some photographers who specialize in seasonal events, such as weddings, may also earn more money during certain times of the year. Salaried positions, like a photojournalist, may offer more consistent but slightly less pay, while freelance photographers might have higher rates but less consistent pay.
For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the link provided.
Photographer salary by location
A photographer's geographic location can also influence how much money they make. Photographers with the same specialization, skills and expertise can earn different salaries depending on the state in which they operate. Here are the average salaries for photographers by state:
For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, visit indeed.com/salaries.
Alabama: $41,099 per year
Alaska: $37,826 per year
Arizona: $40,034 per year
Arkansas: $42,000 per year
California: $42,000 per year
Colorado: $45,405 per year
Connecticut: $59,959 per year
Delaware: $37,344 per year
Florida: $40,370 per year
Georgia: $40,900 per year
Hawaii: $60,065 per year
Idaho: $44,705 per year
Illinois: $40,426 per year
Indiana: $33,421 per year
Iowa: $41,836 per year
Kansas: $36,921 per year
Kentucky: $37,819 per year
Louisiana: $37,685 per year
Maine: $51,779 per year
Maryland: $43,879 per year
Massachusetts: $47,504 per year
Michigan: $37,574 per year
Minnesota: $41,942 per year
Mississippi: $40,401 per year
Missouri: $42,195 per year
Montana: $37,942 per year
Nebraska: $45,515 per year
Nevada: $41,725 per year
New Hampshire: $44,397 per year
New Jersey: $45,999 per year
New Mexico: $43,432 per year
New York: $51,246 per year
North Carolina: $37,202 per year
North Dakota: $39,383 per year
Ohio: $37,322 per year
Oklahoma: $40,929 per year
Oregon: $48,276 per year
Pennsylvania: $43,297 per year
Rhode Island: $49,611 per year
South Carolina: $43,878 per year
South Dakota: $48,052 per year
Tennessee: $37,793 per year
Texas: $41,196 per year
Utah: $35,442 per year
Vermont: $59,328 per year
Virginia: $49,051 per year
Washington: $48,921 per year
West Virginia: $35,858 per year
Wisconsin: $34,768 per year
Wyoming: $40,500 per year
Tips for increasing your salary as a photographer
Increasing your earning potential as a photographer typically involves improving your role-related skills and enhancing your marketing skills to attract new clients. If you work as a photographer for a company, focusing on these skills may help you negotiate a higher salary. Here are some tips for increasing your salary as a photographer:
Create an online portfolio
Creating a website and portfolio can help photographers find a greater variety of clients. Dedicated marketing efforts, including posting on social media, can allow them to share their pieces with a wider audience. They may also include a link to their online portfolio on their application documents, like their resume and cover letter, when applying for full-time positions.
Perform more freelancing work
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job market for photographers, including self-employed photographers, may grow 9% from 2021 to 2031. As a freelance photographer, you may have more flexibility to find jobs that pay well and diversify your portfolio. Instead of working for a single client, you may potentially have many clients, including individuals and corporations requiring professional photography services.
Work with stock photography websites
Selling your photos to websites that specialize in stock photography is a great way for a photographer to earn a significant passive income. There are several stock photography websites where you can sell your pictures. These websites issue a payment to you every time someone chooses to buy one of your pictures. The more photos you upload, the more passive income you can earn.
Improve your communication skills
As a photographer, you typically communicate with many people, including subjects or clients. Understanding the requests and desires of your clients and proactively suggesting the right solutions for various issues may boost your reputation and improve your long-term prospective earnings. Likewise, when photographing people, having the proper interpersonal skills to communicate with the models can lead to better-quality photographs, which can help you increase your earning potential over time.
Boost your business skills
Self-employed photographers manage their own businesses, so making key business decisions can increase their overall income. Knowing how to market yourself and having a good knowledge of the local market can help you attract more clients. Consider taking a business or marketing course online or at a local community college to help you develop these skills and create a plan for growing your business. Focus on accounting and time management efforts, including creating invoices, tracking income and developing strategies for building clientele.
Expand upon your specialty
While working within your chosen specialty is a great way to establish a reputation and create long-term success, occasionally taking up work in other areas of photography can potentially increase your client base and boost your income. Consider your skills and abilities to help you expand upon your area of specialty. For example, as a wildlife photographer, you may have experience shooting fast-moving targets, which may allow you to have success in sports photography.
Related: 32 Careers in Photography
Work as a part-time photo editor
Most photos require thorough editing and post-processing to reach certain quality standards, and many photographers choose to outsource this work. There are several websites where editing experts can find employment opportunities. Working as a part-time photo editor can not only help you increase your overall earnings, but it may also help you improve your editing skills. As you become more proficient, your editing skills may lead to new photographing opportunities.
Explore more articles
- 12 Steps To Make a Career Change With No Experience
- How To Get a Hospital Job With No Experience (With Steps and Tips)
- 10 Courses in Fashion Design for Aspiring Designers
- 20 Jobs You Can Get With an International Business Degree
- How To Become a Police Officer in Pennsylvania in 5 Steps
- 13 Alternative Careers for Speech Pathologists
- 14 Top Careers in Cosmetology
- Jobs That Pay $70k a Year
- 6 Highest Paying Industries
- 12 Jobs in Skin Care (Plus Salaries and Descriptions)
- How To Get Hired as a Consultant: 7 Steps and Tips
- What Is an RPh?