How Much Do Photographers Make? (With Salaries by State)

Updated April 14, 2023

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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.

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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.

Related: FAQ: How Much Do Wedding Photographers Make? (Plus Job Outlook)

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

  • 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

Related: 14 of the Highest-Paying Photography Jobs (With Salaries)

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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.

Related: 10 Portfolio Website Builders (And Why They're Important)

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.

Related: How To Become a Freelance Photographer (With Salary)

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.

Related: How To Find Photography Jobs (Plus Common Skills)

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.

Related: 10 Communication Skills for Your Life and Career Success

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.

Related: Business Development Skills (With Definition and Examples)

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.

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