Photographer Salary

A photographer’s salary will be determined by the fees they charge and a variety of factors including but not limited to skill, experience, portfolio, marketing, reputation, area of specialization and personality.

Photography salary depends on what company is paying the photographer salary.  The highest paying jobs from the largest companies are taken by the most experienced photographers in the industry.  That leaves many who enter the industry to go the freelance or self-employment route and start their own business.

Average Photographer Annual Salary

What is the average salary for a photographer?  The average photographer salary is very hard to pinpoint due to the type of photography being offered and the location.  According to the following salary sources, the answer will vary slightly.

  • – $62,257 as of April 29, 2018
  • – $43,436 as of May 23, 2018
  • – $32,068 as of May 23, 2018
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics – $41,940 as of May 2017

The salaries in the graphic are provided by and illustrate some of the different types of photography and their salaries.

Wedding Photographer Salary

While professional photography salary averages are good to understand the market of photography, the salary and fees range widely in different types of photography.  For instance, a wedding photographer salary currently averages $104,000 annually in the United States, according to Zip Recruiter. And according to PayScale, wedding photographer salary ranges from $20,527 to $244,168.

For comparison, Zip Recruiter has the average real estate photography salary at $31,000.  PayScale has the average real estate photography salary at $41,070.

National Geographic Photographer Salary

A wildlife photographer salary or nature photographer salary such that comes with working as a photographer for National Geographic is usually above average, but due to the fact that they are paid by the project as independent contractors, there is no definite guaranteed amount of income.

With that said, National Geographic photographer salaries are in the neighborhood of $500 per day plus expenses while on assignment.  Each assignment is usually in the 10 to 14 day range. With some quick math we see that each project makes in the range of $5k to $7k.  If you work that out to a photographer salary per hour or per year, it’s pretty good.

Freelance Photographer Salary

Working as a freelancer, a photographers salary will likely be more susceptible to volatility based on how well the photographers markets themselves and keeps their project pipeline full and their schedule busy.  While freelancers have much greater control and flexibility, they also have to generate their own clients and that requires time and effort. The salary of a photographer that is freelancing 100% of the time will likely be sporadic unless they are the absolute best in their field and local area.

Government Photographer Salary

According to, Photographer was the 323rd most popular job in the U.S. Government in 2016, with 242 employed at an average salary of $80,161.27. The most common payscale was the general schedule payscale.

In 2016, the Federal Bureau of Investigation hired the most employees titled Photography, with an average salary of $87,920.

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