From baby announcements to graduations, weddings, and more, there’s always a moment we wish we could capture. If you’re considering a photography career, rest assured there will always be demand for your services. But how much do photographers make? According to our survey of 1,000 small business owners, most photographers paid themselves a salary between $25,000 and $75,000.

These numbers match the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data. According to the BLS, photographers made $24,540 to $77,760 in 2021.1

Average Photographer Salary in 2021



Learn more about the average salaries for photographers, and best practices for earning more with each click.

How much do photographers make per day?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 110,500 photographers in the United States in 2020.2 The average pay for the job was $23.18 per hour, which translates to $48,210 per year. The top 10% of photographers earned more than $77,7603 — that’s 15% more than the U.S. median salary.4

Better yet, the BLS predicts strong job growth for the industry. Over the next ten years, the number of photographers is expected to grow by 17%, or more than double the average growth rate for all industries.5 That means there are a lot of potential clients out there, and they need someone like you to take their photos!

Where do photographers make the most money?

Where can you maximize your earnings as a shutterbug? The three states with the highest average salaries for professional photographers are:6

  • Connecticut: $66,580 per year
  • New York: $60,860 per year
  • Georgia: $59,420

Photographers are particularly in demand in the following states and metro areas, which boast the highest employment numbers for photographers:7


States with the Most PhotographersMetro Areas with the Most Photographers
CaliforniaNew York, NY
New YorkChicago, IL
FloridaAtlanta, GA
TexasMiami, FL
IllinoisDallas, TX

How much revenue can photographers make?

When you work for yourself, you can pay yourself (and any employees) a salary. Everything else is revenue. While many newer photographers and freelancers work a solo operation, many grow their businesses to earn a significant income. For example, one in five photographers in our survey told us they made $50,000 to $100,000 in revenue last year.

What’s more, the vast majority of the photographers feel very optimistic about the future. Two-thirds expect to grow their revenue significantly in 2022, including 44% who plan to grow it by 25% to 50%. To achieve their growth plans, 16% of the photography businesses plan to hire more employees.

What do photographers do?

Photographers spend a lot of time behind the lens, taking photos. But you already know that. What may surprise you is that’s only half the job. Before photographers even arrive on location, they respond to inquiries, consult with future clients, and set up shoots.

And we haven’t even touched on marketing! Photographers also keep busy updating their portfolios, sharing behind-the-scenes shots on social media, and networking with wedding planners, realtors and other businesses to grow their business.

As you can see, the life of a photographer is exciting. There is always something to do, whether it involves a camera or not. Many photographers enjoy the flexibility of freedom of being able to control their own time, and the projects they choose to work on. As one photographer told us, “I love the freedom of being able to work on my own time and being able to create beautiful images.”

How to increase your salary as a photographer

You need to go above and beyond day-to-day responsibilities in order to make the top salary as a photographer. Make each photoshoot more profitable with these tips.

Showcase your photography

Efficient photographers put their photos to work after setting down their cameras. By sharing your photography on social media, your portfolio, or a photography blog, you can broaden your reach to fans and future clients. You can charge higher rates as you gain more renown in your community or online presence.

Become a go-to vendor

Another way to increase your revenue is by putting marketing on auto-pilot. Connect with local professionals who offer complementary services. Realtors, wedding planners, and other event planners always seek out photographers they can trust. Become their photographer of choice, and you’ll always have more work coming in.

Choose your location

Businesses and freelancers who operate in cities can typically charge higher rates than those out in the suburbs. For example, photographers working in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Seattle earn some of the highest hourly rates in the country.8 Consider marketing your services or networking in more urban areas to increase your rates.

How much does it cost to run a photography business?

Interested in striking out on your own as a freelance photographer? It’s not all shutters and rainbows. Here are some of the costs you’ll want to factor into your business plan:

  • Equipment: Photography equipment is no joke. You have your computer, monitors, software, and other tools of the trade. And, of course, all your camera equipment!
  • Rent: Depending on your photography work, you may need to rent an office or studio space where clients can come and pose for you.
  • Marketing: Your work becomes the portfolio you use in marketing. Still, you’ll need to pay for website hosting to feature your work in your portfolio.
  • Business insurance: Risk is a part of any business, side hustle or not. Protect your work, protect your equipment, and protect your business with liability insurance. (Pro Tip: Make sure it includes coverage for your camera.)

From click to cash: finding success as a freelance photographer

Photographers are a lucky bunch. They have the ability to turn their creativity and talent into cash. If angling to boost your earnings in 2022, consider expanding your portfolio, partnering with other professionals, and working with clients in higher-paying areas.

Two-thirds of photographers say their earning power has grown significantly since they started their business. Protect your earnings with Photographer Insurance from Thimble. You can get coverage by the job, month, or year, so you only pay for insurance when you’re clicking away. Plus, you can add optional Business Equipment Protection for your tools. Get your quote today!


  1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Photographers.
  2. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Photographers.
  3. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Photographers.
  4. Income and Poverty in the United States: 2020.
  5. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Photographers.
  6. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Photographers.
  7. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Photographers.
  8. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Photographers.