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Photography/Salary Earnings for Photographers


what is the standard beginnig wage for this job?

what is the maximum salary you can expect?

what factors effect the salary range?

what expenses are involved in setting yourself up in this profession?

how can these start up cost be financed,underwritten, or deferred?

Answer to Question 1: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the median annual earnings of salaried photographers were $26,170 in May 2006. The middle 50 percent earned between $18,680 and $38,730. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $15,540, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $56,640. Median annual earnings in the industry employing the largest numbers of salaried photographers were $22,860 in the photographic services industry.

Answer to Question 2: An employer paying a salary can offer any pay.  There is minimum pay and no maximum pay limit by law. What you may "reasonably expect" to be paid will depend on your talent and what a particular employer usually pays. The condition of the economy and other factors can also easily influence how much any employer is willing to pay or be able to pay. Your pay can also be influenced by a benefits package. Generally, the less benefits, the more pay you should be able to expect.

Answer to Question 3: Whether you possess good social skills can influence your salary range. Having the talent to interact positively with customers can effect your salary especially if you are working on a commission basis. Obviously proven skills and years of experience will be taken into consideration. But those wouldn't mean much if the photographer has little skills in interacting positively with customers.

Answer to Question 4: As a self-employed photographer - business license, website, cameras and all accessories at minimum. You should have liability insurance at minimum and insurance for your equipment. Some locations will require you prove you have insurance before they will allow you to shoot at their locations. Telephone, transportation, fax machine, computer.  All of this will mean around $5000 minimum. Ideally, you will have back-up equipment, lenses etc., which will generally add another $3000 to your minimum start-up cost if want to start-up "right". Once you enjoy enough profitability, medical, dental, life and other personal insurance for yourself and any family is a must.

Answer to Question 5: Financing is available through almost any finance organization as long as you meet their qualifications. It can help to get financing if you have a business plan to present. It can be one thing to be an experienced and talented photographer, but you may need to prove you are also a competent business person so the lending institution will feel lending you money might be worth it to them as well as you. Also there is the Small Business Administration which can assist you and provide more helpful information which meets your specific situation.  If you are a talented photographer it can be possible to even find an investment "angel" who will provide money to get you started with most everything you need. Paying the investment angel back can be next to nothing.

Hope I've provided some useful information here.

Wedding Photographer John Wilson
Chattanooga Tennessee


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I have over 30 years of experience. 12 years portrait studio experience. I can comprehensively answer questions relating directly to the art, science and business of photography and the portrait studio business. Photoshop and other photo editing software.


Over 30 years photography and about 4 years working as a portrait photographer for a studio in Chattanooga and eight years as a portrait studio owner.

I have attended numerous workshop, seminars and photography conventions over the years. I continually self-study from my library of over 100 photography, video, digital photography, photoshop and other books.

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