June 13, 2024

17 Highest Paying Photography Jobs in 2023


Photographers have a fascinating life: they travel a lot, meet new people, and gain unique experiences every day. This profession implies taking pictures of gorgeous models, products for sale, or even wildlife.

Good photographers create powerful images. A picture is worth a thousand words, they say. Besides, this profession is never tiresome. 

Photographers are expected to earn much. However, the wages largely depend on the type of job, location, years of experience, and so on.

The Highest Paying Jobs for Photographers

Explore different kinds of photography jobs! There are great opportunities for those who work in front or behind the camera. You can choose any job that better suits your interests and create a successful career in photography. Here are some examples of the best professional options for photographers.

Photo Studio.

1. Stylist

A stylist creates outfits and makeup for models and sometimes plans photography composition.
Stylists generate ideas of design and draw sketches, either by hand or using a computer. They may be required to keep a stock of regularly used cloth items, buy, rent or borrow props, including clothes for models or unusual items such as fake snow. Stylists usually work with makeup artists, wardrobe specialists, scene builders, and art directors to keep the shoot on track. 

Moreover, they possess a sharp sense of color: match clothes, and accessories. The awareness of the latest trends in fashion comes in handy. If you want to become a stylist, you need to obtain relevant education. It will provide you with the necessary skills and boost your confidence.

Pros: Stylists work on a project with a team of experts, and their job is genuinely creative.

Cons: Sometimes they need to get props that are tough to find. 

The money stylists earn ranges from $20,000 to 30,000 a year or about $25 an hour.

2. Commercial Photography

person holding a burger for advertisement.

Commercial photographers showcase products and services. They bring forward the benefits of a product and make it look more appealing for marketing and advertising purposes. Commercial photography is a diversified field: photographers take pictures of gadgets, furniture, accessories, food, beverage items, construct materials, high-end promotional products, or elegant perfumes of popular brands. Commercial image is the “face” of the product and directly impacts whether there will be a purchase or not. So, a commercial photographer should make an image that would catch the potential buyer. 

Commercial photography calls for experience and skills, including photo editing and knowledge of post-processing of pictures. The requirements for a commercial photographer are huge. That is why you need a brilliant portfolio to apply for this job.

Pros: There’s a steady increase in clients and products that will need your services.
Cons: If you are a beginner, you are unlikely to participate in exciting and creative projects.

Commercial photography is one of the highest paying photography jobs. Specialists can expect to earn around $100,000 per year (salary + license fees for the right to use their photos).

3. Fashion Photography

photograph of a women wearing trendy clothes.

Fashion photography is one of the most desirable jobs. A fashion photographer takes pictures of models or products that will be depicted in magazines, catalogs, advertisements, or models’ portfolios. You can work as a high fashion photographer, an editorial photographer, a street fashion photographer, or a runway fashion photographer.

Fashion photographers spend a lot of time on each picture to make it perfect. What is more, such photographers are responsible for the composition of the photograph. They should know how to pose and give recommendations to models. 
Pros: You will collaborate with famous people and make friends with celebrities.
Cons: It is quite difficult to enter the sphere.

The average salary is from $45,000 to $70,000. 

4. Photo Editor

photographer editing pictures.

After shooting photos, a photo editor works on them: adds special effects, and improves their visual appeal. Photo editors work with computer programs to adjust picture settings such as lighting, exposure, color, saturation, and other settings to improve the image. 

Apart from technical photography skills, a good editor has to be creative, possess great organizational abilities, and have excellent interpersonal skills.

Pros: You will not need to leave your comfortable working place. 

Cons: You need technical skills very much.

A photo editor earns about $16.10 per hour. The salary generally is $46,000 a year. 

5. Wedding Photography

wedding couple running for a fun photo.

Wedding photographers take pictures to celebrate a wedding day. The photos need to depict the cheerful atmosphere of this special day. Wedding photographers need to possess excellent interpersonal skills to understand what the couple wants their marriage to look like.

It is important that you like shooting weddings. Otherwise, you will become fed up with the cheerfulness of the event and take it as unnatural. Thus, the pictures will not be good.

Pros: Plenty of job requests, pleasant atmosphere at work.

Cons: You will spend the whole day on your feet, and it is exhausting. 

Their income is about $50,000 a year.

6. Photojournalist

Photojournalists take pictures of special events to present a photo report in newspapers or magazines. They spot various developing news stories and exciting scenes, such as ceremonies, sports events, or political rallies. Photojournalists share news in public and tell stories via photos. Usually, they work for certain news agencies. However, if the person has enough experience, freelance could be a good alternative.

Photojournalists are excellent storytellers. They can accompany their photos with descriptions and news texts.

Pros: You will participate in great events and will learn the news from the horse’s mouth.

Cons: You will have to operate in crowded areas and hurry up to get on the spot at the right time.

Photojournalists can expect to earn $42,000 a year.

7. Photographer’s Assistant

An assistant is required to help professional photographers with anything they need during each phase of making photos.

An assistant can perform a wide range of tasks. It can be searching for a suitable location for shooting, setting up appointments, booking a photography studio, transporting and preparing equipment, and even assisting with photo editing. Assistants need to be good communicators to meet clients’ needs. They also have to interpret their requirements correctly and then report the information to the photographer.

Pros: You can learn the ins and outs of photography from a professional. It is useful for beginners.

Cons: This job is not that creative. You usually perform easy and abundant tasks.

Photographer’s assistants earn about $10 and $24 per hour or $42,000 per year.

8. Portrait Photography

Portrait of a boy.

Portrait photography is timeless. People hire portrait photographers to remember important life events, professional achievements, and make family portraits or headshots.

A portrait photographer often needs to create a natural, friendly atmosphere for the photo. It is important to make sure the photograph meets the requirements of the customer.

Portrait photographers need a strong understanding of light, reflections, and angles. These specialists are generally self-employed and perform a wide variety of other jobs, apart from shooting: making appointments with clients, editing images, and framing photos.

Pros: Portrait photographers will always be in high demand.

Cons: It is sometimes difficult to meet clients’ expectations.  

Portrait Photographers’ salary is typically $50,000 a year, making their job one of the highest paid ones in photography. Senior Photographers earn $82,000/year.

9. Freelance Photographer

Though some photographers work as part of studios, publication companies’ staff, most photographers work freelance.

As a freelance photographer, you are free to set out your own schedule. You can sign up for any project you like. There are tremendous opportunities and a wide range of assignments in any industry, from food photography to event photography.

However, the income is temporary and seasonal. Besides, there are a lot of freelance photographers on the market, so you should stand out to stay competitive. It will be useful to have a personal brand and increase photography business contacts. Though you can concentrate on a particular sphere until your build up experience and become recognizable. The categories of freelance photography can be weddings, food, medicine, portrait photography, submarine life, and many others.

Pros: You set out your timetable and choose projects yourself.

Cons: Seasonal income varies.

Freelance photographers can expect to earn $30 per hour or $56 000 per year.

10. Photography Instructor

Teaching both online and offline has become an incredibly accessible way to earn money as a photographer. If you have a passion for teaching, there are many exciting options to choose from.

This is one of the most diverse photography jobs out there. Photographers can write articles, create videos, lead workshops, sell resources, sell prints, and the list goes on!

This is a highly flexible job. Many photography instructors work from home or are full-time travelers. The downside of this job is that it can be unpredictable and unstable, depending on the kind of products you sell and on your target audience. However, by diversifying your products and being persistent, you can thrive in this industry.

The average annual salary of a photography instructor is $40,000 to $60,000.

11. Food Photographer

shot of plate full of vegetable salad.

Food photographers take photos of food, so it looks delicious but still natural. To do so, photographers use lightning and the whole set of professional equipment.

This type of photography also involves editorial restaurant shots for reviews in magazines. Food photographers capture the essence of a place – the food, patrons, staff, setting, and anything that makes the place unique. This means being quick to set up your equipment in a restaurant during a set time frame.

They may cooperate with a food stylist to get the best shot of food.

Pros: Photographers can work with minimal experience and there is no certification required.

Cons: Highly competitive photography genre.

The average salary is $40,270 a year or $92,000 for high-professionals, hired by famous brands. The wages are $19 per hour.

12. Landscape & Nature Photography

seascape photography.

Most landscape and nature photographers travel all around the world and keeps track of their findings and journey experiences. This job calls for years of experience and enormous efforts for each photo.

Besides, nature photography requires patience. The wildlife photographers may spend weeks taking a certain photo of an animal. Moreover, the weather is unstable sometimes, and a photographer may need to wait some days to take the long-awaited shot.

Pros: Nature photographers travel a lot!

Cons: You may live out in the wild for some time. Besides, you should be lucky enough to get such a job. 

The salary usually is $40,000 per year. Though, most importantly, such photographers earn remarkable life experiences.

13. Medical Photography

Medical photographers take photos of everything connected to medical care. They are not afraid of shooting surgeries. Their works get used for instructions and educational materials or evidence in legal procedures and so on.

Medical photographers perform different tasks, including collecting statistics and digitalizing images. They should possess high technical skills and perform detail-oriented photographing. 
You need to acquire formal medical training to enter this sphere. This job is not much preferred by photographers. However, if you are skilled enough, you can occupy this niche. 

Pros: A good salary and noble purpose of working in medicine.
Cons: There is not much creativity.

The average salary is about $41000 or $59000 a year.

14. Film Set Photographer

A film set photographer takes pictures of actors and film scenes to create posters, promotional material for movies.

They frequently use photo editing and display their ideas in compelled images.

Film set photographers may take snapshots of safety preparations to help demonstrate compliance with safety regulations.

Pros: You will be generously compensated, provided you work long hours. 

Cons: Difficult to enter for beginners. Besides, some insiders say that the job is stressful. You can be fired on a whim by prickly employers. 

Film set photographer earns about $50,000 per year.

15. Model

model wearing trendy clothes.

Models display products – clothing, makeup, jewelry. They are the stars of the photographs. Models work a lot and need to know how to pose and behave on the camera. Most models take special training to understand the basics of it.

If you are lucky to have an unusual or attractive appearance, you should consider applying for this job. What is more, models with a bit bizarre appearance are sought-for nowadays, because they make the photographs memorable and outstanding.

Pros: If you are pretty and possess an unusual appearance, you will be a success. It is truly interesting and creative work.

Cons: You will be worn out after each working day. Besides, it is crucial to keep fit and pay attention to your appearance.

$52,000 is the median annual salary for a Model.

16. Sports Photography

cycling sport event.

Sports photography has expanded beyond photojournalism, and now it also deals with product, editorial, and fashion photography. Sports photographers take pictures in the open air, at gyms or studios.

To get into sports photography, you need to be passionate about sport – you will meet people obsessed with it. You need to reach these people and have an influence on their community to become a success. Moreover, let’s not forget about special equipment to capture motion. You will deal with different types of shooting and experiment with them.

Pros: It is perfect for those whose life revolves around sports. 

Cons: It isn’t easy to enter the sports photography sphere unless you have valuable business connections.

Sports photographers make about $70,000 yearly.

17. Real Estate Photography

A real estate photographer’s job involves shooting properties both indoors and outdoors. If you can take detailed and appealing photos of real estate, you’ll be able to earn a significant amount of money in this industry.

Real estate photography comes with a variety of sub-genres. If you offer videography services, you can expect to earn even more money. You can also specialize in luxury real estate photography.

It can provide a stable income all year round. By connecting with the right clients, you’ll be able to build a strong portfolio that draws people in.

Understanding interior design, editing, and artificial lighting is a must when taking appealing photos of real estate. If you’re not familiar with most of these things, it might take a while to master them. Photographers who have an interest in all of the above will be able to make the most of this genre.

A real estate photographer’s average annual salary ranges between $44,000 and $66,000.

sports photographer.

How Much Money do Photographers Earn on Average?

Out of all these highest paying photography jobs, the most favorite ones are fashion photography and shooting wildlife. Some specialists such as medical photographers and stylists require relevant training or diploma. Some spheres are complex for beginners to enter.

According to the Occupational Handbook published by Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average hourly wage rate for photographers was $18.73 per hour in May 2021.
So, to start an excellent photography career, you should build up an outstanding portfolio, master interpersonal skills, and gain valuable contacts. It is also essential to reach popularity in the sphere if you want to be hired for a high-paid job. 

Generate ideas and try something new in photography! You will be recognized among others and will get a chance to participate in a great project.

The job as a photographer is basically freelance, so you will have loads of work at one time and then a season without work another time. Good photographers meet strict deadlines and generate vivid ideas even in the most extreme situations. However, if you are creative, persistent, and like photography, you will succeed.

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