How Much Do You Make Shooting Pictures?

blandbland Posts: 812Member
edited September 2013 in General Discussions
Reading the different threads and seeing how many want or are making money being a photographer, I think it would be interesting to see how much a photographer makes on here annually, not including expenses.

I think this would be good for people to see where the money is made and were it isn't.

Myself, I shoot motorsports and concerts. With perks included I make around $5,000 a year.


  • jimojimo Posts: 2,532Member
    Now that I am retired and can take photographs any where\anytime is priceless.
  • dissentdissent Posts: 1,341Member
    No dollars, but on rare occasions I do manage to make a few smiles.
    - Ian . . . [D7000, D7100; Nikon glass: 35 f1.8, 85 f1.8, 70-300 VR, 105 f2.8 VR, 12-24 f4; 16-85 VR, 300 f4D, 14E-II TC, SB-400, SB-700 . . . and still plenty of ignorance]
  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,840Moderator
    This is an easy answer for me: Big Fat Goose Egg :P
    D4 & D7000 | Nikon Holy Trinity Set + 105 2.8 Mico + 200 F2 VR II | 300 2.8G VR II, 10.5 Fish-eye, 24 & 50 1.4G, 35 & 85 1.8G, 18-200 3.5-5.6 VR I SB-400 & 700 | TC 1.4E III, 1.7 & 2.0E III, 1.7 | Sigma 35 & 50 1.4 DG HSM | RRS Ballhead & Tripods Gear | Gitzo Monopod | Lowepro Gear | HDR via Promote Control System |
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 4,494Member
    Since photography is not a primary source of income, I don't mind sharing. I do one or two paid gigs a year. So $500-$1000.
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • autofocusautofocus Posts: 625Member
    I have a seven figure business. $0,000,000
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    I am somewhat retired, so just enough to satisfy my NAS ( Nikon acquisition syndrome)
  • heartyfisherheartyfisher Posts: 3,186Member
    I just get the perks .. ;-)
    Moments of Light - D610 D7K S5pro 70-200f4 18-200 150f2.8 12-24 18-70 35-70f2.8 : C&C very welcome!
    Being a photographer is a lot like being a Christian: Some people look at you funny but do not see the amazing beauty all around them - heartyfisher.

  • kanuckkanuck Posts: 1,300Member
    I will earn $16,000 USD by years end stringing for 2 papers here in South Korea, and doing some occasional magazine and advertising work in Seoul. Unfortunately this is not enough to survive completely on so it will have to continue acting as a supplement to my teaching at a local college still. My dream is to get picked up fulltime by Yonhap News Agency, but it is extremely difficult to crack just like back home.

    I am pretty happy with my current state of affairs because I never would have gotten my foot in the door in the business had I remained in Canada. A lot of unique opportunities can be had for anyone willing to chase their dreams abroad. Too much competition from great photographers like you guys in North America. ;)

    South Korea has a lot of great artists too, but they are more willing to give a foreigner a shot it seems.
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,398Moderator
    I am about $25,000-50,000 in the red......depending on how one looks at the figures......oh, no wait, that is called a hobby...LOL
    Msmoto, mod
  • Rx4PhotoRx4Photo Posts: 1,200Member
    For me, this started as, and still is, a hobby. Fortunately, word of mouth has come into play and I've now got 2 paid gigs on the books in the next 4 months. That would come to $1500 USD. In addition to those I've volunteerd to shoot pro bono for a Kids Safety Fair next month. Lots of moms with their kids & families will be there.....hmmmm
    D800 | D7000 | Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 | 24-70mm f/2.8 | 70-200mm f/2.8 | 35mm f/1.8G | 85mm f/1.4G | Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art | Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art | Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM | Zeiss 100mm Makro-Planar ZF.2 | Flash controllers: Phottix Odin TTL

  • proudgeekproudgeek Posts: 1,422Member
    I once sold two photos for a grand total of $700. That puts me only slightly in the red when the cost of equipment, time, opportunity cost, and other costs are factored in.
  • Vipmediastar_JZVipmediastar_JZ Posts: 1,708Member
    edited September 2013
    Same here couple paid gigs a year
    I am somewhat retired, so just enough to satisfy my NAS ( Nikon acquisition syndrome)
    That's been me since 1995. Started as a teenager shooting film at the car shows. In 2007 picked up a d80 doing everything to learn the art. From there on a gig or two to pay for the next piece of equipment.
    Last weeks shoot I was -20 parking -20 dinner plus -on gas. It was a practice session to see how I did technically and also my personality.
    I got good feedback from the volunteer. I need to compliment more often and be less shy she said.

    My goal for this year is to hook up with a makeup artist for weddings and book portraits by next year.
    So for now everything has been a learning experience and a costly one too.

    I have also sold a few photos.

    Last year due to unexpected complications during my wife's pregnancy and expenses I was a little short on money. Furtunately I had scored a gig for an album. That helped with the money flow but it also was a difficult experience with the client.
    Post edited by Vipmediastar_JZ on
  • SymphoticSymphotic Posts: 711Member
    edited September 2013
    Enough to cover the costs of the equipment. I finished a job for the Navy. If I pull out the time that was used for photography and post and factor that out of the total invoice I suppose I have enough to buy another lens, but not a 300 f/2.8. I'm with msmoto: over the long run I'm in the red, but my current cash flow is adequate enough to justify buying bits and pieces of new gear here and there.

    I couldn't do what I do for a living without shooting pictures, but I can't make a living just shooting pictures.
    Post edited by Symphotic on
    Jack Roberts
    "Discovery consists in seeing what everyone else has seen and thinking what nobody else has thought"--Albert Szent-Gyorgy
  • fishguyfishguy Posts: 23Member
    My annual income from images varies wildly. I use my images to illustrate magazine articles and books that I write. Typically, I get $25 to $50 per image for a total of about $400 per year + royalties for the text itself.
    The contracts for the images are poor: they get permanent, non-exclusive rights to the images, but they don't want images that you've sold anywhere else before.
    Back when I was shooting slides, the pay was the same AND they would return the slides to me! Digital photography has certainly cheapened my field -- anyone with an I phone and a fish tank can undercut me.

  • kyoshinikonkyoshinikon Posts: 411Member
    Anywhere between $300-$2500 a month... It really varies for me....
    “To photograph is to hold one’s breath, when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality. It’s at that precise moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy.” - Bresson
  • blandbland Posts: 812Member
    After reading all of these comments I think it's easy to say we shoot for the love of photography and make our living elsewhere! :)
  • kyoshinikonkyoshinikon Posts: 411Member
    I love it but as Fishguy said it is getting hard. I do graphic design too to keep my living. Last month was a good photo month with over 2K in profit. This month I am anticipating to be slower... Even If I wasn't making part of my living off it I would still be out with a camera...
    “To photograph is to hold one’s breath, when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality. It’s at that precise moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy.” - Bresson
  • TaoTeJaredTaoTeJared Posts: 1,306Member
    Feast or famine for me - finally went full time and I have had months at $5k+ and others at $500.

    I actually read an article that gave the "average" for (registered business/tax paying) photographers in the states at $24k/year which seems about right. I keep bumping into more and more who trade services and push money around to keep their personal income low to cover the Family bills. Depending where you are at and the type of photography you do, that can really swing majorly in any direction - on any given year. It also depends on a person's costs. One photog I have gotten to know had a $100k/yr income from his business - nice studio, all the lights, camera's etc. who is now working part time (30+hrs) at a photo shop. He lost everything due to business drying up when the economy tanked and then got dragged into bankruptcy which kept his focus away from getting work. Someone mentioned that he didn't pay taxes either. I have heard a lot of stories like that where photogs (and other small businesses) do not to the correct business practices and roll it under their own personal finances and finely it all catches up with them. If you are under $10,000 per year (on your best year) you are probably fine and my accountant said as long as you are under 40% of your total income the IRS doesn't look too hard. But none of that matters if your expenditures are way over your profit and you are carrying a lot of debt.
    D800, D300, D50(ir converted), FujiX100, Canon G11, Olympus TG2. Nikon lenses - 24mm 2.8, 35mm 1.8, (5 in all)50mm, 60mm, 85mm 1.8, 105vr, 105 f2.5, 180mm 2.8, 70-200vr1, 24-120vr f4. Tokina 12-24mm, 16-28mm, 28-70mm (angenieux design), 300mm f2.8. Sigma 15mm fisheye. Voigtlander R2 (olive) & R2a, Voigt 35mm 2.5, Zeiss 50mm f/2, Leica 90mm f/4. I know I missed something...
  • Benji2505Benji2505 Posts: 522Member
    After reading all of these comments I think it's easy to say we shoot for the love of photography and make our living elsewhere! :)
    We are successful in our jobs so we can afford a frustrating hobby ...
  • NSXTypeRNSXTypeR Posts: 2,287Member
    Diddly squat, haha.

    I'd probably be one of the worst photographers in the business as I refuse to edit my shots. Okay, I do the occasional crop and white balance adjustment, but that's about it.
    Nikon D7000/ Nikon D40/ Nikon FM2/ 18-135 AF-S/ 35mm 1.8 AF-S/ 105mm Macro AF-S/ 50mm 1.2 AI-S
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,398Moderator
    There are a few folks who are making money in the industry. And, some are good sales persons and less blessed with photographic skills. And some are extremely talented photographers. But...

    I attended a presentation by a so called "expert" and before the show I was discussing my experiences years ago, and asked who his clients were.....well, some very big names came up. When i checked his website, the only images were of marginal quality and his client list had no names I had ever heard of. His presentation was mostly smoke and mirrors, almost nothing of any photographic quality. Yet, this individual has workshops where presumably folks pay good money to attend.

    My conclusion is that snake oil is still for sale.
    Msmoto, mod
  • proudgeekproudgeek Posts: 1,422Member
    Not to bash him, but a certain photographer that we all love to hate seems to manage to feed his "growing family" through photography. I've looked at a lot of the stuff on his site and I can think of numerous contributors on NRF whose work is far better. I'd venture to guess that he doesn't make his money selling pictures, but rather from selling advice on how to take pictures.
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,545Moderator
    It is the new photography business - telling the hoards of snapper how to get great shots then how to process them followed by how to market them. Seems kinda dumb on one hand, but then what else can you do if there isn't a conventional professional photography business anymore?

    I know a lady who knows right next door to nothing about the technical side of photography (can't un-box and set-up studio lights), she uses her camera in P for professional mode, and yet has blagged the local council into paying her to shoot shots for local tourism.

    It seems 'front' beats skill any day.
    Always learning.
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    edited October 2013
    Not to bash him, but a certain photographer that we all love to hate seems to manage to feed his "growing family" through photography..
    KR does make money from photography; he is professional Blogger who writes about photography.
    Using photography in your profession can certainly pay

    Post edited by sevencrossing on
  • obajobaobajoba Posts: 206Member
    I recently "sold" my first photo to a major wakeboard manufacturer for their 2014 catalog. My compensation was a wakesurf board and travel bag (retail value ~$600.) That aside, I've not made a single dime. So I guess I am about $20k in the red.
    D4 | 70-200 2.8 VR | 24-70 2.8 | TC-17e II
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